My mileage run to Singapore had me staying less than 24 hours and I knew exactly what I wanted to do in that time. On my previous visits I’d seen the major sites — Chinatown, the Gardens, Sentosa, the Night Zoo — for this short trip I wanted to return to the amazing hawker food stalls at the East Coast Lagoon Food Center.
It’s a beautiful set up in good weather. It’s right on the water set in a park, so if you venture outside the confines of the stalls there are many places to sit with beautiful views. In bad weather, like my last visit, the open air environs are definitely not an asset and you may find yourself crouched under a table umbrella shielding your food from rain.
When to Go
When traveling solo I prefer not to stay out late, and on this trip my schedule called for a lunch visit rather than dinner. If you go at 2 PM on a weekday, most, but not all, places will be closed. Fortunately most of the places I wanted to go were already open, but if you’re looking for the widest experience, go in the evening.
Also looks like many of the stalls are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays, so to have the most options visit on a Wednesday-Sunday.
Where to Go
I was both eager to try new things and exhausted, which is never a good combo. That usually results in me getting shy and defaulting to the easiest, not the best, options.
A good rule of thumb at food stalls and trucks is to go where the longest lines are, but since I was visiting in the early afternoon, there were few people around and I’d be choosing on my own from the few places that were open.
Fortunately I’d stumbled across this post and decided to use it as an outline, provided I was hungry enough to manage more than one stop.
Lagoon Carrot Cake, Stall #40
My first stop and one of my favorites of the day. Having tried fried carrot cake (which they’re famous for) before, I decided to skip straight to the unknown Popiah which they’re even more famous for.
Ingredients via wikipedia: popiah skin, bean sauce, filling of finely grated and steamed or stir-fried turnip, jicama, bean sprouts, French beans, lettuce leaves, grated carrots, Chinese sausage slices, thinly sliced fried tofu, chopped peanuts or peanut powder, fried shallots, and shredded omelette.
One roll is $2SGD and it was both flavorful and texturally amazing. I went for the spicy which definitely had a kick, but nothing unbearable.
Han Jia Bak Kut Teh, Stall #42
Just two stalls down from Lagoon Carrot Cake, I felt like I had to try their Pork Leg even though I was more excited about satay and noodles. I chose skin on and no rice.
$6 SGD got me a large hunk of fatty amazingness. Once I’d pulled the skin and fat off (which I like for flavor but not for consumption) there wasn’t as much meat as you’d expect. But it was enough that I was full to bursting. Food tasting is so much better when you have friends to share the portions!
I took a 15 minute break and walked along the beach and contemplated the ocean with all the tankers. Then I headed back for round 2, fortunately remembering in time I could get the food to go!
Choon Hiang, Stall #46
This was my second favorite fav! Following the post’s advice, I got the Fried Kway Teow, spicy, to go for $4 SGD. It even came with a little lime to spritz.
It was good at first, but even better a few hours later when I returned to the leftovers — at that point all the flavors were more integrated.
Haron 30 was the famous satay place that I’d tried before, and the one I wanted. But at 2:30 on a Wednesday, they were an hour away from their first skewer. They were kind enough to point me to the Hainan Chicken Rice place next door which was already up and running for satay. I’m sad to say it was unremarkable. Not bad, just not exciting…So if great satay is a must, make sure you come later in the day.
Great news for those of us without cars or international data plans! The food center now has free wi-fi (free sign up required) which means you can use Uber without celluar data.
This meant I 1). didn’t need to hope a taxi was dropping off right when I was walking out and 2). I wouldn’t have to worry about any language barriers or drivers trying to rip me off. Not to mention it was $3-5 SGD cheaper each way back to the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.