Tapa, lechon and other Pinoy food finds in Singapore

Posted at 11/15/2012 6:07 PM | Updated as of 11/28/2012 3:55 PM

SINGAPORE – Several working Filipinos have found a new home in Singapore, a bustling city-state just three-and-a-half hours away from Manila.

With this comes the emergence of stores catering to the needs of the growing Filipino community – rows of stalls selling anything from bagoong (shrimp paste) to the walis tambo (Filipino broom), for instance, can be found at Lucky Plaza, a shopping center located at the tourist belt of Orchard Road. (How to get there: Take the MRT and alight at Orchard station. Lucky Plaza is a short five-minute walk away.)

Several Filipino eateries can also be found here, such as Jologs by Café Calle Real which specializes in home-cooked meals, and Happy V Fried Chicken (formerly named Jolly V), which takes inspiration from the well-loved fast food restaurant Jollibee.

Chicken and spaghetti at Jolly V, now called Happy V.

And speaking of Jollibee, the homegrown fast food giant will open a branch in Singapore soon, following in the footsteps of local chains such as Gerry’s Grill, which now has a two-year-old restaurant at the Marina Bay Sands hotel and a newer one at Cuppage Road near Orchard.

Several casual dining Filipino restaurants have also popped up in Singapore over the years. One of the more popular ones is 7,107 Flavors at the Marina Square, which serves anything from adobong pusit (squid stewed in garlic, vinegar and soy sauce) to nilasing na sugpo (drunken prawns). After five years of operation, 7,107 Flavors was closed and is set to reopen in 2013.

‘One-stop shop’

Aside from Lucky Plaza, there is another place in Singapore where one can find more than two Filipino eateries under one roof. 

The Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, which can be best described as an al fresco food court, has four stalls dedicated to Filipino cuisine, making it ideal for overseas workers dealing with homesickness, those who want to try something new for lunch, and curious tourists. (How to get there: Take the MRT and alight at Raffles Place station. Lau Pa Sat is a short five-minute walk away)

Two of these are tried and tested local chains – Tapa King specializes in tapsilog, or cured beef served with fried egg and rice, while Baliwag is known in the Philippines for its lechon manok and other roasted meats.

A Baliwag branch in Singapore's Lau Pa Sat festival market.

Not surprisingly, the items here are more expensive, with ingredients flown in from Manila. A whole roasted chicken in Baliwag, for instance, costs S$20 (a little over P600), while a measly salted egg in Tapa King is priced at S$2 (or around P64) each.

A Tapa King branch in Singapore's Lau Pa Sat Festival Market.

The two other Filipino stalls at Lau Pa Sat include Hapag Kainan, named after the Tagalog words for “dining table,” and Mang Kiko’s Lechon, which serves roasted and grilled favorites.

The Hapag Kainan food stall, reminiscent of a carinderia, offers a variety of Filipino viands such as beef nilaga (a meal-in-a-pot dish containing meat, soup and vegetables), pochero (a tomato-based pork stew with vegetables), daing na bangus (salted and dried milkfish) and fried tilapia. There are also “pulutan-worthy” items such as crispy pata (fried pork knuckles) and grilled pork belly.

A Hapag Kainan stall in Singapore's Lau Pa Sat Festival Market.

Mang Kiko’s, on the other hand, is pretty straightforward with its menu, with items limited to roasted chicken, roasted pork belly, and pork barbecue priced between S$6 (less than P200) to S$12 (nearly P400), depending on size.

A Mang Kiko's Lechon stall in Singapore's Lau Pa Sat Festival Market.

With more Filipinos setting their sights on Singapore for jobs, expect more Pinoy food finds in Singapore over the next few years.