[SG] World Street Food Congress 2013

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The first of such to come to Singapore, how could any foodie resist the opportunity to taste the flavour of 10 different countries congregated at one venue? Hosted by Makansutra, the event hosts an interesting variety of street food that excites the adventurous foodies in us. 

In view of the gloomy weather upon reaching, we were pretty hesitant initially whether to enter for the event. Thankfully we were told of the wet weather options, with a private dining area open for us to take shelter in. The curious foodie then got the better of us and we were pretty stoked by the lack of crowd (yet), as we were able to take our time looking around and speaking to the stall owners. 

Starting our food hunt, we striked Singapore and Malaysia off our list of countries' food to check out immediately. In order of what we've tried, we went for the pretty famed Mexican stall, that has been nominated for Newsweek's 101 Best Places to Eat in the World. 

1. La Guerrerense - Mexico
Seafood Tostada ($10)

With a mixture of seafood and their own special mix, it was served atop a crispy tortilla chip. When ordering, they would also ask on the level of spiciness preferred and we decided on a medium level to go with the dish. It was a thoughtfully concocted combination, with fresh seafood used in the mixture, consisting of squid, octopus, shrimp and crab, tossed in their own sauce, paired with a refreshing slice of avocado. I was quite surprised by the cold touch but after savouring the first bite, I grew to like it instead.

Perhaps an acquired taste, I like the creamy sauce used in the mixture comprised mainly of mayonnaise and fresh seafood which gave the extra crunch. Thinking that the tortilla chip would probably turn soggy after we took a long time with our photos, it still managed to hold up its solid crisp and we simply enjoyed the blend in textures it gave. The chilli added was basically the icing on the cake, it was just very slightly spicy with the chilli oil, and had small crunchy bits that tasted just slightly familiar to our local 'hei bi hiam'. An interesting dish that appealed to our palates! Eat with caution though, as the mountain of ingredients had been carefully placed and might just topple. We also felt that the serving portion could do with a bit more generosity.

Verdict: 8.5/10

2. Khun Pas - Thailand
Khao Knab Pak Moh ($4.50 as a set)

Dumplings wrapped in translucent purple/white skin, this was an immediate visual appeal. A savory dish with minced pork wrapped inside the 'Q' skin, I enjoyed the right chewiness of the wrap and it went really well with the tangy chilli sauce drizzled over it. The dumpling also had a bit of crunch to it, having added water chestnut for that refreshing touch. The chilli sauce was spicy yet refreshing, with a slight sour tinge to it, likened to that of thai sweet chilli sauce. It was a tad too spicy that got us fanning our tongues after that, but nonetheless shiok! Great pairing, in our opinion.

Verdict: 9.0/10

Thua Paep

We thought this was quite a special dish with sesame and mung beans wrapped in a very light chewy rice-based cake, coated with mung beans. It was very soft, making it easy to cut into bite sizes. Popping in, I liked the soft and chewy texture, coupled with the mung beans and the sugar bits on top which made it a very diverse combination. I'm not a fan of mung beans but cy enjoyed it as a healthy snack after meal. It was a great combination of sweet and savory sold as a set and the person at the stall had also advised us to have this only after the dumplings.

Verdict: 8.0/10

3. Abhisek - India
Chicken 65 ($3.50)

Named Chicken 65 with some rumours as to having it marinated for 65 days, this unassuming plate of drumsticks won our hearts after we've sunk our teeth into it. Fried to a dark reddish tinge due to its marinate with various spices, it brought back a familiar taste of what I've had while I was at India. It looked dry on the outside, but a bite revealed its tender flesh and juices retained inside. Pairing with the spices powdered on top, it added a stronger spice flavour, and perfect when paired with the lemon squeezed over it. I found the accompanying mint chutney a bit too sharp for me, but the adventurous cy had a try and thought it went well with the crispy drumsticks. We thought this was a simple dish done well indeed!

Verdict: 9.0/10

4. India Gate Bhel Puri
Batata Puri ($4.50)

I had the impression that this was somewhat like pani puri (another popular street snack, bite-sized crisp rounded crust filled with flavoured water, potatoes and spices) initially due to its name, but it turned out to be very different - a mixture of snacks mixed in their signature sauce before serving. It seemed a little like our kacang puteh, mixed in rojak style with their own concocted sauce. It was quite an exotic mix where you could find crackers, peanuts, potatoes and many other indian snacks in small pieces tossed together. Their sauce made it a distinctive dish with a sticky coat to it, made up of dates, mango and tamarind. It was strongly flavoured, just like how Indian dishes are typically done up, and had a refreshing tangy twist to it. It was appetising and got very addictive after a while. A great tea-time snack!

Verdict: 8.5/10

5. Lion City - Vietnam

Lion City reminded us of Singapore and indeed, this was a Singaporean-inspired cuisine in Vietnam, specialising in teppanyaki. We were pretty impressed by how they were able to cook up a dish of the signature Singaporean chilli crab in the teppanyaki manner and thought we had to give it a shot, with a set of the following 3 dishes for $14.
Squid in Pineapple Sauce

A refreshing way of doing up the squid, this left us with a good impression upon the first bite. The taste of pineapple was very controlled and done just right such that it captured the sweetness within the squid and had just a little sourish tinge to it for that little twist to its aftertaste. The squid we had was very fresh and crunchy, and you could still taste the natural sweetness of typical seafood. It was stir-fried for just the right time to retain its juices, remaining tender and chewy. A tad too much onions in this small servings though!

