Market tour

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.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Nicholas January 8, 2006 at 1:53 am

    That’s a great write up on Tekka Market!
    I’ve been wanting to go there for the longest time.
    Now, I know where to start. Thanks!

  2. Hopluv January 8, 2006 at 2:52 am

    That bowl of mee pok speaks to me. It says DIG IN! I enjoyed reading your market play by play adventure.

  3. enuwy January 8, 2006 at 5:45 am

    Oh my, I’m really craving some mee pok tah and prata right now, and I’m not going to be able to get any till I get back to Singapore in summer!

  4. Chubby Hubby January 8, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Nicholas: Tekka is definitely worth visiting. But as I said, go EARLY!

    Hopluv: Thanks. The quality of the mee pok really inspired me to take a good picture of it.

    Enuwy: You mean you can’t get good mee pok or prata in the UK by now?

  5. linnish January 8, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    After reading this post, it makes me crave for home food so much! Especially the mee pok ta, really tempting :)

  6. shaz January 8, 2006 at 4:17 pm

    i go there too. have been patronising chia’s for a couple of years now. they are definitely a cut above the rest

  7. lakeside girl January 9, 2006 at 1:33 am

    I hope i don’t sound too ignorant but is it where Tekka Mall is as well? Cos i’m there on alot of Sunday evenings to play um, dota. Haha. Didn’t know it was such a happening place to buy groceries from.

    And did i just see the words “delicious mee pok” and “Cold Storage” in the same sentence? o.O

  8. Chubby Hubby January 9, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    Lin: Sorry to make you homesick. ;-)

    Shaz: That’s great. Yah, we love Victor’s stall. Any favorite stalls that you frequent?

    Green Apple: Tekka Mall is across the street. Well, I did say you wouldn’t be apple to get good mee pok on a trip to the old CS. ;-p

  9. Anonymous January 10, 2006 at 1:45 am

    Cool

  10. Molly January 11, 2006 at 4:17 am

    I thought we had incredible markets in Seattle, but I am now officially humbled! The Tekka market sounds like a food lover’s paradise. And that mee pok looks outrageously delicious. It’s lunchtime here, and I’d love to reach some chopsticks through the computer screen…

  11. freckles January 11, 2006 at 10:17 am

    There’s also a prawn noodle stall which has been there for a long long time, tended by an old uncle. Dunno what is the unit no though. There’s always a long queue so should be easy to find.

    Another long queue stall I have yet to try is a Nasi Briyani stall. There are lotsa Indian stalls selling this but there’s 1 particular 1 facing the toilet that has an endless queue, next to a Chapati stall. Dunno if it is worth queueing or not. Anyone tried it?

  12. faura January 11, 2006 at 11:14 am

    My wife and I are at Tekka on either Sat or Sun mornings every week. We too go to Victor for vegetables. Apart from fluent English and Chinese, he speaks passable Malay, and knows the names of most vegetables in Tamil, Korean and Japanese too. For fish, we go to a different stall from you (but on the same row as the crab stalls), but I guess the important point here is to be a regular, in order to get preferential treatment. Our fishmonger usually is able to source slightly more unusual items if you call a couple of days ahead.

    Finally, the question of breakfast. We’ve tried many options, but our current favorite is going across Buffalo Road to Komala Vilas (this is a branch of the main shop on Serangoon Rd). They serve all varieties of ‘dosa’ in the mornings, but the dish to go for is ‘uppuma’..it’s not on the menu, . It’s made from semolina (and is similar to couscous) but the South Indian version has chickpeas, onions, etc in it. Comes with dhall and two types of chutneys. Great to wash it down with a glass of South Indian coffee (they serve it the traditional way – in a stainless steel glass with a stainless steel bowl…you do your own ‘tarik’-ing part). Wife’s addicted to uppuma, so I managed to get the recipe from friends. Extra yummy if you replace chickpeas with cashew nuts.

  13. Chubby Hubby January 11, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    anonymous: Cool indeed.

    Molly: Thanks. I do have to say that markets in every country have strengths and weaknesses. There are simply some things that Tekka simply doesn’t carry which I’d bet yours do.

    Freckles: Yah, I know which Nasi Briyani stall you mean. I have some friends who really like it. I’m not too big a fan of it. I find their briyani a tad dry for my liking.

    Faura: Ooh, I must try the uppuma. S and I also like going to Ananda Bavan, also across Serangoon Road, for breakfast. On weekends, they serve appums — rice flour pancakes served with coconut milk and sugar. Those are truly yummy, but damn unhealthy. But hey, are you going to share the uppuma recipe with us? C’mon, please?

  14. MM January 20, 2006 at 1:02 am

    What an excellent write up! Thanks so much for the guide. I love Tekka Market. I used to go every weekend but now that I live further north I’ve not gone as much. It’s especially nice since the cheeky fishmongers always yell out “Hi, leng loy” everytime I pass by. Great marketing schtick. LOL.

    I think it is time for a revisit. By the way, hwat is your view of the Mustafa supermarket? I was there recently and I must say I did not like it as I could not find anything – the place was so disorganised!

  15. Vivilicious January 20, 2006 at 7:03 am

    Thanks for that great write-up CH! I am moving to Singapore in a couple of months and now know where to get the goodies… It will be an interesting change to the markets I’ve been going to in France and the UK. Can’t wait!

  16. David Walker April 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    I just saw Tekker Market on a TV show here in the UK – wow! What a great place to visit – so much interesting food on offer! Thanks for a great write-up!

    David

  17. Joesy April 7, 2011 at 6:35 am

    One can’t beat the open air markets for freshness through out Asia.

  18. Acey May July 11, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Your article makes my mouth water for right! I love cooking too and buying ingredients from our local market! sweet

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