Two new hawker gems to try
There are more than 100 public hawker centres in Singapore and every time I think I have visited them all, another obscure one comes up and demands a visit.
We have too many Top 10 lists of everything edible and colourful on social media.
Here's more good or bad news, depending on your viewpoint: Up to 20 more new hawker centres are coming up in the years ahead to vie for your attention.
Skip the tried and tested, convenient and nearby food centres and head for the ones you've never heard of or find it a chore to go to.
Make eating an outing and an adventure, don't let this great makan culture of ours be just a perfunctory meal time routine to you.
The North Bridge Road Food Centre is not quite a star hawker centre but it has some star attractions, in my Makansutra guide book, at least.
There's Blanco Court Beef Noodle (typical Hainanese style topped with chinchalok and lime chilli), the Lao Huang Yong Tau Foo and the famous-with-cabbies Koka Wanton Mee.
The two new gems I introduce today are both at North Bridge Road Food Centre, 861, North Bridge Road.
DELICIOUS: Steamed garlic clams (above) and a spread from Ann Lock Curry Rice PHOTO: KF SEETOH ANN LOCK CURRY RICE
The senior, almost Pioneer Generation hawkers here are very friendly.
When I asked for an extra bowl of their thick curry, they asked if there was anything wrong with the food.
DELICIOUS: Steamed garlic clams and a spread (above) from Ann Lock Curry Rice PHOTO: KF SEETOH
Another regular in the queue said in jest: "If it weren't nice, he wouldn't ask for it."
The range is not extensive but very well thought of, including thin pork chops, sambal terung (brinjal), sambal sotong, lor bak (braised pork) and curry chicken.
The curry is thick, "clingy", savoury and not overly spicy. And they spoon some smokey, sweetish, savoury, caramelised, braised soy sauce over it.
There is always a queue and the dishes are made fresh when any item sells out.
DELICIOUS: Steamed fish and thick curry (above) are stars of 100 Mixed Vegetable Rice And Porridge. PHOTO: KF SEETOH
100 MIXED VEGETABLE RICE AND PORRIDGE
They have a fickle operation workday as "it depends on the fish supply".
DELICIOUS: Steamed fish (above) and thick curry are stars of 100 Mixed Vegetable Rice And Porridge. PHOTO: KF SEETOH
Out back in the stall is a five-tier steamer. Fresh mullet, snapper, pomfret and whatever fish is available is steamed piping hot in it.
Almost everyone in the long queue picks up a steamed fish, along with some insignificant side dishes like Szechuan pickles, minced pork or braised taupok and tofu. They also have braised chicken, steamed garlic clams and braised pork.
These folks can move up to 50 fishes in a day, from my observation.
That is because a full restaurant-sized fresh steamed snapper, done with prunes, chilli, ginger and garlic here costs not much more than what you would pay at the wet markets.
My whole snapper, with spongey, braised tofu, steamed clams and pickles with porridge for two cost me less than $18.
KF Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, dabbles in street food businesses like Food Markets, his own TV shows on cable, publishing food guides, consultancy and online content. He is also the creator of the World Street Food Congress. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.