In line with the annual “Food Republic Hawker Kings” competition, Food Republic held a food tasting event at their newly renovated outlet – Food Republic Suntec. Under the courtesy of omy.sg, I was invited to participate in this food tasting. A new experience for me indeed!
Food Republic Suntec underwent a major renovation last year, and reopened earlier this year with the White-Garden Theme. If you previously have no idea that there’s a Food Republic in Suntec, no worries, so do I. After the renovation, there are now located at the basement. With the white theme and massive size, you won’t missed it now. The seating is very spacious now.
My impression of Food Republic has always been very good. No doubt it’s slightly more expensive than other food centers, but in return you get all the nice food at one place. Save you from the misery when you buy something that doesn’t suit your taste.
I guess tourists coming to Singapore will find this blog post useful for them :) You will be able to find out more about some famous localities and regional food. Food Centers like food republic is really good for tourists because you get to try many localities at one place. No doubt you can get similar food items at other places in Singapore, but as a tourist, it is very hard to navigate around all these places.
As for other Singaporeans, you can read on to find out what is the “Food Republic Hawker Kings” competition about or just show some support for my first ever event. :D While most of the food that I’m going to introduce will be familiar to Singaporeans, that are a few dishes that you might not see or try before. I will first introduce some stalls that can only be found in Food Republic Suntec, namely the Thunder Tea Rice, Saravanaa Bhavan, Gu Zao Mian, Zhong Hua Curry Rice, Baek Doo San Korean and Shoku Okini.
Thunder Tea Rice
For some Singaporeans, this dish might actually be new to you. The Thunder Tea Rice Brown Rice ($5.50) is actually a traditional Hakka Dish containing 6 main ingredients: Beancurd, Long beans, Cabbage, Caixin, String beans and “Mani” vegetable. Other side ingredient includes dried shrimps, fried anchovies, chai poh and roasted peanuts. This dish is served with a choice of brown or white rice at the bottom of the bowl.
The bowl of green mixture is actually a specially concocted tea soup which tasted predominantly of basil with a slight mint and green tea taste, but it is not bitter at all. I tried eating it in 2 ways. The first is to pour the entire tea soup into the bowl of ingredient and mix well. The second is to dip your spoon of ingredient into the tea soup. Personally I prefer the latter because I prefer my food to be on the dry side. For a first timer, the latter method is advisable.
Thunder tea rice is definitely an acquired taste, and you either love or hate this dish. Truth to be told, I didn’t really like it initially because I find the taste of the tea soup too overwhelming. However when you eat more, you will actually find that the taste is quite refreshing. For people looking for healthier option hawker food, this is definitely suitable and worth a try.
Saravanaa Bhavan specialises in Indian vegetarian cuisine and one of their specialities is the Paper Roast Dosa. Dosa, like prata, is a very popular Indian dish in Singapore, attracting not just the Indian customers, but also consumers of other races. Dosa is a crepe-liked food that can be eaten plain, but normally it is filled with a wide variety of fillings.
Here is a photo of the chef of Saravanaa Bhavan serving us his Special Dosa with Masala ($4.60) Inverting the Dosa will expose a velvety potatoes and pea liked filling, that is the Masala. The Masala tasted something like what you normally find in Samosas but sweeter. The Dosa is also very chewy and crisp. On the whole, I really like this dish a lot.
Gu Zao Mian
In the bowl of their No. 1 Kway Teow ($6.00), you will be able to find meat balls, abalone mushrooms and prawns alongside minced pork. The soup is concentrated with flavour but yet light at the same time. The minced food is very tender and the other seafood is very fresh as well. Suitable if you are looking for a light lunch.
Zhong Hua Curry Rice
The chef of Zhong Hua Curry Rice is formerly from Shangri-La Hotel. His speciality is the signature Curry Fish which always attracts long queue. We were given the Curry Chicken ($5.00) to try. While some people may prefer their curry chicken to be more spicy, I like mine not too spicy and slightly sweet, which is how Zhong Hua Curry Rice tasted like. The downside to this dish is that the chicken is not tender enough for my liking.
