Sunday, December 30, 2007

Joo Chiat Road

The Malay Village has some Indonesian flavor. Go figure

The afternoon trip started a bit late for my taste, before lunch but at 2:30 PM. The adventure based on the Self Tour Discovery of the Inn Crowd Hostel. Rather than starting at the beginning of Geyland Road, we instead started a bit further down the trip at the Singapore Post Office at Paya Lebar MRT Station. The building is in the middle of nowhere and in facing an empty space for the future development of the MRT Circle Line.

We walked toward the temporary Geylang Serai Market & Food Centre in front of the Malay Village center. The $5 entrance fee you have to pay for entering the Village is not worth the time you are exploring the fake village. You better spend some time in the Geylang Serai Market & Food Centre instead.

The Sunday 3 PM mark did not remove any spices from our discovery. Various stools were still full on, but what was very important for an empty stomach the food center was still there with some amazing Indonesian food.

For once it was not as oily as we used to have around the corner. The food was an explosion of Nasi, Bukit Tinggi, Kapau and other Goren. Sinar Pagi Nasi Padang is also located at 13 Circular Road (Behind Boat Quay), and I guess that will be a very good backup plan when in town.

The wander around was a bit difficult on a full belly, but the exploration was surprising with plenty of dresses, women, and woman dressed in dresses.

The Joo Chiat Road is just a stone away from the Malay Village and it could be best describe as an old road linking the main town to the East Coast part of the city island.

The street only 10 blocks long but full of houses from the 60’s with balconies on the first floor and a covered side walked for the sun.

All houses are only 1 storey high and are preserved, restored and well maintained in an authentic style. Colors are not as socking as what you could imagine and actually make the ambiance a bit more exotic. Wooden balconies add the last touch of the colonial aspect of the area.

The place is pack with people eating drinking or watching. Restaurants are somehow just a link between houses and help you jump from one spot to another and keep it safe and clean. At each end of a block a more concentrated pool of stool and other hawker vendor form an official spot for lasting a bit longer on a chair.

The street is a compilation of Malay, Indonesian and Singaporean food that you must try on your way down. You can find a stool where you can buy Popiah Skins (Springroll Skins), a bit later you can pop by an old Chinese herbal shop next to Fei Fei Wanton Noodle shop. The Bak Chang, glutinous rice dumplings stuffed wrapped in lotus leaf could be your next stop; or maybe you prefer the Banana Leaf Otah and the Banana chocolate fudge cake for desert covert by the famous local Tau Kwa Pau, a fried beancurd stuffed with minced meat, egg, fried yam, cucumber and coriander.

Nonetheless your meal could not follow the normal rhythm that one might know (appetizer, entrĂ©e, main, desserts), but rather be what you encounter on your way. You might eat desert before a well know fried yam and finished by a soup. It’s not a question of eating at that point, but rather a question of tasting.

A short distance into Ceylon Road, the Hindu Temple called Sri Senpaga Vinavagar Temple has finally been restored and presents a well deserved stop for the ones who wish.

Unfortunately the rain was so heavy around 7PM and after maybe 10 different stools and other shop break that we add to stop in front of the best Laksa of the planet on Ceylon Road (Katong Laksa). Laksa is a noodle dish served in a thick bowl of spicy, coconut-based gravy, topped with fresh cockles and fishcakes. Nothing bad for you even if you are full and on the cutting edge of exploding.

But who can refuse a tiny S$3 soup after all when its rain?