Huat Ah! : Revisiting Chinatown Food Street, Singapore

Huat Ah!

This is probably the first Singlish phrase that I've learned when we moved to the Lion City exactly two Chinese New Years ago. As half of the city went overseas and the other half were busy visiting families, we took this time to make our visit to IKEA to quickly furnish our new place. All around us, people were tossing shredded vegetables while screaming " Huat Ahhhhh!!" I had no clue what they were doing then but who would have thought that this would be one exciting practice that I always look forward to every Chinese New Year -- Lo Hei. Paul and I loved it so much that we even brought back packs of Yu Sheng Salad to share this "veggie-tossing" practice with our families in Manila.  This is just one of the many things I love about Singapore and the Singaporean culture.

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Another thing we love (and we're pretty sure the rest of the world do too) about Singapore is the yummy hawker heritage. Many have been saying that hawker centres won't be around for long but I do hope it will stay for generations to come. What's there not to love after all? Personally, nothing beats enjoying a plate of Chicken Rice or freshly made Cheese Prata at a neighboring hawker centre for a really reasonable price.

When it comes to Chinese New Year, the place to go would definitely be Chinatown! It's here where you can easily get your fill of bak kwa (there's about 4-5 different brands available), pineapple tarts, prawn rolls, more snacks and sweet pastries too! Well, of course, you can also buy packs of hong bao (ang pao) and home decors at a cheaper rate too. Beginning mid of last month, Chinatown has been so busy with shoppers filling up the streets till late at night. After all that shopping, then we just got to eat right? Then it's time to check out Chinatown Food Street which will be open till 2AM until the eve of Chinese New Year (18 February 2015). Ready to cater to the needs of all hungry shoppers, all stalls will be open to serve your favorite Singapore hawker dishes.

Here are my top 10 recommended dishes (in no specific order) to try in Chinatown Food Street:

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#1 Bak Kut Teh
I just love being able to enjoy a hot bowl of peppery soup late at night when the air is colder and the wind becomes a bit stronger. Sin Ming Road Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh serves really tasty bak kut teh soup with a generous portion of chopsticks-tender pork ribs and a strong peppery soup. Some like it with a bowl of rice or a plate of you tiao (bicho bicho) but I like it just the way it is.

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#2 Popiah
A perfect balance of savory and sweet, Maxwell Road Soon Soon popiah is a purely vegetarian dish where a mix of shredded veggies are wrapped inside a thin egg wrapper and drizzled with sweet homemade sauce and chopped peanuts. So yummy!

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#3 Char Kuey Teow 
This is probably the second most popular dish next to the famed Chicken Rice. A truly satisfying dish of flat rice noodles stir-fried with shrimps prawns, oysters, egg and leeks. I personally like this with a plate of Oyster Cake. This is indeed umami goodness on a plate. Get this from Food Street Fried Kway Teow Mee.

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#4 Satay
Don't you just love skewered meat? I do! It's the kind that you'd always having a lot of as you just can't simply stop after the first stick. I love the mutton satay with a bowl of peanut sauce. Be sure to visit Newton Circus Ahmad Ibrahim Satay stall for a plate of satay, okay?

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#5 Kueh Pie Ti
If I were to name my top 3 favorite Singaporean food item, Kueh Pie Ti would definitely be part of it. It's very similar to a Popiah only instead of the thin crepe-like egg wrapper, it makes use of this delicious crunchy pastry cups. These cups are filled with the same veggie filling found in a popiah, a piece of prawn, peanuts and coriander. The trick to eat it is to pop the entire thing in your mouth. Trust me, don't ever attempt to act so poised and to take small bites as you'll end up with a big mess. *been there, done that*

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#6 Chicken Rice
Ahh the dish that has placed Singapore at the center of the foodie world. I can definitely have chicken rice any given day. Once, I was asked what is it that I love most about it -- was it the succulent steamed white chicken or maybe the fragrant rice? How about the trio of sauces that come with it? I couldn't answer! I just love them all and it just have to be these three aspects every single time else my Chicken Rice experience will be incomplete. Bugis Street Famous Hainanese Chicken Rice can be found at Chinatown Food Street to satisfy your craving.

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#7 Crunchy Pork Rice (Shao Rou)
Another alternative to the Hainanese Chicken Rice is Tiong Bahru Meng Kee Roast Duck's Crunchy Pork Belly Rice. A plate of deep-fried pork belly with rice and a generous serving of yummy sweet soy sauce. Yes, it's sinful but believe me, it's soooo good!

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#8 Rojak
This is Singapore's version of an appetizer or better yet, a salad. Cut-up veggies and fruits all mixed with a sweet salty peanut sauce. Every bite will give you a wide-array for flavors from sweet to salty to sour. I like it because it's very light yet truly satisfying.

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#9 Satay Bee Hoon
A favorite breakfast or supper choice here in Singapore. Satay Bee Hoon is a very straight-forward and simple stir-fried bee hoon (bihon) dish. The best way to have this is to pair it with some fried goodies like ngoh hiang, fish cake, sausages and more! I have this weird habit of eating a spoonful of rice before having bee hoon to avoid indigestion. haha! Old habits never die.

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#10 Beancurd Pudding (豆花)
Of course, a meal will never be complete without dessert right? To cap off your hawker feast, try any of the dessert options from the Chinatown Food Street Dessert stall. I have three favorites -- iced chendol, cold bo bo cha cha and Beancurd Pudding. This taste just like the Filipino Taho that everyone grew up enjoying.

These are just 10 of the dishes that you have to make sure not to miss when dining at Chinatown Food Street however there are more more more options from all 24 specially curated hawker stalls. Tell me, what are you most excited to try from the list above? 

Special CNY promotion!

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, spend at least S$10 in a single receipt from any hawker stall in Chinatown Food Street and you can exchange this with a 20% discount voucher for the Trick Eye Museum in Sentosa.  Voucher is valid till March 31, 2015.

*Huat Ah!: Hokkien for Prosperity (Ah!)

Visit Chinatown Food Street at 335 Smith Street. Closest MRT is the Chinatown Station (Purple line). 

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