Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Singapore Food Trail: Reliving the good old 1960s once more

The Singapore Food Trail, which is a 1960s themed food establishment located at the Singapore Flyer, was one of the eating places that I have been wanting to visit ever since I have read Second Shot's post relating his experience at the Singapore Food Trail enjoying his first ice-ball in Singapore!

It was my good fortune to visit the Singapore Food Trail after six months of procrastination. The 16000 square-feet food-haven serving popular local hawker-fare was official opened on 25 Feb 2011. There were many times when I was so near to the Singapore Flyer but yet did not make my visit to the Singapore Food Trail. Admittedly, I had mistakenly thought that it was just a food court with a superficial 1960s decor.

Thankfully, I was proven otherwise during my first visit to the Singapore Food Trail on 2 Jul 2011. I was welcomed by a temporary outdoor opera stage during my visit. The Thau Yong Amateur Musical Associaton (陶融儒乐社) which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year put up music and Chinese opera performances that night and two nights before. I later learnt that performances and events such as the Teochew Opera staged by the Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association were part of the Singapore Food Trail's thoughtful efforts to recreate a realistic ambiance and atmosphere of the streets of 1960s.

A dedicated musician tuning a dulcimer (yang qin).

I thought it was a wise idea that the Singapore Food Trail invites worthy amateur art and cultural groups in Singapore to perform at its premises. Such efforts could help encourage these groups to continue their good work and passion in preserving important traditional art forms.

As the gigantic observation wheel moved at a distance, I felt time was spinning back to the post-war period when itinerant hawkers served cheap and convenient meals along the streets. Interestingly, Singapore Food Trail has creatively romanticized street hawking in many ways. Unlike the street hawkers of the 1960s, the hawkers of Singapore Food Trail have proper water supply, clean cooking equipment and sanitized conditions. What is more, the hawkers enjoy shelter from the rain and the sun.

Dragon Beard Candy.

To recreate the 1960s atmosphere, the stalls generally looked like push-carts and make-shift stalls commonly used during the post-war years. Secondly, the floor was laid with tar to give an impression of the stalls selling food by the side of the road. Thirdly, the management went down to the details by providing the stall-holders with older models of refrigerators to use. Nostalgia-evoking items were put on display at various sections of the food-street. I will give Singapore Food Trail lots of good scores simply for the meticulous thought that went into recreating the romanticized charms of the 1960s.

"Delicious" is the word to describe the food that I have had at the Singapore Food Trail. I learnt that the hawkers who serve food at the Singapore Food Trail were all specially hand-picked. Many of the hawkers have been in business for more than 30 years. In order to operate at the Singapore Food Trail, each stall-holder has to agree to the condition that only the owner or the owner's family members do the cooking. For myself, I am less insistent that the food must be cooked by the owner or the family members. What matters more is the good effort that goes into preparing the food.

Charcoal-grilled dough fritters for the rojak!

Interestingly, I learnt that charcoal-grilled dough fritters are used in the rojak dish served by Lagoon Kampong Rojak. This method of preparation meant that the dough fritters are crispy and chewy, minus much of the oily texture.

Colourful ice-ball!

I cannot miss checking out ice-balls. There are delightful treasures that can be found inside each ice-balls. Try eating one!

What impressed me greatly was the pride and dignity that can be easily seen on the faces of the people who prepare the food. Perhaps the ambiance of the Singapore Food Court has brought them to the good old days when the value of the food was enhanced simply because it was cooked with pride and mindfulness?

The Katong Keah Kee fried oyster omelette in the background.
Cereal prawns in the foreground.
The broth of the Sin Ming Road Rong Chen Bak Kut Teh is simply lovingly made.
On the right is the Old Airport Road satay beehoon.
Freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice in nostalgic looking containers.

My personal favourites are the Katong Keah Kee fried oyster omelette, Sin Ming Road Rong Chen Bak Kut Teh, Lagoon Kampong Rojak and the Changi Village Fried Carrot Cake. The sugar cane juice is wonderful too. Most of the other food are good too.

The night concluded on a high-note with the last scene of "The Fragrant Handkerchief" (折子戏:《香罗帕). The last scene showed the male and female lead characters of "The Fragrant Handkerchief" finally getting married after several trials.

Although I could not understand the language that the opera performance was sung it, it was possible to make out what was being performed on stage. All that was needed was for the audience to pay attention to the music, the singing, the manner of recitation, the acting and the various gestures used by the performers (different mouth shapes, hand gestures, expressions in the eyes, body movements and steps represent different moods). The costumes and the accessories worn by each of the characters also gave good clues to his/her status and the personality.

The heritage corner.

In short, the Singapore Food Trail is one way to relive the good old 1960s. Good food, an interesting theme that evokes memories of the wonderful old days and a touch of sincerity in bringing its guests to relive the 1960s. These are the elements that will entice me to visit the Singapore Food Trail with friends and relatives for affordable food and a time for nostalgia.

Kachang Puteh (assorted nuts) that brings good memories of my childhood.

The adorable fortune-reading parrot found directly opposite the Kachang Puteh stall. It visits on weekends only.

Acknowledgments: Lots of thanks to the Singapore Food Trail and Marina Bay Singapore for giving me the opportunity to enjoy delicious local hawker-fare as well as a wonderful Teochew opera staged by the Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association. Many thanks to Chloe and Jonathan from Select Group Limited for their hospitality. An extra special thanks to Ms Belinda Tan for facilitating the invitation.

I was very glad that I have learnt a bit about Chinese opera and have finally visited the Singapore Food Trail.


Singapore Food Trail
Singapore Flyer
30 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039803

Opening hours:
10.30 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday,
10.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Description: http://www.singaporeflyer.com/food-trail/
Stall profiles and listing: http://www.singaporeflyer.com/food-trail/stall-profiles/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/singaporefoodtrail

Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thauyong

Related posts by other bloggers:
A night at the Opera by Jerome Lim
Nostalgia ++ by Leone
The invite and the Teochew Opera street performance by Leone
The amazing transformation!! by Leone


Leone Fabre said...

great posting on the Opera and the Food Trail ....

thanks for sharing such a wonderful experience!

oceanskies79 said...

Leone: Thank you for your compliments. Thank you for sharing the wonderful experience.