Baek Doo San Korean
If you really like Korean food, but you want to get it affordable yet traditional, Baek Doo San is the place to go. The owner of Baek Doo San is a Korean and both his parents are in the food industry in Korea. The Seafood Tofu Soup ($6.80) is definitely spicy enough to trigger your taste bud. The portion is perhaps a little small for guys.
Looking for something slightly more extravagant? You can try the kushikatsu set ($24.50) from Shoku Okini, a mini-restaurant within the atrium of Food Republic. This set is expensive because of their chef, Arakawa Seiichiro, who is the chef of HAN Japanese Fine Dining restaurant, and the Michelin star restaurant, Kushikatsu, in Japan. So you can expect restaurant quality food from them.
Having covered the stalls unique to Food Republic Suntec, we will move on to the food that most Singaporeans are familiar with, the local delights.
Sergeant Hainanese Chicken Rice
Hainanese Chicken Rice is a famous locality, and everyone has different opinion on which is the best chicken rice in town. Some people prefer it to have a strong ginger taste, while others like me, prefer their chicken rice to have just a faint ginger taste.
What is special about Sergeant Hainanese Chicken Rice is that it is steamed just enough, so that the flesh is still a little pink. Although we were served breast meat, the meat is not tough at all, in fact very tender and smooth. It is also comparably less oily compared to many other chicken rice. To me, the rice of a chicken rice is very important. I prefer mine with slightly more retained moisture from the cooking process.
The chicken rice set meal ($6.50) comes complete with a plate of vegetables and a bowl of soup. Be sure to try their chili sauce and garlic which is definitely different from others. The only downside to this dish is the serving portion. For girls, the portion is definitely just nice. But for guys, it might not be filling for them. Sergeant Hainanese Chicken Rice is definitely comparable to your favourite list of chicken rice stalls.
Chai’s Original Sliced Fish Soup
For healthy choice, you can try the Bittergourd Double Fish Bee Hoon Soup ($5.00). The owner uses 100% fish meat for fried fish slices, no flour batter was used. With Chai, you can actually choose to have both fried and non-fried fish together in one bowl. Double happiness!
I’m actually a frequent eater of fish soup, though I normally eat it with rice. I will normally order one when I hope to eat something lighter that day, or there’s a impeding sore throat. So I can generally judge this pretty well. I generally have high demand for the fish and Chai’s fish is really fresh with no fishy taste. Some hawkers like to soak their fish in soda to give it that glowly look so as to mask the fact that the fish is not fresh or simply cook the fish with more ginger, but Chai’s doesn’t so I’m sure the fish is fresh. As for the soup base, there is a hint of sweetness and a faint taste of bittergourd, not too bitter.
What You Do Prata
No doubt the speciality of this stall is prata, but they serve wonderful Chicken Briyani as well. The most important aspect of Chicken Briyani got to be the rice. It is cooked with large amount of spices and the typed of rice used is different from the usual rice we eat. It is longer and thinner in comparison. Eating the rice alone can be quite dry that’s why it often goes together with curry or some other gravy.
The Chicken Briyani Set ($5.50) comes served on banana leaves. A gesture that is missing in many hawker stalls today. It also comes with the traditional Indian biscuit which you can eat together with the curry after the meal. As usual, the rice of the Briyani is dry, but that isn’t a problem since it should be eaten with curry. They curry is a bit spicy but still manageable. Chicken is tender no less.
Guan Chee HK Roasted Duck
Heading for lunch with a group of friends? Why not try the 5 Combination Platter ($28.00) from Guan Chee Hk Roasted Duck which consists of Duck, Char Siew, Pork, Chicken and Taiwanese Sausage. The fragrance of Guan Chee’s roast meats is attributed to their secret recipe sauce and in addition, they put strong emphasize on cleaning the duck and using no spare parts. They certainly live up to their name. All the meats are very juicy and tender, in particular their duck and char siew.
