Marine Parade Central Market & Food Centre has finally made its return, after months of delay due to renovations and overhaul of its drainage system.
Good news, and the not-so-good.
The food centre now is more spacious, airy, with cleaner environment and washrooms.
However, many of the shutters still remain down and it seems like a good proportion of the stalls are not taken up yet. (I shall leave it to other media outlets with good journalism skills to do some thorough feature pieces.)
Many regulars are of course concerned if their favourites are back. The first question I received on IG was, ”Is the Curry Puff stall there?”
Sorry to announce, but the famous Katong Chicken Curry Puff owners are said to be retired. The other well-loved Mr Wong’s Seremban Beef Noodles is nowhere to be seen.
I found Qiu Rong Ban Mian (previously from Roxy Square) at Old Airport Road Food Centre; while it was previously reported that Katong (Jago) Teochew Mee Pok Kway Teow Mee stall has relocated to Block 80 Marine Parade Central.
After a look around, I noted that there are several chain stalls as well, ie these are familiar names that can be found at many other food centres.
Is this food centre losing (or has lost) some of its original personality and colour?
Talking about colours, my observation was that most of the stalls were using common type of white plates and brown-coloured cutlery. Then it made me miss those unique orange, green, purple, red plates and bowls that gave the hawker food more character. OH WELL.
A thing to note: there is now a centralised tray-return system, and do remember to pay extra 50 cents if you get a tray. The money can be refunded after the tray is returned.
Here are some of the Marine Parade Food Centre stalls to look out for: (Note that opening hours are indicative and subjected to change, as many stall owners/helpers I talked to are taking a wait-and-see attitude.)
Apollo Fresh Cockle Fried Kway Teow
#01-27 84 Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre
Opening Hours: 8am till sold out (Mon – Sun)
One of the star stalls of Marine Parade Food Centre. Regulars who grew up eating this hawker dish would heave a sigh of relief.
The Fried Kway Teow ($4) is quite unlike any others you would find in Singapore. It is known to be WET, though this current version I had was not as wet as how I remembered it to be.
The rice noodles were paler than usual, without the strong sweet dark sauce, fried with garlicky notes. The egg is cooked till almost disintegrated into the dish, thus you won’t find bigger pieces of them.
Still tasty and slurpy, but could have more wok-hei.
#01-25 84 Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm or earlier when sold out (Mon – Sun)
The stall that attracted the longest queue during lunch time, Kun Ji is known for its Braised Duck, Roasted Duck and Char Siew Rice (each $3.50).
You can also add on other ingredients such as Braised Egg, Duck Wing, Tau Kua, Duck Liver, Tau Pok and Mui Choy for additional 50 cents.
With all that ingredients and portion, I must say this is quite generous.
The rice had a beautiful shade of brown, moist and flavourful; while the duck meat was relatively tender and not that gamey. I happened to like the char siew better, with beautiful caramelisation and tender-to-the-bite.
Xing Long Cooked Food
#01-20 84 Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre
Opening Hours: 11am – 8:30pm (Mon – Sun)
The corner stall Chap Chye Png that attracts a constant line.
They serve up an assortment of items from Omelette, Pork Knuckles, Prawn Fritter, Braised Pork Belly and Vegetables, but people often recommend the Otah-Otah, Tempura Fish and Ngoh Hiang.
There is also choice of plain white rice, or brown rice.
Perhaps I went later in the evening, the food I generally had was towards the cold side, so it’s didn’t “wow” me that much. At least they had a variety of chilli sauces that enhanced the taste.
Service was quick and friendly.
Neptune Hong Kong Dim Sum
#01-26 84 Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre
Opening Hours: 8am – 8pm (Mon – Sun)
Dependable Hong Kong style dim sum made fresh on the spot. Variety is quite extensive (considering a small stall) from Fresh Shrimp Chee Cheong Fun ($3.60), Steamed Shrimp Dumplings ($3.60), Crystal Dumplings ($3.60), Char Siew Bao ($3.60), Glutinous Rice ($3.60), to Xiao Long Bao ($3.80).
Other more interesting items include Bamboo Charcoal Durian Bao ($3.80), Hakka Yong Tau Fu ($3.80), Crispy Durian Spring Roll ($4.50), and Mushroom Chicken with Rice ($4.00).
The Chee Cheong Fun was made fresh on the spot, complete with slippery skin, tasty fillings and addictive (somewhat salty) soy-based sauce. If only the skin was thinner and silkier, this would have been a winner.
I enjoyed the Siew Mai ($3.80) which was fresh, meaty and succulent, served steaming hot.
Soon Soon Soon Wanton Noodles
#01-16 84 Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Soon Soon Soon Wanton Noodles may just remind you of Pontian Noodles from the signboard, offerings to presentation, though I actually prefer to usual SG Pontian Noodles marginally better. Opps.
Available are Wanton Noodles (weirdly priced at $3.30), Abalone Noodles ($4), Chicken Cutlet Noodles ($4), and Fried Wantons ($3.30).
From the noodle texture, thin and dry char siew to deep fried wanton, this screams “Pontian”.
However, the mixture of sauce seems slightly off, and both noodles and soup could be hotter?
Aziza Putu Piring
#01-02 84 Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 7:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Ever since Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring appeared on Netflix’s Street Food, I paid more attention to Putu Piring.
Putu Piring is an all-time favourite Malay kueh made of rice flour and steamed in a plate-like mould also known as ‘piring’.
Aziza offers theirs with flavours of Gula Melaka ($1.80), Peanuts ($2.20), Coconut ($2.20), Durian ($2.70) and Nutelle ($2.70). Prices quoted are for packets of 3 pieces.
I loved that the outer layer was soft with fresh coconut shavings, though I thought there could be more gula melaka for more balanced flavours. Would be better if it could ooze out more.
Other items sold include Creamy Chicken Puff, Beef Curry Puff, Goreng Pisang, Deep Fried Sweet Potato and Chempedak.
Teh Tarik Café
#01-01 84 Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 8pm (Mon – Sun)
The famous stall here used to be Hilmi Sarabat Teh Tarik Power.
Got myself a Iced Teh Tarik from the first stall – it was smooth and not too sweet. Other drinks sold include Lychee, Longan, Lassi, Teh Masala, Milo Dinosaur to the lesser-seen Horlicks Dinosaur.
Four Seasons Cendol
#01-31 84 Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre
Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Four Seasons Cendol is commonly recognized by many to serve one of the best cendol in Singapore.
However, I noted that the dessert wasn’t served in one of the signature bowls and didn’t have the iconic dome drizzled with gula melaka.
Auntie said they had been instructed to use the assigned white plastic bowls, and there wasn’t much they could do. Their “SOP” seem to be disrupted due to the different container, and somehow the proportion of ingredients didn’t seem as balanced as the Toa Payoh outlet.
The Cendol ($2.20) contains attap seeds, red beans, thick green jelly and ice shavings drizzled with gooey gula melaka. Still not bad, but not as impressive as what I previously had.
D’Authentic Nasi Lemak, Tip Top Western Food, Yi Lu Fa Hong Kong Style Roasted Meat, Yok Mari Yok Nasi Padang, are still around, though some were not opened when I visited.
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