FOOD ORGY AT NEWTON FOOD CENTRE

 

Newton from the carpark

Talk about food and you're bound to get every Singaporean excited! We think, talk about and eat so much food that it's one thing which Singaporeans are truly knowledgeable about. Eating definitely holds the accolade of being the national pastime. Singaporeans are so obsessed with eating, we'll do almost anything to obtain it, be it traveling from one end of the island to the other to feast on the best nasi lemak, or queuing for the longest time to savour the best beef kway teow around.

It's not surprising that Singaporeans are such food-lovers. A cosmopolitan city like ours is a melting pot of different cuisines from around the world. We've got the best Chinese, Malay, Indian, European and fusion foods. The burst of flavours is guaranteed to tingle your taste buds. With so much to choose from and at relatively low prices, it's no wonder Singaporeans are such picky-eaters too.

The best places to eat in Singapore would be any hawker centre. The variety is astounding and the prices are low. There are many hawker centres, but Newton Food Centre must be one of the best. Say what they may that Newton Food Centre is touristy and expensive, it's easy to get to (just across from Newton MRT Station), it's airy and there're plenty of stalls to choose from. Most importantly, it's still got the best oyster omelet, popiah, barbequed chicken wings and barbequed seafood (like stingray topped with sambal chilli) in the whole of Singapore. Shiok!!!

The best time to stop by Newton would be for dinner and supper. This usually means from 7.00 p.m. onwards. In the day, many stalls are not opened. More importantly, many stalls tend to have more than 1 stallholder - one in the day and one at night selling different foods. Inevitably, the night stallholder tends to be the "famous one".

As you enter Newton Food Centre, you'll immediately be confronted with a whole row of stalls selling all sorts of foods. Wandering around the food centre, you'll find many more rows of stalls, and quite likely, you'll be at a loss as to what to eat and how to order it. If you stick out like a tourist, many stallholders will approach you and persuade you to order something from their stall. Touting is very annoying and any stallholder caught touting may be suspended from selling food. Don't cave in to what they say. Walk on and decide for yourself what you wish to eat. It's therefore important for you to know what are some of the better tasting foods in Singapore.

Oh yes! You will notice that each stall will have a small squarish sign with an alphabet hanging in front of the stall. The "A", "B", "C" and "D" do not represent how tasty the food is. They represent the cleanliness of the stall. "A" stalls are the cleanest, whilst "D" stalls are eat-at-your-own risk! At hawker centres, you will rarely find "A" stalls. You usually find the letter "A" hanging outside restaurants and fast food joints.

Before you begin your food orgy, look for a table first. Newton Food Centre is large and it's usually easy to find your own table. When it's very crowded and you can't find one to yourself, don't feel shy about asking others if you could share their table with them. It's common practice in Singapore to share your table with others. Take note of your table number because the stallholders will need to know it if they have to bring the food to you.

After you've found your table, someone from your party must "reserve" it by taking one of its seats. The rest in your party can proceed to order your food.

Beginning with the first row from the main entrance, the yummiest delights would be the fish soup (sliced fish in clear soup) and fish congee (sliced fish in rice porridge). There are 2 stalls in the first row selling these dishes - one at the corner furthest away from the main road and one just a few doors away (see yellow signboard above). I personally prefer the corner stall. The soup is tastier.

If you haven't tried chicken rice in Singapore yet, "Kwee Heng" in the first row sell it. Chicken rice is probably the most fragrant rice dish there is in this world! The chicken rice at this stall is not the best in Singapore, but they're not that far off. When ordering, you can let them know whether you prefer the thigh or breast meat and whether you prefer steamed or roast chicken. Personally, I prefer the steamed chicken. It's the authentic version of this popular rice dish. The same stall sells duck rice and noodles as well.

Back to back with the first row is another row of stalls. Here, there are several famous stalls.

First (not in order of how good the food is), there's Bee Heng at No. 68, which is well known for its popiah. You can't miss it as there's perpetually a long queue in front of it. Popiah is a something like a burrito or a big, unfried spring roll. It's a healthy dish consisting of Chinese lettuce, chopped bamboo shoots, turnips, bean sprouts, shrimps and egg rolled into a layer of skin made of flour. This stall also wraps some unidentifiable, but very tasty, crunchy bits in their popiah. You'll love it. When ordering, don't forget to let them know if you want chili in it. Each popiah costs S$1.50, and there's a minimum order of 2. The same stall sells satay (barbequed meat skewers) at S$0.35 per stick, with a minimum order of 10 sticks.

Second, there's "Hup Kee Fried Oyster Omelette" at No. 65. I reckon they serve up the best and meanest oyster omelet in Singapore. The lady cook has a way with flicking her wrist when she fries the omelet, and it's the trick to this sinfully, tasty dish. It's never the same when her son cooks, so wait for her to get behind the wok before you order. The omelet comes in S$4, S$5 and S$6 portions. When ordering, try to pronounce it by its local name "or luak" and let the cook know whether you want chili in it or not. It's extremely greasy, but you won't regret it. The same stall also sells satay.