Fu Lin Yong Tofu
Many people will probably be familiar with Fu Lin Yong Tofu. That’s right, the same well-known Fu Lin Yong Tofu at Katong is now available at Food Republic! Fu Lin is famous for serving the Hakka kind of Yong Tau Hu. What makes it particularly famous and different from other Yong Tofu got to be the minced chicken mushroom gravy! If you are those that finds Yong Tau Fu a but bland, this will definitely be suitable for you.
I first tried Fu Lin Yong Tofu at their Amoy’s branch when I was working. Ever since then I like it a lot! The 6 pieces meal ($5.50) at Food Republic doesn’t pale in comparison at all! The crispy Yong tau fu mixed with the famous minced chicken mushroom gravy recipe is simply heavenly. Ample of minced chicken and mushroom in the bowl of thick bee hoon It is just yummy! If you haven’t tried Fu Lin Yong Tofu before, be sure to try it! You won’t regret.
Ya Fu Mini Wok Delights
Before you classify this as yet another mini wok you find in food centers, you have to try this. The Kung Pao Chicken Rice ($6.00) is actually one of the best I have eaten. The chicken is just perfect. We actually polished off all the chicken because it’s really tender and sweet. Having said that, I think it can be a bit more spicy.
Dao Xiao Mian 刀削麵 ($6.00), direct translation knife-shaved noodles, are noodles hand shaved off of a ball of dough by knife, and as such, the roughness and irregularities of the noodles is what makes it special. The only other place that I know sells Dao Xiao Mian is Crystal Jade. Henceforth I was quite surprise when I realised Food Republic actually sells them. The shaving process and preparation of the dough is the most important process hence chefs are specially hired from Shanxi and Xi-An province in China, where Dao Xiao Mian originates from.
The pork is soft and braised just right. Almost similar to what I ate in Taiwan. The noodles are also very chewy. While the broth is very rich in taste, I find it a bit starchy, probably due to the doughy nature of the noodles. Hence when eating this dish, perhaps we should leave the soup to the last else it might make you too full to finish your food.
It is now very common to find Japanese stalls in every food centers. The Chicken Teriyaki & Salmon Bento ($6.80) is another worth it food in Food Republic, given the portion of the food. I find the salmon a tad overcooked. The chicken on the other hand is superb. I don’t normally eat the skin, but I gave in to this one and ate it. The freshness and tenderness of the chicken goes very well with the teriyaki sauce. Was wondering what makes the chicken so tasty and did a bit of research. The teriyaki is specially made by the chef and they used apple in place of sugar, and steaming is used instead of frying. Plus points for healthy eater! Definitely an option if you are looking for affordable Japanese food.
Gazza Pasta is actually a Italian meets Korean/Japanese food concept stall, and they serve a wide variety of pizza and pasta. The Cream Mushroom & Salmon ($6.80) is one of their specialties. Given the portion of the pasta, it is actually very worth it.
Being a fan of pasta, I can say their this is done well. The salmon especially is fresh and cooked perfectly. There is no fishy taste to it at all. The cream base is actually lighter than what you find outside. So it is generally not so heavy on the stomach. Since I did not actually eat the entire plate of pasta myself, it’s still a mystery as to whether the cream base will make you irky near the end. If it doesn’t, this plate of pasta is definitely worth the try!
Food Republic also bring in the famous street snacks that we are all familiar with. Some snacks that we were given to try includes popiah, tutu kueh, toast and you tiao.
Fortune Food’s signature Popiah ($2.00) has its root in Geylang. It is a very worth it street snacks since many hawkers outside are already selling it for $1.50+. Plus at Food Republic, you get the assurance that the ingredients are fresh as it is prepared daily. Even the Popiah skin is handmade daily.
The popiah skin is soft and tangy, unlike the common tough popiah skin. And as you can see from the photo, they are very generous with ingredient, making every cents you paid very worth it. The ingredients are indeed very fresh. From the simple cucumber to the radish, everything is well done. Another one of my favourite. A point to note is that the popiah with Chili is really spicy. I prefer the non-spicy one.
