We are in the thick of this year's Singapore Food Festival, which features a few events, including a Kueh Appreciation Day on July 23 (ToTT Store, 896, Dunearn Road) plus hawker food sold at an old-school price of 50 cents on July 29 and 30 (Chinatown Food Street, Smith Street), where you can tuck into Hakka abacus seeds, Cantonese paper-wrapped chicken and Hokkien rickshaw noodles. But as Singaporeans know, it is a food festival here every day. With hundreds of public hawker centres, private food halls and markets, as well as coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, pop-up events and festivals, no one can escape the food tsunami we have throughout the island. So this week, I take a ride out to the non-gazetted tourist zones in my occasional food trek covering Singapore's hawker centres. When it comes to finding food at the fork in the road, I take the road less travelled.
What's Good At Bukit Merah View Food Centre, 115, Bukit Merah View
1. We Western, Stall 01-19, Noon-10pm daily
I once saw a diner crossing my path holding a plate of meat and a giant sausage - it was like a moment out of food porn television. So I went to look for the Chicken Chop ($6) and topped it with an almost foot-long pork sausage ($3). I then knew why so many people were in the queue. It was hearty, roasty, juicy, generous and comforting. The best part? The sausage skin was crunchy. I will be back for the fried spring chicken, with another giant sausage of course.
2. Chai Chuan Tou Yang Rou Tang, Stall 01-51, 11am-2.30pm, Monday to Saturday, closed on Sunday and public holiday
There's always a queue here, till the last bowl, but service is fast. The gaminess of the soup is tamed by light herbs and a touch of pepper and the meat comes soft (from $5). I ordered the mixed meat and offal version ($7.50), took every piece and sank it in the tangy, spicy chilli sauce, and was reminded why aficionados like such a sensation. This is a good starting point for beginners of Chinese-style mutton soup.
3. SG50 Yong Tau Foo, Stall 01-16, 10am-7pm daily
This is probably one of the best franchise hawker stalls I have come across. You won't see decks of pre-made yong tau foo pieces on display, except for the bean skin rolls simmering in a pot of soy bean and ikan bilis broth. When I ordered (and I did so twice over a week), the cook took out fresh chillies, a bittergourd and eggplant, deseeded and cut them, then stuffed and smeared them with minced fish and pork paste. He cooks only a few pieces ahead in anticipation of the peak-hour crowd. Go for the Yuan Yang Yong Tau Foo (from $6) and the Fried Yong Tau Foo with just the stuffed bean skin and stuffed reversed tau pok (this one is magical).
This article was first published at The New Paper, 20 July 2017.