Our hotel was the Meritus Mandarin on Orchard Road, chosen by me to make Mom happy. It's surrounded by shopping malls: Takashimaya, Paragon, 313 Somerset, Lucky Plaza, Wisma Atria and the new Ion. We booked it through Steph's travel agent who managed to get us the special rate of US$168 per room night, with breakfast. Still kinda pricey, compared to Hong Kong, Macau or especially Bangkok, but Singapore is not cheap. Besides, the location was fantastic.
Thank you, Pop, for letting me get a separate room. Woohoo!
The bathroom was very nice. Oh, hotel bathrooms are just. So. Nice. But they should have a bidet.
The view was blah. Father said, "Strange. Already 7pm and still so bright outside."
I appreciated the buffet breakfast. At first, I thought that I wouldn't be able to take advantage of it, because I wanted to go out and try breakfast street food. I had forgotten how hot it is in Singapore-- so hot that stepping outdoors was like being blasted by an oven. It was great to have a decent, calm, satisfying breakfast before starting the day's activities.
Good thing the Meritus Mandarin had a really excellent restaurant, Chatterbox. On our second night, I ordered the lobster laksa. Costs a fortune at SGD35 (US$25), by my gad! That's a whole baby lobster in there. And it was quite a big bowl. Easily good for two... although I didn't share mine.
I am dreaming about this dish now. I knew it was rich, with all the ingredients jammed in there and the coconut milk, but somehow it tasted so light. The lobster was sublime. The noodles had the most exquisite texture that I'd never encountered before. And the broth! Oy. The other stuff in the bowl just faded away.
And then, on our last night, I ordered the ubiquitous Singaporean dish-- Hainanese Chicken Rice. (Chatterbox calls it "Mandarin Chicken". Why?) I had heard good things about their version. At SGD29 (US$20), it made me think hard before ordering it. After all, Chicken Rice is supposed to be a cheap street food.
The best Chicken Rice was reputed to be at Tian Tian at the Maxwell Hawker Centre, as attested by Anthony Bourdain, but I couldn't fit it into our itinerary. For our first lunch, I brought us to Food Republic to try Sergeant's Roasted Chicken Rice. It was highly recommended by Chuvaness. At SGD4.80 (US$3.50), it was cheap. It looked cheap and tasted cheap. I was lamenting the waste of calories. I thought, serves me right for trusting a non-Chinese person's opinions about Chinese food.
Chatterbox's Mandarin Chicken Rice is tasty. As in full of taste. The serving size is five times more than Sergeant's. They put the tray down on your table and it looks like a work of art. Ultimately, it just tasted good good good.
Verdict: The hotel is great. Stay there. Their food is great, too. Eat it. By the way, those prices I mentioned are still subject to 10% service charge. So expensive, but just. So. Good.