TB Meetup - Geylang Food Safari
Singapore Travel Blog› entry 3 of 7 › view all entries
I've always wanted to promote Geylang as a place for good food among TBs, and that is why I decided to organise a Food Safari in Geylang. This was a 3-km walk/bus through the famous food/fruit paradise in Geylang, the Malay village of Geylang Serai and finally along Joo Chiat Road towards the Peranakan area of Katong.
A little background... I grew up in Geylang, attended Kindergarten at Tanjong Katong Kindergarten, primary school at Geylang English School (non-existent now), secondary school at Tanjong Katong Secondary Technical School and Victoria Junior College (briefly). Hence, my favourite haunts were Aljunied, City Plaza, Tanjong Katong Complex (formerly Yokoso), Haig Road area and Katong area. I saw many changes in these areas over the decades, but one thing has never changed.
During the safari, we had coffeefairy (Florianne), mnico78 (Mark), Don, Lonelytravelerwin (Winnie), Dylan, Strife (Shuoying), Barry, wavemint (Brian), Samz_samz (Roland) and yours dearly.
Starting from Kallang MRT Station, we walked towards Lorong 3 and passed the location of the famous Prawn Noodle shop, which opens during lunch time. Next we saw a row of Chinese hotpots/steamboat restaurants along Geylang Road. After 15 minutes of walking, we arrived at our first stop, where we had the famous Frog Leg Porridge and Beef Hor Fun/Rice noodle. The frog legs were cooked in claypot and was cooked in ginger and spring onion.
Geylang Road is also known for the lorongs ("streets" in Malay) and parts of the Red Light district. Lorongs are numbered even to the south and odd to the north. We had the chance to see parts of the Red Light district on the even numbered lorongs and it was an interesting sight. We must be mindful that not all women here work here, as many locals come here to eat as well.
A common type of food also sold along Geylang is the Teochew Porridge, taken with many types of dishes. This can be taken at breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper, and is also common as a past-midnight snack/meal.
Along Aljunied Road, we passed several Indian coffeeshops and provision shops. At an indian grocer, we stopped at an Indian grocer and Winne gave a little introduction to our local vegetables. Next, we passed a restaurant selling Roast Duck and we were shocked to find hanging ducks defeathered and waiting to be roasted...haha!! (Daffy duck lookalikes)
In Singapore, Chinese pork jerky is popular among the Chinese and one of the best chain is Bee Cheng Hiang. We stopped at one of these chains on Sims Ave and sampled some of the jerkies and cookies. My favourite is the bacon and I got to try one with cheese.
Next...beancurd or tau hue! Rochor Beancurd is popular and it has a branch near lorong 19. We tried the soft silky beancurd in syrup and Grass jelly dessert. Just when we were starting to feel full, I reminded everyone that this was only the beginning and to save their tummies for more to come.
There are many fruitstalls along Sims Ave and one of the favourite fruits is the durian. Now, Winnie is an expert at choosing and negotiating good value durians. After about 5-10 min of choosing (and bargaining), the deal was made and the durian was served. Many of us did not want or dare to try, but the durian gang, consisting of Winnie, Dylan, Mark and Don, enjoyed that durian. Mark reckoned it tasted like onions, to which we all found so hilarious! Personally, I dislike durians, but I'm sure onions are nothing like durians!!! :p
Next we took an SBS public bus down Sims Ave for about 6 stops to Geylang Serai, where we visited Tanjong Katong Complex and the Malay Village.
Now Block 14 a.k.a. Haig Road market hawkers is known for indian and malay food, but also for Oyster Omelette, my personal favourite local dish. We sat and enjoyed many dishes like Chicken Bryani, Roti Prata, Pohpia, Kambing mutton soup and Rojak. Not forgetting the omelette. After this, I wanted to be sure we will get to eat my other favourite (yes, i have several) dessert - the Malay tutu kueh called Putu Piring.
I left the group quickly and arrived at the Banquet foodcourt just 5 min before they closed. I was so glad that I was actually the last customer they allowed to join the queue. Phew!!! Now Putu Piring is steam rice flour cake with palm sugar or Gula melaka fillings and steamed with the fragrant pandang leaves and served with freshly grated coconut. When the rest arrived, we waited patiently and watched the chef swiftly prepared the dessert in minutes. Now normally, the queue would stretch very long because this is one of the very few stalls in Singapore that still sell this type of dessert, not to be confused with the Chinese tutu kuehs, which is similar but has fillings like sweet coconut or peanuts.
After satisfying our sweet tooth, we continued down Geylang Road and I introduced everyone to Roti Pratas and Goreng Pisang/Fried Bananas.
Last leg of the safari was Joo Chiat Road. This Joo Chiat/Katong area is also home to the Singapore Shophouse - an Anglo-Chinese Urban Vernacular - that has transcended traditions and withstood many changes through the decades, especially the introduction of a new Red Light district. This is very evident by the numerous bars and coffeeshops, filled with women and pimps sitting around and waiting for customers. But a stroll down Joo Chiat Road is actually an interesting visual mix of nostalgia and current trends, and one of the interesting finds was a winery/liquor store and a famous supplier of Otak Otak, chilli makarel/fish wrapped in fragrant banana leaves and smoked! Delicious!
As we were approaching the last destination on East Coast Road, we walked through the part of Katong area, which is also home to Nonya/Peranakan (Straits Chinese) cuisine.