The internet makes it easier than ever to find the gems hiding in plain sight across the world’s great cities, but nothing compares to local knowledge when it comes to food. Singapore is truly a culinary capital, and there’s a lot more to eat than Chilli Mud Crab. We sent Mark Hughes, Editor of Selector Magazine, on a whirlwind tour of Singapore so he could eat his way through some of Asia’s best street food.
07:30 – The day kicks off with breakfast in the Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre. Not your usual tourist trap, the market was rebuilt in 2004 and was designed to fit in with the local architecture. Now it’s a hulking 3 storey structure with a wet market selling meat and fish on the ground floor and a giant hawker hall on the second. The huge food court has 83 separate stalls and room for 1400 diners.
Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre, located within the market.
Our intrepid eater starts with Chwee Kueh (steamed rice cakes), Yam Cakes, Fish Ball Noodles, Chai Dao Kueh (fried radish cake) and Loh Mee (a delicious noodle dish with thick starchy gravy), all finished off with coffee and soy milk. A real breakfast of champions. After a quick stroll through the sights and smells of the wet market, it’s on to the harbour front.
Clockwise from the left: Mark enjoying the Loh Mee; Chwee Kueh; Chai Dao Kueh.
09:30 – The HarbourFront Food Republic is the next stop on the food adventure. This mecca for street food has a diverse range of stalls spread over 2500 square metres and houses an entire Hakka Village (a circular walled village unique to southern China) and a marriage sedan. Here the offerings included Prawns with Fried Hokkien Noodles, Bak Kut Teh (pork ribs cooked in broth) and finish off with Kueh Tutu (a steamed, sweet rice flour dumpling). And with barely time to digest, it’s time to move onwards!
Top: Food Republic at HarbourFront; Left bottom: Bak Kut Teh; Right bottom: Kueh Tutu.
11:30 – The public hawker centre at the Old Kallang Airport is a seriously cool place to have a meal and has been serving locals since 1973 (not long after the government got hawkers off the street). As it’s a public (government owned) centre, the former airport offers some of the best value for money around. Char Kuey Teow (an absolute must in Singapore) and Hokkien Mee are buttressed with Kway Chap (braised rice sheets in delicious soup), Otak-Otak (grilled fish cakes), Rojak (fruit and veggie salad) and Fried Carrot Cake.
Top: Hawker centre at the Old Kallang Airport; Bottom (clockwise from left): Rojak, Otak-otak, Char Kuay Teow, Popiah.
14:00 – After a quick walking tour of Geylang street (Singapore’s red light district) to work off some calories, it’s back to eating at the Geylang Serai market. On the menu are Mee Siam (a dish with thin vermicelli rice noodles in a broth), Kambing (mutton) soup, Nasi Padang, and Nasi Lemak. The Geylang Serai market has been around since the 1930s, when hawkers first started selling food in the area. A Malay cultural heartland, it’s a great snapshot of the Malay influence on Singaporean culture.
15:00 – Somehow our food warrior is still standing, so it’s time to feed him some Katong Laksa and some Kueh Pai Tee (a tart filled with veggies and prawns) before a well-earned break before dinner.
328 Katong Laksa at East Coast Road.
18:30 – Dinner is served up at the East Coast Lagoon Food Centre, a much more relaxed, resort style food centre with views of the ocean. Many of the tables are in the open air, with the salty tang of the ocean adding to the spice and crunch of the food. Though it’s a little bit out of the way, it’s definitely worth a visit. The evening meal consists of some more Singapore street classics, with BBQ Chicken Wings, Ikan Bakar (grilled fish), Malay Satay and Wonton Noodles. With a bulging stomach and a satisfied smile, Mark heads home to drop into the food coma to end all food comas and reset for Day 2 of his street food Odyssey.
Top: Mark enjoying BBQ Chicken Wings with ice-cold Tiger Beer; Left bottom: East Coast Lagoon Food Village; Right bottom: Ikan Bakar.
Stay tuned for part 2, and for recipes of some of our favourite dishes from our adventures!
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