Singapore: Hawker Heaven

Singapore was supposed to be a quick stop, but turned into a five day feast after discovering our first hawker center.  Leah and I were thrilled to be in a country where bland noodles and rice were put to competition with hundreds of other eclectic, mouthwatering dishes.  No need to walk to a certain area to eat a certain food.  A hawker center was like a theme park of Asian cuisine.  A playground of flavors and food.  Each booth sold it’s specialty dish and each a little different from it’s neighbor, with newspaper clippings of their ranking and acknowledgment plastered to the glass window with pride.  And ice cold fruit juice and beverage booths in between.  This was serious.

We knew we only had 3 meals a day.  But, the deal breaker with our hostel was the free breakfast.  Included in the price of $15 was two free hard boiled eggs and unlimited white toast, with an array of condiments to pack on the empty calories.  We financially couldn’t afford to not take advantage of this.  Therefore, this left us with only 2 meals and 5 days which would equal 10 meals.  After our breakfast, we explored each area by foot to work up our appetite.  We walked the impeccably clean streets fearful of getting a fine for drinking water in the subway or accidentally popping a piece of gum to cover up coffee breath in the morning, strictly abiding by the rules of  “the city of fines.”   Some days we would walk 10 or more kilometers.  Other days just a couple, using the subway when the afternoon heat and humidity struck hard.  Shopping malls and sky rises, parks and beaches.  Singapore has everything, but some things cost a pretty penny.  A single bottle of beer could cost up to $15.  And a pack of cigarettes $12.  So, you don’t drink or smoke!

But, back to the hawkers.  We found ourselves counting down the hours and minutes to our next meal, after mindfully diving into each dish, analyzing it, rejecting it or savoring it.  We were engulfed in the cuisine, comparing it and obsessing over each spoonful.  Testing, tasting and trying a little bit of everything. From sambal stingray, to curry laksa, oyster omelettes and grilled jumbo prawns, each day a new culinary adventure to look forward to.  Along with our meal at the hawker center, we chose from iced Chinese teas, with endless health benefits, or strange fruits squeezed into juices, such as iced soursop and durian, Tiger beer, coffee sweetened with condensed milk, coconut water or artificially flavored slushies.  On days we didn’t walk too far, we dove into curry in Little India, absorbing every spice into each doughy bite of naan.

Sambal stinkray

Sambal squid and Ginger Tea

We didn’t just tick off the foods on the list of “must-try’s,” we successfully conquered quite possibly one of the best food regions in Asia…and in 5 days…and mostly by foot.  We wasted no time, or meals for that matter.  We moved onto Borneo with an overwhelmingly refreshed and satisfied palate and an overall great taste (no pun intended) of Singapore and all it had to offer!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. thaicurryinkorea
    Nov 05, 2012 @ 13:37:19

    Did people in Singapore seem at ease at all? Talk about micro-managing with all those regulations! Regardless, your post left me hungry and jealous.

    Reply

  2. Donna
    Nov 06, 2012 @ 22:12:35

    Hello Johanna! I love the scarf on your head! I love your life! and your adventures! The food,,, not too sure about it! haha. Having dinner this Saturday with your parents. Very much looking forward to it. (just returned from 8 days in KeyWest with 12 family and friends.)

    Reply

  3. Mama Wooden
    Nov 08, 2012 @ 05:32:08

    Yumm…… What fun to see, smell and taste all that food. Great blog and pics.

    Reply

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