Hawking Hawker Fare

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When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Hawkers are finding it easier to set up stalls selling Singapore cuisine in the Philippines. By S. Sakthivel

Singaporeans are notorious for seeking out comfort food on the road. And soon, it will be a lot easier to do so in Metro Manila.

Makansutra will open a new food court concept at SM Megamall in Metro Manila on September 8. Makansutra Hawkers will feature 12 hawker stalls serving popular dishes from Singapore and Malaysia. From bak kut teh to satay and Nonya mee siam, many local favourites will be represented at the new dining concept.

KF Seetoh, the man behind Makansutra, notes that rising costs and manpower constraints in Singapore may have put a damper on the local hawker scene, but demand from foreign markets may yet light a new fire under their woks.

Seetoh is on a quest to export the flavours of our comfort food to the world, and the Philippines is an ideal destination, since the concept of the hawker centre doesn’t exist there. “My message has always been to preserve our street food culture, and bringing it here is another way we can do that,” he adds.

“It is a joy to have no manpower problems for once!” he remarks in his signature tongue-in-cheek fashion. In setting up the market, Seetoh has been involved in not only curating the stalls and the menus but also in providing the necessary training to the local cooks and chefs who will be manning these stalls in the near future. He says that the eagerness of the Philippine consumer for Singaporean food is matched by the enthusiasm of the local cooks to learn and serve hawker food.

While it might seem a tall order, Seetoh promises that the authenticity of our cherished favourites like char kway teow and har cheong kai will be preserved even when transplanted to the hustle and bustle of the Manila CBD. Seetoh, supported by a team of local hawkers and cooks “ are not just teaching them recipes but also the nuances of flavours and presentation to help them reproduce our food”.

Seetoh teases that “there is more to come” and it would seem the Philippines is only one of many places that will soon play host to Singaporean street food. Come 2019 for example, local hawker cuisine is also expected to travel to New York when television food personality Anthony Bourdain opens his own market featuring a cornucopia of local delights. It won’t be long before people all over the world are tucking into a plate of mee goreng or a bowl of kway chap.

Makansutra Hawkers

SM Megamall Unit 209 AB, 2nd floor,

Building A Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila

10.00 am -10.00 pm


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