By Rosemarie John – As the island rapidly develops into a modern metropolitan city beyond expectations, Singapore is losing or rather forgetting many of its old traditional ways and places that oozes in ancestral culture. Competing with the rest of the world, one can’t help but progress towards the future without sacrificing the rustic charm every now and then. Back in the day, instead of modern day hawker centres, food vendors used to sell their produce on pushcarts, some moving from place to place while some stayed put to build an identity in association with its location.
With the creation of the Singapore Food Trail, food lovers and heritage seekers can feast in the splendour of historical appeal. Set in the backdrop of the iconic Singapore Flyer, this dining attraction brings back the nostalgic feel and charm of Singapore in the 1960s fully decorated with antics and common roads signs of areas that were popular with hawkers back in the day.
Today, food lovers can feast on famous local fares and familiar food of the past such as Ice Balls, Pork Noodles, Bak Kut Teh and Satay. Greeting you as you enter the trail are canopies and makeshift stalls on actual tar roads with the usual marble and wooden tables and chairs you would hope to find in a provincial cafe. Standing out in each pushcart stall are the uneven steel trays and blue and white porcelain bowls and cups that creates a feel of what an “eating out experience” would have been like in the 60s.
With more than 800 seats, visitors can reminisce in the good old days while tucking into famous delicacies of Singapore. Featuring about 17 heritage hawkers, these established names like Alhambra Satay Club Satay, Chinatown Ann Chin Popiah , High Street Tai Wah Pork Noodle and Katong Keah Kee Fried Oysters have known to be in the business for 30 to 50 years.
A must try is the Katong Keah Kee Fried Oysters that was founded in 1976 by Mr Law Jock Keah who spent 10 years learning the trade from his relatives before finally deciding to venture out on his own. His speciality is fried oyster omelette, or commonly known in Singapore as “Orh Lua”, a Chinese dish of Teochew origin which consists of a deliciously-fried omelette cooked with pork lard and filled with small oysters. A small plate of this yummy dish costs about S$5 (USD3.90).
The food is reasonably priced considering its prime location just below the Singapore Flyer. The only drawback about this place is that most of the workers minding the hawker’s are curt and plain rude. Be prepared for loud shouts like “HELLO HELLO!! PAY FIRST OK!” if you just take one step back to look at the next stall after ordering your food or “THIS SIDE NO HOT DRINKS – YOU GO THERE!” if you order coffee at the wrong drink counter. Encountering a friendly smile is rather hard. However, if you can stomach their brusque manner, it’s a must visit for the food is rather good and the décor rather interesting.
Getting there is easy, just hop on a MRT and alight at the Promenade Station on the Circle Line and take Exit A. A mere 5 minute walk, keep a look out for the blue pedestrian signs to the Singapore Flyer. Located on Level One #01-09 at 30 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039803, the Singapore Food Trail is open from 10.30am to 10.30pm from Sunday to Thursday and from 10.30am to 11.30pm on Friday and Saturday.