For our last big meal in Singapore, how best to end the trip than with another visit to a hawker centre? We made our way to Makansutra Gluttons Bay, a small hawker centre near the Esplanade shopping mall (the “durian”). It opens only for dinner and closes quite late at night – about 2am most days (full opening hours at the link below). We were there to eat great food! This handful of vendors were invited by those who run the Makansutra guide to set up a stall here for they serve some excellent versions of classic hawker food. If you’re very pressed for time in Singapore (say you’re only there for a night and most hawker centres are already closed), then come here!

Makansutra Gluttons Bay

We went there at about 8:30 in the evening and it was already packed! After securing a table and some drinks, we took it in turn to hit up three of the 8 or 9 stalls there. First up, one colleague ordered a whole lot of chicken and beef satay at Alhambra Padang Satay. The meats were well marinated and didn’t require the equally excellent satay sauce.

Satay

From the Huat Huat stall, another colleague procured some barbecued chicken wings and white chai tow kway (aka fried carrot cake). Those chicken wings were really something – ridiculously juicy and absolutely gorgeous. We could have made a meal of these.

Barbecued Chicken Wings

The chai tow kway was pretty good too, if I recall correctly. The plate was wiped clean by the end of the meal. I quite like it when it’s fried up like an omelette – it reminds me of home.

White Chai Tow Kway

I queued patiently at the grilled seafood stall and ordered quite the bounty. I had been thinking about sambal stingray (like skate) all day and now finally I’d have some! But first, there was a request for carbs and so a large seafood fried rice was ordered. It was a passable fried rice, good for filling one up but not a fried rice for which you’d travel.

Seafood Fried Rice

For some greens, some sambal kangkong (or ong choy, or water convolvulus). These are your very basic greens in this region – the long leafy green cooked with chilli and belacan (fermented shrimp paste). They fulfilled our need for vegetables.

Sambal Kangkong

Finally, some seafood! I saw the fried baby squid on display and got tempted to buy a plateful… so I did. They were indeed crispy, crunchy almost, and in a sweet and tangy sauce. Unfortunately, they didn’t stay crunchy for the duration of the meal; perhaps it was the humidity that affected it. The poor things ended up a little hard.

Fried Baby Squid

The pièce de résistance: the sambal stingray! This was a whole stingray wing (like skate… so, I’m not really sure what the difference is. A Google search tells me that the former can sting you and the latter cannot?), sliced horizontally to make it thinner (ours was quite thick) and then barbecued. It was also covered in a delicious chilli sambal – oh, it’s so moreish and I’m once again drooling as I type this. I’m also trying not to look at the photo.

Sambal Stingray

Overall, this is a great place for a solid meal. Fabulous examples of hawker food all in one convenient location. The prices may be a teeny bit steeper than at other hawker centres but not overwhelmingly so. At the very least, let the number of locals there be an indicator of its quality!

The Spread

Makansutra Gluttons Bay
8 Raffles Avenue #01-15
(outside the Esplanade (‘Durian’) mall)
Singapore 039802

I think that ends my Singapore posts – thanks for sticking around for them! All my photos from the trip can be found in this Flickr photoset.

We landed in Singapore very early in the morning and yet our hotel still allowed us to check in and get to our room. Though we felt like napping, we couldn’t and wouldn’t as we were meeting Ivan of food.recentrunes.com and he was going to take us to the Old Airport Road Hawker Centre. Connecting with a local is always a great idea when travelling – Ivan took us to places we’d never think of going and he’s fun and a wealth of information on all things food. For example, this hawker centre he bought us to is well away from the centre and we didn’t see a single other tourist or expat there. According to him, it’s also got the highest concentration of award winning stalls so yeah, a good place! If you’re wondering about what a hawker centre is, imagine a giant covered outdoor food court.

Old Airport Road Hawker Centre

When we got there, we met up with another local food blogger, Catherine of Camemberu, who’d been holding down a large table for us. They sat us down (me and two colleagues) while they scoured the hawker centre (my French colleague thought I said “hooker centre” each time) for good eats. From a stall nearby, I bought big tumblers of refreshing and sweet sugar cane juice for everyone and we sat there waiting to see what would happen.

Sugar Cane Juice

Oh boy, did things happen! Ivan returned with two plates of my favourite childhood dish – chai tow kway (or fried carrot cake – I have a cheat’s version here) – in both black and white versions. My favourite is still the white one as it’s what I grew up with but the sweetness of the black version (cooked with a dark caramelly soy sauce) was addictive. Off he went again.

Fried Carrot Cake, Black

Fried Carrot Cake, White

Now Catherine returned with a big plate of char kway teow. Brilliant stuff with a good chilli kick – I wish it was just as good and just as cheap here in London.

Char Kway Teow

Then back Ivan came again and this time with two plates of popiah. Flour based skins are rolled around a mixture of stewed jicama (yam bean) and various sauces and the rolls are extremely moreish. These were vegetarian ones but it’s not uncommon to find some Chinese sausage or crabmeat in them.

Popiah

He returned one final time with three (THREE!) plates of Singaporean fried Hokkien mee. This one hails from the famous Nam Sing stall (given the highest rating of ‘Die, die must try!’ in Singapore’s fabulous Makansutra guide) – the noodles soak up the stock in which it’s cooked and what results is a dry Hokkien mee, very unlike the slightly soupier versions one tends to find. They were delicious and I was just sorry we couldn’t finish them all.

Singapore Hokkien Mee

Though we were rubbing tummies by this point (jetlag always seems to shrink stomach volume), Ivan wasn’t done with us. He ran off again for a bit and then reappeared with a trayful of desserts!

Desserts

Breaking them down, we had an ice kacang (pronounced ‘kachang’) which is a mountain of shaved ice on top of beans and corn and jelly and atap seeds and it’s doused with multicoloured syrups. Very cold and very sweet – I used to eat this a lot as a kid but just cannot deal with all the syrup now!

Ice Kacang

Or nee is a yam paste – and that’s about it. Ivan told us that it used to be cooked with lard but with health at the forefront of everyone’s mind nowadays, it’s now cooked with shallot oil.

Or Nee

How about a thick and gooey mung bean soup? It wasn’t very sweet and it went well with the crispy cut up Chinese fritters on top.

Mung Bean Soup

Finally, there was cendol (pronounced ‘chendol’). The soupy mixture is a mixture of shaved ice, coconut milk and brown gula melaka (a dark palm sugar) and hidden underneath it all is a treasure trove of green noodles. Though I’ve never been the biggest fan of Asian desserts, my mouth is watering thinking about this again.

The Green Worms

Needless to say, we didn’t finish everything; I only wish we hadn’t been so jet lagged as then we’d have been able to eat more food! Thank you again, Ivan and Catherine!

There were so many food stands, each one offering different things. If, for example, you weren’t interested in the dishes above, perhaps a crocodile paw hotpot is more to your liking?

Claypot Crocodile Paw

Old Airport Road Hawker Centre
Blk 51 Old Airport Road
Singapore