來, Makan Makan
This was a project that I wanted to do after the Kueh series but I had been procrastinating for a long time. It started off as a pitch for a mural of food stalls in Asia for an organisation but the terms was unacceptable and it didn't went through. It was a blessing in disguise, I took the opportunity to start work.
It is easy to take the diversity of food in Singapore for granted as we grew up with access to delicious hawker food to French duck confit. The scene has always been evolving and the food in Singapore is a lot more than chili crab, nasi lemak and Peranakan food. Dig further and you will discover a rich cultural convergence in the tiny red dot.
This work is a snapshot of the dishes you can find in Singapore today, some of restaurants older than the republic and some from new generations of eateries such as Makcik Chicken, Coba Coba, A Noodle Story or Lad & Dad. Some items in the compilation brings nostalgia such as tapioca chips from Singapore Houten or egg tarts from Tong Heng Confectionery.
Then there are those that we usually don't consider as part of food on the table in Singapore such as Korean BBQ Chicken and Chicken Chop we can find in food court or something more recent like Ma Lai Xiang Guo that seen its popularity soar in the past few years. There are also ethnic dishes beyond the usual portrayal of food in Singapore such as Nasi Rawon, Prawn Bastador, Pang Susie and Chaat
We share many of these dishes with our neighbours in Southeast Asia as well such as Nasi Padang, Kuih Dadar and Nasi Lemak and some of them are getting rare in this part of Singapore like Lok Kai Yik, a Cantonese dish of stewed chicken wings.
Words and the art can't do justice to the rich culinary world you can find here in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Never mind, let's makan =d (eat)
The dishes focus mainly on food more accessible to most of us. Only a handful are from restaurants especially if they have cultural significance or a long history such as Lai Wah Restaurant with its Yusheng and Dragon Pheonix Restaurant with its Yam Ring, these restaurants including Red Star which is (known for its dim sum) were helm by chefs known as the Four Heavenly Kings in Singapore. Each dish has to come from an actual stall or restaurant.
Some of the references came from food blogs such as Camemberu, Miss Tam Chiak, johorkaki, keropokman and ieatishootipost as well as heritage blogs, some of which I have been following since the early 2000s. The informal posts going way back, is beyond the conventional archiving and historical records have been useful to trace some of the dishes and food stalls.