So…I’ve told you all about the Hawker stalls but how about actually taking you inside one?
The Hawker centres are abundant. You really can’t walk/bike/move/get far without running into one – at LEAST one every neighborhood.
And I don’t mean one in Manhattan, one in BK, one in Queens. I mean one in West Village, one in Greenwich Village, one in Chelsea, one in TriBeCa. Dead serious.
We heard there was quite a large hawker centre in the neighborhood where we live, Alexandra, so we popped on our bikes to find it.
It seems every hawker centre in SG has been meticulously researched and tested, with reviews outlining the best stalls serving the best dishes, and which stalls might not be worth the hype. It can be overwhelming to walk into the open air lineup of 40+ stalls all selling similar dishes and decide which to choose. It’s even more overwhelming that a lot of it is written in Chinese, it’s 90 degrees and humid, the people behind the stall counters are yelling at you to come to them, and everyone else is watching you to see what you pick.
Actually, I’m sure no one is watching or really cares what we eat and it’s just me excessively sweating getting overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice (making decisions about food has never been a strong point). Have you ever pictured a more classic image of me? I think not.
Regardless, it’s nice to go in with some research and know exactly what you’re hoping to try.
We opted for a bit of a smorg starting with one of my faves – white carrot cake!
Have I talked about carrot cake yet? I can’t remember. Carrot cake is NOT what we know to be carrot cake. If you ordered carrot cake here expecting an orange delicious cake topped with cream cheese icing you would be very disappointed and probably very alarmed.
Carrot cake, aka Chai Tow Kway, is stir-fried cubes of radish cake with egg, garlic, scallions, and sometimes fried shrimp. It comes in two varieties – white or black – which determines whether you want the dish served as described above (white) or if you want it mixed in with a thick, dark, soy sauce-ish sauce while frying (black).
I prefer the white. TT prefers the black. Someone come visit us so we can have a deciding factor!!
While in line for carrot cake, TT whisked away and reappeared with a plate of assorted satay – a true hero.
Chicken, beef, and mutton (not differentiated on the plate), slathered in marinade and grilled to perfection, ready to be dunked in the accompanying peanut sauce and melt in your mouth.
We don’t know which we liked the best since no one told us which was which ! Guess we’ll have to go back.
We would never turn down dumplings and since there was a steady line at Shang Hai Lao Mian, and since we’d read they churn out amazing dumplings, we got in line and ordered a plate of the Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings)
And the Szechuan Spicy Wanton in chili oil.
Yum. And the line never died down!!
We ate our fill and vowed to make a speedy return sometime soon to get more of those dumplings.
As we ate we saw loads of people drinking what looked to be thick bright green smoothies. When we asked what it was they said “avocado milk” and pointed us to the last row of stalls.
King Avocado – a small hawker stall at the back touting a menu of different juice combinations and an entire line dedicated to the avocado.
Having had a smoothie for most of the breakfasts of my adult life, I have heard that you can use avocado as a smoothie base to get the same consistency of a banana without giving up any flavor. While I had always wanted to try it, I never actually did. But even so, most smoothies have loads of other things in them, berries and peanut butter and sometimes a scoop of Nutella if you’re like me and want to #treatyoself because sometimes/all the time you’re worth it.
I was skeptical about what JUST avocado and milk would taste like but literally everyone was drinking it so we got one.
Delicious! Smooth, creamy, definitely avocado-ey but also not too avocado-ey. Like a hint of nuttiness and a bit of sweetness from the Gula Melaka (palm sugar) that they add. 10/10. Next time I want to try the avocado chocolate shake because #nutella.