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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.