On Thursday night we met up with some friends of friends who live in Singapore and have two boys who attend the school I was visiting on Friday. Jackie and Suresh picked us up at the hotel and we drove to the Newton Food Market, sometimes known as Newton Hawker Market and otherwise, apparently, Newton Square. Jackie and Suresh have been in Singapore for four years and previously lived in Sydney. They are great fun and it was terrific to go to the market with locals – the fact that Jackie speaks the language was a great bonus as she was able to ward off the hawkers so we could have a proper look at the range of food on offer. Given that I am highly allergic to shellfish and crustaceans I was planning to stick with the chicken, beef and duck stands. Ian and Jackie were on the lookout for some of the local seafood and Suresh stayed behind to make sure we didn’t lose our table.
There is an amazing array of food. Stingray is popular (not for me) and the prawns were enormous. There was chilli crab and pepper crab, crispy duck, pork everything and satay skewers by the dozen. We ordered some satay sticks first up then headed to the reputedly best duck stall – Jackie had done some research earlier in the day. Ian and Jackie then made a beeline for the seafood and within fifteen minutes or so we had all of our dishes – a veritable feast. Ian and Jackie had ordered prawns and pepper crab and something else that had noodles and prawns and other things I didn’t recognise in it.
There are plenty of drinks stalls as well and the alcohol is much cheaper than in the hotels and bars. Probably the reason why the market attracts a lot of younger people. Ian and Suresh had Asahi beer – which came in 1 litre cans for $16 SNG. Jackie and I had sugar cane juice – a sort of watery syrup – I was trying not to think about my sugar-free diet at the time – it was delicious.
We had a lot of fun getting to know Jackie and Suresh over dinner. It’s great to hear about how things work in Singapore and I’m fascinated by the exhorbitant cost of some things and the relative cheapness of others. Housing is incredibly expensive and cars – which I’d mentioned before can cost up to $180,000 for a Camry! Food at the markets and grocery stores is quite affordable. Apparently there are some bargains to be found with clothes too – I hadn’t found many of those shops yet. The prevalence of Prada and Chanel had put me off the larger malls.
It was a great night and I would definitely recommend the market for a bit of fun and a different dining experience in Singapore.