The first thing I did when I arrived in Singapore was drop my luggage at the hotel and head straight to a Hawker Food Center. These open air markets can be found all over Singapore. They house a plethora (often 40+) of inexpensive food stalls serving endless variety of Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian food . Because so many cultures reside in Singapore, there is an amazing convergence of all these cuisines. Think mall food court- but with a cool breeze, cheap, and not full of total shit. I got food from 4 different places for $7 total, each made by an Asian grandmother I never had the pleasure of having.
Chomp Chomp (named after an area in Singapore) was built to mimic the food style of these Hawker Food Centers. Right away the smells took me back to the 110 degree days I spent binge eating noodles and hot soup in the Hawker Centers. They call the decor " Southeast Asian chic." The space is filled with gorgeous antique wooden chinese doors, white brick walls, dark wood, and bamboo curtains partially shielding the open kitchen.
The food was full of spices and richly flavored sauces. The Pasembur (salad of cucumber, mango, shrimp fritters, tofu, egg, cuttlefish sambal) looked like a mish mosh of stuff to me but mixed together, it was crazy delicious. I was particularly excited to try the Laksa, a spicy noodle soup with flavors of curry and coconut milk, found in Southeast Asia. The broth was so good I wanted to knock the spoon out of my friends' hand who was sharing it with me. The fried hokkien mee initially looks like everyday shrimp lo mein. But when you dive in, the seafood broth is rich, the noodles are the perfect texture, and it is loaded with expertly cooked shrimp & squid.. Finally, the bbq stingray, which looks & sounds bizarre, was killer. I love the texture of the fish, slathered with delicious sambal, as you pull strips of it off its skin. Don't let the look of it scare you, man up. Here's what we had:
Popiah - Singaporean summer rolls with shrimp, jicama and snow pea
Pasembur - Salad of cucumber, mango, shrimp fritters, tofu, egg, cuttlefish sambal
Sarawak Laksa - Prawns, chicken, tofu puffs, egg and noodles in spicy coconut broth
Nasi Lemak - Coconut rice, curry chicken, lamb rendang, anchovies, peanuts, egg, sambal