Sight, Smell and Sound at the World Street Food Congress

By Tris Marlis - Friday, Jun 07, 2013

The inaugural World Street Food Congress, organised by Makansutra, aims to preserve, professionalise and create possibilities through comfort street food. The event is divided into three components: Jamboree is a mega feast with 37 stalls from 10 countries selling over 40 food items, Dialogue is a 2-day conference where professionals and advocates in the industry gathered to discuss concerns and suggest solution, and Awards are designed to serve as a recognition for street food master’s craft and dedication in preserving the culture.


The curator of the event, KF Seetoh, has traveled continuously for the past two years to find the most memorable street food and select them for this event. The 10 countries participating this year are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, India, United States, Mexico and Denmark.


The Jamboree runs from 11am to 10pm daily. Tickets can be purchased on-site, $28 inclusive $20 of food coupons.


One of the best seller during the event is Seafood Tostada by La Guerrerense from Mexico. Sabina runs a small food cart at the coast of Ensenada. It is Anthony Bourdain’s favourite, he even nominated them for Newsweek’s “101 Best Places to Eat in the World.”


Sabina has prepared a variety of ceviches that she served on top of crispy fried tortilla. She also made the different types of hot sauces with different level of spiciness. When you ordered the spiciest, they will cheer for you.


To meet the demand, we have interns from several culinary institutes (CIA, Shatec, at-Sunrice and ITE) to help the hawkers.


To ensure the authenticity of the flavours, we had to import and customised certain ingredients. For example: Banh Da (red rice noodle) is especially brought in from Vietnam and Meyer’s Kokken’s Pork Sandwich bun is made with Claus Meyer’s recipe in Singapore.


Abdhus Salam who sells Indian Rojak make all the fritters from scratch, such as this coconut dough fritters.


Gulab Singh of India Gate Bhelpuri serves one of the most simple-looking snacks, yet the killer is in his signature sauce made with mangoes, dates and tamarind. His theatrical way of mixing the Bhelpuri makes is a joy to watch.


Indonesia’s hawkers making Serundeng (spicy, sweet and savoury grated coconut) from scratch daily. It is a key ingredient in making Kerak Telor, a crispy glutinous rice frittata.


Kerak Telor (crispy glutinous rice frittata) is a traditional Batavian (Jakarta) snack. When the frittata is half-cooked, these abangs (brothers) would turn the pan over and toast the egg it over charcoal fire for extra smokiness.


Chillies, bird’s eye chillies, curly chilli peppers, serrano chile, piquino chile and many more. The Jamboree is a hot hot hot affair.


The satay grill creates fragrant smoke that attracts hungry diners. It is just one of the tricks hawkers use to attract customers.


For all dessert lovers out there, Nam Bo’s Chuoi Nuong (banana sticky rice) is a must try. They were so particular about the bananas, we had to import them from Thailand. They use banana leaves to wrap the glutinous rice that has been infused with coconut water, banana, and toast it over charcoal fire. The coconut sauce and sesame seeds complete the masterpiece.


Donald & Lily makes the best Mee Siam in Malacca. Donald was the very first hawkers in Malacca to serve Mee Siam (with egg noodles) in the 80s, hence the name. It later was replaced with bee hoon (thin rice noodle), because of its popularity.


Bad weather is outdoor events’ biggest enemy, yet it doesn’t stop our visitors from enjoying the fun.


Diners are serenaded with some of the finest local bands, such as Budak Pantai, Electrico and T’ang Quartet. Live performances nightly from 8pm to 9:30pm.


There are two showcase kitchen at the Jamboree, included the Lion City whose head chef won an episode of Iron Chef Vietnam – Chef Panumas Chaisalee.


The major component of this event is the 2-day dialogue (3rd and 4th June) where advocates of this industry gather and discuss on ways to preserve, professionalise and create possibilities through street food. In this picture is a panel of hawkers from various countries, talking about their aspirations.


TV personality, Anthony Bourdain, is one of the advocates who attended the event. Other renowned personalities include Bondan Winarno and William Wongso from Indonesia, Johnny Chan from China, Ian Kittichai from Thailand and many others.