While we’ve been acclimatising to Istanbul, Helen’s brother Phil has been eating his way through Singapore and London on his way to meet us here on Monday. Here’s his account of last Sunday and Monday in Singapore. (And just so you know, one SPD is worth about 0.80 AUD).
Can’t believe I failed to notice that the World Street Food Congress was having its last night the very same night I arrived! Nor did I notice The Guardian’s piece on Singapore Cheap Eats just days earlier.
That might explain why half of the stalls at Maxwell Rd seemed to be closed that night. Actually I think it’s more likely to be a Sunday thing.
One of those that was closed was Tian Tian, the former best Chicken Rice place whose chef left to start Ah Tai a few stalls down. Which, of course, was one of the places where I ate last night, grateful that the relative quietness meant I only had to queue for about 10 minutes. Marvellous, was the Chicken Rice (4 SPD), as were the chicken feet (boned, of course, which is not too much to expect for a dish costing 3 SPD).
Afterwards, I went wandering further into Chinatown and discovered a place for which I only seem to be able to get understanding nods from locals if I say Chinatown “Level 2”. Wow! Much more down and dirty and busy and clearly the place to go for Chinese style Fish Head. They looked great, but enormous – much more than just the head – braised.
I was intending to go to Little India for Indian style Fish Head Curry the next day, so instead had a thing called Bah Kut Teh (“meat bones tea”). Absolutely delicious pork ribs cooked and served in the most clear, flavoursome, peppery broth you can imagine. Pure, fall off the bone, pork.
Yesterday I made good on the Fish Head Curry intent at Little India. OMG, so good. More expensive than the previous night at 18 SPD but it was enough for two so still ridiculously cheap.
Dinner last night was at Lau Pa Sat food market. Started with the smallest serve available of Satays, 10 chicken plus 10 mutton (12SPD). Delicious. Followed that with BBQ Stingray with Sambal (12SPD) – sweet, juicy wings of fish smothered with a pungent sambal paste. Fantastic.
Then couldn’t resist a couple of charcoal grilled chicken wings (1.50 SPD) with chilli sauce to dip.
But I digress. Back to the question… Is street food, Singapore-style, a model worth copying?
Yes, I do think Britain (& Australia) should copy Singapore. Mind, I have no recollection of a “jealously guarded individuality” in British street food. Nor much recollection of British street food at all. Will find out soon if that’s changed. But if there are any decent vendors, they’ll be able to offer more variety, better quality & cheaper prices if they have a permanent home with decent gear.
An interesting article that one, ignoring the slightly embarrassing mix up on the name of Chicken Rice vs one particular vendor.
A closing thought. I saw a guy last night with a rotisserie loaded with hunks of marinated pork belly cooking slowly over charcoal until they were black on the outside, but juicy and lovely on the inside. Just think about that for a moment…