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Hawker Centres versus Food Court
  • WP Says:

    It's a terrible shame that hawker centers are disappearing, along with their master chefs. The appropriate Ministry should designate some of these guys as National Living Treasures (like in Japan, for artisans) and efforts should be made to preserve their cooking styles and secret recipes. I'm not kidding! The concept of eating such cheap, wonderful meals outdoors is a uniquely Singapore (or S.E. Asian) one, irreplicable elsewhere in the world where customs and climates do not permit. Any Singaporean living abroad for long periods of time would understand what I'm lamenting about! In the United States, the only "hawker centers" of any credibility were the old Mexican open air night markets, popular in the early 20th century in Texas (which sports warm weather and proximity to the Mexcian border). These markets were set up in the town square together with farmers' trucks wholesaling fresh produce to greengrocers; Mexican mariachi bands would play under the stars. The night market's homemade taco stands, run by itinerant hawkers, represents the only cooking style in America that reminds me of Singapore's hawker culture. Unfortunately, such nostalgic times have long been driven to extinction in America; Singapore should not follow suit! The shopping center food court, ubiquitous in America and Singapore, is a lame substitute for the thrill of flames and clanking woks of hawker centers. Is eating "siew yeh" (supper) under a balmy night sky after a late movie a thing of the past? I hope enough young Singaporeans would understand what we're about to lose, and strive to preserve it!

  • a US cookery journalist says :

    Cuppage was dark, dank, stank of belacan and burnt oil, and was always 10 degrees hotter than the temperature outside, even more on the hottest days. It was either way too crowded, making it impossible to get the plate of hainanese beef noodles you really wanted, or utterly desolate. My ``respectable'' friends (I'm a US cookery journalist) refused to set foot in the place--or in Ellenborough, or in the Chinatown Centre, for that matter. But it was Singapore for real, and I find myself missing it terribly: it would be a crime against culture of the highest degree if the hawker centres were all replaced by sterile, air-conditioned food courts . . . fight the good fight.

  • kemboja says :

    what i like about hawker centres :-

    1. i can put cockles/shrimp shells on the table and nobody care a hoot
    2. i can entertain myself by looking at the hawker cooking up a storm
    3. i can shout at the auntie for my sugar-cane juice and she wouldn't think it is rude
    4. hey...where can i get good garlic tea than hawker centre?
    5. i don't need to queue at the cash register which makes an annoying digital sound
    6. i can feed cats rubbing at my feet.
    7. i can order lotsa food and cost me less than $10
    8. i can special order - mee rebus without taugeh, "ham-less" char kway teow etc.
    so where else is better than hawker centre? food centre just take the thrill out of eating. i like to sweat eating the hot, spicy food - food centres does neither. - 1st Oct 97

  • Julie Ong says : The terrible thing about most food courts in shopping centres these days is that the stalls are mostly franchised. So it doesn't really matter which food court you go to, the variety and taste of the food is mostly similar.How boring!!! I really prefer hawker centres. 1 Jun 97

  • Kevin says : - Hawker centers are "Dirty, Noisy, Hot and Cheap"
    • Dirty - (I suppose he means messy and not unhygienic) Personally, I think ALL Hawker Centers and Local Coffee Shops in Singapore are dirty. Look, the dishes are leftover on the table by the previous customers most of the time during peak meal hours in every hawker centers. After you are seated, you have to wait for a while for someone to remove the dishes and wipe the table with a dirty and oily cloth- in front of you! - Yaks! After wiping, the table is still disgustingly oily. And there you are - start eating!
    • Noisy - About the noise - well, you know now noisy it is! Can anyone study or talk business there? Surely you can't!
    • Hot - The temperature - why Singaporeans do not think of air-conditioning such EATING PLACES (eating is supposed to a great activity in living and should be enjoyed to fullest for every meal in your lifetime). Though there is, but not many - air-con ones are usually called Food Courts (not Hawker Centers - a clear distinction).
    • Cheap - Hawker Centers sums up in four words: Dirty, Noisy, Hot & Cheap. Or, Dollar For Dollar's Worth. Singapore is definitely one of the most economically and technoloically advanced cities in the world. Comparing to these advanced cities, there is nowhere else you can find a meal for about US$2.00 to US$2.50. Singapore is truly a unique city for being such an advanced country while serving food at developing countries' prices. Truly amazing!
    • solution - Some local Singaporean food is really delicious, but I'll usually buy it home. In this way, I still enjoy the low price and not affected by the dirty, noisy and hot environment.

  • Kriz says : - hi i am Kriz and i love different eating places...well , i think that hawker centres have an ambience of their own that Compass Rose, Prego's or any better eating outlets can rival.It is a place that you can still laugh at yourself when the food drops on the table and talk above a socially acceptable level. I think that it is a love-hate relationship for most Singaporeans.

