Singapore’s market feasts and street treats

Like many countries in Asia, Singapore is one that is made up of many markets – all spread across the city and all offering selections of items for purchase. 
Some people may choose to just browse the markets for bargain goods and knick knacks, but for me the markets is all about food. Exciting and diverse combinations of hawker stands that offer varieties of fares to enjoy and savour. 

While on our holiday, Jeremy and I unfortunately were unable to go for the famous chicken rice at Maxwell Food Centre or to Glutton’s Bay since they were both under renovations during our time there. Just means we’ll be back again though!
However we did get to check out quite a few other markets around the city in our few days there, and some produced some outstanding results. Since I didn’t bring my camera to all the places, I’ve just blogged on the ones where I did.

Lau Pa Sat

Every night at Lau Pa Sat markets a small street is closed off to traffic and hawker stands set up with tables in between. Sitting down you instantly get a waft of the charcoal and sizzling meats as their heady aromas float along on the breeze. 
This area of the markets is dedicated to satay. Beef, mutton, chicken and prawn. You take your pick (they work out at around 60 cents per stick or less depending how much you buy) and then the servers run off to get the satay sticks for you from the various stands cooking them. You also have the option of adding vegetables and tiger beer from other servers doing the rounds throughout all the busy tables. 
Jeremy and I are pretty much drooling as we wait for our food; and the excitement is pretty much accurate when it arrives. 
We get 10 prawn, 5 beef, 5 mutton and 10 chicken sticks to munch away on. What a great choice – the prawns and the chicken were by far the best of the night.
The prawns arrive in shell, coated in salt and skewered down the middle for ease of peeling. We dunk the meat in the bowls of peanut laden satay sauce that we’re given to accompany our food. It’s sweet, well cooked and so fresh that I actually want to swoon. 

Though old school Singaporeans will tell you this pricing of under 60 cents a stick is expensive, I can only marvel at the value. It’s easily some of the best satay I’ve ever had and I love that it’s actually been cooked in the traditional way with the chefs fanning the flames to ensure consistent cooking and flavour absorption from the smoke.

The satay plate comes with sticky rice cakes too, perfect for mopping up every drop of the satay liquid in our bowls. The beef and mutton are tender and flavoursome, but the chicken is the really exciting meat. It is melt in your mouth; smokey and oh so delicious. I could have sat there eating skewers forever.

Inside Lau Pa Sat is a more typical market, which is open 24/7 to the public. There’s a diverse offering of cuisines of Asian descent, but I only had eyes for one place. A little stand in one corner which had at least half the people inside the market lining up in front of it. I was guessing it had to be good based on the popularity!

This stands serves three dishes only – char kway teow, carrot cake and fried oyster. All delicious things in my opinion! But we decide to share a plate of char kway teow between us, and though it’s a bit difficult since the elderly couple that run this place speak no english, eventually we get there and have our food cooked fresh to order.

The kway teow is a smokey as it should be from having an extremely hot pan. The balance of flavours is spot on and I like the mixture of ingredients that all seem to play an important part in the quality of the dish.

Crunchy bean shoots, salty oysters and chewy fish cakes. There’s the flat noodles which are traditionally used in this dish but there’s also some egg noodles which normally I wouldn’t appreciate in my kway teow but they just seem to enhance the overall taste.

The inside of the market is much quieter by night than the attractive satay streets outdoors. While I did enjoy our noodles inside, the satay was definitely the highlight of the evening. But inside is worth a trip, especially if just for a refreshing (and cheap) fresh sugar cane juice or a frothy orange juice. 
Chinatown
Many places in Chinatown have no name; just a location and a great dish worth eating. There’s not much I can say here except Chinatown is my favourite place to eat in Singapore and there’s nothing better than crouching over a table in a foodhall with sweat running down the back of your neck as you munch away on food with the locals. 
As most of my friends and Jeremy know all too well, I love congee. It is and probably always will be my go to meal whenever I’m in Asia. I need it at least once. Or twice. Or as many times as I can. 
The congee in Chinatown is full of flavour; deep and intense stock used with soft fillets of fish, spring onions, boiled peanuts and dried garlic. Yum, yum, yum! I love it even more so when you get some crunchy yu teow on top that soaks in the rice porridge and intensifies the combination of flavours and textures. 

Also in Chinatown is a great selection of a dish that I grew up making and eating in my household. Cong you bing is basically a Chinese pancake made up of flaky pastry like ingredients and scallions. It’s cooked on the stove like a pancake and is best eaten when laden with chilli sauce of even a fried egg on top.

The cong you bing in Chinatown is delicious – and oh so cheap. Think S$2 for the two slices we got take away – one plain, one chilli. The chilli one is by far the best. It’s oily, spicy and just incredibly moorish. It’s the perfect snack or if you get a couple, a delicious meal for cheap.

Takashimaya

While Takashimaya on Orchard Road isn’t quite your traditional market,  and is actually a shopping centre, there is down the bottom a gorgeous little food market.

This part of the building is incredibly busy; with people walking around munching away happily and lines forming behind each stand. You can tell what’s good here because the lines (like always in Singapore) demonstrate which place you should eat at.

Lining up at takopachi

Since we’d already had lunch on this particular day, Jeremy and I decided to go for something light – something like takoyaki. The line was incredibly long, but when we finally reached the start, we settled on three octopus and three prawn balls. They come served in little containers with sweet sauce and mayonnaise and bento flakes on top. All for a cheap couple dollars.

The batter is light; the filling delicious. The seafood is fresh and tender; the flavours true as you would find in any Japanese restaurant. It’s a definitely delicious afternoon snack!

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Yen
    5 November 2012 at 2:29 am

    the chicken rice in Singapore is amazing you should definitely try next time

  • Reply
    Queen of Bad Timing
    12 November 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I know! I'm sure I'll be back soon and then chicken rice stalls watch out πŸ™‚ there's just too many good things to eat in this city!

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