While we were planning our Asia trip, Jenkins and I decided early on that the majority of our meals in Singapore (if not all) would be spent at hawker centres. We weren’t going to be there for many days and although I knew that Singapore was renowned for having a pretty diverse array of cuisines, I also knew that Vancouver was already pretty good as well when it came to that. One thing that Vancouver lacked was a good hawker scene so that’s why we decided to concentrate on visiting as many hawker centres and stalls as possible while we were in Singapore. One place on our list was the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre, located in the financial district of Singapore. I had heard that Lau Pat Sat wasn’t as good as it used to be, but since our transportation was limited to where we could easily go via the MRT, it was on our list of places to check out.
We actually ended up going to Lau Pat Sat for both lunch and dinner because it was conveniently located near some other attractions that we were checking out. I had made a list beforehand of the stalls I wanted to check out so it was just a matter of finding the correct stalls and checking them off my eating list.
My first stop was Apa Rojak, where I’d be able to try out, you guessed it, rojak. I had never heard of rojak before planning for my trip but it sounded interesting enough that I wanted to give it a try. It can be best described as a Malaysian salad, which has a variety of fruit and other goodies, mixed in a spicy, sweet, and salty sauce. I ordered the classic version and the vendor promised he would make mine extra tasty, whatever that meant. This version had fresh pineapples, guava, deep fried Chinese fritters, peanuts, and cucumbers. It was crunchy and quite refreshing with quite an interesting blend of flavours that I never would have thought would go together.
We also sampled some bak kut teh, another Singapore and Malaysian specialty also known as pork bone soup. The one we ordered was served with some rice and a small bowl of pickled vegetables and peanuts. The broth was well done and I liked the soft and sweet pieces of garlic that had been simmering in the soup. Both Jenkins and I agreed that it was good but tasted almost exactly like the version his mom makes. It was a compliment to her that we stopped eating bak kut teh during the trip after this because we figured we could eat as much of it as we wanted when we went back to Vancouver.
I also ordered some shrimp noodles for us. The fresh wheat noodles were dropped into a flavourful seafood broth that was generously topped with fresh prawns, dried fish, and vegetables. The noodles were perfectly cooked and I think I would have enjoyed it more if it was a little cooler that day.
Jenkins and I decided to return to Lau Pa Sat that evening for dinner, which also turned out to be Christmas Eve. We started with some more Hainanese chicken rice but decided to try the roasted chicken version. The skin was crispy and the chicken was pretty smooth as well but we both liked the classic steamed version more.
After 4PM, the street behind Lau Pa Sat closes down and is lined with quite a few satay stalls. The one that I had read about was Fatman Satay (stall #1). I decided to order a dozen for Jenkins and I to share, at the great price of only S$6 ($4.50CAD). The chicken at Fatman is actually minced and reformed onto the skewers. It was packed full of flavour from a blend of curry spices and charred to perfection. What really put this satay over the top was the deliciously spicy peanut sauce that we generously dipped our skewers into.
At this point, I probably should have stopped but as we were walking out, I saw a stand selling char kway teow, which is one of my favourite dishes. I convinced Jenkins to split a small order with me (S$3). What I noticed was different about the char kway teow in Singapore from the versions I’ve had in Vancouver and Penang was that it was more wet than the dry fried version. The char kway teow here was made with both rice noodles and egg noodles and was packed full of ingredients such as bean sprouts, bok choy, and cockles but the secret ingredient that really made this dish was the addition of some deep fried pork cracklings. This dish was definitely not good for me but tasted so yummy.
I’m sure there must be other hawker centres that are outside of the downtown core of Singapore that are probably better and food can be found for cheaper but Jenkins and I had a great time at Lau Pa Sat. It’s quite a large centre so it has almost any kind of hawker dish you may want. Our only complaint was that there didn’t seem to be very many drink stalls so it was difficult for us to find a place that sold what we wanted (i.e. fresh sugar cane and soy milk).
Corner of Robinson Road & Boon Tat, Singapore (open 24 hours)