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Michelin Dining – No Really, They Have a Star!

Casual dining in Singapore is truly defined by the Hawker Stall. These Singapore equivalent of a food court in the mall are found throughout the city. You can get everything from grilled meats, noodle dishes, seafood and more. Singapore is also home to two Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls.

These stalls offer the cheapest Michelin starred meals on the planet. Generally, Singapore is a pretty expensive city, but you can easily eat some amazing food for less than $5USD each meal.

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

We visited both Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls on my 68 hours on the ground. The first was immediately after the great bike tour. I swung by Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, in Chinatown. These guys are known for the ubiquitous dish of Chicken and Rice. You are probably thinking how can a simple chicken and rice dish be 1) the national dish of Singapore and 2) earn a Michelin Star. Well, it isn’t because of the service or the ambiance, that’s for sure.

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Exterior of Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Menu at Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Interior of Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

This place looked like a fast food joint in a mall. I arrived around 13h45 after the lunch rush and still waited in line for 30 minutes. I ordered the Chicken and Rice and a beer. The beer blew the budget as I spent S$10 on this meal.  The dish was perfectly fine. Nicely cooked and mildly seasoned. I was lost as to how this was so highly rated. Then I saw the condiments. Simple sauces and peppers. Adding these to the meal was phenomenal. Loads of flavor, a little spice really kicked up the dish. I loved it.

Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Chicken and Rice from Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

The second Michelin Starred Restaurant we visited was Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle. It was right near the bike tour shop too. Arriving around 14h00, we didn’t miss the line today. We waited for nearly an hour in the very hot Hawker area. Most of the fans were not working either.

Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls - Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle – Single Star Michelin Restaurant

Neighboring Hawker Stall of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Most of the neighboring stalls were quiet.

Pork noodle was the famous dish here, so of course that was our selection. We grabbed a beer while we waited in line and another once we had our food. We loaded the dish with all the recommended condiments and paid S$7 per person.

The tables were pretty full, but we lucked out and snagged a four-top the second we had our food in hand.

Neighboring Hawker Stall of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Full tables – everyone enjoying Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Kitchen views at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

The kitchen hard at work Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

The pork noodle was just the perfect dish. Spicy, salty and savory flavors made me want to order a second dish, but I couldn’t handle the line.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Our pork noodle and soup was totally worth the wait.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle - Close up

Noodle Close Up – It was delicious!

So, we managed to knock a couple of things off our Singapore must-do list. Enjoying street food and hitting Michelin Rated Restaurant.  Have you visited either of these Michelin Starred Hawker Stalls?  Did you think the food was worth the wait?  What other places would you recommend who want great food, but can’t handle the 30-60+ minute wait for it?

Singapore Hawker Stalls

When people talk of Singapore, you’ll often hear of the Singapore Hawker Stalls. These casual dining shops are all over the city.  While I wouldn’t call this street food, per se, it’s pretty damn close.  When I think of street food, I often think of less permanent establishments.  These Hawker Stalls are home to some of the best food I’ve had while traveling.  These are really the best place to eat if you are traveling on a tight budget too, as most of the meals cost me less than S$10 ($7USD) and that often included a beer too.

After my bike tour with Let’s Go Singapore, I stopped off and had Singapore’s national dish – Chicken and Rice.  This simple dish, was pretty bland at first, then I added the various condiments and it really kicked the flavor up.  At first, it seemed like something you’d get while in hospital, but then it was so flavorful. I really wished I had a chance to grab another portion later on.

Hawker Stall Market

Telok Ayer Market

Immediately next to the SO Sofitel Singapore was the Lau Pa Sat Market (a/k/a Telok Ayer Market).  This world famous market is home to more than two dozen stalls with a ton of seating.  The street closes at 19h00 and fills with tables.  We ate here our second night in Singapore – dining outside and getting satay from Stall 7 & 8 “Best Satay Stand”.  It really was great satay.  We had both chicken with peanut sauce and prawns.  Utterly delectable.

Grilled Prawns

Grilled Prawns

Grilled Prawns

Grilled Prawns

When visiting Singapore, be sure to visit the Lau Pa Sat Market (Telok Ayer Market), the sights, sounds and smells alone are worth the visit.  The food is amazing and the prices cannot be beat.

What are your favorite places to grab a bite when in Singapore? Do you steer clear of Hawker Stalls?

68 Hour Visit to Singapore – Introduction

I’ve always wanted to visit Singapore. Really for two main reasons 1) the mix of cultures blend together for some amazing food and 2) the infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The stars and the moon aligned and made a trip this year possible. I had already taken a good portion of my vacation time, so I needed to plan judiciously. If I’m taking a quick trip to Asia, I want to fly in a premium cabin which will likely necessitate the use of miles.

