One overnight flight, ten pieces of luggage and seven hours time difference later, we have arrived in Asia to a hot, humid and rainy 30C. The last time we were all in Singapore was on our way to Bali in September 2003 and now, almost six years later, we’re back again doing the same route. My sister was still living in Singapore and so we did the usual places together. A week before we got here, I asked her to send me her list of Singapore “musts” and she reminded me of her local hawker center and the one nearest to where she used to live – Newton Circus Hawker Centre. What’s a hawker centre? Well, it’s like a “street food” food court where many street food peddlers (a.k.a. hawkers) have a permanent stall. It’s a concept unique to Singapore and a great way to sample local dishes all in one place.
I have fond memories of major meals with my sister at Newton. Most say that it’s touristy and pricey but it’s where I’ve always been so I can’t really go anywhere else (although now that Singapore will only be a short flight away, I’ll get to try the other less well-known hawker centres). After checking-in at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia, we all had a quick shower and changed then headed over to Newton.
Since we were all starving after our 12-hour flight, we sat at the first table we found, near the back area, and started to order away – pork satay, chicken satay and Hokkien mee from one, Roti Prata from another, grilled tiger prawns and kai-lan with oyster sauce from the seafood stall and the one thing I had been craving for – or luak (oyster omelet). We also ordered drinks (sugarcane juice with lemon for me).
After a few minutes, that food started to come fast and piping hot – the hokkien mee prawn noodles were a hit with my one-year old daughter. Then came the grilled prawns – two large tiger prawns, butterflied and lightly grilled and eaten just with spritz of calamansi (tiny round-shaped limes) – delicious! The oyster omelet was next – overflowing with oysters, topped with lots of cilantro and served with chili sauce – it was crispy and gooey at the same time. By the time our table was quite full and there was still a few more to come – the kailan (Chinese kale) came, stir-fried in oyster sauce and topped with crispy shallots – simple, tasty and healthy. Finally the last two dishes arrived – flaky, hot roti dipped in the accompanying curry sauce and our mound of satays (10 sticks of pork and 10 sticks of chicken) which came with peanut sauce and a small cucumber salad. As we ate, it started to get more humid which is why there aren’t many photos of the food because I tried to take some photos and my camera lens would steam up. But despite the heat, we enjoyed our dinner immensely and my eight-year old loved the satay so much that he almost ate them all. Touristy it may be but we had a great meal and I didn’t think it was that pricey considering the quality and the swift service. Next time, I’m going to do a hawker centre tour and try a few more places and hopefully, more new dishes and definitely a few more oyster omelets.
Newton Circus Hawker Centre
500 Clemenceau Avenue North, Singapore
Open daily from 6:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.