[SG] What to expect at the Singapore Favourite Food (SFF) Village?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The year 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of the Singapore Food Festival, taking place from 28 June to 28 July 2013. It is an annual month-long gourmet extravaganza showing Singapore's rich culinary offerings. The festival aims to celebrate the evolution of Singapore's culinary landscape with a humble hawker beginning to a cosmopolitan city that prides itself on its unique hawker heritage and creative dining concepts. This could be seen from the recent Singtel Hawker Heroes Challenge where Michelin-starred chef, Gordon Ramsay contested with our Singapore hawkers and the proliferation of Michelin-chefs inspired fine-dining restaurants. Apart from dining privileges by participating restaurants, one of the highlights this year is the Singapore Favourite Food Village (SFF Village) which is a 10 day caricature featuring 40 top local dishes represented by famous hawkers and restaurants.

We had the honour and privilege of being invited to the SFF Village for a food-tasting session by Openrice Singapore, where it was a pleasure to meet like-minded food enthusiasts such as Maureen from MissTamChiak, Celine from ChiamHuiY and not forgetting an afternoon of fun playing Openrice stickers with the lovely children of Andy from SengKangBabies! (Apologies for leaving out the couple seated at the other end of the table and the lady from Sentosa for we din't managed reach to you guys to know more!)

Walking in to the event venue, we were warmly greeted, literally, with the heat and aroma of all the hawker dishes coming from both flanks. For a split second, it seemed like I had transcended to one of our local hawker centres with the key difference that the SFF Village had united some of the best hawkers under one roof. It was not too long ago that the World Street Food Congress took place in Singapore with but this is a different level focusing on our very favourite local dishes! Let us delay no more and find out how the dishes fare!

Do take special attention the hawker stalls do NOT accept cash payments so you will need to get yourself one of these FlashPay cards which are available at any TransitLink Ticket Office or at the venue itself. You will then need to top-up the FlashPay card before making your purchases at the respective stalls where it would be tapped against a machine to deduct value according to your orders. You could also get 5% rebate on the purchases made with your FlashPay card!

Rojak from Apa Kitchen (S$8/-)

Freshly grounded roasted peanut.

The adding of calamansi into the rojak mixture.

Spoilt for choice, I took a look around and decided to get us the rojak for sharing. Offered in various sizes, S$4, S$6, we opted for the largest portion at S$8. Singaporeans should be familiar with this dish characterised by pineapple slices, fried fritters, cucumber slices and most importantly a viscous and rich shrimp paste. The elements were spot on for this humble local treat and the unami flavours of the shrimp paste was well balanced with a good kick of acidity from the calamansi, which was carefully cut by scissors and added into the mixture. The fried fritters (you-tiao) were also freshly toasted in an oven to a nice crispness and gave a good crunchy texture in addition to the peanut bits that were self-prepared. We thought that the shrimp paste had a good balance of sweetness, salinity and savouriness with the elements coming together harmoniously.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Sotong Kang Kung by Apa Kitchen (S$8)

Being a Teochew at heart, I could not resist but order the Sotong Kang Kung which like the Satay Beehoon is a hawker dish that seems to be of a dying trade. Having read that Satay Beehoon would be a dish featured in the SFF Village, I was disappointed not to spot it around but sought content with this dish. A usual complementing dish to the Satay Beehoon, the Sotong Kang Kung is not exactly an easy dish to master though the key ingredients were cooked beautifully on this instance. The sotong was blanched on the side table while the main auntie chef prepared the rojak. The cooking time was brilliantly timed and you could tell from the crunchiness and QQ-texture which went well with the kang kung. The sweet sauce, commonly used for chee cheong fan tasted mediocre and diluted. 

Verdict: 7.0/10

Apa Kitchen
Great World City, B1 Food Junction
For a list of other outlets, please visit their website.

BBQ Sambal Stingray from East Coast BBQ Seafood (S$15/-)

With different sizes and cuts of stingray to choose from, we had the largest portion at S$15. The fish was cooked just nice and the chilli had a fair amount of heat though I would have preferred it to be spicier and bolder in taste. We recommend to dip the sambal-covered fish in that separate chilli sauce provided, which tasted mild with a focus in providing a refreshing tang from the calamansi juice added. the flesh was not the best nor the smoothest tried but it tasted fresh and the 2 types of chilli offered worked beautifully to win us over.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Stingray curry puff from East Coast BBQ Seafood (S$2/-)

A casual chat with Calvin over the food tried led us to discovering one of the MUST-TRIES at the SFF Village. From the same stall that served us the stingray dish, I followed Calvin's recommendation and tried this exotic curry puff. I had tried countless number of potato curry or sardine puffs but this was surely a first. The pastry shell was deep-fried to a beautiful golden brown yet it did not taste excessively greasy. It had a nice crispy texture on the pastry which was complemented by the soft stingray flesh and sliced boil egg on the inside. Be warned that it tasted a lot spicier than the normal curry puffs but it suited our palate well. It tasted surprisingly similar to sardine puffs but expect a milder taste since typically stingray does not taste as strong as sardine. 

Verdict: 8.5/10

East Coast BBQ Seafood
11 East Coast Lagoon Food Village
1220 East Coast Parkway

Oyster Omelette from Zheng Xin Si Chao (S$8/-)

The oysters served in their omelette were a lot larger than what you could commonly find in hawker centres around. It tasted fresh and succulent but the omelette lacked crispiness though we did not try the dish fresh as we had the various dishes shared around. The potato starch added into the omelette gave a rather mashy texture to it but it had good consistency. The chilli sauce to go along with it was good but not great, with a good amount of heat but not strong enough.