Other items include, Kueh Pie Ti, Laksa, Lontong, Ayam Koro Bun and also the newly introduced fruit rojak. You can also order home delivery for the party sets of Popiah and Kueh Pie Ti.
If you are not aware of it, both Toast Box and Food Republic are subsidiary of Bread Talk. So chances are, when you see Food Republic, there will be a toast box nearby. I always buy the Teh from Toastbox because of its consistent quality. It is however my first time trying the Peanut Butter Thick Toast ($1.70). No complains about it. Toast is perfect and the spread is generous.
Yong Soon dough Fritters
After reading my Taiwan posts, I guess everyone should know that I like Dou Jiang. I like the taste of hawker dou jiang where it has the beany taste, instead of what is served at Mr Bean and JollyBean. The Soya Bean & You Tiao ($2.60) is the best combination for breakfast. For Yong Soon’s Dou Jiang, it’s sweet, milky, thick and definitely has that beany taste I like. The you tiao is crispy and not too oily. Not everyone has the leisure of going to the market to get their dou jiang you tiao for breakfast. I will definitely get a set for breakfast before my work next time.
Chinatown Tan’s Tutu
A little information for my Non-Singaporean readers (if you happen to chance upon this post). Tutu Kueh is actually steamed flour with fillings. The traditional fillings during my era was peanut and coconut. Nowadays there are chocolate, red bean and even durian.
The peanut and coconut Tutu ($1.40) is actually one of my favourite Pasar Malam (Singapore Night Market) food. And I will surely buy it whenever there’s a Pasar Malam at my estate. Now that Food Republic Suntec is selling them, Tutu Kueh is no longer exclusive to Pasar Malam! Solutions for your awkward cravings.
From the photos you will see that the fillings for the Tutu Kueh is a lot. Since I eat Tutu Kueh for most of my life, I got to say that their Tutu Kueh is really good. The thickness of the flour is not too thick and their coconut is really fresh. I prefer the peanut fillings because it is sweet. Perfect as a after meal snack.
Food Republic Suntec
Suntec City (Near Fountain Terrace) #B1 - 115-120/126/127, 1 Raffles Boulevard
Mon to Thurs, Sun and Public Holidays : 10am – 10pm
Fri to Sat, Eve of Public Holidays: 10am – 11pm
Nearest MRT:Promenade Station (Circle Line)
“Food Republic Hawker King” Competition
With this campaign, Food Republic hopes to bring food court dining to greater heights with the best of hawker fare from highly lauded and well sought-after food operators. It is also to motivate existing food operators and enhance their offerings to the public, Food Republic would like to recognize and honour their food operators that have supported and upheld their vision and mission to complete customer’s dining experiences with top rated cuisines and warm personable experiences.
For the second year running, this campaign will seek to draw out the top three contenders of Food Republic best hawkers through stages of voting and judges’ final taste test.
From 8 to 26 May 2013, vote for your favourite hawker now and propel them to the top 10 list! Voter will be rewarded with instant privileges and they could also stand a chance to win up to $8,000 worth of prizes.
How to Vote:
- Send your SMS in the following format to 1460 77877:
Enter ZBFR <Space> Hawker Number <Space> NRIC <Space> Name <Space> Email Address or Mailing Address
Example: ZBFR 01 S8530540Z John Heng 98164512 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Log on to www.foodrepublic.com.sg/hawkerkings, Food Republic Facebook page (www.facebook.com/FoodRepublicSingapore) or 7UP Singapore Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/7UPSingapore) to submit your votes.
Voting is open to Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. Incomplete voting form will be void. Each person can only give one vote per hawker, and can vote up to 3 different hawkers. Each SMS costs $0.21 (inclusive of GST). Voters below 18 years old must seek parental consent. The draw is conducted on 3 June, 10am at SPH News Centre. Results will be announced on 10 June on Food Republic’s website and Facebook page. SPH and Food Republic reserve the right to use the submitted information as we deem fit. For more information or assistance, please contact: Chew Li Qi, Food Republic Pte Ltd, DID: 6854 9701, Email: email@example.com