BUDGET TRAVEL UPGRADE
A Taste of Singapore
A local food celeb takes a Midwestern family on an exclusive tour of the city-state.
"I'm traveling to Singapore and Malaysia with my mother, brother, and two aunts to visit my mother's relatives, as well as to sightsee," wrote Melissa Walsh, a music teacher in Indianapolis. "Shopping isn't on the itinerary, although I'm sure the other ladies will disagree."
How could we please everyone in a group that included Melissa Walsh, a 24-year-old music teacher; her mother, Meng, who was born in Malaysia; her 18-year-old brother, Aaron, who had never traveled outside North America; and her two aunts from Ohio, Sheila and Eileen? Enter Singaporean food celebrity K.F. Seetoh--culinary guidebook author and host of Makansutra on the Asian Food Channel--who led the Walshes on a half-day tasting tour of the city-state's Chinatown and Little India neighborhoods.
"Mr. Seetoh told us all about how food reflects the history of a place," says Melissa. "And he's very witty!" The group sampled dumplings and curry puffs at stalls in Maxwell Food Centre near Chinatown, then had lunch at The Banana Leaf Apolo in Little India, where they ate tandoori chicken and fish-head curry, using banana leaves as plates. Seetoh even showed them how to remove the fish's eye, a local delicacy, and eat it. "Everyone tried everything at least once," says Meng (except for the other eye, which stayed right where it was). "If someone didn't like something, the rest of us made up for it!"