After compiling a number of food centre guides in Singapore, I thought of covering the more under-the-radar ones not often talked about on social media.
People’s Park Food Centre 珍珠百貨商場 which is of short walking distance from Chinatown, has great historical significance, with many local unique stalls you cannot commonly find elsewhere – think Loh Mei and Hainan Fen. But perhaps the types of food and environment may not appeal that much to the younger generation.
Over the last decade or so, there are more Sichuan style stalls setting base in the food centre (especially at the back section), leading to the popularity of dishes such as Mala Xiang Guo, Chinese skewers and Shui Zhu Yu (spicy boiled fish).
Other well-known stalls include Chop Hean Kuan (for dim sum), Fatt Soon Kueh, Jin Feng Mei Shi, Yi Pin Beef King, Tian Jin Fong Kee, Chuan Wei Fang, Kim Hua Guan Bak Kwa, Super Star Original Famous Penang Laksa and more. Here are 10 more:
Yong Xiang Xing Dou Fu
People’s Park Food Centre #01-1084
Opening Hours: 1pm – 4pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
There are a couple of Yong Tau Foo hawker stalls that can be found at People’s Park Complex Food Centre, but Yong Xiang Xing Dou Fu enjoys the longest queue and also the shortest opening hours.
It only opens for 3 hours a day, starting from 1pm (closed on Mondays).
You may already find a small queue forming even before its official opening hour.
They only have one choice on their menu and they do full justice with it, whether it is the freshness and generosity of ingredients or the delicate and perfect balance of flavours.
Their Yong Tau Foo with Soup ($4.50) comes served without any heavy carbs like noodles or bee hoon.
I found it a great option for those who are looking for something low carbs and low calories for lunch.
The soup while light, was surprisingly ”qing” and tasty.
There are a couple of fixed items within from fishballs, soft beancurd to deep-fried bean curd.
The deep-fried bean curd was my favourite ingredient, beautiful golden-brown, along with a great tasting tofu in silky consistency that melts in your mouth. Some may find this too ‘simple’ (especially if they are more zhong kou wei”), but its deliciousness is in its subtlety. Yong Xiang Xing Dou Fu 永祥興豆腐 (People’s Park Food Centre)
Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo 日日紅麻辣香鍋
People’s Park Food Centre #01-152
Opening Hours: 10am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)
While “Mala” has always been known for its Sichuan and Chong Qing origin, this particular dish did take up in Singapore in quite a big way.
One of the most popular stalls credited for making this famous, is Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo at People’s Park Food Centre. They have two stalls in the same food centre.
This dish might not have been included a couple of years ago, but now you would spot a Mala Xiang Guo stall in almost every hawker centre, even food courts and coffee shop.
For the uninitiated, the dish consists of a variety of picked ingredients (such as sliced meats, spam, mushroom, vegetables to instant noodles) wok-fried in high heat together with tongue-numbing sauce.
Be careful with picking too much without considering, or it would be a very expensive meal.
Customers can usually pick from ”Xiao La” (little spicy), ”Zhong La” (medium spicy), to ”Da La” (very spicy).
I think they have tamed down the level of spiciness and greasiness to suit the local palates, which is perhaps one of the reasons why it got popular. Also it is not that expensive comparatively. However, it was not as xiang (fragrant) as I would have preferred.
Poy Kee Yong Tau Foo
People’s Park Food Centre #01-1066
Opening Hours: 11am – 7pm (Mon – Sun)
This is the other popular Yong Tau Foo stall at People’s Park Complex Food Centre, known for flavourfil soup with the springy fishballs and noodles.
Most people visit this particular stall to get one mean serving of Yong Tau Foo without having to stand in an overly long line (compared to Yong Xiang Xing).
And it also comes with choices of mee kia or mee pok (Not all YTF stalls offer these two types.)
I got the dry version of Yong Tau Foo with mee pok noodles ($3.50, $4.50/$5.50). I was surprised at how generously filled and satiating for its price.
The delicious stock was complemented well by crispy ikan bilis with a nice savoury balance. Not that salty at all.
The soup carried tastes of anchovies and soybeans, but the star of the dish was definitely the springy and chewy fishballs, and the taupok with fresh fish paste. I was more indifferent towards the noodles.
Zhen Zhu Fang Roasted Delights 珍珠坊香港烧
People’s Park Food Centre #01-1098
Opening Hours: 9am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Zhen Zhu Fang Roasted Delights 珍珠坊香港烧 has been listed in the Michelin Guide with a Michelin Plate for a number of years.
Some of the reasons why it is that popular is due to its consistent taste, affordable pricing (starts from $3.00), and its location right next to the entrance of the food centre.
Expect to find delights such as Roasted Duck Rice ($3.50), Char Siew Rice ($3.00), Twin Mix Rice ($5.00), Roasted Pork Rice ($3.00), Roasted Duck Noodles ($3.50) and Wanton Noodles ($3.50).
While I won’t say that the Char Siew Noodles ($3.50) is out of this world, there is something about that dark sauce and well-marinated roasted pork that gave it that familiar Cantonese flavour. Zhen Zhu Fang Roasted Delights 珍珠坊香港烧 (People’s Park Food Centre)
Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao 洪鹏拉面小笼包
People’s Park Food Centre #01-1064
Tel: +65 9083 5166
Opening Hours: 9:30am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Somewhere within this massive hawker place in the Chinatown district, is a Michelin-recommended stall serving up La Mian and Xiao Long Bao.
Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao 洪鹏拉面小笼包also serves up other items from Shredded Chicken Congee ($3.50), Pig’s Organ Soup ($3.50), Sliced Fish Bee Hoon ($4.00), Mee Hoon Kway Soup ($4.00), Chicken Cutlet Noodle ($3.50), Wanton Noodles ($3.50) and much more.
The handmade Shanghai Xiao Long Bao ($4 for 6 pieces), filled with minced pork and chives, were chewy and juicy.
The skin was not too thick, so you won’t feel too stuffed after a few pieces.
Freshly made on the spot and steamed, they were served with accompanying condiments chopped chili and ginger strips soaked in black vinegar.
I won’t say they are the best around in Singapore, and perhaps lacked of the fine-delicate touches, but probably above the average with their juicy fillings.
Wen Dao Ji 文道记
People’s Park Food Centre #01-1014
Opening Hours: 9am – 6:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Toh Kee may have closed, but there is this roast meat stall called “Wen Dao Ji” just a few stalls away.
Some customers may be confused if it is the actual previous “Toh Kee / Dao Ji”, but you would notice a very small “Wen” on the signage. (Interestingly, the stall pasted a Lianhe Wanbao” article but if you read between the fine lines, it described how Toh Kee’s 3rd generation hawker was unhappy that their old staff was employed over. Anyway…)
On the menu are items of Roast Duck, Pork Ribs, Roast Pork, and Roast Char Siew in various combinations.
The prices seemed slightly hard than the average of this food centre, with a Roast Duck and Pork Rib with Rice at $8. Customers can however, still get a Roast Char Siew with Rice at $3.50 – the cheapest item on the menu.
To be fair, I thought that the rice was fragrant, matched with delightful savoury-sweet plum sauce. Between the duck and char siew, I preferred the latter was nicely charred, lean yet tender and sweet. I wished they were thicker and slightly fattier but no major complaints.
Ma-La Hot Pot
People’s Park Food Centre #01-1060A
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
This is the other famous Mala Xiang Guo stall in the same food centre. Though Ri Ri Hong seems more popular, this is quite a worthy competitor.
One thing I noted was that the stall people picked the ingredients for the customer – you just point and choose. Not too expensive as well (comparatively to other places), with my bowl costing $10.
I enjoyed the texture of the instant noodles; it was oily but not over. One thing to note was that the ma (numbing sensation) was more apparent here, and spices aromatic.
There are also other cooked food dishes here such as Frog’s Legs ($16), Chongqing Spicy Sliced Fish ($12), Hot Pot Chicken ($12), Spicy Chicken aka La Zi Ji ($10), and Twice-Cooked Pork ($8).
Lek Kee Authentic Teochew Braised Duck 陆记正宗潮洲卤鸭
People’s Park Food Centre #01-1104
Opening Hours: 11:15am – 3:30pm (Mon – Sun)
A stall that would see a moderately long queue before opening hours, and usually gets sold out by late lunch time.
Lek Kee is known for selling authentic-style Teochew Braised Duck, with prices at $11 for a quarter, $22 for half, and $43 for a whole duck.
Customers usually add on other braised side dishes such as gizzards, tau kwa, tau pok, pig’s stomach, and egg.
What you get is something of old-school Teochew flavour – lean duck braised with soy sauce and aromatics, and braising sauce splashed over the meats and rice.
Loh Mei Specialist 湿卤味
People’s Park Food Centre #01-1106A
Opening Hours: 12pm – 8pm (Mon – Sun)
Uncle was proud to declare that his stall is probably the only one of its kind left in Singapore. It specialises in Cantonese-style braised meats and tofu in a nan ru red fermented soybean paste.
Portions go for $4, $6 or $8, and there is also Egg Noodles in the same sauce at $3.
The dish came interestingly served in a metal container, on top of a red plastic tray. I saw braised parts like pork belly, chicken wings, tau pok and kang kong in nan ru.
The sauce was surprisingly on the wetter diluted side, almost like soup, and I sensed hints of Chinese wine.
I thought it tasted strange on my first mouthful, but I gradually liked it better as I went along. The fermented taste was not as strong as I would have expected. An acquired taste.
Hometown Hainan Fen 家鄉海南粉
People’s Park Food Centre #01-1100
Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm (Mon – Sun)
Something I have not seen commonly elsewhere – Hainanese-style Beef Noodles which is different from the dark gooey, starchy version we are more accustomed to.
The stall helmed by two Hainanese sisters serves up Hainanese Fun with pork or beef ($3.50, $4), Hainanese Pickle Fun ($3.50, $4), Bao Luo Fun Soup ($3.50, $4), Brisket Fun ($5.50) and Brisket with Pickled Cabbage Fun ($5.50).
The “Fun” here refers to the thick vermicelli, which is similar to the beehoon used in laksa (This is an alternative as the original Sanya “Fun” would be more expensive to import over.)
My bowl came with roasted peanuts, pickled vegetables, bamboo shoot and thin shredded beef in a starchy brown sauce.
This is probably as close and authentic as what you can get from Hainan island, though may need to get some accustoming to due to the slightly-sweet gravy.
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