Welcome to everyone to ACL! It's pretty rare for me to end up conferencing in a country I've been before, largely because I try to avoid it. When I was here last time, I stayed with Yee Whye, who was here at the time as a postdoc at NUS, and lived here previously in his youth. As a result, he was an excellent "tour guide." With his help, here's a list of mostly food related stuff that you should definitely try while here (see also the ACL blog):
- Pepper crab. The easiest to find are the "No Signboard" restaurant chain. Don't wear a nice shirt unless you plan on doing laundry.
- Chicken rice. This sounds lame. Sure, chicken is kind of tasty. Rice is kind of tasty. But the key is that the rice is cooked in or with melted chicken fat. It's probably the most amazingly simple and delicious dish I've ever had. "Yet Kun" (or something like that) is along Purvis street.
- Especially for dessert, there's Ah Chew, a Chinese place around Liang Seah street in the Bugis area (lots of other stuff there too).
- Hotpot is another local specialty: there is very good spicy Szechuan hotpot around Liang Seah street.
- For real Chinese tea, here. (Funny aside: when I did this, they first asked "have you had tea before?" Clearly the meaning is "have you had real Chinese tea prepared traditionally and tasted akin to a wine tasting?" But I don't think I would ever ask someone "have you had wine before?" But I also can't really think of a better way to ask this!)
- Good late night snacks can be found at Prata stalls (eg., indian roti with curry).
- The food court at Vivocity, despite being a food court, is very good. You should have some hand-pressed sugar cane juice -- very sweet, but very tasty (goes well with some spicy hotpot).
- Chinatown has good Chinese dessert (eg., bean stuff) and frog leg porridge.
Now, I realize that most of the above list is not particularly friendly to my happy cow friends. Here's a list of restaurants that happy cow provides. There are quite a few vegetarian options, probably partially because of the large Muslim population here. There aren't as many vegan places, but certainly enough. For the vegan minded, there is a good blog about being vegan in Singapore (first post is about a recent local talk by Campbell, the author of The China Study, which I recommend everyone at least reads). I can't vouch for the quality of these places, but here's a short list drawn from Living Vegan:
- Mushroom hotpot at Ling Zhi
- Fried fake meat udon noodles (though frankly I'm not a big fan of fake meat)
- Green Pasture cafe; looks like you probably have to be a bit careful here in terms of what you order
- Yes Natural; seems like it has a bunch of good options
- Lotus Veg restaurant, seems to have a bunch of dim sum (see here, too)
- If you must, there's pizza
- And oh-my-gosh, there's actually veggie chicken rice, though it doesn't seem like it holds up to the same standards as real chicken rice (if it did, that would be impressive)
Enjoy your time here!
Quick update: Totally forgot about coffee. If you need your espresso kick, Highlander coffee (49 Kampong Bahru Road) comes the most recommended, but is a bit of a hike from the conference area. Of course, you could also try the local specialty: burnt crap with condensed milk (lots and lots of discussion especially on page two here).