Planning food destinations for your next trip in the age of the internet may have gotten easier, but it does come with a catch: the volume makes it harder to filter through blogs and decide which places are actually worth visiting. Higher-end restaurants have Michelin guides and 50’s Best lists, but the undiscovered nature of hole-in-the-wall gems worth your buck makes it difficult to pin them down.
Bib Gourmand, a section of the prestigious Michelin Guide, is one of the most reliable lists around, with inspectors scouring cities thoroughly. This list is billed as the cheap eats version of its lauded counterpart, with everything from decades-old mom-and-pop establishments, to street food stalls. We tried a few on the Singaporean list, and discovered some magnificent dishes, including one that only costs PHP 45.
Crispy Sardine Curry Puff
The Maxwell Food Centre is probably one of the most touristy hawkers in Singapore, often featured in foreign travel shows. Skip the chicken rice, and head to J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff, one of the cheapest Bib Gourmand awardees in the world. These light, crisp pastries are made everyday by hand, that only 500 are available (and sold out) daily. The husband and wife team roll out the dough first, then make fillings, which range from curried potato to black pepper chicken. The sardine one is the best, with an abundant amount of fish with a subtle sweetness, but it really is all about the exterior. This one flakes at even the slightest movement, and is just as thin and buttery as any layered croissant.
Double Mutton Biryani
The only Muslim/Halal eatery on the Singaporean list, Bismillah specializes in only one dish, and does it so well, we’ll still be remembering it a year after. Their biryani is more closely related to the owner’s Pakistani roots, which means the rice is cooked together with the meat so that the individual grains absorb all the spice and flavor. The dish is served dry, but needs no gravy or yogurt sauce to accompany it whatsoever. The double mutton has plump pieces of lamb shank and shoulder strewn throughout the basmati, and thin, fried shallots to add slight crunch to the whole mess.