Travel tales are strange

I’m coming to the end of my Singapore experience for this year; I can say that with great confidence because I’ll be back in just over a year’s time for another key conference in my research field. This has been my second trip to Singapore and it has been a far superior experience compared with my first trip. I was based, on my first trip, at NUS (a lovely university but far off the beaten track) and this trip has been centered in the city centre. But my location on this trip has proved to be excellent.

I took a cheaper hotel in Little India, on Arab Street, rather than the hotels associated with the large conference centre. It was a short walk into town or a very short trip on the MRT (1 stop) but totally convenient and worth the 1/2 price compared with the conference hotels. I quite enjoyed the MRT and mall experience to get to the Suntec center. Or centre. I don’t recall which is correct.

Given this slightly distant location, I was isolated from the usual sorts of hotel restaurants and bars. I found that there was a place, Mietta’s, across the street from my hotel, where there was good food and good wine (a necessity when travelling). This is a chef-driven, relatively new restaurant, in the bohemian area of Arab Street, and I quite enjoyed the place on the three times that I happened (or chose!) to visit there. It has that air of a gentrifying neighborhood where things are all mixed up, and I happen to like that. I went out to Orchard Road earlier on this trip and I hated it, there was nothing that I saw to distinguish one shopping mall from another.

Tonight I went to Mietta’s after dinner hours, because they were advertising a jazz feel in the upstairs bar. When I arrived, the waitstaff seemed confused, although the website advertises an upstairs bar they seemed to not have had many requests for it. Cut to the chase, and I sat quite happily in the upstairs something (bar is not the obvious word) with live music playing just to me, from a time before they were really ready to open, they let me in for the soundcheck. I read the cookbooks of Jaime Oliver and Nobu and joked with the chef about reading his secret stash. As a foodie, I was ecstatic. As a bar/club patron, I felt bad for the singer/guitarist who was singing solely to me, both in the soundcheck and in the “performance” (indistinguishable from the soundcheck). But I’m not complaining. And I hope that if you are in Singapore you visit Mietta’s. I saw the chef each of the three times I was there, which took me back to a day and place in Minnesota when I used to frequent a chef-driven restaurant in the middle of nowhere, the Bayport Cookery (which apparently does not exist anymore). I want chef-driven restaurants to thrive, which is probably why I “happened” into Mietta’s on three occasions on this trip.

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2 responses to “Travel tales are strange

  1. I loved Orchard Road the last time I visited Singapore, but I think that’s because it was so sort of generically modern and full of Western shops, and I was coming from China… everything I’d been missing (salads, clothes that fit, etc.) was suddenly easily available. Coming from England I could see how it would be a bit of a letdown.

    Aside from Orchard Road groceries, though, I think I ate mostly in hawker stalls last time I was there (mmm, Singapore street food). I don’t think I’ve ever been in an actual restaurant there. Clearly an oversight. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Singapore, Qantas and Indian Food, Oh My! « Not From Around Here

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