You can now have teh peng (iced milk tea) with tapas, while listening to indie tunes, at one of Singapore's reinterpreted food centres. These communal spaces feature individual vendors serving both local street food and foreign fare, along with a generous sprinkling of creativity.
At this gastro-park built from repurposed shipping containers, the fragrance of Hainanese chicken rice mingles with that of lechon (Filipino roast suckling pig). This 24,000 sq ft food centre, which houses 35 vendors, has edge. Think street-art-adorned food trucks offering small bites, and cosy spaces dedicated to local specialities.
Particularly well received is Damian D' Silva Singapore Heritage Food. Singaporean chef Damian d'Silva serves his brand of local heritage dishes, including kai fan (poached chicken with rice), char siew (roast pork) and lup cheong (Chinese sausage). One of his most popular items is the Limpeh Slider, which comprises moreish beef rendang (spicy dry curry) in buttery puff pastry.
Wash this down with full-bodied oatmeal stout from Bottle Shop, which has a rotating menu of 70 to 80 beers and ciders from around the world. Another cuisine that pairs well with craft beer is Spanish tapas. Portico Platos does it with a local twist - think jamon iberico (cured ham) and harlequin olives complemented with sea bass and frog legs.
Fresh spins on classic dishes can also be found at new-age hawker Wong Kee. Here, tomato-flavoured noodles with homemade chilli are paired with char siew and plump wontons (shrimp dumplings). Owner Kelly Wong's social media savvy shows in the presentation of her Instagram-worthy bowls.
The World is Flat by Tanuki Raw takes things to a whole other level. The stall's deep-dish pizza comes with unusual toppings, such as duck confit and cream brie. What a mouthful. Over at Two Wings, try the crispy, deep-fried chicken wings coated in salted egg yolk - a hot trend in Singapore now.
To experience Timbre+ when it is filled with people and energy, visit during lunch or dinner. Easy-listening pop and rock anthems are piped through the speakers all day, while live bands take the stage in the evenings from Monday to Saturday.
4 new-age foodcourts making waves in Singapore
Once a humble kopitiam (a local version of a food centre), Alibabar now looks more like a hipster hangout, complete with cement-and-red-brick walls and exposed light bulbs. Tall bar stools and tables spill out onto the sidewalk from the restored heritage shophouse it occupies. Its position overlooking a busy junction on East Coast Road also makes it a great spot to people-watch.
Yong Huat has been around since before the centre's revamp in 2013. Pair a plate of its smoky char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles) or Hokkien mee (noodles fried with prawn and squid) with an ice-cold Trappistes Rochefort craft beer from the bar. Here, you can choose from more than 70 beer and cider labels. They also go well with Burger Bar's foie gras beef burgers.
If you prefer something non-alcoholic, sip soothing teh halia (ginger tea) brewed the traditional way at the kopitiam bar. It is delicious with a bowl of Thai wonton noodles from Rochor Thai.
More eateries transform into bars at night to attract after-work crowd
Inspired by farmers' markets in the West, Pasarbella @ The Grandstand has the atmosphere of a bazaar. Here, wide aisles filled with homemade artisanal jams, sambal (chilli paste) and wine from small local and international labels are punctuated by eye-catching graffiti art. With its crates piled with fresh produce, the indoor market is a favourite weekend spot for families.
One of its most popular vendors, The Cheese Ark, stocks a well-curated selection of cheeses from producers around the world. This includes rare slabs like the Monte Veronese di Malga, which is made from the milk of cows that graze on the mountains of Italy. If you can't decide on the perfect wheel, savour a cheese platter over a glass of red from one of the other vendors in the market.
But Pasarbella is more than a bazaar. True to the food centres scattered around Singapore, there's a whole section with various food stalls. Don't miss the juicy roast pork from Keith Crackling Roast; it's served with homemade apple sauce and mustard. For dessert, dig into an avocado torte or pomegranate cake from Russian-style bakery Laman's Delight.
This article was first published in Singapore Airlines’ travel magazine, SilverKris. Go to silverkris.com for more travel stories.