I have to admit that this year’s Hari Raya bazaars around the Geylang Serai area are moving the game up a notch. Can’t say it’s for the better or worse. For starters, the fare offered has gone “hipster” which has bad connotations for me, I much prefer the term progressive and fast casual. But, a walk through just a small segment of this fair and you won’t realise it’s an Iftar festival (Muslim meals after fasting). I am seeing less of the predictable Muslim meals like briyani, nasi lemak, dates and sweet flavoured milks and even nasi padang. Even the once new idea stalls of oily fried collection of chicken, seafood and keropok stalls are thinning out. And there’s way more non-Muslims and a younger Gen Y crowd buzzing about this time. They are hijacked by a group of young and fresh thinking hawkers offering imaginative ideas and offerings that’s Instagram worthy and palate pleasing for them. Some even took recipe ideas off the internet.
So, it feels more like a food festival, something I feel all national food festivals should be more like, but executed way more professionally. Let me tear you across some new fangled and “hipster” fare that’s drawing them in, despite the 34 degree heat. Apart from the usual prawn vadai, bbq ayam percik, nasi lemak or sambal goreng, and bryani.. check these out.
(food stretch between Haig Road Hawker Centre and Onan Road)
1.The Raclette Factory. Cheese and fries.
First time Gen Y hawker Edward had no experience in F&B business before this, “I looked up a youtube recipe video and here I am, I just wing it”. Now he draws one of the longest “hipster” food queues in the area. He fires and melt up a rack of raclette cheese and ease it over baby potato fries and sausages. Even at $12 a pop, the queue never relented over the two days I was there.
2.O-Braim, Choco Cheese Banana
The huge “choco cheese banana” poster will catch your eye. Muahimin and his wife Aziza began as cooks in family run “mee goreng and goreng pisang” stalls. Then this idea of smothering the fried banana with chocolate, crispies, sprinkles and cheese came about and they are getting good feedback (from the patient lines each day). Various toppings start from $5.
3.Kalye Manila. Philippines Street Food
And now, even the Filipino Muslims have joined in on the act. Iszam and his at-sunrise culinary school trained Filipino wife Aminah are now offering Manila street food fare. They take cheese stuffed green chili, wrap it with popiah skin and fry it to a crisp then paint mayonnaise and mustard sauce over it. I love it and it’s Dynamite and that’s what it’s call back home. They also have Kwe Kwek, tempura quail eggs in vinegar and chilli.
4.Milk Bites. Fried Milk Cubes.
They offers frozen milk curd cubes with flavours like pandan, Thai milk tea and original salted caramel and has a 20min wait in line. The batter is alluringly crispy and crunchy and goes well with the soft creamy insides when fried ($5).