Geylang Serai Food Centre
Not only can you find authentic Malay and Indian cuisine in this remodelled building based on the old Malay kampong houses, the Geylang Serai Food Centre also possesses a rich cultural quality that makes it an attraction itself. Located in the Geylang Serai Market, the food centre is on the second floor, with a thriving wet market on the first.
However, I discovered that my friend’s mother had a stall there. She told me the secret recipes of how to conquer the queues without resorting to surrealistic violence or royalty mannerisms. Of course, it wouldn’t be a secret if I typed what they were here. Hence, I shall skip it.
Ignoring the constant hustle bustle and symphony of meows and chirps, the ambiance there was actually intriguingly tranquil. It was probably due to the menus offered there and it’s architecture that’s held some cultural elements. The food was tasty. It offered a sneak peek for tourists into the Kampung era seeing as to how the food palette here contained a similar essence and weren’t as modernized as the ones one would find at the malls.
However, it seemed that my happiness was short lived when I tried the other food that my parents had ordered. The other food somehow paled in comparison to the delicious Prata that I was enjoying.
Just like every hawker centre, not every stall is good - I guess it just takes time to find out which stalls are the ones that provide the best food.
This new one has none of that potent olfactory assault, but also gone is that charm those familiar with the old one would remember. You would, however, appreciate the greater levels of hygiene here.
I would always end up going to a stall Hajah Mona, that sells Nasi Padang. I love the Rawon and sambal kerang there. If you are lucky, you might find fish roe lemak being sold that day. After that, I would usually buy a large mug of homemade longan drink and also a bowl of the famous Chng Tng from the old market. After more than 28 years since my first bowl of chng tng there, I still don't know the name of the stall! But do ask where the chng tng stall is, any of the stall holders would be able to guide you there.
I ordered Lontong from a stall recommended by my colleagues and the food was really good. The place is not very dirty either.
Usually the food centre is crowded, especially on weekends (and very much so during the fasting month around evening time), but I guess it just adds to the ambience because it'll probably not be the same if there was little people around, and your eating experience might be a bit.. awkward. Anyway, since there are so many different choices of food available, you'll be spoiled for choice. In general, the food is nothing spectacular, but they're delicious enough and very affordable. Most of the hawkers are also generally very friendly, but when there's many people around, I find that they tend to get a bit impatient and service is slow.
Anyway, for me personally, I rarely go and eat here.. at most about two or three times a year. Mainly because I could get much yummier food somewhere else, and because mostly I can't stand the crowds. But do try to eat here at least once (for the experience) if you have not!
Dont get mistaken here folks, this hawker centre is NOT the one that killed 3 people and an unborn baby. The stall that operates the deadly indian rojak is closer to Haig Road. It is already quite nauseating to get to to the hawker centre(which is on the second floor) at any time of the day, yet i dont quite understand how much further the layout of this hawker centre can be improved, for the simple fact that there are too many stalls!
To sum everything up, I would not recommend coming here in the morning, but the marketplace is definitely worthwhile if you are cost savvy and the food is relatively cheap and really tasty. Put aside the downsides for these positives.