The hungry reporter

Vendors serving street food from Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. (Geylang Serai Ramadan Market)

“You’re like a hungry reporter” my colleague commented on my incessant scribbling and questioning about everything we ate. We were at the Geylang Serai Ramadan Market, a cultural cooking pot for foodie enthusiasts and people like me, who revel in the carousel of lights and street scurry.

Colorful sarongs, dresses, wraps, line to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa (Geylang Serai Ramadan Market)

One of my favorite things about a cosmopolitan city like Singapore is having access to multicultural microcosms such as this. It’s easy, usually free entrance (sans the price of food!) and a commute ride away. While there’s a growing foodie culture in Manila, places like Mercato Market or Salcedo are for people who can afford to indulge. In Singapore, it’s engrained in the daily life of the aunties, uncles and expats.

That’s why in between stuffing my face, I enjoy Googling people, usually my Malay, Singaporean and Indian colleagues about the difference between teh si (tea with evaporated milk) and teh oh (without milk) or prata and naan. In that way I feel like people can enjoy Singapore in bite-sized proportions: just enough to immerse you in its different cultures without having to travel all the way to India, Malaysia or China for it.

It’s also like having a personalized and interactive search engine. With an international group, it makes for some interesting table topics over lunch:

  • South Indian cuisine is characterized by banana leaf plates, spicy taste and curry and coconut dishes
  • North India is known for butter cream
  • While they both have bread-like qualities, naan is fermented dough made on the inner linings of Tandoor clay ovens while prata is pan fried.
  • What kind of food is your country particular about how it’s cooked? French: bread; India:curry; Philippines: rice; Chinese: noodles; etc

Other samplings:

Takoyaki is a Japanese snack. It reminds me of a mochi ball, but made out of flour and filled with cheese, prawn, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire-like sauce. It also comes in sotong (octopus) and crab. (Geylang Serai Ramadan Market)

Vadai is a fritter snack. It tastes like a donute, with uhm, a shrimp for a hole. (Geylang Serai Ramadan Market)

I wouldn’t mind having a dinner of appetizers in the guise of street snacks. Another one I tried was Keropok Lekor, a fish cracker originating from Malaysia. Imagine a bag of Tempura Crackers, but thicker, chewier, crispier and made from flour.

Butter crab is the hipster cousin of chili crab which is main stream in Singapore. Must try.

Crab swimming in a soup of butter!

Unexpected guest during lunch. Who knew that’s what you call a Japanese grilled mutton dish! We had a good laugh after discovering this.

16 thoughts on “The hungry reporter

  1. Hi Rix, Selamat Hari Raya, Selamat buka puasa(If you receive this message before 6pm and still during the fasting month hahahaha) If in Geylang again, you try Bee hoon poon Nazi(i think is the name)in a hole in the wall resto called danny’s. Tell me later if its good hahahaha

  2. There’s a lot to be inquisitive about our local fare too if you think about it. We’re still developing our national identity in terms of food as well. Lots of history there no doubt about it!

  3. Oh definetely, Id love too and as before you were growing up with the whole family. But this time you have to pay and promise me that you will at least try eating durian hahahah. enak sekali. If your Mom liked it, can’t see why you can;t hahahahaha….Oh also, Bah ku teh( hope i got the spelling right) Its like our bulalo but this is pork. Bulalo is beef

  4. Yummy photos! I must admit it made me hungry by just looking at the images. Different place have different different things to offer. Their specialties are a must try.

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