Lau Pa Sat Festival Market

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Well, this is my second visit to Singapore and this time, I finally made it to a Hawker Centre. Hawkers are essentially outdoor food courts serving a wide range of tasty and reasonably-priced “street” food. You can find them in Singapore, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Here in Singapore, there are plenty to choose from. The tourists generally flock to the famous Newton Hawker Centre, but I’m told there’s better quality and choice to be had elsewhere.

My hotel concierge directed me to Lau Pa Sat Festival Market (meaning “Old Market”) on Raffles Quay. It did not disappoint.

We decided to explore the market first, rather than ordering off the first we stall we liked the look of. Lau Pa Sat is mostly an “indoor” hawker centre, apart from the satay vendors whose smoky stalls are confined to the street beside the market. All types of Asian cuisine are on offer in Lau Pa Sat and competition between the vendors is fierce. We smiled politely at the workers thrusting menus at us and made our way to what looked like the busiest satay stall. The old reliable: never dine in an empty restaurant.

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We ordered a large plate of mixed satays and a pitcher of Tiger beer. The food was fantastic. Sometimes a meal is memorable for reasons other than the food alone. We contemplated our good fortune as we tore into the wickedly hot satays and guzzled the ice-cold beer. The atmosphere was electric and the night air was hot, humid and smoky. This simple street food was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

On our way back into the market building, I complimented the proprietor on the food. He informed me, with great pride, “this is Cape Malay food“. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked him if I could take a photo of his cook.

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We also tried some Chinese noodles and a masala dosa, a dish of which I’m very fond. It’s a South-Indian specialty; a pancake made from lentil flour and filled with a spicy potato filling. The happy cook served the dosa with a delicious dal and a spicy sambal dip. Excellent.

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I love Singapore. A lot of people think it’s too sanitised, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. It’s such an easy city to explore because the public transport system is so good. I can’t wait to return.

Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore.

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