A Lowdown on Singapore Food Centres

by Mario
(USA)

Dear Mr Tan

Four days has passed since we returned from our Singapore trip but the nostalgia fever is still on fire. It is difficult not to talk about Singapore especially when our recent experience was dandy in all aspects.

My wife and I give the award to Lau Pa Sat, with Vivo City Harbourfront Food Court in close second. We truly enjoyed the food and had a taste of genuine Ice Kachang and Bobo Chacha, as well as the sugar cane drink.

We hesitated going to Newton Food Centre and Maxwell Food Centre due to conflicting comments from taxi drivers, which were negative in nature.

In the end, we decided, whatever these places offers comes with the territory. We took their suggestions seriously and it was the need to inquire prices of seafood at Newton before flagging down the meter.

In the interest of comparison, Newton is only average compared to the two food courts mentioned as winners above.

It was Andrew Zimmern's Singapore series that brought us to Little India to a place called Banana Leaf Apollo. Although Andrew Zimmern seemed to have enjoyed the food, regret, I scored the menu and service average. I enjoyed the red bone marrow sizzling hot big Mama, including the straw.

Finally, I have been dying to ask you this question, Mr. Tan. I noticed all the food courts - including the hotel we stayed (Tanglin) in - were not giving napkins? Is this a national policy and if it is - what could be the reason?

Fortunately, we came prepared. We brought our own spoons, forks, knives, wet towels, napkins and hand sanitizers. I had an inkling we will be digging into some delightful menus and what could be better than using regular table utensils?

I really believe adding hand washing facility in all these food courts and hawker centres will improve cleanliness which Singapore is known worldwide.

Thank you.

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Nov 03, 2009
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Yes, our food centres have lots to improve on!
by: Gabriel Tan

Hi Mario

Thanks for giving us such an incredibly honest and spot-on feedback about the food centres in Singapore.

I'm glad you ventured beyond the hotels and restaurants, and dug into the good stuff at Lau Pa Sat and other food centres. That's where you get a better sense of what Singapore food is all about.

I'm embarrassed to read about the napkins and the hand washing facilities - or their lack of. As far as I can remember, this has been the case all my life time. So it's never been in the psyche of the Singaporean mind to provide these things. And we haven't mentioned the toilets yet!!!

But I agree with you that this need not be. Even just across the border in Malaysia and Thailand, they provide napkins in many of their coffee shops and eateries. And I've always felt that this is a nice touch to the dining experience.

One reason why the food stalls in Singapore don't offer napkins could be this: most customers after using the napkins leave them on the tables, only for these to be blown away.

This is obviously something we could improve on.

The Singapore Tourism Board is currently collecting feedback/ideas on how to improve the experience for tourists. I'll try to point the relevant personnel to your very helpful post.

Once again, thanks for sharing. We hope to see you in Singapore again, and hopefully next time you needn't bring your own hand sanitizers to the food centres! ;-)

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