[Updated 031014] Sad. Many Singaporeans have experienced this sense of loss, from the closing of King Albert Park, Long House Food Centre, to the very popular Lavender Food Square which has closed last month.
I was very disheartened to see Lavender Food Square (New Century Food Paradise) go, one of my favourite food centres in Singapore, an open air concept that remains not overly commercialised, with famous stalls not found at other parts of Singapore.
The food square and next door Eminent Plaza would give way to a 16-storey ARC 380 with office and retail units.
Most fans may just scream, “Where is Kok Kee going?”
Other stalls that will be missed include Albert Street Prawn Noodles, Old Bibik’s Nasi Rendang, Miow Sin Carrot Cake, Whitley Road Fish Ball Noodles, Eminent Frog Porridge, Hong Kong Tim Sum, Ah Long Pancake and the zi char stall at the corner.
Again, some may say, no big deal, the wanton mee is not even great to being with. But it does spell that Singaporeans are indeed starting to lose a part of their food heritage, that few are taking the solid efforts to preserve.
Here are 5 Stalls in Lavender we loved.
Kok Kee Wanton Noodles #01-06
Moving to 27 Foch Road, Lavender Food Hub, Hoa Nam Building
I have been eating Kok Kee since I was a student! Yes, yes, I know many think it is overrated and expensive ($4, $5) the char siew is thin and dry, the wanton nothing fantastic, and the stall owners are grumpy… BUT I really like the springiness of the noodles and that salty special sauce they pour over the plate and vegetables. So addictive! People would queue up 20-30 minutes just to get a plate. There is really no other wanton mee in Singapore quite like Kok Kee.
Albert Street Prawn Noodles #01-10 (no news of new location)
This stall is famed for their Claypot Big Praawn Noodles ($5, $8, $10) with options to add pork ribs, scallops, and pigs’ intestines and tails. Really, get the claypot versions because the ‘ordinary’ bowls are not as fantastic and hot. The prawns are huge and fresh, with soup flavourful and sweet, tasting best with a dash of chilli powder.
Ju Hao Xiao Long Bao #01-29 (no news of new location)
The Shanghainese Xiao Long Bao at Ju Hao is delightful. Everything from the fresh-tasting pork to the fine dumpling skin and soup broth was bursting with tasty savoury flavours. While the dumplings did not look perfect or consistent in shape and size, they were certainly satisfying. The Beijing Zha Jiang La Mian is also hand-pulled at the stall, with a generous serving of stirred fried pork.
Old Bibik Nasi Rendang #01-30
Moved to 190 Changi Road, MDIS Building #01-01
Old Bibik is one of the newest stall at Lavender Food Square, serving chicken and beef rendang, made from a secret recipe which has been passed down 3 generations. A serving of this stall’s beef rendang ($5.50) comes with rice, stir fried long beans, a slice of omelette, papadum and tender chunks of mouthwatering rendang drenched in spicy gravy. Order the Chicken & Beef Rendang combo ($6.00) if you can’t decide on which meat to have.
Chinatown Beef Noodles #01-28 (no news of new location)
This stall replaced the famous Bugis Street Ngak Seah Beef Kway Teow, and the truth is it is not as good as it used to be. With that said, the dry beef noodles of gooey sticky sauce topped with crushed peanut, thin tender beef slices, and herbal tasting soup is still one of the better versions around.
Lavender Food Square brings back fond memories of group suppers, queuing at Kok Kee, and sharing of great tasting local food over drinks. There is nothing that the modern food courts where things taste almost so predictable can replace.
My uneasy sense is that this is just the start, and in about 10 (or in less in 5) years, many of the familiar foods that we grew up eating will just disappear. What is our food heritage then?
What do you feel about all these food centres in Singapore giving way to modern developments? And which is that one stall from Lavender Food Square you will miss most?
These are some of the new locations of the stalls:
Ah Long Pancake – 27 Foch Road, Lavender Food Hub, Hoa Nam Building (former Zhuge Kaoyu restaurant)
Bugis Street Char Kway Teow – 100 Tyrwhitt Road, Broadway Coffee Shop
Carrot Cake – 52 Foch Road, Sing Sin Huat Kopitiam
Chong Pang Huat BBQ Chicken Wings – 27 Foch Road, Lavender Food Hub, Hoa Nam Building
Eminent Frog Porridge – 27 Foch Road, Lavender Food Hub, Hoa Nam Building
Guan Lee Sen Seafood – Blk 803 King George’s Avenue, Tian Xiang Can Shi Coffeeshop
Kin Turtle Soup – Geylang Lorong 35, Sin Huat Coffee Shop
Kok Kee Wanton Noodle – 27 Foch Road, Lavender Food Hub, Hoa Nam Building
Macpherson Barbeque Seafood – 414 Balestier Road, Balestier Market
Miow Sin Popiah – 414 Balestier Road, Balestier Market
Old Bibik’s Nonya Rendang – 190 Changi Road, MDIS Building #01-01
Poly Western – Blk 803 King George’s Avenue, Tian Xiang Can Shi Coffeeshop
Teochew Fish Soup – 27 Foch Road, Lavender Food Hub, Hoa Nam Building
Other Related Entries
5 Stalls To Try at Maxwell Food Centre
5 Stalls to Try At Hong Lim
5 Best Singapore’s Old School Cake Shops from the 60s
5 Old Chinese Restaurants in Singapore
5 Favourite Zi Char Places in Singapore