Third, right next door is the famous big fish ball noodle stall. As its name suggests, fish ball is fish meat rolled into a ball. There are various types of noodles which goes along with it - "mee kiah" (narrow, springy noodles), "mee pok" (flat noodles), "bee hoon" (white, narrow rice vermicelli) and "kway teow" (white, broad, flat rice noodles). You also have a choice of having a soupy or dry version. The average Singaporean finds the dry, mee pok with lots of chili version the most delectable. Being such picky-eaters, how far wrong can we go?

Fourth, a few doors away, there's a second stall selling oyster omelet. The omelet at Hup Kee (No. 65) is far more superior. However, this stall sells pretty good carrot cake. Carrot cake in Singapore is different from what westerners know it as. Here, it's a savoury dish fried with egg. There's no carroty taste at all. It's delicious and Singaporeans love it for breakfast, especially.

As you wander around Newton Food Centre, you'll find many stalls selling barbequed seafood. These stalls are more touristy as Japanese tourists are traditionally driven in busloads to Newton Food Centre and they generally patronize these stalls. Some of these stalls even have Japanese sounding names and menus written in Japanese. The prices are, surprise surprise, much higher at these stalls as well. To be fair, seafood is generally more expensive. The prawns sold at these stalls are worth a look (they're huge!). The barbequed stingray with lots of sambal chili on top is a must-try. If you've just popped by an ATM and you're hungry for more great food, order a dish of fried, black pepper crab. The black pepper sauce is just finger-lickin' good, but be warned that the price tag could be something like S$30 for 2 crabs. Check before you order.

Not a seafood fan? Don't fret. Barbequed chicken wings are just as mouth-watering. Find some at Weng's BBQ at No. 15. They beat any buffalo wings you've tasted. Each wing costs S$1.00 and there's a minimum order of 3.

Next to Weng's BBQ is Newton Prawn Noodle. Like fish ball noodle, prawn noodle comes with a choice of different types of noodles - "mee kiah", "mee pok" and so on. If you don't pick the type of noodles you want, they'll be served with the garden variety, fat, yellow type. The best part of any prawn noodle dish is the soup. It's so good you'll want to finish every drop of it. As with every other stall, let the cook know if you want chili.

As you venture deeper into Newton Food Centre, you'll find more and more stalls selling Muslim fare. Watch how a roti john (bread fried with egg and sometimes mutton, eaten with chili sauce), roti prata (Indian pancake tossed and fried, eaten with curry) or murtabak (Indian pancake stuffed with meat, fried and eaten with curry) are prepared at Bismi Stall at No. 36.

With all that grease in your belly, it's best to balance your "ying yang" with a cup of Chinese tea. These days, Chinese tea is sold in a can - so try a can of Oolong Cha.

There are many stalls selling fruit juices, but my pick would be to go for a refreshing glass of sugarcane juice instead. Watch the stallholder squeeze the juice out of the sugarcane. This sweet thirst quencher is best drunk iced.

For dessert, try the various types of local desserts, like ice kacang (red beans, sweet corn, attap seed and jelly topped with plenty of ice doused in tri-colour syrup), bubor cha cha (chopped yam and sweet potato in iced, coconut milk) and cheng tng (a mixture of barley, jelly, attap seed, snow fungus, dried longans and bits of other treasures in a sweet soup, eaten either hot or cold).

There are stalls in Newton Food Centre selling fresh fruits like the infamous thorny king of fruits, durians, the red and hairy rambutans, etc. To be honest, I've never patronized any of the fruit stalls there before, so I don't know if their prices are reasonable. Newton Food Centre is not known for its fruit stalls, so no locals would buy their durians there. Elsewhere, you can buy 3 durians between S$10 to S$20, depending on the quality.

Some parting words of advice. Bring lots of tissue paper with you as the stalls don't provide any serviette.

You must be wondering how Singaporeans can devour so many different types of food at one seating. Well, the trick is to order various dishes and then share your food, so you get to try everything. It's best to visit Newton Food Centre in a group of 5 or 6; that's also the number which one table can hold. Ask your bunkmates at the Hostel to join in. A food orgy is, after all, a communal affair.

~ Enjoy Your Food Orgy ~

 

Sliced Fish Soup

   

 

Duck rice/noodle & roasted meats

 

Popiah

   

 

Satay

 

Popiah

   

 

Oyster Omelette
(Ping's Fav)

 

Oyster Omelette (Ping's Fav)

   

 

BBQ Seafood

 

More BBQ Seafood

   

 

BBQ Chicken Wing

Prawn Noodle (Hai's Fav)

   

 

Prawn Noodle Soup

 

Prawn Noodle Preparation (Good Stuff)

   

 

Bismi Indian Food

 

Murtabak

   

 

Roti John

 

Mee Soto Soup

   

 

5 Spices

 

Muslim Fried Rice

Muslim Fried Rice

   

 

Fresh Sugar Cane Juice

 

Local Desserts

   

 

Ice Kachang

 

Bubor Chacha

   

 

Cheng Tng

 

Fruits & Juices

 

 

 


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