Posted on January 8, 2006 by Aun
The market that S and I go to most often in Singapore is the one in Tekka Centre, at the corner of Serangoon Road and Buffalo Road. S likes to go on Friday mornings, when much of the produce is freshest. When she’s unable to make it then, we’ll usually go together as early as possible on a Saturday morning. It’s vital to go early–preferably arriving before 9am–because the parking situation on weekends is ridiculous. And also, because in my opinion, the market begins to take on a rather ungainly smell the later it gets. While almost anything and everything is available here, we limit our shopping to certain things–namely chicken, pork, vegetables, fruits, certain kinds of seafood, and eggs. There are several beef and mutton suppliers here, but we prefer going to the Swiss Butchery, on Greenwood Avenue, for red meat.
We’ve been going to Tekka for a number of years now and we’ve reached the point where we’ve developed a regular routine, visiting our favorite suppliers in a specific order.
Our first stop in the morning, though, isn’t to one of those suppliers. Our first stop is to eat breakfast. Tekka Centre has, alongside the market, an excellent hawker centre. We used to always breakfast on roti prata–fried Indian bread served with curry. These days, however, we like visiting Hoo Seng Fishball Mee (01-329). We order the mee pok (a flat, thin noodle), pictured above and served dry (you can also have it in soup) with only a slight tinge of chili. The noodles are tossed in a sauce flavored with soya sauce and vinegar. The owners of Hoo Seng, who have been making this for 30 years, also and correctly mix a bit of lard into their sauce, which while unhealthy gives the sauce just the right level of oiliness. On top of the noodles, they add lean pork, fishballs, fishcake, a beef ball, Chinese mushrooms, and a sprinkling of chopped spring onions. The mee pok here is excellent and at only S$2 a bowl, the perfect way to begin a trip to the market.
After our mee pok, we visit Tan Chee Boon Fruits (01-191/192) to pick up all kinds of fruits. The very friendly man who runs this stall carries everything from apples and oranges to Taiwanese musk melons, Korean strawberries and Japanese grapes.
Next stop is Boon Leng Chicken (01-46), followed by a visit to the always cheerful fishmongers at Lee Chuan Seng Fishery (01-16/17). We buy prawns and sole most often from here. Along the same aisle as Lee Chuan Seng is Mr Robert Lim’s crab stall (01-66). This is where S buys all her crabs for the many crab dishes she prepares.
Our favorite pork stall (01-142), which doesn’t seem to have a visible name on display, is just a few steps away from the crab stall. The pork here is great. It’s always fresh and priced very reasonably. We like buying large slabs of belly pork here–which we either braise or slow roast.
One of the most famous stalls in Tekka Centre is Chia’s Vegetables Supply (01-201). It’s hugely popular among the shoppers who regularly frequent this market, especially among the women. I believe this is for three reasons. First, Chia’s has an incredible variety of both Western and Asian vegetables. You want oregano, mint and sage? No problem. You want kangkong and curry leaves? No problem. Second, the proprietor, 29 year old Victor Chia (whose father started the stall), is young, attractive, built like a lifeguard, speaks fluent Chinese and English, and always greets return customers with a big smile. Thirdly, Victor likes to play music. Not just any music. Victor likes to blast bossa nova and jazz from a little stereo perched above his stall, making his crowded little vegetable stall the coolest place to be in the market.
One row away from Chia’s is S’s favorite egg stall (01-153). Run by a kind Christian woman (obvious from the religious posters decorating the stall), this stall offers all kinds of fresh eggs–duck, chicken, kampong chicken, quail, etc. Given S’s penchant for making ice cream and my love for eating eggs at breakfast, we’ve become big customers here.
There are a few other stalls we visit here–for example, a fantastic fishball stall and a stall for wonton skins–but these 7 are the ones we go to almost every visit. I won’t say that they’re better than others in this great market–because I think everyone develops their own favorites–but we’ve found them to be totally dependable. And, as time has gone by, we’ve been able to develop a rapport with these suppliers. The great thing is that shopping here is much cheaper than shopping in a supermarket. And, of course, you won’t be able to grab a bowl of delicious mee pok at the local Cold Storage.