  • Masaki says: - Hawker center and its food are the essence of Singaporean culture. Singapore should be proud of its hawkers, which are really the best of this sort in the world; wide variety of food, cheap price and exallent taste.

  • Xiuyun says:(after a recent trip back home) - Hawker food in Singapore is definitely more expensive (especially when you can get them from a food mall) the serving is smaller and it doesn't taste as good as before...:-(

  • Zalinah Kadis says: - Not all food-court are clean actually and from the outer look hawker centre looked rather dirty and messy but they served delicous food. Place like Satay Club should stays and hopefully Newton is NOT next to go. You should try to eat at Adam Road hawker centre.. there's many food to offer and should try the Mee Rebus (only one stall selling that) and Hawker centre still served varieties of foods, cheap price and you feel comfortable eating especially if it's your favourite food. Most tourist I've known and met loves the hawker centre, mostly of the cheap food !!!

  • Lee T. M. Felix says: - I'm an avid connoisseur of palatable hawker fare. These locations provide snippets of opportunities to talk, drink and comment - your typical reason to live, lah! Entertain clients from overseas? They will need a local who may introduce new tastes and defend from charges the size of football fields (note multiple language descriptions on some stalls). Then one has to be "in the mood" to indulge in certain types of lethal substances such as pigs organs, snake, dog, and such. One would need a group to do that, hence, company... Hawker centres are one of few activities left for the adventurer to recognise boredom as an alternative. GOD help us if we have to have our passports handy every time we yearn for dip-dip or satay beehoon...

  • Kelly Fong says: - I love eating at hawker centres especially on cool windy days. No doubt it is fancier eating at a restuarant, but with the cheaper price, more varieties and tastier food, and the carefree environment, I think it is a more worthwhile choice eating at hawker centres.

  • Vinod Moolchand of Sri lanka says: -Newton Circus is Food Heaven on Earth.

  • Frances Chia says: - I'll agree that hawker centres are mostly not as clean and comfortable as airconditioned food courts. BUT hawker centres definitely have an ambience all their own. Especially Newton and Adam Road. These two centres are really in a class of their own and I'll really be sorry to see them go. Just for the sake of urbanisation.

  • MH says: -
    Dearest Singapore,
    You lucky people. You can't imagine how much I miss the food in Singapore! Right, back to the subject.... Did anyone tell you food court is just a 'nicer' version of hawkwe centres??? If you want the real stuff, take it!!! IT's something like substituting ice-cream with yogurt; coke with diet coke; REAL food with salads... The feeling just isn't the same. I'm a big fan of hawker centres and the very reason might the very reason most people avoid it. I love the atmosphere, the noise, the hot, stuffy feeling. I think this is the very essence of what hawker centres should be. Somehow I still think the food taste and smell better than those in the food courts. Modern food courts don't appeal to me. I do visit them but it's only it's because of the $ problem. Food courts give me a feeling as though I'm being surrounded by machines, new technology. As though I'm eating in the midst of a an advanced techonological environment. Especially the coffee and teas there. I don't know whether I'm drinking coffee or 'black water'. It dosn't even taste like what it should be!!! If you have taste those coffee, tea or even noodles or rice from hawker centres, you will know what I meant. Understand?! If you still don't, try going to hawker centres and sweat it out. I'm sure you will then!!! Happy exploring! MH- greetings from Perth!

  • Mamiyo says:
    on a hot day, i would go for the food court anytime but most cheap and good food can only be found in Hawker Centers! i would opt for the latter cz' i can 'tah bao'(pack) the food and eat it in the comfort of my own home.
    hawker food should never go extinct. i hope they will continue to preserve the older hawker centers like Maxwell market and Telok Ayer Market. anyway, don't u think old hawker centers make great tourism spots? it was such a pity that they had to abolish the old satay club.

  • Lim Choon Kiat says:
    Everybody's comments seems to be about how cheap the food are. Tell you what I hate about food court, the smell. Step into a air-con food and the stale smell of the variety of food being sold lingering in the air immediately kills whatever appetite I have.

  • Stephanie Kan says:
    Okay, saw the hot discussions on food courts vs hawker centres. I like hawkers centres because I always feel the food tastes better because they are not franchised. A lot of the food courts are franchise outfits. You get the same food outlets with the samey tasting food - usually a little plasticky tasting. Having said that, I do appreciate the air-con, especially during August. But for someone living out of Singapore now where you can't get any of our yummy food, I am in hell!
    Still like my Hill Street - still there as of last week- my Maxwell Market (although it's cleaned up too much) and my Marine Parade hawker centres. But to throw a point to the food court defenders, I really like the char kway teow at Kopitiam Meridien. Despite myself, I have to say "Shiok man!" but I still want my hawker centre. Ham chin peng, Hock Chew Oh Piah, Yong Tau Fu Laksa and turtle soup you can't get at these anaemic food courts.

    Note: Hill Street is now gone.

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