The pairing of fried chicken with beer, or more commonly known as chimaek, is what we're accustomed to after years of being exposed to Korean TV
But new-gen hawker Sylvester Fedor, general manager of Danish brewery Mikkeller Bar Singapore, wants to change that.
Or at least, expand your repertoire.
From a refreshing lager to wash down something greasy, like a plate of char kway teow or Yangzhou fried rice, to pairing a meaty dish like satay with a hazy pale ale, and even a creamy stout with another equally creamy chendol, the options are endless.
"Having a bar in a hawker centre is something unique, and hawker food are what resonates with Singaporeans, so I told them (Mikkeller), 'Why don't we open one in a hawker centre?'," shares Fedor, 35, who previously worked at Mikkeller Bangkok in 2019.
So, they did. A part of the world-renowned brewery is now set within Chinatown Complex Food Centre.
Culinary gems, snaking queues at stalls, and the intoxicating food aromas that surround you may all be distracting, but just follow the signs to the green zone and look for the brewery's mascot, Henry who's in a Merlion costume. Once there, you can pick from the four mainstays and the five or so rotating craft beers on tap, or grab bottles from the refrigerator.
"Our concept is really about pairing Scandinavia Mikkeller beers with the local cuisine available all over this hawker centre. There are over 200 stalls here for diners to mix and match with the beers!" Fedor enthuses.
Overwhelmed by the plethora of options? We were, too. Thankfully the beer connoisseur has shared with us his list of must-try pairings.
Satay and American pale ale
For your classic hawker staple — satay — try it with Mikkeller Do Stuff Together, an American pale ale brewed with lemondrop and Idaho 7 hops. This dangerously easy-to-drink hazy pale ale has a touch of zesty notes that is reminiscent of the pineapple puree in peanut sauce that very few Chinese satay stalls now do.
With an ABV of just 4.9 per cent, it's a great starter to your meal.
Shi Xiang Satay is located at #02-079
Yangzhou fried rice with lager
Something as basic as fried rice is great with craft beers, too. For the uninitiated, have a plate of wok hei-filled fried rice with the Mikkeller Japanese rice lager which is crisp and clean-tasting.
"Fried rice is smoky and slightly greasy so you might get jelat [after a few mouthfuls]; that's where the rice lager come in to wash away the grease and refresh your palette," says Fedor, adding that he is still eating his way around the hawker centre.
The Japanese rice lager is one of the most popular picks around here — and we can see why.
After the slight touch of bitterness, you get a citrusy mouthfeel. The taste doesn't linger on too long, so downing one cold pint after another is
scarily fairly easy.
Yang Ji 194 is located at #02-57
Roasted cauliflower with wit
While we celebrate the gems of old-school hawkers, don't forget the new-age hawkers too. From Rice Bowl Boys, we got their roasted cauliflower with zhug sauce which paired beautifully with Mikkeller Smith Street wit, a traditional German wit beer.
The smokiness from the roasted cauliflower and spiciness from the zhug — a Yemeni sauce that features a blend of herbs, chilies, and toasted spices — match the wit beer's citrus and coriander notes perfectly. Too spicy? The creaminess of the wit beer will calm that fire.
Rice Bowl Boys is located at #02-060
Chendol with stout
Round up your meal with a dessert, or two. The Mikkeller Beer Geek Fudgesicle tastes like a dessert, but pair it with a chendol and you get two desserts that go great together.
The imperial oatmeal stout, brewed with cocoa, vanilla and lactose, tastes creamy and chocolatey with notes of coffee. Just imagine what a 'Fudgesicle' would taste like — and that is exactly how it tastes like.
Slight coffee-bitter notes from the stout elevates the creaminess of the chendol even more.
Old Amoy Chendol is located at #02-008
Feeling a little guilty about ingesting all those delightful calories? Consider joining their weekly runs prior to the feast.
Mikkeller Running Club's next run is on April 17, and the best part comes after — runners get free beer!
The founders of Mikkeller started the running club in 2014 because they noticed a belly after all that beer-drinking daily, Fedor shares.
It is now an event with participants from all over the world where Mikkeller bars can be found.
The combination of beers, hawker food, and runs does sound like a balanced lifestyle, doesn't it?
Mikkeller Bar Singapore is located at #02-058 (Green Zone), Chinatown Complex, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335
Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday, 5.30pm to 10pm and Saturday, 2.30pm to 10pm