London Street Foodie on Tour: Singapore street food Part 2
There was so much here (and this is without even touching on the restaurant scene) so I hope you enjoy reading part 2 of my forage through the hawker centres of Singapore.
WHAT I ATE (cont…)
(ratings: * yeah, alright, ** mmm, *** now we’re talking, **** yeehaa, ***** I’m going back for more)
*****Ondeh ondeh, Orchard Ion foodhall (Pictured above)
The biggest surprise Singapore street food hit of all. I pounced on these becauase I am a sweets magpie and they were brightly coloured and covered in dessicated coconut. What they actually were is ondeh ondeh, Malay sweets like dumplings made from glutinous rice flour, palm sugar, pandan, cooked and rolled in coconut. These are like sweet, edible stretchy playdough. George and I each had two in quick succession.
***Pork and cabbage steamed dumplings, stall 01-1138, People’s Park, Chinatown
This is vast canteen near the train station. Everywhere around me people are moving about eating, choosing, munching, slurping, cooking, cleaning and clearing. This is a mammoth cleaning operation, with stooping octogenarians like worker bees weaving between tables finding dirty plates to stack up on trolleys or spare tables. Many, many people eat on their own here. Couples eating together sit, heads down in a bowl of noodles, chopsticking and sucking up food as they go. They don’t talk, they just concentrate on the food. I pick a place; three ladies man the stand, one at the back taking pre-made dough from a huge sack and filling it with different things. Another takes orders from the front, assembles soups, steams dumplings, etc. The frozen dumplings are also available to buy. At the front is stack of spoons, chopsticks, soy sauce and saucers, and hot saucers. From an array of pig organ congee, fish head soup, cow’s guts porridge (probably) and a million other intriguing sounding things, I stayed simple and picked the fresh steamed dumplings (6 for $4) which were light and forgiving, the soy sauce piquant and the side ginger fresh and fiery.
*Iced sour plum juice, stall near 1-1136, People’s Park, Chinatown
The syrup comes from a carton and has ice and water added to it. It is absolutely refreshing and sweet in an odd sort of way. But there was no tartness to mine; it had more of a kind of stocky base flavour which is hard to describe. I’d probably have sugar cane juice or pearl tea next time.
*****Fruit juices, specialist bars everywhere
I tried many, and all of which (bar the sour plum juice) were excellent and affordable.
****Carrot cake, Stall No 01-1136, People’s Park, Chinatown
This time it’s a two-man operation – all spick and span, with nothing out of place. There are also stacks and stacks of eggs. I order a small portion which the tourist board tells me is the top rated Peranakan (Chinese-Malay) food. Incidentally there are no carrots here; this refers to the shredded daikon. My lady fries little pieces of these squidgy white radishes, adds chilli then batter from a jug, tosses and turns them with flat serving tongs, and leaves them to sizzle for a few seconds before serving the whole lot up with scattered chives and coriander on top. It is gummy in texture, the chilli is warming and overall a surprisingly pleasant experience.
**** Curry laksa, Orchard Ion Foodhall
“You’ve gotta have you some Peranakan laksa” says Caz on my first day. But it wasn’t until the last day that I got round to trying some. This is like a delicious coconut milk-based broth, filled with vegetables, cockles, prawns, vermicelli noodles and various other floating objects. It is chilli-hot and sweet and milky and feels healthy.ish. I’ll get more of a fix in Melbourne, I hear.
WHAT I WON’T BE EATING AGAIN (ratings: * quite bad, ** worse, *** horrific)
*Fried dough: Orchard Ion food hall
Back at the ranch I tried this shapely fried dough, only to discover that it was, literally, just fried dough. No sugar, no toppings, just really oily fluff. So I wouldn’t go far to eat that again.
*******Ice cream sandwich, street seller
Now if you’re like me, you will be drawn to anything that looks a bit zaney or new. Aha, cue multicoloured sandwiches filled with multicoloured ice cream that I never knew I even wanted until they were there in front of me. Once I’d arrived at the front of the queue, I thought I’d go all out and order the durian flavour in pink and blue bread, just to be different (everyone else was ordering plain chocolate). This was easily THE MOST DISGUSTING THING I have ever eaten, and I have tried a lot of weird stuff in many countries. I don’t have a good reference point here so I’m going to say it’s like some sort of aged walnut smashed up with a bar of mothball scented soap. THAT is what durian is. It leaves a horrific acrid taste in your mouth which doesn’t leave until you’ve brushed your teeth at least twice. However charming the old man serving it to me was, I will never, ever, go back there again.
Next: Sydney street food
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