Upmarket hawker centres...
Singapore may be a shopping mall nation, but that means you’re never far from an easy, affordable foodcourt meal. If you’re from the West the word ‘foodcourt’ may evoke images of burgers and pizza slices, but in Singapore this couldn’t be further from the truth. Singaporean foodcourts mostly serve Singaporean food – think of them as hawker centres with air-conditioning.
With its high concentration of malls, Orchard Road also has the highest concentration of foodcourts. My top pick is Food Republic at Wisma Atria and, considering it’s always busy, others must agree. This foodcourt has an old-school Singaporean style with long wooden tables, historic memorabilia, and over a dozen stalls specialising in hawker classics. Noodle-lovers should get in queue at Thye Hong Hokkien Mee for a plate of their famous handmade noodles swimming in prawn stock and Sergeant Hainanese Chicken Rice still cooks this Singaporean staple dish the traditional way. For dishes to share, order a plate of fruit rojak or some fried carrot cake and sticky-sweet chicken wings from the Huat Huat stall.
Way down in the basement of Ion Mall you’ll find a similarly swanky foodcourt. Ion Food Opera is one of the largest with 700 seats, 22 food stalls, chandeliers, and loads of avant-garde art. As far as I’m aware, this is the only foodcourt in Singapore offering live seafood and the Ah Wok stall cooks up local specialties like chilli crab and fishhead curry. What do you Prata serves Singaporean-Indian food like chicken biriyani and roti prata and the laksa from the 3rd Generation stall has the perfect ratio of coconut, chilli and seafood. Other options include oyster omelettes, dim sum, roasted duck and, if you’ve saved room for dessert, big bowls of ice kachang. Do note that Ion Food Opera is more expensive than your average foodcourt.
In contrast, Dining Codes at Plaza Singapura goes for function over frills with few of the dozens of food choices costing more than S$5. One of the best values is the Economical Mixed Rice stall where you can choose from a staggering selection of pre-cooked dishes like sweet and sour pork and stir-fried veggies. The Jia Xiang stall is a great place to get acquainted with yong tau foo — a Chinese-style soup where you choose the ingredients — and, if you’re not counting calories, try the char siew (sweet roast pork belly) from the roasted meat stall. For affordable international cuisine, try the stalls serving Japanese teppanyaki, Korean bibimbap and Indonesian-style grilled fish.
Food Republic: Level 4 Wisma Atria: 435 Orchard Road, open daily 08:00-22:00.
Food Opera: Basement 4 Ion Mall, 2 Orchard Turn, open daily 10:00-22:00.
Dining Codes: Level 6 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road, open daily 10:00-22:00.
Tanya Procyshyn is a freelance writer and photographer. With a passion for unusual destinations, she has camped alongside Komodo dragons and shook hands with soldiers in North Korea.
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