Before you continue reading, please be forewarned that the images in this post will induce hyperactive reaction of salivary glands. I shall not be held liable if you end up being hungry, short-circuiting your computing device from excessive drooling or have the impulse to walk run fly to the Food Republic location within closest vicinity and start pigging out. That’s actually what I did upon encountering these food, so to be safe I am blogging right now about this from the safety and comfort of having a nice and full, well-fed tummy. :P
Food Republic is a consortium of mini restaurants run by Singapore’s famous hawkers. For the uninitiated, the word “hawker” originates from hawker centers (otherwise known as cooked food centers) which are open-air complexes in Singapore housing many stalls that sell a variety of inexpensive food, back in the days. Following modern times, many indoor and air-conditioned food courts began sprouting up and many of these hawker stalls have upgraded and moved themselves to the food courts, serving similar fare. Therefore, food lovers can enjoy the same old school food in the comfort of an air-conditioned space.
I recently had the good fortune to sample the gastronomical delights offered by the different hawkers at Food Republic (i12 Katong location). The variety available at Food Republic is sure to satisfy everyone’s food inclinations and appetites. There’s Chinese food, Thai food, Indian food, Indonesian food (halal) and mouth-watering desserts (think shaved ice that’s perfectly apt for Singapore’s tropical weather, not so much the creme brûlée or chocolate cake variety). Below are some of the food which I’ve sampled. Without further ado, let’s dive straight into the food, shall we?
Deep Fried Dough Sticks (You Tiao) from Yong Soon You Tiao
Started by his grandfather over 20 years ago, Mr. Low continued the trade and picked up the skill of making these savoury treats. As these dough fritters are best eaten hot, Mr. Low makes it a point to have them freshly fried at all his stalls. Customers will be able to choose between traditional dough fritters such as You Tiao (fried dough sticks), Butterfly Fritters (butterfly-shaped dough fritters) and new exciting flavours for Xian Jian Bing (deep-fried salty fritters) such as coffee, red and green bean and pandan. Muslim diners will be glad to know that these dough fritters are certified halal.
Fried Hokkien Prawn Noodles from Thye Hong Fried Hokkien Mee
If you are a fan of Fried Prawn Noodles, Char Kway Teow and Fried Oyster Omelette, then this stall is touted to have the best. With over 40 years of history, Thye Hong insisted on serving its fare on Opei leaves specially imported from Malaysia and Indonesia. The leaf infuses a subtle, woody fragrance to enhance the taste of the noodles. What’s more, Thye Hong was hand-picked by the Singapore Tourism Board to showcase his Char Kway Teow as one of Singapore’s most celebrated local specialties at the Culinary Institute of America in California. Selling a daily average of 500 portions of these signature dishes, be prepared for a long queue to savour this local delicacy.
BBQ Chicken Wings from Huat Huat BBQ Chicken Wing
With over 20 years of history, Huat Huat BBQ is fondly known for its succulent and juicy chicken wings that are freshly barbecued to golden brown. The barbecued chicken comes with fresh lime to enhance the sweetness of the chicken wings. For those who like the additional kick, try it with their chilli sauce.
Nasi Kuning with Ayam Merah from Dapur Padang
Padang food is Indonesia’s most famous traditional cuisine. It is also renowned globally and is always the favourite choice of both Asians and Westerners. Dapur Padang only uses all natural ingredients to serve you the very best of Padang Cuisine’s manifold tastes. Simply irresistible!
Bibimbap from Ju Shin Jung Korean Cuisine
Starting out as a simple family business in Korea, Seoul, Park and Yun then had the lofty idea of bringing authentic Korean food to the world. Singapore became their first stop. Ju Shin Jung Korean Cuisine now has three restaurants in Singapore and Ju Shin Jung at 112 Katong Food Republic will be their first express counter. Now you can indulge in your favourite Korean food in a shorter time!
Knife-shaved Noodle in Pork Ribs Soup from Formosa Delights
Opening its fifth stall at Food Republic, Formosa Delights is famous for its handmade noodles made daily and cooked upon order. Do not be shocked if you see sliced white dough flying through the air into a boiling pot! Called Dao Xiao Mian (Knife Shaved Noodle), it is both interesting to watch and delicious to savour. These triangular shaped noodles are higher in elasticity and chewier.
Herbal Duck Noodle Soup from Ah Yip Herbal Soup
Taking more than 10 hours to prepare, herbal soups at Ah Yip Herbal Soup are tasty and healthy. Established in 1993, Ah Yip Herbal Soup was set up because of a simple wish to help keep people healthy. The founder, Mr Cheng Keng Yip, was a physician for more than 10 years and knows that drinking herbal soups is an effective and easy way to good health. Based on his expertise and knowledge in Chinese Herbs, he specially created a range of herbal soups that capitalizes on the efficacy of herbs without comprising on the taste of the soups. Each serving of soup is cooked individually, so cherish every drop as there is no refilling of soup. Be sure that every spoonful of Ah Yip Herbal Soup has all the goodness sealed in. Try out their signature soups like the Herbal Duck Drumstick Soup Noodles and Herbal Stew Duck Soup.
