The most stressful flight transfer in our entire holiday happened to be on the very first day. I had never intended it to be like this; I did my research, I knew that going to a Tiger flight from Singapore Airlines meant having to go through immigration, get our bags and go back in and I had booked a connecting flight that gave us enough time to do so. What I didn't bank on was that our flight times would change significantly, and that our only option was to allow a 2 hour, 20 minute transfer at Changi. Not a dangerously tight connection, but a lot closer than I generally prefer.
To begin with, things were not stacked in our favour. As Singapore Airlines have two terminals, we had hoped the plane would land at Terminal 2 as its the same as Tiger. This was not to be as we were informed we'd be landing in Terminal 3. Add to this arriving a little late, being nearer to the back of the aircraft and the usual slow person who does not see the efficiency in gathering their things while we wait to disembark and then proceed to take forever to open the overhead compartment, slowly gather all their items with absolutely no consideration or awareness that other people are waiting and then walk with no urgency whatsoever to the front of the craft, and I was extremely stressed we were about to stuff up our schedule on the very day.
I had prepped Alissa for the possibility we would have to run, and run we did. Out the gate, down the escalators to the thankfully empty Immigration queues and then straight to a brief wait at baggage claim, then onward through quarantine, through to the terminal transfer train to Terminal 2, from the terminal transfer at Terminal 2 to the Arrivals Hall and to our counter for Tiger Air.
'Sir, you're both early for check in... if you want you can go to the early check in counter,' said the young man at the help desk. We'd gone so fast, and Tiger start check in so late, that we'd even beaten the check in time! Looking at the time, from the plane landing to checking in our luggage only took about half an hour. I suppose if you've got a tight transfer Changi is the place to do it. Truly impressive.
Early as we were, we decided to go downstairs for a bite to eat at Chinta Manis, a specialist in Nyonya/Peranakan cuisine. Other than a few small items cooked by my aunty, Alissa had never had Peranakan cooking before, and I thought that she would definitely appreciate their patisserie items at the very least.
But before ordering the sweets we had lunch. My initial choice was to try their sambal prawns however as it was already sold out I ordered the Chicken Rendang. The curry and rice were both very good. I particularly appreciated the extremely finely sliced fried shallots that gave a nice subtle crunch and onion flavour.
Normally I'm the one who has noodles, so it was ironic that Alissa would be the one ordering the Nyonya Mee Siam. This was her first time eating Mee Siam, and was the first time of many that she would declare the meal 'delicious'. I tried a bit myself to see how it compared to other Nyonya Mee Siams I've had. It held up well with the noodles having that chewy texture while being dry. It had that nice sour flavour without being overpoweringly acidic. We both agreed our portions sizes were good, as we were satisfied without being overly full.
For drinks we had iced kopi, very refreshing after all the running we did. With its strong and sweet flavour, we were definitely awake after drinking these.
As our gate would be open shortly we decided to get 5 of the Nyonya quehs as takeway to eat at the boarding gate.
We started on a bland note with the Ubi Ulap. I had picked it since it was topped with the orange coconut sugar I've always liked on appom. Apart from this however, we found the texture to be like a very plain potato cake. Definitely not our favourite.
Things thankfully improved with the Chendol Agar Agar that came next. I'm not usually a fan of agar agar jellies in terms of texture but this was a lot tastier that the Ubi Ulap with that fudgey chendol flavour and the red beans inside. This was a successful adaptation into jelly form.
Next was the safe bet amongst the lot – Mango Agar Agar. As is often the case when a dish is to her liking, Alissa nodded her approval. She declared this one 'classic', and I had to agree. Again, agar agar is not my favourite jelly texture but this was broken up by the softer, springier sago balls set inside. I appreciated this contrast.
Ondeh Ondeh was next. This again was very immediately likeable, being flavoured with coconut and deliciously sweet. What's not to like?
Finally, we had the queh that the staff and Chinta Manis said was their most popular – the Pulut Seri Kaya. Given how much he loves eating kaya, I could really imagine my Dad loving this one. The smooth texture of the kaya and the glutinous rice were like a sweet omelette and rice pudding cake.
The Verdict: Very GoodI'm not the biggest fan of quehs but these were of a very good standard and I was satisfied with our lunch in transit. 'Cheap and Shiok' declared an article on Chinta Manis' walls, and with our meal being both very cheap and very tasty, I couldn't help but agree.