There’s a lot to be excited about for the Geylang Serai bazaar 2019. Last year, the “Ramadan” bazaar got lots of flak for the notoriously high rental fees, and for being more hipster than halal. Taking this feedback into consideration, the organisers set a $14,000 rental cap this year, and made sure all the F&B stores are Muslim-friendly*.
Yaaaas – now no need to put Ramadan in quote marks anymore! (cheers)
That said, you can still expect to see the throngs of millennials chiong-inglike crazed aunties for Instagram-able sliders and drinks because 30% of the stores will still sell contemporary novelty foods.
But since rental fees are lower, at least prices should also be lower hor? I was skeptical at first – because vendors rarely pass down savings to their consumers – but it seems that many repeat vendors either maintained or lowered their prices!
Although repeat vendors, many of these stores switched up their menus, keeping only the crowd favourites. But even for the new items, the prices were kept comparable to last year’s Geylang Serai Bazaar 2018.
Last year, Alley mainly sold Thai milk teas ($4) and ribbon fries ($6). This year, they’ve moved their focus to brown sugar drinks… a sly move, considering a famous Taiwanese bubble tea chain of a similar name (The Alley) just opened in Jewel Changi Airport Singapore (Apr 2019).
Price-wise, it seems slightly cheaper because you can get a fancy drink for just $3.50 now (compared to $4 last year). There’s also a lot more to choose from – all brown sugar-based, of course.
They’ve also done away with the ribbon fries, replacing it with a boba pancake stack dessert ($9.90). It comes with 3 pancakes and a generous serving of tapioca pearls – yum!
Katoshka has a very posh-looking facade, so I actually expected their prices to be higher. It’s surprisingly affordable, with their iced teas going for a reasonable $3.50 (same as last year).
They’ve kept the russet fries (at the same price too), but added in the trendy Taiwanese XL fried chicken ($6.90). Perhaps they were inspired by the recent Shilin Night Market event last month. (shrugs)
They also have combo sets. The chicken platter ($12) is for chicken and fries, while the chicken deluxe ($15) is for chicken, fries and a drink.
Churros are my all-time favourite, so I made sure to keep an eye out for Loco Loco. At first glance, the churros seem cheaper (it used to be $5.50 to $6 per cup, but 2 for $10). However, it’s actually the same price – except this year you don’t need to buy 2 cups to get it at $5.
They also kept all flavours at the same price (instead of having $6 premium flavours), which is nice.
Also, instead of fish & chips and fries, their 2019 savoury menu features takoyaki balls ($5 to $7).
I wasn’t too impressed with Rainbow Works and their gimmicky drinks last year – they were pretty expensive at $8.90 to $9.90 a cup. Their edible balloon drink ($8.90) was one of the most Instagram-ed items of the 2018 Ramadan Bazaar.
This year, they’ve changed their menu significantly. They now have colourful drinks with gummy bear toppings (Bubblegummie $6) that come in super cute bear-shaped bottles which you can keep. That’s $2 cheaper than their cheapest drink last year (glitter bottled drinks $8).
They still have a few novelty milkshakes at $9.90, but at least now you have a cheaper option to consider. They also have a new black chocolate egglet dessert at $7.90.
I chuckle every time I visit this store – their tongue-in-cheek names are hilarious! I kind of wanted to try to grossly rainbow-coloured “Abang Hensem burger” but I no balls to order…
They brought back their signature Bucket Gangster drinks ($8) and chilli beef fries ($6) at the same price, but upgraded their main course menu. They now have wraps and burgers with a traditional Malay cuisine twist, featuring sauces and flavours like belado and satay – shiok! Same as last year, all mains are $8, except the Abang Hensem burger that’s $10.
They took away the lamb and beef rib slabs this year, perhaps because it was too expensive for pasar malam food ($40 for a full slab!).
This article was first published in MoneySmart.