First of all, I spent a couple of days of searching for award fares with no luck.  Eventually I found Star Alliance Saver Awards that worked out quite well. Unfortunately I’d be trying out only one new airline: Singapore Airlines for a relatively short hop from Singapore to Bangkok. The other four flights would all be on airlines and products I’ve flown before. That being said, I really loved these repeat products and was looking forward to experiencing their service again.

Over the next few weeks, you can look forward to the following detailed posts about my trip.

Visit Singapore Gardens by the Bay

Singapore by night

You’ve read my thoughts on the preferred length of trips and I know so many people would think I’m nuts for flying so long for such a short period in Singapore. but remember, life is about the journey, not necessarily the destination (hell at the end of the day, we all end up in the same place, might as well enjoy the ride).

Would you go to Singapore for 2.5 days on the ground? Am I crazy? What has been your craziest trip you’ve planned?

Casual Dining on the Trip

As you’ve likely read before (and if not, head back to the Introduction and see how this trip played out so far), our trip from San Francisco to Portland had three main points: See family; hike the Redwoods and attend a dear friend’s wedding.  Inside those main goals we had to eat.  Our first major meal was at Saison, in San Francisco.  This Three-Michelin Star Restaurant ended up being a delight, not without some hiccups though.  The rest of the trip we focused either on home cooked meals or more casual fare. If you are in the area, I suggest you swing by some of my favorites:

San Francisco, California

Stop by Jane the Baker and grab some fresh pastries – both the pain au chocolat and the paninis were stellar.  The prosciutto and burrata sandwich was my favorite though.  The lines are long, but moved pretty quickly.  Grab a couple extra treats for later in the day or for breakfast tomorrow.

Prosciutto and burrata sandwich from Jane the Baker.

Mendocino, California

We had a quick lunch in Mendocino, the whole time the Murder She Wrote theme was ringing through my head, as the title scenes were filmed in this quaint town.  We dined at Trillium Cafe and Inn, and sat outside, with the sun beating down on us but the ocean breeze cooling us, it was a stellar venue and meal.  The four of us each had a different lunch entree and sampled each others – everything was great. I started with the Goat Cheese and Onion Tart then moved on to the Summer Vegetable Gnocchi.

Fort Bragg, California

Before Mr. Tim’s wild ride in a Prius, we dined at Silver’s at the Wharf in Fort Bragg.  This seafood restaurant was located below the main road, right on the water.  This was more of a casual place (compared to Saison or Coi), but it wasn’t a cheap restaurant.  I saw Crab Louie on the menu and this was always a favorite meal of both my parents, so when I see it at a place that looks like they can do a good job of it, I’ll order it.

Crab Louie

There was a ton of crab and the proper Louie dressing, but for more than $30USD it was quite pricey.  The rest of the entrees were equally priced, but all were very good.

Eureka, California

While we had two nights in Eureka, the torturous hike in the Redwoods didn’t allow us an early enough return for a proper meal the second night.  On a recommendation from the father-in-law, we dined at Sea Grill.  With a seafood focus, I had a superbly sweet (naturally) Dungeness Crab Cocktail and the Snapper Puttanesca.  All entrees can be accompanied by a trip to the salad bar – yes an old world salad bar, with all the fixins. It was a fun trip down memory late, but pretty unappealing in general.  The service was really a blast from the past – the servers appeared to have been working in the restaurant since the Great War, and expected that we should know the specials, details on the wines and which desserts were the best, as each time we asked about these, we got a sad, frustrated stare.

Despite the surly servers, the food was pretty damn good and I’d return to this shop any time.

Grants Pass, Oregon

We were in Grants Pass for less than 12 hours, but managed to snag a riverside table at the River’s Edge Restaurant.  This white table cloth restaurant was highly rated on the internet and came recommended from the staff at our hotel.  The weather was perfect and they even had a talented guitar player entertaining the al fresco guests.  I say talented, because he truly was.  He took requests and could play contemporary pop, country, classic rock and true classical pieces on one of his two guitars.  It as quite entertaining.

We shared the prosciutto and grilled peaches to start, then moved on to the meat course.  A simple Filet Oscar for me, while Mike had the rack of lamb.  My steak was perfectly prepared – the crab was good, but didn’t seem as fresh as what we had on earlier on the trip.

Prosciutto and grilled peach starter.

Filet Oscar

Rack of Lamb

Despite the large portions, we still had room for dessert.

Brownie Sundae

Eugene, Oregon

We left Grants Pass on our way to Portland and stopped in Eugene for lunch.  We had several options we were looking at, but settled on the casual Fisherman’s Market.  This felt more like a lunch counter with amazingly fresh seafood.  Mike had the salmon burger while I had a crab grilled cheese.  The cheese and bread really overpowered the crab, but this place had an amazing selection of cocktail and tartar sauces – including a Ragin’ Cajun, Bombary Bomber (Indian), Tijuana Terror (Mexican), Cap’n Dicks (Horseradish) and Orient Express (Soy Sauce and Wasabi).

