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15 July 2011

Singapore Hawker Diaries

My food blog has expired but I feel the need to continue writing about food especially that I am a foreigner in this island.

I feel weird about taking photos of my food especially when I frequent the place. The very first time I ate at a hawker I was too excited though. I even brought my decent point and shoot camera to take a shot of the first prata I ate. In Singapore, hawkers are equivalent to a carenderia (Filipino food stall) but in an upscaled manner. It is an open food court with food stalls offering various dishes that can range from Chinese to Western. To my delight, Filipino food stalls do exist in select areas such as the one in Makansutra Gluttons Bay in Esplanade. I would like to talk about this place in another time. At this point, I would like to share some random food photos I've taken using my digital camera, my phone cam or whichever I had with me.

Egg Prata
The first hawker meal I had was prata with egg. It's not the best looking breakfast but it is a tasty pancake that is basically of Indian origin and has been made a local Singaporean food. The cooking process is a bit complex for a kitchen novice like me.

At our local hawker, I saw the dough beaten (literally) from a fat mass into a thin film and laid on a hot greased pan. Fresh egg was cracked and poured directly onto the center and then the dough folded carefully. Any film that has been torn is considered a reject and demoted to a plain prata. Plain prata is still good and even better with sugar. The egg prata usually comes with the Indian curry sauce which color is honestly unattractive for some. The taste scares off most people from my country because it is a stranger to the traditional  Filipino taste palette.

Wonton Noodle
The prata was not alone that morning. We ordered wonton noodle as well. This is actually not a plain noodle but a whole set of dish. It can comes in different styles but the one I always get is a plate of dry noodle with some spice and topped with green leafy vegetable, char siu (barbecued meat) and a separate bowl of soup with boiled dumplings or wonton. It's the easiest I can get and can be very spicy if you forget to tell Aunty to skip the chilli sauce.

The prawn noodle is another very common hawker food. The noodle can be of any kind available - bee hoon (rice vermicilli), misua (flour noodle) or the thick yellow egg noodle which I'm guessing is commonly called as "miki" in the Philippines. One can also order the noodle dry or with soup. In one serving, one expects to find 3 to 5 pieces of prawn. Bits and pieces of dried garnishing can also be added but with your permission of course.

Prawn Noodle
Another dish is chicken rice and very similar to the one I had in Shanghai except that the rice served is a bit sticky and cooked in coconut milk and probably some chicken stock. The basic chicken rice meal consists of the "special" rice and boiled chicken though some hawkers serve roasted chicken too. Add-ons may be boiled egg or chicken liver. I consider this as a very filling meal since I usually cannot eat up all the rice. One cup of rice can be equivalent to two servings of rice in Filipino fast food portions.

Choices at a hawker is endless. The price can range from 2 to 5 Singaporean dollars but depends on location and the type of dish. Among those I mentioned, prata and wonton noodle are the cheapest, and chicken rice as the most expensive. The best hawkers are usually flocked during lunch on weekdays by people who take time to drive out for lunch breaks. In my experience, the older hawkers serve better food and makes sense that they have survived through the years despite emergence of new competition. I have been here for only about a year and so far the best Singapore dining experience I had are at the hawkers and not at a fancy restaurant. There are other dishes that are my favorites but this entry would be enough for now.

Chicken Rice with Hard Boiled Eggs and Chicken Liver

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