Ghim Moh Hawkers

Ghim Moh Hawkers


Guest Post by JonathanThis is the last installment of the fooding Jonathan did while he was in Singapore. Check out the curry fish head or the laksa he wrote about earlier. Once again, his posts make me crave good cheap food in Asia. *sigh*

Spending the morning at the Ghim Moh market, I started to build up an appetite. Like any good wet market, it is filled with fishmongers, butchers and grocers selling a variety of seafood, meats, fruits and vegetables. But perhaps more impressive than the actual market, is the hawker stands behind it.


I used to think that Singapore was all food courts and shopping malls. It is, of course, much more; but then again what’s so wrong with food courts and shopping malls? Especially when we are talking about the variety and quality of food that they have to offer. There is something unmistakably special about the food in Singapore. While it finds its roots amongst the Chinese, Indian and Malay, it has its own uniqueness and heritage. Singapore and its people are remarkably food-obsessed. This love is especially true of their street food, the soul of Singapore cuisine. And they are justifiably proud of this gastronomical treasure. This pride can be seen in the infamous street food guide Makansutra or the opinions expressed in the recent Strait Times hawker’s poll. It seems that every Singaporean has their idea of which food center is best or where to find the best chicken rice.

It is because of this passion that I ended up at Ghim Moh. A local friend was taking me out to breakfast and brought me to her local hawker center to makan. We started with some chwee kueh, which is a steamed rice cake topped with minced meat, preserved vegetables and chilli sauce. The rice cake is soft and shaped like a small bowl; it has a texture similar to cheong fun and the same subtlety in taste. But the accompanying sauce contrasts nicely with a strong salty spicy flavor.


A line was building in front of Mohd Faisal Eating Stall and I knew I had to get some. Inside the small space were three men calmly but efficiently pumping out roti, while the man in front kept the line moving. Roti parata (or roti prata or roti canai in Malaysia) is a flat bread or pancake often served with curry. At this particular stall, the roti was fluffy and flaky on the inside while keeping the outside crisp. At 80 cents per roti I was tempted to get seconds, but there was more food to be found elsewhere in the center (I couldn’t help but try the roti with egg on the inside).


After making quick work of the roti, I walked over to Guan Kee for their Kway Teow (Kway teow are rice noodles fried with soy sauce, chilli, cockles, egg, and bean sprouts). I have a weakness for fried flat fat noodles. I had heard that kway teow was particularly unhealthy because it is fried in pork fat and bits of lard, which give it its distinctive taste. I like how people think that this would be a deterrent; one does not eat at a hawker stand for his health.


While I was in line getting the kway teow, my friend had gone off to get carrot cake. Singaporean carrot cake is really more of a turnip cake. Why it is called carrot cake and not turnip cake is beyond me; but it carries a lot of similarities to the turnip cake found in dim sum. However, unlike the dim sum version, the “carrot cake” pieces are diced, fried and reformed into a loose pancake. Unsure to my tolerance for spice, my friend ordered the chili on the side. I arrived with the kway teow and watched as the woman prepared the carrot cake frying the pieces in a large wok.

It was still early morning and the heat had not yet reached its peak. Even so, I found myself sweating as we sat down at one of the few remaining open tables. The kway teow was satisfying and carried a hint of smokiness – that unmistakable mark of a seasoned wok. The carrot cake was light but filling. I wanted to continue sampling, but I had run out of time. I had an appointment on the east side of the island. In thinking about what I had just eaten, it occurred to me that it certainly is hard to like everything, but when there are so many choices it’s certain there will be many things to like.

Posted by Danny on November 7, 2008 at 4:37 pm

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