Brewing in Singapore

One man's adventure of brewing beer in Asia.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Yes, I know, it has been a long time since my last post – what can I say, I am a bad blogger. The holidays were just more activity than I had planned on. First I went to Manila with my friends Bill and Brett (they had both been before but I had not). Ostensibly we went to visit a friend of Bill’s, but really we used that as an excuse to look for, hang out in and drink/eat in new places. The food scene in Manila is not as diverse or as interesting as it is in Singapore (but really where is ??). We did make a few nice discoveries, and there is a lively street food scene with some good BBQed items. The Crispy Pata (deep fired pork leg& trotters - foot) was as you might imagine – completely delicious (I mean come on, it’s pork AND it’s deep fried – shhaa, how could it not be delicious ?).

We also had some good Chicken Adobo. Adoba comes in many forms and my favorite of all time is made at the Oriental Mart lunch counter in the Pike Place Market in Seattle (hand made daily by a very nice Filipino family - comes with pancit bihon). We searched out a few Adobo places in Manila and they were pretty good but none as good as I have had in Seattle or Singapore (I wonder what that says about a. - my tastes or b. - the quality of the Adobo in Manila ??). Some other notable dishes that we had were Nilaga (beef soup), Bangus (steamed milk fish – was excellent, especially with a little kalamansi lime on top), Lumpia (fried spring roll) and Palabok (noodles with sauce, boiled egg and stuff). Sadly we could not find any decent looking balut (one of Brett’s favorites), and maybe that was for the best (even though it tastes like chicken I am still a bit not so okay with it). Overall, although most the food was nice, I have to say that the food in Manila was a little bit disappointing - a bit bland by Singaporean standards (I guess I am a little bit spoiled now). I have been told that the Filipinos don’t like spicy as much as some other Asian countries (and as much as I do) so this may account for my perception.

The bar scene in Manila was pretty good and despite warnings that Manila could be dangerous everywhere we went we were greeted with smiles and friendly greetings. We went to several good bars and some were defiantly a cut above. I here list some of the more notable. The Hobbit House, located in the Makati district, is a theme bar based on the JRR Tolken books. The Hobbit House was designed to feel and look like a bar you might find in the Shire of Middle Earth, and it pulls it off pretty well. It had a very underground feel complete with no windows and intertwined vies running accross the cieling throughout. They have swords and shields hanging on the walls, and even a round entrance door, and then they took it a little bit further. The owner and all the employees were Hobbit sized little people. And it was quite the opposite of making a spectacle of them, it was more like a place to celebrate there stature. A place built for little people that allowed us clumsy large people to come in and have a drink. Now here is a bar that could absolutely never exist in modern America (what with the completely gone out of control political correctness there), and too bad. I talked to a few of the staff and they had most of them been there a very long time. Everyone seemed to enjoy working there. Also notable was that the good beer selection. It is one of the best in Manila with beers from all over Europe. The musical performances on the stage were a pretty good show of local talent too. We went there a few times and enjoyed every visit.

Manila is filled with great little bars. The Sunshine Coast ( was a classic one, cool and dark we sat around and swapped stories with the bar staff and other customers for hours. Beers were cheap and the music was good. We also found a place called L.A. Café. Their main bar sucked but they have a new place right across the street and it was great during the day (much more comfortable, almost no one in there and a friendly bar staff who is always happy to shoot a game of pool. Another good place we stumbled upon (not in to) was the Oar House ( tiny bar is along a stretch of road by itself almost. Nautically themed it was maybe built in the late 1960's and it is still in very nice condition. It was cool and quiet and had a good 1940’s maritime feel. You almost expected to look up from the bar and see Steve Moran (Bogart in To Have and To Have Not) and his side kick Eddie walk through the front door. We were the only ones there at 4:00 and beers were damn near 1960’s prices - about $0.65 USD per bottle (you gotta love that).

It was not all eating and drinking (although mostly it was) we did walk around the old historic district and check out the old walled citadel. We were only there a few days, just hardly scratched the surface, clearly I gonna need a return trip soon.


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