After my many trips to Singapore, I thought I have successfully convinced myself that Singapore’s hawker/street food will never compare to Malaysia’s. However, being the optimistic people we are, we still decide to ‘try’ their hawker food time and time again.
I really wonder when we’ll stop ‘trying’.
The boyfriend, LC and I were in Singapore for Phantom of the Opera (Oh my gosh it was so so so so so so sooooo good! <3) and during the trip, we stayed in Little India. Yes, full of food except during the fasting month.
We were there during the fasting month. Oh gosh.
We decided to eat brunch that day at a restaurant right next to our hotel (81 Dickson).
There was a prawn noodle store that was opened 24 hours. Hey, if it’s 24 hours, business must be really good and therefore the food should be really good too, right? Well, that logic didn’t apply this time.
I was shocked to see clear broth and the meehoon that I ordered was the thick kind that really doesn’t go well with soup. What were they thinking?! Needless to say, it wasn’t good. I wouldn’t say it’s bad. But, it is just not the prawn noodles I know!
The boyfriend decided to go with ‘chap fan’. Smart choice.
Unconvinced, we decided to try some chicken rice balls, also served at the same restaurant. Our first reaction was ‘what on earth is that black soup?!’ It turned out to be some herbal soup with ‘taufu pok’. Very weird tasting. The ‘chicken’ turned out to be a mixture of thinly sliced pork and chicken. Where’s my usual chunky chicken, dammit?! The meat was tasteless and even with the sauce, the taste wasn’t salvageable. The rice was edible.
Maybe after this round of hawker food, we would really learn our lesson.
On a happier note, we found Gong Cha at bugis+. Hello, familiar taste!
Dinner that night was at sukiya with Malaysian and Singaporean friends. Food was good of course. It’s the same sukiya that we know of in Malaysia.
This was the star of the night! Chicken meatballs stuffed with cheese. So sinful!
Later on that night, we had a mamak session at a place claiming to have the ‘best prata in Singapore’, The Roti Prata House. Reviews of the place are available at Bussinesstimes.com.sg. The place was full to the brim when we arrived and we had to station ourselves to wait at 3 different tables before we had a seat 15 minutes later. At that time, we were thinking ‘wow this place must be really good’. The waiting time was also a good 15 minutes before we got our food. Heck, even ordering was difficult since there were so many customers and there was easily a ratio of 1 waiter to 10 customers.
Since they claim to have the best prata in Singapore, what do you do? Of course, order a prata! On top of that, we had a roti bom kaya, teh ais and teh o ais limau. Very normal. Nothing extraordinary that we won’t order back in KL.
Oh what a big mistake we made.
In the photo above, the darker piece is the roti bom kaya. The roti prata is in the background. Our Malaysian roti prata is fluffy, smacked a few times to give it air and crisp.
This roti prata has the texture of heated frozen wholemeal chapatti that we get in KL. I’m sorry, for the first time, I have to say ‘best prata, my a**’. Please come to Malaysia to learn our version or go to India to learn the original. It was just so bad.
The roti bom kaya fared better but it wasn’t all that great either. The roti was hard and thick.
Hoping to save the place some face, I decided to order a roti durian. The minute the plate reached the table, I smelled it even though I was preoccupied with a game. The roti durian was the saving grace. It was better than everything else and actually had real durian puree in it. The roti texture however was still a bit tough like the rest.
On top of that, their tea had been steeped for too long that all the drinks with tea failed with flying colours that night. The only drink that passed the taste test was limau ais that our fellow Malaysian drank.
Talking about fellow Malaysian, this very same person was the one who brought us here and recommended the roti bom kaya and roti durian. Later on he went ‘Why you order roti prata la??’. We countered ‘It’s the best prata in Singapore, what were we supposed to order??’ Adoi.
For lunch the following day, we walked to Bugis once again. The night before, we had a chat about a new Durian Mcflurry that they were serving so Mcdonalds was already in our minds as lunch for the next day.
Spicy Chicken Mcdeluxe is our staple in KL and we realised that the spiciness has been toned down to suit the local tastebuds in Singapore. The fries were good though, thankfully. The Durian Mcflurry was a milky coloured durian flavoured syrup (we asked for no rice puffs) and vanilla ice cream. It turned to be no big deal but it was okay tasting.
My favorite sweet and spicy chilli sauce is not available here and is replaced with some garlicky, sandy textured chilli sauce. The tomato ketchup had the same sandy texture so the boyfriend decided to double back to the counters to accept the honey mustard sauce that the cashier offered us earlier. It was acceptable but sigh, nothing beats our chilli sauce back in KL.
After all the failures of local hawker food, we gave up on the local food the night after Phantom at Marina Bay Sands and headed to a Thai stall located slightly opposite of our hotel. The tables and seats were in a side alley with air-conditioner condensers above our heads. It turned out to be the best ‘hawker food’ we had in Singapore. The tom yam fried rice was a little wet but tasty. The basil with chicken was good too. We had a crabmeat with egg as well (an expensive SGD15) which is not visually appealing (hence the lack of a photo) but tasted good.
I suppose it was lesson learned. No more local hawker food in Singapore. Not even those in air-conditioned food courts in shopping malls. There is no way they can beat the Malaysians when it comes to hawker food.
The following day, we were scheduled to leave for KL and we had food with a Malaysian in Singapore once again. Thank you Theresa for bringing us to a curry place in Novena that restored our faith in Singapore food. It was really good. Chunky chicken, thick curry laced with milk and spices.
I don’t remember the place anymore but it’s a popular place with marble tables and wooden chairs facing the First Coach pick up area in Novena. There would be a queue for seats during lunch time that will only clear after 2pm.
It was a wonderful trip. It was great to meet up with friends that I’ve not seen for a long while.
It wasn’t a good food trip though. Perhaps after this, we would finally be convinced that the hawker food in Singapore is a ‘gone case’ situation.