On track to new food sta­tions


For the past two years I’ve been on a mis­sion to dis­cover Sin­ga­pore’s best Mass Rapid Tran­sit sta­tion food.

It be­gan af­ter a wan­der through Tampines on the east­west line. Al­ways in search of eater­ies, I strolled through the high-rises and searched the small shop­ping strips. Af­ter two hours of won­der­ing where on earth the lo­cals ate, I dis­cov­ered a hawker cen­tre and stopped for a wel­come meal. Re­turn­ing to the sta­tion, I cir­cled the com­plex; and some of the best lo­cal food I’d seen was on dis­play at the crowded plat­form kiosk. Known for my abil­ity to squeeze in an­other meal to try some­thing new, I chose veg­e­tar­ian sa­tay skew­ers from an In­done­sian stall, edged into a spare seat and pol­ished off the lot.

From that mo­ment, I vowed al­ways to do the rounds of a sta­tion be­fore ven­tur­ing on my jour­neys to ex­plore the sub­urbs. Some stops have been dis­ap­point­ing, others have re­vealed sur­pris­ing de­lights.

So, my mis­sion con­tin­ues, in­cor­po­rat­ing the trans­port hubs of other cities. On a re­cent trip to Malacca, Malay- sia, I sam­pled a nasi padang stall at the bus trans­port hub — twice ac­tu­ally as it was so good. Walk­ing around Vic­tory Mon­u­ment in Bangkok I dis­cov­ered fas­ci­nat­ing new street food plus a great se­lec­tion of take­away dishes for those about to em­bark on long jour­neys.

Hav­ing vis­ited many Sin­ga­pore MRT sta­tions over sev­eral trips here are a few sug­ges­tions for those want­ing to ven­ture off the tourist guide map.

Tampines, my orig­i­nal in­spi­ra­tion, still holds a spe­cial place on the list; Jurong East has a whole in­dus­try built up for feed­ing trav­ellers. Toa Payoh fea­tures hawker cen­tres sit­u­ated in a beau­ti­ful de­vel­op­ment around the sta­tion while Choa Chu Kang has a fas­ci­nat­ing ram­shackle mar­ket un­der can­vas on one side and a mod­ern in­door food court on the other. Eunos has a large ar­ray of stalls around a grassy field with all the op­tions you could want.

I’m not go­ing to dis­close the lo­ca­tion of my favourite for fear of swamp­ing the tiny three-ta­ble Mus­lim diner run by women. The whole­some, home-cooked food is spicy, fresh and full of flavour. As I looked around the cafe on my first visit, a woman was strip­ping branches of kaf­fir lime leaves and Viet­namese mint, both of which fea­tured on my plate. Buy your­self a train ticket and go find it. Email your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. Colum­nists will re­ceive a hard­back copy of New Zealand Wine by Warren Mo­ran, a guide to key wine re­gions and mak­ers; $75. More: hardiegrant.com.au.

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