Verdict: 7.0/10

Fried Hokkien Mee from Zheng Xin Si Chao (S$6/-)

From the same stall serving the oyster omelette, we regrettably did not get a chance to try this dish to give a valid verdict.

Zheng Xin Si Chao

Blk 41A, Cambridge Road


Pek Kio Market

Singapore 210041
Tel: 9739 3845

Salted egg yolk pork from Star Young Kwang BBQ Seafood

This would probably appeal to fans of savoury dishes or those with a preference for creamy dishes. While the salted egg yolk tasted rich and viscous, I am generally not a fan of such jelat dishes. It was a while before the dish was passed over to this side of the table and the batter tasted limp despite being deep fried. The pork seemed like a shoulder cut which was relatively lean and was tender and moist.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Star Young Kwang BBQ Seafood
120 Bukit Merah Lane 1
Alexandra Village Food Centre

Fried Carrot Cake from Lim Hai Sheng Cooked Food (S$5/-)

Famous for their white version carrot cake, I was actually looking forward to trying but the first taste was itself a disappointment. While the radish came in chunks with delectable seasoning, the batter was soggy and lacked any texture. Once again, it might be owed to us not trying the dish upon freshly served but from what we had, it tasted mediocre.

Verdict: 6.5/10

Lim Hai Sheng Cooked Food
Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6 #01-09, Singapore 560724
Blk 216 Bedok North St 1 #01-49 Singapore 460216

Satay from Leo Satay (S$6.50/-)

We reserve our comments for the satay as they were not enough to go around the table but here is a picture of what to expect!

Leo Satay
3017 Bedok North St 5
Singapore 486121

Fried Kway Teow from Lao Fu Zi (S$6/-)

Having tried the original version at the Old Airport Road Food Centre stall (our recent review can be found here), we were wondering if this could match the standard since the old uncle manning the stall was not the chef at work here. We found that it lacked wok-hei and while we enjoyed the slight saccharine after-taste and the generous amount of cockles in the plate of noodles, it failed to live up to expectations. The little greens and bean sprouts added a slight crunch to the noodles. It would probably come across as a good plate of fried kway teow but stopped short of a 'DIE-DIE-MUST-TRY' verdict.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Lao Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow
#01-12 Old Airport Road Food Centre
19 Old Airport Road
Singapore 390019

Deep-fried prawn rolls (Hei Zhou) from Bee Heong Palace (S$1/each)

I was expecting a good solid hei zhou but I was left sorely disappointed after the first try. Despite being deep-fried to a beautiful golden brown, it lacked crispiness and tasted limp. The minced pork meat had a good seasoning added to it and coupled with the sweet sauce, it tasted good but expect to be disappointed when it came to texture for it was flat and dull. While most tze char tend to prepare their hei zhous bite-sized for dining convenience sake, expect a 30-40% increase in size.

Verdict: 6.5/10

Bee Heong Palace
134 Telok Ayer St
Singapore 068600
Tel: 6222 9074

Yong Tau Foo from Da Jie Niang Dou Fu

As we did not get to try the two yong tau foo dishes, we are unable to give a valid verdict but here are some pictures to give an insight of what to expect!

Da Jie Niang Dou Fu
354 Clementi Avenue 2
Singapore 120354

Ice Kachang from Desserts R Us

It was unfortunate that Jin Jin Desserts did not want a stall at the SFF Village despite being nominated as one of the local favourites. They are  known for their Power Chendol and Gangster Ice and you may wish to read our reviews on them here. That being said, Desserts R US is a brand new desserts stall and currently do not have a stall around so catch them while you can over the next few days before the event ends! 

*Special thanks to Calvin for the correction!

The overall dining experience at the SFF Village was an enjoyable one. I wrote earlier in this entry that it seemed like a visit to the hawker centres but the place was very well-ventilated so one could expect to dine in comfort. You could even enjoy a game of foosball!

While there were hits and misses with the respective dishes tried, it would be a worthy visit to enjoy different delectable local favourites all in one place. The food tried on the whole were good but not fantastic but it would be an excellent place to bring your foreigner friends to introduce them to our hawker culinary heritage. Let us know what is your favourite hawker dish!

Once again, a special thank you to the crew at Openrice Singapore who in addition to inviting us to the food tasting made various calories-worthy recommendations! The friendly crew organized the event well and took special efforts to allow greater interaction among the attendees. We look forward to joining you guys at the next session!

SFF Village
Bayfront Avenue @ Marina Bay
(Bayfront MRT Station Exit A, Raffles Place Station Exit J)
Free Admission

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  1. Thanks for the link back to my web! Now I have a post to refer for the pricing of the items! :) Anyway it was nice knowing all three of you. Finally got to know who are the marvelous people behind MYCC. See you real soon! ;)

    1. Hi Celine, no worries! I only managed to get the pricing of items that were available off the billboards at the respective stalls so I left out 1 or 2 and the dishes that I din't get to try. The pleasure was ours in knowing another foodie and see you soon!

    2. hey celine! nice meeting you too! hope to see you around soon! ;)

  2. Hi Mr. Chong! The picture for "Deep-fried prawn rolls (Hei Zhou) from China Street Fritters (S$1/each)" is actually a prawn thingy from BEE HEONG PALACE, sorry that I couldn't remember the exact name of this dish!

    1. Hi Ace, thanks for dropping by. I had made the necessary amendments to the post and appreciate the clarification!