3 unusual Singapore hawker stalls

3 unusual Singapore hawker stalls

Ikan billis pizza and duck confit? New age hawkers are sexing up Singapore’s street eats
Saveur's foie gras is less than S$10.

A sous vide bath next to a kopi stall?

With low rents and news of more hawker centers to be built, many chefs are looking to Singapore’s great equalizer as a test bed for their culinary skills.

This new development is a boon for the local hawker scene, which of late has seen a slew of mass-market stalls sprouting up, producing more of the same; with no culinary flair whatsoever. 

No wonder, these new hawkers are finding favor with Singapore’s foodies, happy to put aside their plates of chicken rice and char kway teow, and try something new, and at reasonable prices as well.

The humble Singapore hawker center is evolving with the times –- and it can only be a good thing.

Saveur

Saveur's angel hair pasta.French food does not have to be haughty and expensive.

Saveur's young upstarts Joshua Khoo See Sen, 27, and Dylan Ong Shun Ping, 24, are determined to realize their dreams: to learn the ropes of the industry so they can eventually open their own restaurant.

Between them they have résumés that include stints at the Raffles Hotel, Guy Savoy and Flutes at the Fort. But all that was left behind to set up a sous vide water bath in a hawker center.

The two cited the low-risk commercial investment as a big reason for choosing  the hawker center for their first foray into the scene, and they’re keen to pass on the rental savings to their menu.

A salmon and duck confit are a very reasonable S$8.90 while the beef bourguignon is slightly steeper at S$13.90. There are pastas, salads and even foie gras for S$7.50.

The Joo Chiat location was also strategically chosen for its gentrifying crowd and the younger, hipper residents.

And so far the response has been promising.

“Most customers are very happy with the food that we offer and they appreciate our effort,” says Ong. “Some of the guests will even come and thank us.”

Stall 3, Ali Baba Eating House, 125 East Coast Road, +65 6100 1788. Open Monday-Saturday noon-2 p.m.; 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. 

Greens

Greens' Soba so Good salad. Greens’ unlikely location at Golden Mile Food Centre does double duty as a clever marketing ploy.

Owner Celeste Tan is filling a niche, targeting customers seeking a robust salad, but at street food prices.

And while some of the older neighborhood locals are tut-tut ting, other customers are hanging Greens menu in their office pantry.

The humble surrounds belie a surprisingly modern salad menu that starts at S$4.80.

Customers make their choices from a range of ingredients, which include unconventional (and more Asian) offerings such as lotus root, banguang, dou miao and enoki mushrooms, topped by creative dressings: yuzu vinaigrette and Thai lemongrass, amongst others. 

“There are still relatively fewer choices for the health-conscious folk in our food centers,” says Tan. “This is the little space we hope to fill.”

“As a society, we are a lot more cosmopolitan these days. So while Greens, because of its location, still sticks out like a sore thumb, there are also some folks who appreciate our presence.”

Monday-Friday, 11.30 a.m.-4 p.m. #01-98 Golden Mile Food Centre, 505 Beach Road.

Happy Family Pasta & Pizza

The man behind Happy Family Pasta & Pizza. Given that good pizzas and pastas are generally over-priced in Singapore, there is an instant customer base attracted by the option of good-sized pizzas for S$4 and a hearty pasta at S$5.80.

Since December 2009, people from all over have been sampling Mr. Lingam’s Italian offerings, which he proudly declares are “restaurant standard.”

The offerings are a mixture of traditional Italian fare (fungi pizza, linguini bolognaise, linguini seafood marinara) and those with an Asian twist (ikan bilis sambal pizza).

“Many of my regular customers come from the workplaces around Toa Payoh to drop in for a quick bite,” says Lingam. “The longest you have to wait is six minutes.”

#02-39, Block 127 Toa Payoh Lorong 1. Daily 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m.

 

 

 

Aimee Chan is an Australian editor and writer based in Singapore. She enjoys travel, food, books and good company, not necessarily in that order.

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