Knife meets Saw at Chinatown, Singapore

I visited Chinatown during my last visit to Singapore. I had gone there before noon that time. But things actually liven up as the day progresses here.

Chinatown, Singapore, is a strange mix of spirituality, commerce, food, medicine and sleaze. It has got a very famous Buddhist Pagoda. This is surrounded by little shops and stalls selling goods ranging from cheap Chinese handicrafts to tee shirts which respond to music (!). There is a big Hindu Temple close by too which is dedicated to the South Indian goddess called Mariamma I think. Then there are food stalls and Chinese dumpling stores dotting the streets. A Hawker's Centre (food court) on the first floor of the shopping complex and the more famous Maxwell Food Centre too. And then you have shops selling Chinese medicines and girls exhorting massage parlours crying out at those passing by.

I hopped across to Chinatown for lunch at 5 PM local time. 2.30 PM at India.

I first went to The Hawker's Centre. I started with a Fried Hokkein Prawn mee. I remembered this as a nice stir fried noodles which I had in my very visit to a Hawker's centre on 2003. What I got instead was noodles which had the consistency of Maggi noodles. With egg beaten into it, shreds of chicken and a couple of boiled shrimps and squid slices.

Perhaps I would have got excited if I was Bourdain. But it was just about adequate. I am not too found of the soupy, soft and slithery genre of Chinese food.

I went off in search of deliverance and came across a Chinese roast meat stall. The style of preparation is called 'char siew'. I had roast pork with rice. This was nicer. The pork was slightly sweet. Lean with the odd sinful bite of lard. It was served with a chilly paste which helped liven up the sticky rice. This I enjoyed.

This is where I made friends with Mr Saw. He is a local Chinese who was waiting for his order of roast pork and rice too. He pointed me to Little India for Indian food. He broked into a big grin when I told him that I actually liked the local food of Singapore. So why have Indian food which I can get back home? He was excited to hear that I was from Mumbai and said that he hoped to make it to India some day. This was my Tony Bourdain and Simon Majumdar moment of the day.

I walked a round a bit in the Chinese market knowing how K would have gone crazy shopping here. That's when I suddenly spotted the Maxwell Food Court. This is a fairly famous food court and usually features in Singapore bsaed food programmes such as Bobby Chi's.

Unfortunately I was too full by then and settled on a sugar cane juice for dessert. It tasted similar to the 'ganne ke juice' (Hindi)/ or 'aaker rosh' (Bengali) of India.

I wanted to walk off the afternoon's cholesterol dump. I got lost and ended up at my hotel, which was just a few streets away, after walking for one and a half hours! In the process I asked for directions to a Bangladeshi directing traffic, local Chinese shop keepers and what turned out to be a lady of the night.

My two meals cost me 3 Sing dollars or 2 USD each and the juice was 1.5 Sing dollars. Both food courts had at least a couple of local vegetarian joints each.

Note: The heading was Kainaz's text in response to mine on what happened.


nice..chinese food.. I like the pictures you clicked.. gives me an impression of china town in NY..which carries every other thing from china.. I mean replica of brand names ... ..
nice post as usual..
loved the heading! And the Singapore mkt description...
mentalie said…
i highly recommend kopi tarek (1/4 coffee with 3/4 condensed milk) and this dish who's name i have forgotten - it's an array of pre cooked meats, dumplings, beggies, etc that you can choose 14 of, then they steam heat it in boiling water, chuck in your choice of noodles and some curry flavoured gravy if you like...ooooh. yum. also thunder tea rice. also pork rice buns. will get back with more in a bit!
mentalie said…
erm, i think the kopi tarek proportions are either the other way round or 1/2 and 1/2.
mentalie said…
and more: do sample the fare at the 'lau pa sat' food court. the dish with different condiments i was mentioning is called yong tau foo - w/ or w/o curry. then there's laksa noodles, heinanese chicken rice, sambal sting ray, hokkien mee (prawn noodles), char kway teow (spicy fried noodles), peranakan food - at a restaurant called blue ginger on the east coast, sour sop juice (makes your eyes water :). bon appetit!
k said…
super pics:)
ximoon said…
Hi, thank you for sharing..
I’m a student and research about of the Singapore’s Chinatown Night Market, can you please help me to do a survey regarding on your view of Chinatown Night Market(牛車水), and the website as below as:
Thank you for your helping, and wish you have a nice day. ^^