Chicken Rice from Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice
Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice Flagship store is located at 275 Thomson Road, opposite the Novena Church. Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice is famed for its succulent steamed and roasted chicken rice and was most recently voted the best hawker at the AsiaOne People’s Choice Awards 2010. The Restaurant was also invited by the Prime Minister’s Office to participate at its Singapore Day in Shanghai. At Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice, the rice is cooked just nice to give you a delicious meal and its chilli sauce complements the meal perfectly to give you the best chicken rice you can ever ask for.
Butter Chicken with Garlic Naan from Indian Express
Established as one of the iconic restaurants of Singapore garnering numerous awards for innovative cuisine and exceptional ambience, The Song of India is now brought closer to the hearts of Indian food lovers with the opening of Indian Express at Food Republic 112 Katong. Offering modern Indian dishes with a unique twist, Indian Express uses authentic herbs, spices and the finest ingredients to create mouth watering flavours that are refreshingly light and healthy, at affordable prices. Be tantalized by Indian Express’ novel menu that is guaranteed to titillate your taste buds with local favourites such as Kababs, Biryani, Curries and soft & fluffy Naans. An explosion of flavours await as prominent Chef Manjunath Mural makes it a point to execute the Indian dishes with creativity and his attention to details will definitely win the hearts of many.
Pad Thai from Bangkok Gem
Treat your taste buds to an authentic Thai feast at Bangkok Gem. With only the freshest ingredients used in preparing their specialties such as hearty Pad Thai, piquant Tom Yum Goong, fragrant Thai Mango Salad and spicy Thai Green Curry, diners here will surely have a lip-smacking good time!
Spicy Hot Pot Medley with Szechuan Peppercorns from Fragrant Hot Pot
Feast your eyes and take your pick from a dazzling array of fresh meats, seafood and vegetables choices. These will be stir-fried with their special Ma La sauce, made from over 20 different herbs and spices. Originated from Beijing, the Fragrant Hot Pot is widely popular with Chinese nationals in Singapore so you can be sure of its authenticity. Based on your tolerance level, the chefs will be happy to accommodate different levels of “numbness (麻)” and “spiciness (辣)”. Of course, non-spicy is not an option!
Chendol from Ice Shop
For instant gratification from tropical Singapore’s hot and humid weather, the Ice Shop offers cold desserts such as Ice Kachang, Bubur Cha-Cha, Chendol, Ice-Jelly and Cheng Tng. With over 15 cold and 5 hot selections, these desserts make for the perfect ending to any meal.
Now. If I’m asked to rate my top 3 faves out of all the food that I’ve tried, I will shortlist the following:
1. Butter Chicken with Garlic Naan
This is ohmygawd so delicious! The naan was crispy with a sprinkling of finely chopped fresh garlic, while the butter chicken is super flavorful. I completely fell in love with this.
2. Spicy Hot Pot Medley with Szechuan Peppercorns
I generally don’t enjoy eating food that is too spicy because I think that adding too much spices and chillis sorta kills the original flavors of the dish. This particular dish, however, throws that logic out the window and is packed with loads of Szechuan peppercorns, dried chillis and chill oil. I guarantee you this will cause fireworks inside the mouth. Because the fragrance, the rich ingredients and the explosive flavors have been so artfully married that the dish creates a crazy yet delicious experience leaving me wanting for more. With a fire extinguisher nearby for my scorched tastebuds, of course.
3. Knife-shaved Noodle with Pork Rib Soup
There are noodles and then there’s knife-shaved noodles. These handmade noodles have very good texture, I like that it’s chewy and the interesting ribbon-like shape makes it really enjoyable to eat.
How about you check out the dishes out at Food Republic and we compare notes? Lemme know which ones are your favorites. :)
Incidentally, all the pictures above were taken using my (gasp!) iPhone. Who would’ve thunk that my smartphone turned out to be really smart enough to capture decent food pix? I gotta say I am impressed. And my honkadonk DSLR is gonna be even sadder as it will never see the light of the day anymore; it will be safely tucked away inside my cupboard from now on when I go out to eat. :p Naturally, my images can’t compare to the professional publicity photos, but they are def not too shabby for me.
There are a total of 6 Food Republic locations in Singapore, visit Food Republic FB page for more information and see which ones are near you. I plan to eat there at Food Republic again and definitely heading straight to the Butter Chicken with Garlic Naan again. :9~ It is seriously delicious. No question about that. Heh!
If you are a foodie like me, please join me in standing up for real food!
Food Revolution Day on 19 May is a chance for people who love food to come together to share information, talents and resources; to pass on their knowledge and highlight the world’s food issues. All around the globe, people will work together to make a difference. Food Revolution Day is about connecting with your community through events at schools, restaurants, local businesses, dinner parties and farmers’ markets. We want to inspire change in people’s food habits and to promote the mission for better food and education for everyone.