I love hawker food and can regularly be heard extolling the virtues of char kway teow (there aren’t any…except for the fact it tastes delicious). However, my confidence in ordering this dish of fried noodles has been well and truly shattered recently after I failed to pronounced teow with a clear enough ‘t’ sound. What I said sounded (according to my friend Mae) like a mixture of ‘char kway chee-aw/char kway gee-aw’. This meant that what I was actually asking for was roast penis.
Nice. Thank goodness it wasn’t for sale and my plate of noodles arrived with only a raised eyebrow.
So when Food Republic asked me to come and check out their huge, sparkling new food court that’s just opened in Sun Tec City’s Tower 5, I jumped at the chance (especially as they’d put together a special tasting menu of 20 dishes, meaning I didn’t even need to be able to pronounce any of them correctly…ideal).
My favourites included piping hot soya milk (not too sweet) accompanied by sinfully good ‘you tiao,’ the equivilent of Spanish churros that I defy anyone not to like (well, except maybe the health conscious; they are not waistline-friendly)
There was succulent chicken rice
As well as delicious southern Indian masala dosa which came in a neat crisp triangle and signature, long, cigar shaped cone:
Food courts should try to serve the same authentic food that you find in hawker centres (albeit in an environment that’s had a bit of design intervention: the roof is no longer corregated iron, the chair are sleek(er) and, joy or joys, there is air con) but nine times out of ten the food just isn’t as good as what you sweat and queue for at, say, Tiong Bahru or Ghim Moh.
Food Republic really do make an effort here and in their on-going quest for authenticity – and ultimately I suppose to engender their food courts with the same sense of community that you find in hawker centres – they’re running their Hawker King competition for the second year in a row.
A lovely idea, it will glorify and pay tribute to the top three hawkers through out the Food Republic empire who have consistently provided the best quality dishes with the best service.
The competition is open to the public vote too in early May; mine will be going to Saravanaa Bhavan for their dosa – it was delicious and better than I’ve had in restaurants in Little India.