Like restaurants, every hawker centre has its own signature dishes. These are usually determined by the hawker centre's surrounding demographic and geographic.
The office crowd that patronises Amoy Street Food Centre is the possible reason for the fresh salads and new twists to local and international chow. Even traditional drink stalls are playing it up with flavours like toffee and hazelnut in their coffee.
Here are five next-generation stalls you should seek out at Amoy Street Food Centre:
A Noodle Story
For Singapore-style ramen
The story began with two young aspiring chefs, Ben Tham and Gwern Khoo, who were on a quest for the ultimate noodle. Like traditional noodle stalls, A Noodle Story only offers one item – their version of a Singapore-style ramen ($5). The noodle dish combines familiar Asian flavours with modern European techniques. Thin egg noodle is tossed in a soy sauce base, with the addition of lemongrass and ginger infused oil, and generous amount of kelp and prawn dust. It is then topped with slices of sous-vide char siew, wonton, onsen egg, prawn wrapped in crisped potato, and chilli on the side. We find the combination of flavours and textures of the toppings distracting from the star of the dish – the noodles – although each element is tasty on its own. As you can attest, this glammed up version of wanton mee is certainly Instagram-worthy and has been praised for offering value-for-money.
A Noodle Story | Address: #01-39 Amoy Street Food Centre | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2.30pm, 3.30-7.30pm
Mutton soup for a good cause
The modernity of Brothpot.Mutton lies in the operation of the stall: the owner of Brothpot wanted to create an automated system that allows the disabled to run the hawker stall more comfortably. Customers order from a digital screen, drop the cash and simply proceed to the pick-up counter. The broth is peppery and lighter than the usual Malay-style sup kambing (mutton soup). You can choose to have your soup with just meat or with bones ($5 each for either version), or get both. The meats are prepared using the sous-vide technique. We went with the latter, a more sinful option, packed with the gelatin of cartilage and tendons. They provide plastic gloves, so you won't have to worry too much about messing up your working attire, with straws to suck up the bone marrow.
Brothpot.Mutton | Address: #02-92 Amoy Street Food Centre | Opening hours: Daily 11am-sold out (around 3pm)
For flavoured teas and coffees
This family has been in the coffee business since 1964 – that's three generations now. Second generation hawker James Sai now heads Coffee Break with his son and daughter. Traditional coffee – a blend of robusta and arabica coffee beans – is given coffee chain-like twists, with flavours such as hazelnut, toffee and macadamia ($3.30-3.50). Their coffee is strong, full-bodied and smooth, with the added flavours giving them more depth than sugar. Tea does not come plain either; spice it up with peppery masala (spices, $2.80) or make it fruity with blackcurrant and kiwi ($2.30). The owner is constantly experimenting with new flavours, sometimes taking ideas from his customers, so you will never get bored with your daily coffee fix. Their most recent seasonal flavours include the Kashmiri rose chai ($3), kiwi milk tea ($2.50) and peppermint plum ($2).
Coffee Break | Address: #02-78 Amoy Street Food Centre | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-3pm
For Costa Rican fare in a food centre
As the motherly name suggests ('mamacita' is 'mother' in Spanish), this stall offers authentic Costa Rican comfort food. This Latin American stall comes at a right time, with a wave of Mexican restaurants taking off in Singapore in 2013. IF you want to plunge right in, try the Krunchy Chalupas ($6.90), a mixed salad of lettuce, cabbage and salsa with your choice of meat (beef or chicken), served in a crispy tortilla (flat bread) bowl, topped with avocado, chilli and tangy lemon mayonnaise. We also tried the Mamacitas' special, arroz con mariscos (rice with seafood, $6.80). This seafood rice is fried up with their special Mamacitas tomato sauce, served with prawns, crabstick, mussels and a sunny side-up egg. The fried rice has flavours that remind us of local Malay style fried rice. They prepare their dishes a la minute, so do take advantage of their advance ordering service (only from 8am to 11am, and 2pm to 3.30pm) to avoid the wait.
Mamacitas | Address: #01-50 Amoy Street Food Centre | Opening hours: Daily 8am-3.30
For affordable salads
Serious about salad? The chefs at Salad Bar are. Choose from spicy beef, tuna fish, paprika herbed chicken or honey baked ham, to add to a bowl of fresh lettuce. You also get to select six fresh toppings – from apple to soba, corn to avocado. Their dressings are exotic too, such as wasabi balsamic vinaigrette, garlic Caesar yoghurt, and wafu (soy-based Japanese-style vinaigrette). We love the combinations of chicken with wafu dressing and tuna fish with the wasabi balsamic vinaigrette. Kiosks selling salads aren't just are burgeoning in malls; there are at least four salad stalls here, each competing with the other to come up with newer, better creations. The customer is always king at Amosy Street Food Centre: aside from the new creations, the same bowl of salad here weighs in at half the usual prices ($4.80) of those in malls.
Salad Bar | #02-115 Amoy Street Food Centre | Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am-3pm
Tris Marlis is serious about what she eats. As a media student who had to juggle with a waitressing job, she found herself the perfect middle ground as a food writer. Her work has appeared on Makansutra’s website and Yahoo Singapore. Life’s an unending feast, follow her on Instagram @thefoodology.