Monday, April 11, 2011

Singapore - Street Vendor Food Part 1

I apologize for the delay in our remaining Singapore posts. Emi has been traveling and she was supposed to write these posts, so I'm stepping in to "save the day". And these posts outline some of the most amazing food from the trip.

If you ask anyone familiar with Singapore, they'll rave on and on about the food and specifically food from the street vendors or hawker centres. Walking into my first hawker centre/food market was like dying and going to heaven. My eyes and the room in my stomach couldn't take it all in because I wanted to try everything.

Tekka Market in Little India is where our hosts do some of their shopping. Since grocery stores are sort of expensive and not on every corner like here in the US, people buy their fresh produce, fish, and meats from these markets. Only problem with this market is that the smell of mutton wafts throughout the area. Mutton is old sheep and it smells exactly how it sounds. Old and rotten, yet Indians love it, and if cooked right I'm sure it can taste just fine, but it smells horrible.

Already on our first day is Emi haggling with the produce guy. She bought us the best honey mangoes I've ever had, soft, juicy, and sweet. Honey mangoes is a good name for them. We also bought some apple pears from Malaysia, but those don't compare with the ones we can get in Eastern Washington.

For breakfast we went to the hawker centre on Old Airport Way which is within walking distance from our hosts condo. This place was teeming with locals, which was exactly what we were looking for and the perfect way to start off our first morning in Singapore. With the affordable prices and multitude of offerings, I told our friend, the issue isn't running out of money, but running out of room in my stomach!

The place above specialized in fresh fruit drinks.

So of course Emi needed a lime juice.

hmm pork belly and charsiu, delicious and look at those prices! Take off about 25% and that's the US equivalent.

This hawker centre had everything, I didn't eat at this place, but thought it was interesting because they specialized in all things crocodile.

This was a dish we had never tried before called fish otah. Basically it's fish paste wrapped in a banana leaf and barbecued. Not amazing, but something different and unique.

My pork belly and charssssuhhh over rice.

Our first chicken rice, which if Singapore had a national dish, this would be it. Anthony Bourdain has been to Singapore multiple times, but the story goes he was booed at a public event after the interviewer got him to admit he had never tried chicken rice. Singapore loves their chicken rice and BOOM on our first morning we had it.

Basically they cook the rice in chicken fat to give it a delicious, salty, fatty, rich flavor and then they pour a sauce over it.

One of our favorites of the trip, Roti Prata and the first of many on the trip. This thin, crepe like, buttery, greasy bread was delicious and awesome in the spicy dipping sauce. My friend who had lived in Singapore, said this is an ideal late night, after drinking meal.

Emi and her friend, Muhammed Ali, "like the boxer" he said while putting up his dukes. Emi saw a witch's cauldron of soup stewing and started up a conversation with Muhammed to see what he was brewing. She learned that he had mutton soup, which wasn't exactly what Emi was looking for, but not wanting to be rude she bought some. He also had the delicious roti prata.

Emi with her mutton soup. This ended up being really, really good. The broth was amazing and completely unexpected. After smelling the old mutton in Tekka Market, we thought the soup would taste like the smell, but were pleasantly surprised. The meat was sort of tough and not that great, so we mainly enjoyed the broth.

We were stuffed after this meal, but understood why the street vendor food in Singapore is famous across the world. Also what might come as a surprise to some is that all of the stands are super clean and are even graded from A down to C based off of cleanliness. People avoid the C stands, so you really want to get marked an A or B and you wear it for good or bad like a scarlet letter because it's posted as a sign on your stand.

More to come tomorrow on some other amazing street vendor food we enjoyed in Singapore.

- Kyle


  1. Over the weekend I watched that Anthony Bourdain Singapore episode and it made me think of you all! I recognized the food mall court he went to from your post and know the chicken and rice story you are taking about!

  2. I don't need to go to Singapore now since I feel like I traveled with you with all these photos :0

  3. Carol, the Top Chef All-Stars episode where they go to Singapore is what really made us want to go. If you haven't seen that episode, try to find it!