Saturday, July 18, 2009
Singapore Food Festival 2009: Launch and Food Street at Clarke Quay
The Singapore Food Festival (SFF) is here again! For 10 days from 17-26 July, you can look forward to feasting and festivities. The Singapore Tourism Board kindly gave me an invite to the launch held yesterday at Clarke Quay Central Square.
This year the Peranakan (Straits Chinese) theme takes centrestage. Peranakan food can probably be called a fusion success story - a marriage of Chinese ingredients and cooking techniques with Malay spices. Throw in some Indian and British influences and you have a multi-ethnic heritage cuisine to be proud of. Along with the food came the colourful culture of the Nonyas and Babas. We had true blue Peranakan ladies in full regalia, singing and dancing in coy retro fashion. See a video here.
I thought Samba Masala was a great opening act - cheery and chirpy high-energy dance percussion (itself a fusion mix of Brazillian samba and Asian instruments). This is a small segment of their performance. My first video taken with the iPhone 3GS!
Oh yes, it is Singapore, so the weather was relentlessly warm. Thank God for the Chang Beer (official beer) booth. It's been said that this beer goes well with spicy Peranakan food. The beer tastes very mild and clean, so that may be why. Well, at any rate, it certainly was refreshing in this weather.
One of the highlights of the SFF is the Food Street featuring about 30 stalls. This is at Read Bridge linking Clarke Quay to the other side of the river. You buy F&B coupons to exchange for food at these stalls. There were huge crowds eagerly snapping up the food. It's nearly impossible to get a seat (or breathing space). Buy your food and sit by the river steps outside The Central, maybe? I didn't try any of the food as I thought it may be a better idea to visit the actual restaurants or establishments separately.
One of the first stalls you will see (if you are coming from Clarke Quay) is the Straits Chinese stall (no.29). This is by the Guan Hoe Soon Group, one of the oldest Nonya restaurants in Singapore.
Ooh, they have a "Tok Panjang" Nonya buffet at S$18.88++ (adult) and S$10.88++ (child) at the Shenton Way and Queen Street branches. Click on the brochure to see it full-size. Looks like a good deal. Ayam buah keluak, bakwan kepiting and Spicy assam fish are some dishes mentioned.
Ayam buah keluak and dry laksa from the Straits Chinese stall. Other well-known Peranakan names like Kim Choo with their Nonya dumplings and snacks, and Blue Ginger were also there. Swissotel Merchant Court Hotel had a couple of stalls too (yes, their durian pengat is available!)
Here's Florence Gourmet dishing out spring rolls. They mainly do catering and DIY popiahs.
It's not all local food. The Tapas Tree also has its offerings. Mmh, lovely. Yes, of course I am talking about the paella, churros and tapas.
Cuba Libre, like the Tapas Tree, is also a restaurant at Clarke Quay. They too, have a stall here, should you like to preview some of its fare.
Prepare to queue at the Thye Hong fried hokkien mee stall, as you would at most of its other locations.
There are several Indian stalls too. This is Indian Curry House. Their restaurant is near Siglap, and they do delivery too.
Casuarina Curry - hey, is that K.F. Seetoh who just walked into my frame of view?
Ivory and The Indian Kitchen. With easy to see sample boxes of food. Looks great.
If you're hankering for crabs - chili or black pepper - Chen Fu Ji sells whole crabs at S$12 each. Yes, fried rice and fried chicken wings too.
There's an official burger? R Burger. R for Revolution. It's a Japanese chain, and the burger is a fusion product, using Chinese "mantou" for the bun, along with Asian sauces and ingredients. More in this press article. Their shop is opening at Orchard ION on 21 July. I have vouchers to give.
OK, this stall - Jo Napot Bakeries - was trying very hard to sell the chimney cakes (S$2 for short one, S$4 for tall one). The cake is of Hungarian origin. But because it is so new (and pricey!), I think they should have had samples. I didn't see anyone buying.
There's even gelato! From Frutta La Viva. Wait, six chopsticks rating from Makansutra? Wow, die die must try indeed! Oh why are they located so far away from me? Upper Bukit Timah!
When the Food Street ends its run, the largest Peranakan buffet line will take over the bridge with up to 100 dishes. I think it will be even more packed than it already is!
Each of the media and VIPs got a gorgeous tingkat or tiffin carrier, packed with nasi lemak, ayam buah keluak and Nonya kuehs (sponsored by Swissotel Merchant Court). This is one of the loveliest media gifts I've seen.
Thank you, Benjamin of STB, for the launch invitation.
OK, I am giving away all the vouchers that I got.
- S$10 worth of F&B coupons for Food Street (note you have until 25 July to use them)
- 5 x R Burger vouchers (S$1 off each combo)
- a 15% discount voucher for Swissotel Merchant Court F&B outlets, valid until 31 December 2009.
First person to ask for them in the comments will get the whole set. Meanwhile, you can check the SFF website for more details on promotions, cooking classes and activities.