Staying At Amoy Hotel and Exploring Chinatown

Singapore Chinatown

Chinatown

I enjoyed my stay at Amoy Hotel primarily because of its awesome location – Chinatown is a foodie’s paradise. Read my Amoy Hotel review here and a little piece on the Fuk Tak Chi Museum right here. I’d checked in on a Sunday, when most of the restaurants and shops around the hotel were closed. It was no cause for worry because just 5 to 10 minutes away is the rest of Chinatown where I can shop and mainly, eat to my heart’s content. So here’s a quick (and hopefully useful) guide to what to do / see / eat after you have dropped off your luggage at Amoy Hotel!

For the foodie:

In the immediate vicinity of the hotel are restaurants like Hock Lam Beef, Honzen Express and Sushi Tei (among others) – all of which I would recommend. For breakfast, you can also skip the hotel breakfast if it does not impress you and pop by Ya Kun Kaya Toast to taste what locals would eat – kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and a cup of coffee.

If you don’t have much time to explore other parts of Singapore for good food, then you are in luck! The newly-opened Chinatown Food Street brings together the best of hawker food around the island. Head over to the Food Street to try satay from Newton Circus, BBQ Chicken Wings from Chomp Chomp, Cheng Kee Hokkien Mee, Fried Oysters from Katong, and much much more!

Chinatown Food Street

Chinatown Food Street Oyster Omelette

Chinatown Food Street Hokkien Mee

Chinatown Food Street Fried Horfun

The Chinatown Food Street, at night:

Chinatown Food Street

At tea time, you can also head to Tong Heng for some very yummy egg tarts. I sure did. Just S$1.60 each:

Sri Mariamman Temple

To get to Tong Heng, just look out for the yellow signboard after you have passed the Sri Mariamman Temple:

Tong Heng Egg Tarts

* If you can afford the extra calories *

Try the very famous Lim Chee Guan bak kwa (barbecued pork slices) that locals eat mainly during Lunar New Year, but is available year-round. You can order just 100g of that barbecued goodness for a sampling or even consider getting 1kg to bring home to friends and family! [A kg usually costs about S$50]

Lim Chee Guan

For Dessert:

Head to Chinatown Point, where you will find, at the basement, Mei Heong Yuen Dessert, which is popular for its range of ‘snow ice desserts’.

Mei Heong Yuen Dessert

One other dessert place at Chinatown Point is Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert, which I would not recommend for their desserts, but their mains instead:

Hong Kong Sheng Kee Dessert Chinatown Point

I like their Braised Beef Hor Fun (S$7.90)

For the health-conscious foodie:

Pop by China Square Central (less than a 5 minute walk away) and head to the basement. At #B1-02 is LINS Smoodees where you can order green smoothies which are oh-so-yummy and so good for your body. Do try their herbal porridge as well, which I highly recommend. If you’re experiencing jet lag or just feeling under the weather, what you get at LINS will surely perk you up.

For the gym rat:

Amoy Hotel does not come with a gym, but just downstairs is the Evolve Mixed Martial Arts studio. Pop by for a workout if you will. A little further is True Fitness at China Square Central’s basement.

For the photography enthusiast:

If you like snapping pictures of temples and/or visiting them, there is the famous Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the equally famous Sri Mariamman Temple (the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore).

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Sri Mariamman Temple

The Sri Mariamman Temple was constructed in 1827 and today, it is best known for the fire-walking ceremony, or Theemithi, that is held every October or November. Devotees would walk on hot coals as a test of their faith and devotion.

Other places of interest: 

The Singapore Coins and Notes Museum and The TinTin Shop:

Singapore Coins And Notes Museum

The TinTin Shop

For the shopaholic:

At Chinatown Point are some shops which may interest you. Fans of branded goods will love Luxury City where branded items (supposedly authentic, but of past seasons) are sold at a discount. Also visit the Adidas pop-up store if you would like to get some cheap sporting gear – for instance, you can get a pair of Adidas running shoes at just over S$60.

Luxury City Chinatown Point

Adidas Chinatown Point

*This list is by no means exhaustive of course. Just what I did after checking in at Amoy Hotel. 🙂 If you need more recommendations, feel free to approach the staff.

Chinatown

[*Reader Privilege* Amoy Hotel Promotion Rates: Get 20% off your room rates and a Free City Tour for 2 (worth $39.80)! CLICK HERE!]

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Who Makes The Best Bak Kwa: Lim Chee Guan, Bee Cheng Hiang or Fragrance?

Bak Kwa brands in Singapore

[200g each, at about the same price S$10-S$11]

I’ve always wondered (1) whether there is a real difference between bak kwa from company A and bak kwa from company B, (2) why people queue for HOURS to buy bak kwa during the period leading up to the Lunar New Year when it is available all year round, and (3) how much exactly do these bak kwa chains make during Lunar New Year, such that they can keep their stores open the entire year and sustain manpower costs and all! Obviously, I won’t get the answers to every single question! 😀

So, before prices increase, I’ve bought bak kwa from 3 of the leading brands: Lim Chee Guan, Bee Cheng Hiang and Fragrance.

I found the bak kwa from Lim Chee Guan to be a little more tender. Bee Cheng Hiang and Fragrance had ‘sweeter’ tasting bak kwa, and the latter brand had a bit more spice (pepper?) in it. The bak kwa from Bee Cheng Hiang didn’t go through much quality control as well, as more than 50% of the surface area was charcoal black, on top of being drier and a little difficult to chew (tough luck if you happen to be wearing dentures).

So yes, I have to conclude that Lim Chee Guan has the better tasting bak kwa and I also bought the spicier version of their bak kwa separately, and it is absolutely delicious! I wouldn’t say it’s worth an hour-long wait though. I’ll just eat it at some other time in the year. 😀

Do you agree that Lim Chee Guan serves up the best bak kwa? If not, where do you get your Lunar New Year bak kwa from?