Cheap meals and beer
380 Jalan Besar
Still often known as Lavender Food Square, New Century Food Paradise is a typical Singaporean hawker centre that serves a wide array of food at bargain prices.
It’s easy to fall prey to all the talk of Singapore as being expensive, but when it comes to food, there is no excuse for a traveller to scrimp. You’re looking at around S$4 to S$6 for a decent meal at any hawker centre, and New Century is no exception.
Kok Kee Wanton Noodle (honestly, you’d think a noodle would be better behaved) is probably the best known stall here, and on our visits it’s been the only place with a serious queue. Some say it’s the best noodle of its kind in town, while others can’t believe anyone could make such a claim… The crowd certainly loves the dishes here, either way.
Everything is labelled in English, with most food cooked up fresh to order but at least one or two point and pick places. A few stalls will be shut on any visit as they have irregular days off (one might have every third Tuesday and Wednesday off, for instance); on our last visit the es cendol stall was shut, which we were pretty devastated about.
Expect to find barbecued meats, various soups, roasted duck rice, fried carrot cake, chicken curry, Hong Kong-style dim sum and fried noodles with plump prawns, just for starters.
You’ll find veggies around, but usually playing second fiddle to the main event — meat.
The seafood selection is modest but fresh and good — if you’re on a budget though, you may want to head for something else. A plate of char kway tieu for $3.80 perhaps? Japanese, Korean and Thai stalls also serve up affordable dishes.
We tucked into about a dozen “meat and chive” dumplings for $5, served with freshly grated ginger and tangy vinegar.
Whatever you order, don’t miss the matching condiments at the front of the stall. Not sure? Just ask. Most staff will be happy to help you work out what you’re supposed to have.
Travellers with fussy Western kids in tow should head around to a stall serving up a greatest hits medley of Western favourites like spag bol and pork chop, made to order.
You could always try convincing your fuss pot to try something familiar but still different, like freshly barbecued, finger-lickin’ good chicken wings.
Grab a chair, plop down your food and grab a drink from the centre stall. An iced lemon tea is $1.40. Beer is available.
Then there’s dessert: adventurous eaters should try the durian if they haven’t already; less adventurous types can go for watermelon or mango.
The ready-to-eat fruit selection is also handy to grab as a reviving middle-of-the-day snack.
If you’re staying at the Kam Leng Hotel, or in the Bugis area, make sure you head here for at least a meal or two. If your breakfast isn’t included at your hotel (or even if it is!), the centre is open for breakfast — we can recommend the roti and curry sauce.