Asia vacation 2008: Day 3 Singapore
Monday was a public holiday in Singapore. It was Hari Raya Haji, aka Eid al-Adha. My sis took us all to Killeney Kopitiam for breakfast. She finds Kaya toast there better than Ya Kun’s but i personally can’t tell the difference.
Other than Smelly’s hair salon appointment at Blitz in the mid-afternoon, we had nothing planned for the day. As i only have enough Starwood Preferred Guest points for two nights of stay at Sheraton Towers using Cash and Points, we checked out of Sheraton Towers and took a taxi to Copthorne King’s Hotel. Location-wise in terms of distance from the nearest MRT station, Sheraton Towers is the more convenient between the two. We discovered the following day that Copthorne King’s Hotel is actually a short walking distance away from Robertson Walk, a trendy area by a river full of restaurants.
After a short visit to the historic Raffles Hotel, Smelly and i went across the street to the food court on the upper level of City Hall shopping mall. We were at the same food court the day earlier for some dessert when we spotted a food stall selling pig organs soup. We told ourselves we had to come back for it the next day. Pig organs soup is basically a clear broth with some meat balls, tender pork, intestine, kidney and medium rare liver. Occasionally, it may contain some coagulated pig’s blood.
After wondering around the surrounding area, we took a taxi to Holland Village for Smelly’s appointment at Blitz salon. Since we were early, we decided to stop by the Holland Village food court. Smelly ordered a bowl of shaved ice with sea coconut and nata de coco while i had a bowl of Chendol, as Chendol is intended to be, without a bunch of other crap.
After we got back to the hotel, we tried to decide on where to go for dinner. One regret i had yesterday was not being able to eat at Tian Jin Hai restaurant. I contacted the hotel concierge but he was not able to come up with anything. Then i decided to dial the information line using the pre-paid SIM card on my iPhone. At first, i asked for the location of “Golden Wall Centre”. That went nowhere. Then i asked to search for Tian Jin Hai and surprisingly, i was told it was located in Punggol. Punggol is a neighborhood located in Northeastern part of Singapore but the hotel is situated near Chinatown, in the Southern part of the island. A phone call to Tian Jin Hai confirmed its location. After some deliberation, Smelly and i came to the conclusion that we should go just for the hack of it.
We walked to Clarke Quay MRT station from the hotel. From the station, we went got on a Northeast-bound train, arriving at Punggol MRT station, the terminal station on the NorthEast line, about 25 minutes later. When i contacted Tian Jin Hai restaurant earlier, it was not clear to me if there was any shuttle service from the MRT station. The street outside the station appeared deserted. We were the only ones waiting at the Taxi line. After what seemed like eternity, we finally were able to hail down a cab. The drive to Punggol Marina Country Club went through some of the darkest area that you can find on the island. When i first heard that the restaurant was in a country club, my first thought was some exclusive area with a golf course. The Punggol Marina Country Club is nowhere close to what i had imagined.
We ordered a bowl of clam soup, a plate of Kang Kong stir-fried with shrimp sauce, a plate of shrimp-paste marinated fried chicken (we did not realize it was deep fried until later) and a medium steamed shark head since they ran out of the smaller shark head. The chicken and the Kang Kong were quite disappointing. I could not taste any shrimp in the fried chicken and the veggie was cooked in way too much oil. The steamed shark head was as good as advertised. There was actually no flesh on the shark head. We were basically eating what appeared to be soft cartilage. According to Smelly, the shark head tasted “similar to the fatty part of pig knuckle”.
After dinner, we found out that there was a hourly shuttle service between the MRT station and the country club. While we were waiting for the shuttle bus, i must have been bitten in 10 different spots by some persistent mosquitoes.
So was the food at Tian Jin Hai restaurant worth all the effort and itchiness (mosquito bites)? I personally do not think so.
Tian Jin Hai Seafood will be moving to the following location soon –
Zion Rd Hawker Centre #01-09
(Opposite of Great World City)