Hawker food getting worse and worse?

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Hawker food getting worse and worse?

Post by Fortan » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 11:03 am

I used to live in Singapore for several years between 2007-2010 and then moved away for a few years and have now moved back. Before I lived here the first time I came here frequently on business trips dating back to the mid 90's.

From when I initially started traveling here in the 90's and up until today, I feel that the quality of the hawker food is only going one way and that is down. To a certain degree I still love all the Indian food here (I am caucasian) as it seems to taste the same but especially the Malay and Chinese food here is just going from bad to worse. No taste, loads of MSG and served with no pride of commitment to quality. Sometimes I feel it is all connected to the poor quality of raw materials used for the food? Perhaps it is due to the fact that most stall owner today, don't own the stalls themselves and are just working for someone else. Perhaps it is due to the rental cost going up and up and the hawkers having to cope with that by buying lower quality cheaper produce.

One example is Lau Pa Sat. The food used to be SO good there. Today, I never go there anymore.

What do you guys think?

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Post by katbh » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 11:46 am

Yes, agree. Hawker food has gone down hill and much of it is generic stuff - even to the point of there being so many 'franchise' stalls.
Lost are the great Herbal Chicken Soups (if anyone knows where the one from old airport road has gone ... please let me know), good yong tau fu, individual buk kut teh, etc stalls. They all seem to be pumping out the same fatty chicken rice, soggy wanton mee and noodles. Very few stalls now are taking pride in good food - is now just to make a buck
At one time you could go into any food court and find 5 or 6 excellent stalls. Now it is maybe one in each hawker centre.
I suspect it is because the first real generation of hawker centre guys are gone and now, like the rest of Singapore, the imperative is to make the bucks to cover the higher stall rent and the stupidly high mortgages people have now.
The old scheme for hawkers centres was great. It was to get the hawkers off the streets (where they did not have to pay rent) and into centres. So the centres charged only a nominal rent. Now the ga'ment just going for $

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Post by katbh » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 11:47 am

And don't forget - one factor may be that only Singaporeans/PRs are allowed to work in Hawker centres. And how many Singaporeans want to be doing this sort of thing anymore?

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Post by zzm9980 » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 1:20 pm

katbh wrote: And how many Singaporeans want to be doing this sort of thing anymore?
Exactly my thought.

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Post by bgd » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 1:25 pm

Food quality, in my experience, is on the way down.

But the beer girls/aunties still serve with a smile. They seem to enjoy their work.

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Post by BedokAmerican » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 1:41 pm

Even though I'm not a vegetarian, I always order vegetarian dishes at hawker centers because it just seems safer.

However, I can't speak to what's happened with the food quality at the centers over the years because I've only been here a little less than a year.

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Re: Hawker food getting worse and worse?

Post by Michael X » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 1:41 pm

Fortan wrote:I used to live in Singapore for several years between 2007-2010 and then moved away for a few years and have now moved back. Before I lived here the first time I came here frequently on business trips dating back to the mid 90's.

From when I initially started traveling here in the 90's and up until today, I feel that the quality of the hawker food is only going one way and that is down. To a certain degree I still love all the Indian food here (I am caucasian) as it seems to taste the same but especially the Malay and Chinese food here is just going from bad to worse. No taste, loads of MSG and served with no pride of commitment to quality. Sometimes I feel it is all connected to the poor quality of raw materials used for the food? Perhaps it is due to the fact that most stall owner today, don't own the stalls themselves and are just working for someone else. Perhaps it is due to the rental cost going up and up and the hawkers having to cope with that by buying lower quality cheaper produce.

One example is Lau Pa Sat. The food used to be SO good there. Today, I never go there anymore.

What do you guys think?
Can't speak for the past, but since I have been here (2 years or so) I haven't had much positive experience at the hawker centers. Tastes good going down, but always feel sick after. I'm sure there are still some diamonds in the rough, but I have yet to find any.

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Post by katbh » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 1:44 pm

Vegetarian not that much safer! Latest deaths from food poisoning (Geylang Serai I think from memory) were for vegetarian rojak that had been contaminated by something dripping from above - from memory it was prawns....

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Post by the lynx » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 1:48 pm

katbh wrote:Vegetarian not that much safer! Latest deaths from food poisoning (Geylang Serai I think from memory) were for vegetarian rojak that had been contaminated by something dripping from above - from memory it was prawns....
I don't think it was vegetarian rojak. And it was cuttlefish dripping from top shelf in the fridge into the rojak sauce placed at the bottom shelf without lid.

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Post by katbh » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 2:01 pm

But rojak IS vegetarian. It is vegetables (and sometimes fruit).

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Post by the lynx » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 2:09 pm

Chinese rojak is essentially vegetarian, with fruits and vegetables.

Indian/Malay rojak is not. It has cuttlefish, roast chicken bits (usually tandoori style) and some even have calamari.

The one in that fateful Geylang Serai incident was Indian rojak (hence, the cuttlefish contamination).

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Post by beppi » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 3:15 pm

katbh wrote:But rojak IS vegetarian. It is vegetables (and sometimes fruit).
Rojak sauce is made with Petis, a fermented prawn sauce and thus not vegetarian!

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Post by katbh » Thu, 01 Aug 2013 3:18 pm

^ true, forgot about the prawn paste

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Post by BedokAmerican » Fri, 02 Aug 2013 2:42 pm

I understand that vegetarian food can still get contaminated. When I said it seems safer, a better phrase might have been "more convenient" or "easier to eat."

I was referring to the following examples:

* No heads on fish to worry about. You can ask for them to be cut off and usually they are if you ask, but you also run the risk of the person working the stall not understanding you (or not communicating it to the cook), and you might get a dish served with heads anyway.

* Chicken is often inedible here. It's usually just a bunch of grizzle and fat. Trying to cut off the fat and actually get to the meat (if there is any) can be a challenge and is more work than it's worth. Beef can be a little better, but it's still a gamble. To top it off, there aren't wet napkins available at Hawker Centers to clean your hands, at least not that I've seen.

Vegetarian is easier and more simple. No need to send it back (heads) or to leave the Hawker Center starving because the chicken or beef was inedible. Just my opinion.

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Post by Barnsley » Fri, 02 Aug 2013 3:35 pm

BedokAmerican wrote:I understand that vegetarian food can still get contaminated. When I said it seems safer, a better phrase might have been "more convenient" or "easier to eat."

I was referring to the following examples:

* No heads on fish to worry about. You can ask for them to be cut off and usually they are if you ask, but you also run the risk of the person working the stall not understanding you (or not communicating it to the cook), and you might get a dish served with heads anyway.

* Chicken is often inedible here. It's usually just a bunch of grizzle and fat. Trying to cut off the fat and actually get to the meat (if there is any) can be a challenge and is more work than it's worth. Beef can be a little better, but it's still a gamble. To top it off, there aren't wet napkins available at Hawker Centers to clean your hands, at least not that I've seen.

Vegetarian is easier and more simple. No need to send it back (heads) or to leave the Hawker Center starving because the chicken or beef was inedible. Just my opinion.
Stick to Fried Rice , or Yong Tau Foo :D
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