Crab grilled Cheese Sandwich – with Waffle Fries, who doesn’t love waffle fries?

Portland, Oregon

Our two quick meals in Portland were just a few blocks from each other, both a quick walk to our hotel.  Lechon was our first stop, and since we weren’t all that hungry, I had a small tomato and burrata salad (at least I thought it would be small) and some chicken bites.  Both were phenomenal and I can’t wait to revisit Lechon and try other things on their menu.

Burrata, marinated tomatoes, basil, saba, olive oil, herbed toast

Peruvian fried chicken bites, fermented hot honey, corn crema, basil

A smokey cocktail

The final casual place we dined while on this trip was a new favorite of mine. Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen is a hip/trendy little Vietnamese place, with fancy wallpaper that is only outdone by the fancy cocktails.  Asian beers round out the cocktail list. When dining here, you’ve got to get a bowl of the phở , it rivals any I had in Vietnam proper, or any Little Vietnam around.  Also get the vegetarian crispy rolls – love it!

Phở and crispy veggie spring rolls.

I do love a starred or listed restaurant, but more often than not, you just need good local food and traveling the Northern California Coast and throughout Oregon in the height of summer gets you access to some of the best produce around – go out and explore.

Obviously, I love dungeness crab, prosciutto and burrata – what are your favorite go to items?  Do you have any recommendations for restaurants in any of these cities?  I’d love to expand my local shop horizon for our next trip.

Saison – Fine Dining San Francisco

We had a single night for dinner in San Francisco, so I immediately turned to the Fifty Best Restaurants list, a list that has never steered us wrong. Saison was rated number 46 on the current listing. Like many fine dining restaurants you buy tickets for a given day and time and those tickets go on sale two months before your desired reservation time. I marked my calendar and had no problem getting reservations.

We did absolutely no further research on the restaurant or the menu before our arrival.  I knew that Saison focused on seasonal produce and meats prepared in a contemporary California style.  That’s all we knew – we prefer to go in relatively blind.



The unassuming exterior of Saison San Francisco

We arrived at 19h00 and were seated immediately.  Our table was a corner two top where we sat right next to each other.  It was a tight fit and for several of the courses the table just didn’t have enough real estate.  It got even more crowded with the various wine glasses.

The minimalist and ostentatious bathroom – a wonderful combination. Saison San Francsico

The Service

Speaking of wine, we chose not to do all of the wine pairings. Honestly, this choice was made solely on price. The wine pairings added another $298 per person, which would have brought our total bill for dinner to nearly $1,200 and while this is a once in a lifetime experience, we’ve had a few once in a lifetime meals already this year and thought we should be more cost conscious. That being said, we asked our server to select a couple glasses of wine for the entire meal, progressing and pairing as the meal went on. We also asked that our wines be different so we could more properly experience the tasting menu.

We had a team of servers helping us and they ran the gamut from Mr. Congeniality to folks on the very far end of the GADS (Asberger’s) scale – so much so that it was painful to talk to them. They didn’t have any details on some of the courses they served, but they tried. When these struggles presented themselves, the server knew quickly that they weren’t prepared (all three times it happened) and one of their colleagues would return and talk more in-depth about the course. At the end we got where we needed to be.

The Meal

This meal seemed more elaborate than other tasting menus we’ve seen recently. Everything from a make-it-yourself amberjack lettuce wrap to a barbecued half quail. Dining in late June allowed for the early summer seasonal produce to really shine. The fresh peas and summer fruits for dessert were stellar.


A palate cleansing herbal tea



Sashimi Amberjack

Sea Urchin


Black Cod

Black Cod

Mt. Shasta Porcini

Barbecued Quail

Barbecued Quail

Pronghorned Antelope – The Service

Preparing the Sauce: Pronghorned Antelope – The service

Pronghorned Antelope – The service

Slicing the Pronghorned Antelope – The service

Pronghorned Antelope – The presentation

Perfectly Prepared Pronghorned Antelope – The presentation

A Broth Made of the Grilled Bones





The Menu

Our meal lasted about two and a half hours, but at the end we sat around for another 45 minutes sampling a couple of wines and chatting with some of the servers, who had just recently visited Chicago and spent a week eating – so we talked fine dining to beef stands. It was a great way to end the meal.

While not without room for improvement, the food really stood out at Saison. I wish we had a slightly different table and that our team of servers were a little more well-rounded in their training and delivery. If Saison has been on your list of places to try whilst in San Francisco, you must go. It was quite the experience.

Have you dined at Saison? How was your service team? Which course was your favorite? I loved the Peas, the Antelope and the Orange dessert. So refreshing.