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
kemboja says :
what i like about hawker centres :-
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
- i can put cockles/shrimp shells on the table and nobody care a hoot
- i can entertain myself by looking at the hawker cooking up a storm
- i can shout at the auntie for my sugar-cane juice and she wouldn't think it is rude
- hey...where can i get good garlic tea than hawker centre?
- i don't need to queue at the cash register which makes an annoying digital sound
- i can feed cats rubbing at my feet.
- i can order lotsa food and cost me less than $10
- i can special order - mee rebus without taugeh, "ham-less" char kway teow etc.
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
- 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
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
- 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
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: -
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
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!!!
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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