Though I have not (yet) tried all the hawker centres in Singapore, my favourite so far got to be Old Airport Road Food Centre. Opened in 1973, this food centre has 168 cooked food stalls bedazzling both locals and tourists with all sorts of cuisines and delicious delights. Of course, it’s the place to bring out-of-towner friend aka Amy!
One of my favourite stalls is Meilock Soursop Juice. Most soursop juice you get from elsewhere tend to be diluted and contained a few pathetic pieces of soursop. At Meilock, their soursop juice is packed with flavour and soursop. Its almost impossible to finish this drink with just a straw – the soursop pieces just get stuck at the bottom of the straw. You need to equip yourself with a spoon to get through this drink.
I was recommended by an ex-colleague to try Chuan Kee Satay. This tiny stall is run by this lovely (Teochew speaking) couple. The wife would be handling the order while her husband tend to the satay over the charcoal grill. Their satay is so popular that I noticed several people ordered the uncooked version for their own barbecues. I ordered 10 sticks of chicken satay, ketupat, red onion and cucumber.
I quite liked the marinated meat – it was well seasoned and tender. And you got to love charred grilled meat – fat melting on the lean meat. However I am not a fan of the satay sauce – they have added a generous amount of pureed pineapple and it was a bit too acidic for me.
There were a couple of stalls that I wanted to try – they were either closed or the queue was really long hence I asked Amy to explore the food centre while I decide what I want to eat. My dear friend came back with two plates of chee cheong fan with prawns! Apparently there was some miscommunication between her and the stall owner. In any case, I decided to help and took one of the plates.
Freshly Made Chee Cheong Fan (yes that is the stall name. Unforgettable right?) har cheong fan was really good. The skin was paper thin and the cheong fan simply melt in my mouth. The prawns were plump and fresh. The accompanying sauce has the right balance of salt and oil. It has been awhile since I had such nice cheong fan.
After dinner, we needed dessert. I remembered there was a 717 Trading branch at Old Airport Road. As there was no way we can finish 24 durian cream puff, I got us the durian coil.
The durian coil was made of several layers – at the bottom, a layer of durian mousse which was awesome as it tasted like the fruit (more than a mousse); a layer of sponge cake which was my least favourite as it was dry; and topped with durian puree which was pretty sweet. Overall it was a decent dessert to end the meal.
A couple of weeks later, I returned to Old Airport Road to pack some snacks home. Once again my favourite curry puff stall was closed (WHY!) so I went for my alternative – Toa Payoh Rojak. Run by a father and son team, to order your rojak, you will first need to get a queue number. Once your queue number is flashed, you can let the son know your order. In my case, I like my rojak to be pineapple free, extra turnip and no chilli.
The tau pok (dried beancurd) and yew char kway (dough fritters) were well toasted and crisp. The heh gor (prawn paste) was pungent and fragrant at the same time. Most importantly, the day I was there, it was the father who prepared my rojak. Nothing rocks my world than an experienced hand making me yummy food.
If you only have time to visit one hawker centre in Singapore (seriously what were you thinking to leave time for only one hawker centre?), go Old Airport Road Food Centre and be prepared for food coma.
Old Airport Road Food Centre Blk 51 Old Airport Road
Meilock Soursop Juice #01-82
11am to 10pm; Closed on Mon
Chuan Kee Satay #01-85
Open around 6pm; Closed Mon and Thu Freshly Made Chee Cheong Fan #01-155
Open daily – 8am to 10pm
717 Trading # 01-100
Toa Payoh Rojak #01-108
12pm-8pm; Closed on Sun