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Geylang Serai Bazaar 2019 Starts This Week, Serving Mostly Traditional Malay Food

The reduced rental costs might also mean cheaper goods for us!

Photo: Wisma Geylang Serai

The organisers of the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar have heard us. When this year’s edition returns from 3 May to 5 June 2019, most stalls will be serving traditional Malay food and drinks. All food is also required to be made “suitable” for Muslim visitors.

These adjustments come in response to the complaints from the past few bazaars, especially last year’s, that its cultural purpose and atmosphere has eroded. Taking place during Ramadan, the popular bazaar offers a place for Muslims break fast together with lots of delicious food, while creating a festive celebration of Malay culture for all visitors ahead of Hari Raya. However, the focus of recent bazaars has been less on Malay culture, and more on being trendy and Instagrammable.

When rainbow-coloured bagels, tacos and cheese sandwiches crowd the highlights of a Ramadan bazaar, you have to wonder what the bazaar is truly about.

Here’s a recap of the 2018 bazaar:

So it’s good to hear that this year’s Geylang Serai Bazaar will embrace more of its Malay roots, and create a nostalgic ol’ pasar malam environment. It will also be less packed, with a total of just 500 to 700 stalls set up (compared to over 1,000 previously), to give us more space to walk and eat. Although the list of food and drinks stalls have not been officially announced, we do know that 60% of them will be dedicated to selling traditional Malay fare. The other 40% will offer modernised treats. As for the non-F&B stalls, an even greater majority (80%) will have traditional and festive Malay goods as their focus.

We hope there would be some intersection for the food. One of the most popular snacks last year was the ondeh ondeh Dutch baby pancakes drizzled with gula melaka syrup – it’s a perfect example of traditional Malay food with a fusion and “cool” twist that’s also pretty for the ‘gram.

A food stall you can look out for at the bazaar this week is Burp Live Station Catering. They will be whipping up some tantalising lobster rolls made with premium Boston lobsters, and there’s even a locally-inspired laksa-flavoured one! Pair it with their White Rabbit Candy Drink for a nostalgic meal.

Photo: Burp Live Station Catering

With the stricter regulations that food should be halal, Muslim visitors will also have more options to choose from at this year’s bazaar. The requirements are this: the stalls must be either Muslim-owned (in which case, the the onus is on the Muslim owners to ensure that the food they serve are halal), or certified halal by MUIS. For smaller stalls that have trouble getting certified halal, the bazaar organisers have brought in external halal consultants to help ensure these stalls also comply with halal food standards.

These consultants will also be checking up on all the food stalls during the bazaar.

And there’s still more – We can most probably look forward to cheaper food and drinks this time! Another big complaint about the previous bazaars is the ridiculously high prices, which we can personally attest to – we spent nearly $100 on just 10 different food and drinks at the 2018 bazaar! Soaring rental costs of the stalls were to blame. This year, the costs are capped at $14,000, it’s great news for both the vendors and us visitors, as the prices of the goods might be lowered.

Photo: Ramadhan Bazaar Singapore
Photo: Ramadhan Bazaar Singapore
Photo: Ramadhan Bazaar Singapore

Apart from the stalls, the whole look and feel of the bazaar this year will take on a better balance of nostalgic and trendy. We can see it in the retro-cool elements already put up at Geylang Serai, such as the gorgeous strings upon strings of fairy lights hung over the space, and the container-style set-up for shops selling more modern lifestyle items.

All these modifications based on feedback sound wonderful, and we’re excited to visit the Geylang Serai bazaar to check out how the changes will play out.