Singaporean street food now in Metro Manila
Heritage street food from Singapore can now be enjoyed in Manila with the recent opening of the Makansutra Hawkers at the second level of SM Megamall’s Mega A.
Singaporeans take their food very seriously, and at its more than a hundred hawker centers, you can get a hearty, authentically Asian meal for less than $3. Here, one can find food stalls representing Singapore’s major ethnic groups — Indian, Malay, Chinese and Western — while bigger center also serve Thai, Indonesian, and Filipino cuisine.
Hawkers trace their roots to itinerant street vendors food vendors, who were herded into government built hawker centers in the 1970s and 1980s. KF Seetoh founded Makansutra, a Singapore-based company that celebrates and promotes street food culture in 1997.
Says Seetoh: “Heritage street food culture has never been more empowered than it is today. A heritage street food dish is about culture, lifestyle, traditions and identity. It also represents myriad opportunities for both the humble cook and the savvy investor.”
Regional heritage food
The Makansura Hawkers at SM Megamall features twelve hawker stations, much like those found in the regional hawker centres in Singapore and Malaysia. The 12 stalls, which will serve about 60-heritage street fare including halal dishes, feature several first-timers in Manila’s dining scene. Here, one can find Teochew kway chap and braised duck (rice noodle with pig offal and braised duck) and Singapore’s bak kut teh (pork rib broth) cooked with sugar cane.
Four stalls, which were big hits during the recent World Street Food Festival 2016 will also be at SM Megamall to offer their specialties like Singapore’s Alhambra Padang Satay (halal) and their rare satay bee hoon. Hong Kong Street’s Old Chun Kee, on the other hand, will serve Cantonese-style stir-fry dishes and ha cheong kai or, bagoong chicken jin ji kway chap and braised duck. Mallgoers can also have a taste of Nonya mee siam and laksa by Donald & Lily from the historic city of Malacca. For the past few weeks, stall owners have been training local Philippines chefs to run these stalls.
Singapore’s well-known Geylang Claypot Rice, at Lorong 33, Geylang Road, will make its international debut at the mall. It was featured on Makansutra TV show, on AFC (Asian Food Channel) with KF Seetoh. It was also televised on Anthony Bourdain‘s food and travel TV series The Layover. This clay pot rice stall, as recommended by Seetoh, has been personally selected by Bourdain to be installed in his upcoming Bourdain Market in New York.
Prices of dishes range from P100 to market rates for seasonal seafood like crab and deep-sea fish items. Many one-meal dishes are affordably priced around P200 each.
A choice of home-brewed drinks like lemon barley will be offered in addition to a standard selection of soft drinks and beers. Little alluring bites include kaya (coconut egg custard) and peanut butter toast and the iconic roti John (spicy egg baguette with chicken curry). Traditional desserts like pulot hitam (black glutinous rice in palm sugar) with coconut ice cream and an old school red bean dessert will sweeten things up.
Makansutra hawkers is spread over 14,000 square foot of prime space in Megamall. It sits up to 500 people and has two cosy alcoves which are ideal for private dining events. Each alcove can accommodate around 35 people. Operating hours of food stalls are from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Culinary exchange and growth of heritage street food
About 80 Filipino cooks and chefs will be trained to assist top hawker chefs and cooks to operate the 12 stalls. Makansutra is poised to play an instrumental role in the exchange of heritage culinary skills with local chefs. The aim is to seed the growth of an indomitable heritage street food culture and industry in The Philippines and around the world.