There are almost 200 countries all over the world, and each has its own distinct cuisine with thousands of delicious and unique dishes and recipes. Aside from quelling a grumbly tummy after a day’s worth of hiking through a strange city, sampling the local specialties is one of the best ways to get to know a foreign land’s history, people, and culture. While it’s probably impossible for us to ever get to eat everywhere and taste everything, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try. Welcome to The Hungry Wanderer.
First, an apology, I’m sorry that some of the photos are a bit on the blurry side. I was often so hungry during my trip that taking the obligatory food photos before I could eat became too much of an ordeal. Also, I was not yet acquainted with the phone-tography defying VSCO Cam application’s setting. And the places I went to were often dimly lit. And, okay, I was just really, really famished.
I went to Singapore last year with some of my girl friends. Being the one who loves food the most in our group, I made it a point to sneak in a dinner at Paradise Dynasty in the itinerary we made.
It was the novelty of eating multicolored Xiao Long Bao that dragged my butt here in the first place.
Now, I’m not that gung-ho over Xiao Long Bao. I’m one of those killjoy friends skeptical of this trendy soup-stuffed dim sum. For me, it’s just a compact version of molo soup or Chinese dumpling soup (sans the egg noodles). However, I wanted to give Paradise Dynasty’s a shot because of their Signature Dynasty Xiao Long Bao, which—get this—comes in 8 different flavors and colors. It’s that last part that won me over, I always gets excited over anything colorful that’s also edible (like rainbow-colored kropek).
It was the novelty of eating colored xiao long bao that made me so giddy. I loved how there’s a certain sequence you have to follow when eating the multi-colored dumplings. A sign at our table explained the order clearly enough, “To ensure the optimum tasting of these 8 distinct flavors, start with original flavor and in numeric order ending with Szechuan Xiao Long Bao.” Though I don’t fancy myself a girlscout who always follows the rules, this was one instruction I kept to heart. I just thought it’d be a bad idea to break the ultimate commandment of a place called Paradise Dynasty.
My stomach did a backflip when our Singaporean waitress finally jotted down our orders from their menu. It was the same feeling of anticipation I got before seeing The Lion King and Toy Story 3 (or when I found out Ender’s Game was finally going to be a movie).
It’s not fair to compare these Xiao Long Bao to Din Tai Fung’s, it’s a whole different experience.
So first, you start with the Original (white), then the Garlic (grey), Ginseng (green), Foie Gras (tan), Black Truffle (black), Cheese (yellow), Crab Roe (orange), and lastly, the Szechuan (red). I was ecstatic. I had a permanent grin on my face every time time I bit into one of the jolly-colored dim sum that I’ve only seen being paraded on the Internet prior to that day. Each flavor was true to its description, but I’m not here to play favorites. I wouldn’t want to go comparing them to Din Tai Fung’s simply because it’s a whole different experience altogether.
We also tried the Dan Dan Noodles, which is a good choice if you prefer that familiar Tantanmen flavor with less of a spicy kick. Their Spring Rolls didn’t leave much of an impression, unlike their Shanghai Fried Rice which I wolfed down by myself since my friends were already full. I really enjoyed the slightly sticky and dense texture of the fried rice, each grain coated with their magic sauce/seasoning.
If you’re planning to visit Singapore anytime soon (ehem ehem Laneway Festival), may I suggest that you pay this place a visit? It’s located at ION Orchard, which is the shopping mecca of Singapore. Make sure you head here around 4:30 p.m. since a queue usually forms later in the day (especially for dinner). Estimated budget per head is SGD 15-20, depending on your appetite, of course.
Do you have any memorable dining experiences far from home? Do you want to make your mark, literally, on our world map up there? Send us your piece (with pictures please!) and if we like it, we’ll post it on a future Hungry Wanderer! Happy Travels!