Maxwell Food Center
Maxwell Food Center is a HUGE Hawker Centre on the edge of Chinatown with well over 100 little food stalls selling every type of Malaysian, Singaporean, Chinese and Indian food imaginable (and probably the unimagined too). I ensconced The Boy at a table directly under a ceiling fan and went off to explore.
The general rule of thumb at a Hawkers Center is to go for the stall with the longest queue - it doesn't actually matter if you know what's on offer or not. A long queue basically equates to a top feed. But those guidelines don't apply to hot, grumpy, sweating, tired tourists like moi - so I did a lap of the place and settled on somewhere with a "medium to short" sized queue.
My first foray into the Hawkers Center saw me return with a Watermelon Juice for The Boy and a Soursop Smoothie for me. Man, I LOVE Soursop and it was on offer EVERYWHERE in Singers. Soursop tastes a little like a mix between an orange and a banana and it is so delicious. I'm addicted. Lucky for me it is available at home and you can find an excellent Soursop Smoothie in Cabramatta.
My second lap around Maxwell saw me bring back a plate of Roast Pork with all the fixings for the The Boy. This cost about AUD$3...really.
Two (of the many) things I REALLY wanted to try in Singapore were Rojak and Popiah. I happened across this stall that sold both of these plus Cockles. We got a small plate of Cockles to share but to be honest they weren't to my taste...the texture and flavour were something my palate couldn't quite embrace, and I've to tell you they were impossible to open! After about five each we gave up much to the joy of the lady cleaning our table - I think she went in to a dark corner somewhere and scoffed the lot.
The Popiah was fantastic, a thin pancake-like wrap which held a filling of vegies like lettuce and carrot along with some noodles and tofu. We both really enjoyed the Rojak too - a fruit and vegetable salad with quite a thick, sweet dressing. The whole lot is sprinkled with crushed peanuts. Apart from a crunchy cucumber I'm not really sure what was in our Rojak, but it was GREAT!
After an hour of solid eating we head off for a bit more sightseeing. Right across from Maxwell Food Center is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum which is air-conditioned *happy dance* and has a lovely roof-top garden which is a nice place to sit and let lunch digest.
Newton Circus Hawker Center
Another day, another opportunity to visit a Hawker Center - but not without a bit of sightseeing around Little India and a visit to the ENORMOUS Mustafa department stall (where we spent ages and The Boy walked away with five new ties). We also paid a visit to the elaborate Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. What an amazing place - full of life and colour. We had no idea what was going on but it was fascinating to watch people go about their daily worship rituals. This guy in the photo below insisited I take his photo and posed quite seriously for a series of snaps - bless him!
After our wandering we headed over to Newton Food Centre - a short train ride away. This place is a bit more "open" than Maxwell, with not much a roofed area - we managed to find a seat under a fan though.
We started off with drinks - a Soursop Juice for me (surprise surprise) which contained slices of real Soupsop and a Milo Godzilla for The Boy which is some sort of cold Milo drink topped with whipped cream and chocolate topping. You won't find Milo Godzilla in your Jenny Craig lunchbox, but it was pretty tasty.
Our first meal was a small serve of Hainanese Chicken Rice. To be honest I've had Hainanese Chicken Rice in Sydney and didn't really like it at all - I'm not fond of the texture of the cold chicken and I always thought it was a bit...flavourless. I wasn't really keen to try this...but I did and I'm glad I did as it was really lovely, so flavoursome and just...perfect! We had a few Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore after this and they were all amazing. Another dish on my hit list was Carrot Cake - it is available as Black Carrot Cake (which was more like a fritter shape) and this White Carrot Cake which was similar to Cha Kway Teow I guess, although fermented carrot replaces the oodles of noodles. Loved it.
Buoyed by our chicken rice experience The Boy decided to try the Duck Rice which was on offer at Newton. Not as good as the chicken rice (the flavours weren't as clean with it being more of a saucy dish), but still really nice. Meanwhile I developed a total obsession with the colourful lady who was working the CKT stall - she seemed like the Godmother of Newton, buzzing around and chatting to everyone.
After lunch we headed down to the harbour for some more sight seeing and a ride on the (un-airconditioned) cable car. We also had a quick look around Sentonsa Island - the "playground" of Singapore. Meh.
On our last night in Singapore we headed down to Gluttons Bay - an open air, outdoor Hawker style eatery on the waterfront. Gluttons Bay is a mix of street carts selling Singapore's most popular, and delicious, Hawker fare and it is really aimed at tourists but we spied lots of locals there chowing down. We LOVED our night here - it was so vibrant and fun, and as the sun had gone down it was blissfully cool.
We grab a table, along with two Sugar Cane Juices, and pull out our arsenal of Hawker Center staples - tissues and wet ones. Let the eating begin!
This time I sent The Boy out to forage for food and he came back with a plate of crispy BBQ Chicken Wings (yum) and a mixed plate of Chicken and Beef Satay Skewers (also YUM).
Half way through our meat-fest I left The Boy to go in search of the one thing I was DESPERATE to try in Singapore - Kaya Toast. Holy mother of God Batman, this simple little dish of grilled toast, spread with Kaya Jam (a jam which is a combination of coconut and egg), adorned with generous pads of butter is the most delicious thing I've eaten in a LONG time. We dipped the Kaya Toast into two soft boiled eggs that are mixed with a splash of soy sauce and white pepper...sigh. Simple, but total perfection. Whilst each of the ingredients is simple in its own right, mixing everything together is a flavour sensation, helped along by the cool pad of rich, creamy butter. I'm in LOVE and I was really quite upset that The Boy wanted to go halvies in this.
Despite our groaning stomachs we decide to finsih our last dinner in Singapore with another Cha Kway Teow. CKT in Singapore is studded with cockles and it didn't really have that smokey Wok breath" that seems so elusive to many CKTs. I have to say, the CKT I've had from Jackie M in Sydney beats any of the CKT we had in Singapore hands down.
Maxwell Food Center is at 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore.
Newtown Food Center is at 500 Clemenceau Ave, Singapore.
Gluttons Bay is at 8 Raffles Ave, Singapore.