Our Hawker culture has come a long way. Hawker centres here in Singapore are like food courts without air-conditioned, and they are usually run by locals who have inherited their businesses from their parents, generations after generations. As a kid, I grew up eating hawker food, and my Dad would always hunt for the best hawker food in town for our family. Most Singaporeans, like myself, would eat out most of the time and we often head to hawker centres for delicious local delicacies at affordable prices. For us, the hawker centre is a marketplace for us to get our all-time favourite local comfort food like Chicken Rice and Car Kway Teow. And over the years, the hawker food fare has become part of Singapore’s unique food and cultural heritage.
My appreciation for hawker food heritage grew after having travelled to so many places and realised that food plays a huge role in shaping our culture. Even within Singapore, our food standard has improved so much over the years, and we could quickly get delicious food in the heartlands. I’m hoping to dive right in and discover more about our hawker food heritage. For a start, I’m collaborating with DBS Singapore to feature their new Cashless payment called DBS PayLah! at hawker food centres. Over the weekend, we visited hawker stalls that accept this form of cashless payment.
We first head over to Seah Im Food Centre to try out the famous Nasi Penyet stall called Aspirasi. It was a pity that I did not get to try it as my partner, Samuel, has wolfed down everything after I’ve bought a bowl of braised pork rice at Eat 3 Bowl. You could purchase food from these stalls using DBS PayLah! All you need to do is to scan the QR code (found at the stall front) and enter the amount you need to pay. And that’s it! It is not only more efficient for the buyer but also for the seller too. You will save time having to whip out your wallet and dig out for notes and coins. Likewise, for the seller, they do not have to return any change and handle cash while taking orders.
Braised Pork Rice ($2.50)
To me, it was delicious, but it was nowhere close to the Taiwanese-style of braised pork rice. I found it average and was puzzled by an uncle who went up to them to compliment how delicious and authentic their food tasted. Taste is indeed very subjective.
Samuel claimed that this stall offered good Muslim Chicken Rice. Though there weren’t any queue during lunch time, many of the hawker go-ers are seen eating their Ayam Penyet.
Nasi Chicken Rice Sambal ($4.50)
We also discovered that Aspirasi also has another sister outlet at Seah Imm which is located right behind the main stall. They served chicken cutlet with rice as well as other local delicacies like fried rice and Roti John. Spotted the DBS PayLah! QR code at their stall front?
The following day we decided that we should check out this Japanese-fusion Mee Pok ( Bak Chor Mee) stall called Ah Hoe Mee Pok (阿和面薄) at Clementi. This is one of the well-known Mee Pok stalls in Singapore which was started by a Japanese man named Naoji Kuribana. Ah Hoe wasn’t his name. In fact, Ah Hoe Mee Pok was once owned by a Singaporean, Mr Eric Chia who later imparted his Mee Pok recipe and pass his stall to Naoji-san. That explains why there are Japanese-fusion mee pork dishes too. But has their Mee Pok lost its local flavour after Naoji-san took over?
That day, the stall was manned by Naoji-san’s daughter. She moves in the kitchen like a pro. Everything was whipped up so quickly and smoothly.
Mushroom Minced Meat Noodle ($4)
Thankfully, their dry Mee Pok still tastes like the standard Mee Pok except that it is twice better. Where should I start? Their Mee Pok noodles are springy, and the flavourful mushroom sauce makes this dish a real winner. Oh wait, were there slices of abalone in it? Oh yes, they are thinly sliced, and they added an interesting texture to the dish itself. They were also generous with the pork slices and meatballs. I was pretty full after finishing my Mee Pok. They even nailed it with their soup. I can’t find any fault in their noodles or soup.
Japanese Fusion Mee Pok – Shoyu ($7)
Sam was right. Mee Pok is our local version of dry ramen. Who would have thought that Mee Pok would go well with Japanese Shoyu and Char Siew (stewed pork)? Mixed these Japanese ramen elements with over-nourishing ingredients like pork lard. There’s this saying that unhealthy food always tasted better. Not that I’m ditching my health-conscious lifestyle and routine, but I mean, balance is the key. Just please don’t stuff yourself with Mee Pok (especially with pork lard) on a daily basis. I’ve nothing against pork lard. It’s just us humans can’t stomach too much of it.
Very soon, we will be paying our hawker meals through this form of cashless payment. Currently, there is a list of hawker stalls and tertiary canteens which accept DBS PayLah! You can check out the full list here.
Here’s how you PAYLAH!
This marks a good start to our first hawker food trail. Check out our future hawker food posts! If you have any hawker stall recommendations, do let us know in the comment box below.
EAT 3 BOWLS
Seah Im Food Centre
2 Seah Im Road
Seah Im Food Centre
2 Seah Im Road
Ah Hoe Mee Pok
Blk 710 Clementi West Street 2