21.8.17

Balestier Market

Balestier Market was pretty much a ghost-town, until the Longhouse and Lavender Food Centres were demolished. The more notable hawkers from the latter two food centres went on to set up shop in the intrepid little market, and now, it's a thriving hawker centre with a modest number of hawker gems. It's predominantly a dinner-time hawker centre, with many of the stalls open till late at night, so be sure to pop by at the right time.

I've listed my favourite stalls in descending order.

Braised Duck Rice

The Braised Duck Rice ($4) from Soon Kee is perhaps the most famous hawker in Balestier Market. The duck is tender and fresh, with nary a whiff of game, the rice is flavoursome, and the gravy is rich but well-balanced. The punchy chilli pulls it all together, with a piquant but spicy kick.

The Duck Noodle Soup ($3.50), supplemented with an egg ($0.50), was redolent of stewed duck bones in the robust broth, grounded with just a hint of herbal accents. A more than decent bowl of duck noodles, but the Ang Mo Kio one still trumps this.

The stall facade for reference.

Longhouse (Soo Kee) Boneless Duck Rice
#01-14
Tel: 8337 9862 / 9488 0455
Open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 11am to 8pm; Closed on Wednesdays

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Chicken Rice

Chicken rice is ubiquitous to just about every single hawker centre; I don't think any self-respecting hawker centre would be lacking in at least one chicken rice stall. The Chicken Rice ($3.80) at Balestier Market purports to hail from a "reputable name". I'm not entirely sure if it's the original Bugis St Chuen Chuen stall, but the chicken was pretty good. Smooth silky meat, and well-flavoured luscious rice.

But what stole the show was the Chicken Macaroni Soup ($3.80), a dish not frequently found in many hawker centres anymore. This was scrumptious, in part due to that peanutty chicken stock base. Simplicity at its finest, and a must-try here.

The stall facade for reference.

Bugis Street Chuen Chuen Chicken Rice
#01-12
Open daily from 9am to 9pm

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Wanton Noodles

The old-school Wanton Noodles ($4) has a delightful traditional taste about it. It wasn't mind-blowing or anything like that, but it was a solid plate of well-executed parts: springy noodles, soft barbecued pork slivers, crunchy poached greens, and a thin tasty sauce slicked through. The wanton skins were a little floury and thick, but the mince filling was yummy.

The Fried Wantons ($4) passed muster, and made for quite an addictive nibbler.

The stall facade for reference.

Bugis Street Chuen Chuen Wanton Noodle
#01-11
Open daily from 9am to 9pm

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Barbecued Seafood

This stall has moved several times. It first became famous at the old Jackson Market, then moved to Lavender Food Centre when Jackson Market got torn down. It's now at its third location at Balestier Market, and I think, the multiple moves has adversely affected its business. I remember the stall doing a roaring business in Jackson, and then pulling in a decent crowd at Lavender, but it's now a quiet pipsqueak of a stall. It's odd though, because the barbecued seafood is pretty good. The Sambal Sotong ($10), wonderfully springy and fresh, was burnished with a potent mix of the fiery and sweet, doused only by a drizzling of the lime.

The Sambal Stingray ($15) was meaty and flaky, slathered in a thick paste of sambal which highlighted the smoky notes of the grilling.

The store facade for reference.

Macpherson Barbecue Seafood (Jackson Market)
#01-04

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Prawn Noodles

I never really got the fuss about this Prawn Noodle Soup ($5). Not when it was at Longhouse, and not here now at Balestier Market. Sure, the prawns are plentiful and fresh, but the soup stock was generic in its sweetness. I would have liked a meaty heft to counter the sweetness of the prawns in the soup stock.

The stall facade for reference.

Ah Hui Big Prawn Noodle (Longhouse)
#01-13
Open daily from 9am to 10.30pm

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Dessert

I find myself ordering Cheng Tng ($1.60) whenever I'm in a hawker centre. Its "cooling" properties are a refreshing counter to the stifling heat of the Singapore alfresco. This was alright but forgettable, a little saccharine for my liking.

The Tau Suan ($1.80) was a dud, its flat taste was one-dimensional, and gloppy texture uninspiring.

The stall facade for reference.

Dessert
#01-01

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Balestier Market
411 Balestier Road

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