We hunt down four popular stalls serving street food, some uncommon or unusual, from our regional neighbours
By Samantha Francis
Singapore may be a food haven but a part of me craves for the various regional street foods that I’ve encountered on my travels.
That’s why it’s a pleasure to chance upon these four local Asian delights in Singapore, which count among the most characteristic street snacks in the region. From sweet treats to savoury bites, they will excite your tongue.
Iskina Cebu specialises in lechon, a roasted pork dish similar to the suckling pig.
1. The Philippines: Lechon
Lechon is a roasted pork dish, much like the suckling pig. This delicacy from Cebu, the Philippines, stands out for its thick crackling that hides a layer of soft fat and tender, juicy meat.
One of the best places to savour lechon here in Singapore is Iskina Cebu. Helmed by Chris, whose hometown of Talisay City is famous for lechon, the coffee shop stall serves dishes such as roast belly pork and barbecue chicken, from $6.
At Iskina Cebu, the pig is marinated and stuffed with herb, spices and salt before being roasted over a hot charcoal pit for five hours. In order to attain a golden brown skin, excess oil has to be wiped off and the temperature of the fire has to be constantly monitored.
While Cebuano cooking revolves around bold flavours and contains a higher level of salt content, Chris says that the recipes have been tailored to fit Singaporean preferences as well.
Iskina Cebu, Block 1016, Geylang East Ave 3, Singapore 389729
The Fairy Floss Roti Sai Mai comprises strips of cotton candy wrapped in lightly-salted paper-thin crepes.
2. Thailand: Roti Sai Mai
Soft as clouds, sweetly-scented and coloured in a dozen pastel hues, roti sai mai ticks all the boxes of an Instagram-worthy snack. For those hankering for a taste of this popular Thailand street snack, you’d be pleased to know that it’s now available at home-grown shop Fairy Floss.
This rainbow coloured snack, which originates from the old Thai capital of Ayutthaya, comprises cotton candy wrapped in lightly-salted paper-thin crepes.
Fairy Floss’ recipes have been adjusted to suit Singaporean taste buds. The crepes are available in flavours of pandan (the most common and best-selling) as well as strawberry, chocolate and blueberry.
According to the owners, Cat and Edwin, Fairy Floss is less sweet as compared to its Thai counterparts and the crepe has a texture that’s moist and soft enough for customers of all ages to chew. Prices start from $8.90 to $38 for a family set.
Fairy Floss, CT Hub2, 114 Lavender Street, #01-07, www.fairyflossofficial.com
The Pancake Boss martabak manis has a distinct honeycomb-like texture.
3. Indonesia: Martabak Manis
The first time I tried martabak manis from Pancake Boss, I was struck by how delicious this Indonesian street snack was. Soft and fluffy with a distinct honeycomb-like texture, it resembled min jiang kueh (the common Chinese pancake) but was less chewy.
Inspired by her frequent visits to Indonesia, May, the owner of Pancake Boss, was compelled to bring the authentic flavours of the martabak manis to Singapore. She hopes that her rendition of this local Indonesian delight will satisfy Indonesians here who pine for the food of their hometown, as well as draw Singaporeans who may be interested in trying something new.
At Pancake Boss, you’ll find a variety of creative flavours ranging from red velvet cake to matcha Kit Kat paired with cheese. Prices start from $6.80 for the pancakes and from $3.50 for speciality drinks such as markisa (passionfruit).
If you’re not a fan of overly-saccharine desserts, you can make a request to adjust the sweetness of the pancake.
Pancake Boss, Bugis Cube Mall, 470 North Bridge Road, #04-15, Singapore 188735
Malaysia Local Delights draws nightly queues for its lok lok steamboat buffet.
4. Malaysia: Lok Lok
If you’ve been to Malacca, you might’ve seen supper crowds gathering around hot pots. Popular in many parts of Malaysia, satay celup (steamboat satay) or lok lok (乐乐) is a variant of the steamboat or hotpot meal, with food served on skewers.
Here in Singapore, Malaysia Local Delights draws nightly queues for its lok lok steamboat buffet, in which customers can pick from over 100 food items such as fresh meats, fishballs, abalone and more. There are up to eight soup bases to choose from, such as satay, chicken, Penang prawn and tom yam. Buffet prices start from $24.80.
Started by Mr Tan Yeo Tian, who fell in love with local street food while studying in Malacca, the restaurant also serves authentic Malaysian speciality dishes like Penang Assam Laksa and Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun.
Malaysia Local Delights, 224 Tanjong Katong Rd, Singapore 437014, Tel: 64408378