Verdict: 8.5/10

Mee Goreng

This was quite a below-average portion of mee goreng we had, perhaps as we're more familiar with the Singapore-styled dish that has got more gravy to it. There wasn't much flavour to it and the noodles were a little overcooked long that it was too soft. We couldn't really put a taste to it as it was just like a plate of noodles mixed with tomatoes and vegetables. 

Verdict: 7.0/10 

Chilli Crab 

The highlight of our dish, wondering how the Vietnamese version would compare to the original Singapore chilli crab. The staff told us that they'd adapted our version to their tastes and they're the first and probably only one to do chilli crab in the teppanyaki manner. Seeing how teppanyaki is typically done, this was quite a feat to complete.

Digging into the gravy right away since that's the essence of chilli crab, this is a much milder and sweeter version. The gravy had eggs in it just like how most restaurants in Singapore do it, and is thick enough to give that fuller and richer flavour with every mouthful.

Cracking open the pincer, we were pleasantly surprised to find that even with teppanyaki, the flesh could be cooked just right, soft and tender the way we like it. Of course, the satisfaction of any crab meal - tip top freshness of the seafood! It would have been complete if they serve fried mantous or probably toasted the baguette before serving. We still preferred the spicier version we have in Singapore to have that 'kick', but this was also done very well and we loved the novel idea of preparing Chilli Crab in the teppanyaki manner.

For those who're up to finishing an entire crab, they're also selling a pure chilli crab dish for $30. Quite a deal!

Verdict: 8.5/10

Iron Chef!

The star of Lion City, he's the friendly Iron Chef who would stop occassionally to perform some stunts with his tools and also pose for your photos! 

6. The People's Pig - USA

Porchetta Sandwich ($9)
We decided to go for something that we're more familiar with and decided upon this Italian style pulled pork sandwich. I thought it was just going to be another boring burger since you can pretty much imagine the taste of a pork sandwich, and I was thankfully surprised. Biting into the soft ciabatta bread, I was then received by a strong savory flavour in the slab of tender pork that felt vaguely familiar. Marinated in garlic, it brought upon a strong yet rounded aftertaste, with its crispy skin complementing the tender meat. It would have been a great one, except that it was too salty for us and subsequent tastes had the saltiness masking the star flavour of the dish. While the flavours were strong and there was a beautiful crackling on the crispy skin, this portion could do with some upsize in our humble opinion.

Verdict: 7.5/10 

7. Nam Bo Sticky Rice Banana - Vietnam
Chuoi Nuong ($4)

A Vietnamese dessert, this is of bananas wrapped in glutinous rice then toasted to get a crisp outer layer and caramelised banana. It is then drizzled with coconut milk with a few other condiments mentioned by the person manning the stall, to give that sweet finishing touch. With a very fine and soft layer of glutinous rice, I like how it was chewy yet not overly sticky nor jelat. The sauce had a nice coconut and pandan fragrance to it, and it wasn't too sweet for us. Thoughtful addition of the toasted sesame seeds added a very nice crunch to the dish, it would have been perfect if the bananas were sweeter instead of having a sourish tinge to it. 

Verdict: 8.0/10

8. Nomjit Kaiyang - Thailand
Grilled Chicken (Kai Yang)

It's not easy finding great grilled wings in Singapore and it was to our delight seeing these in the set - and best of all, the wings were grilled over charcoal! The skin was just heavenly with its juices exploding and had a light lemon refreshing taste to it. The meat was just tender and succulent, absolutely finger-licking good! 

Verdict: 9.0/10

Grilled Pork (Moo Yang)

These thin little strips of pork had an uncanny resemblance to our bak kwa, except that this was more tender and had a slight crisp on its outer layer. It was a little too salty but a great dish to go with the plain sticky rice. 

Verdict: 7.5/10

Som Tum & Kay/Moo Yang ($8.50)

Som Tum (green papaya salad), as explained at the stall description panel, is the four main tastes of the local Thai cuisine - being sour, sweet, savory and spicy. Apparently the secret of this street stall lies in its addition of salted egg to its Som Tum for an added flavour. A perfect appetiser with its plethora of flavour in a mouthful, it gets you addicted trying to figure out its taste. I liked the crunch of the thinly sliced green papaya, and its sauce that was slightly spicy and sourish. The salted egg was an interesting addition supposedly to have that richer flavour in the combination but we thought it wasn't very much different. Addictive dish even for me, the typical non-salad-eater!

Verdict: 8.5/10

And of course, just when we thought it was all food, there's the entertainment part as well! Great live music to go along with the lazy Saturday.

That basically sums up our experience with the World Street Food Congress 2013, having stuffed ourselves with so much food but leaving contented and satisfied. The quality of food had lived up to our standards in general and we were of course more than happy to be able to try out small portions of different cuisines from all over the world. We were looking forward to more European stalls that could bring us the slightly different fare from burgers but the Asian cities managed to impress us with the exotic offerings as well.

Private dining area for wet weather plans
For those who're planning on a visit, do check them out by 9 June! Some tips that we thought would be useful - Be prepared to get your hands dirty trying out the variety of cuisines! So come armed with tissues, wet tissues and an appetite for the not-so-conventional food you get!

31 May - 9 June 2013
Entry Tickets: $28 (Inclusive of $20 food vouchers)
Venue: F1 Pit Building, next to Singapore Flyer
1 Republic Boulevard, Singapore 038975

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