Our last day in Singapore, saw us tramping around buying souvenirs. Little India, for the Tekka Centre; fancy trousers, a Black Panther shirt, and incense. Arab Street, for pashminas, and bracelets. Chinatown, for a silk dressing gown, t-shirts, and dinner.
After being slightly disappointed by a lunchtime visit to the Hong Lim Complex Food Centre a few days before, we thought we’d try the food centre at the Chinatown Complex. What an experience, the place is absolutely massive!
Split into four distinct areas, each with their own coloured tables, it’s a veritable rabbit warren of corridors and cubby holes. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you pop down another corridor, only to find yourself in another huge area, with a huge choice to match.
As a non-local, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to choose between five, six, seven, or more stalls, all selling the same thing. In one case though, it’s easy, as there is one stall that is listed in the Michelin Guide, it also has a queue to match.
While my wife was queuing to try the Michelin rated dumplings, l was to sort out the kids and get the beer in. In a shock departure from their usual staple of chicken rice, the kids both decided to try some chicken satay. After their skewers had been served, we wandered to another area, with what appeared to be the only open vegetarian stall in the whole place.
With the kids settled, it was off to find same drinks. Weirdly, it took ages to find some bandung, a ridiculously sweet opaque pink concoction, which the kids had requested. This saw me in bits of the centre we hadn’t been into yet, which lead to me finding two different craft beer outlets. The first was selling beer brewed in Singapore, the second selling beer imported from Hong-Kong, the UK and the US, featuring Fourpure and Magic Rock, amongst other familiar names.
The imported beer was eye wateringly expensive, at around S$14 for a glass depending on where it was from. The local beer was far more reasonable at around S$8 a glass. Compare this with the bar in the Golden Mile Food Centre, which was selling imported US IPA for around S$8 – 10 per glass. So I bought the local beer, as I can get Fourpure and Magic Rock back home. The other reason for buying local, was the cluster of loud white Westerners by the expensive beer stall.
With the drinks bought, it was back to the kids to see how they were doing, then it off to the veggie stall to buy my dinner. Disaster, they’d switched their light off, meaning they were closed; the chef eating dinner with his wife and child. The look of distress and disappointment on my face must have struck a chord, as he stopped eating his dinner and offered to cook me mine. I’m not sure I’ve ever said thank you, to someone as much as I did this gentleman.
While my dinner was being cooked, my wife finally turned up with her dumplings; evidently they were worth the wait. She also enjoyed the beer, so everyone was happy. I’d definitely recommend eating here, rather than one of the plethora of over priced tourist restaurants outside.