A rich slate of Muslim-owned and halal-certified container stalls are set to liven up Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar 2019 running from 3 May–5 June.
The annual Geylang Serai night bazaar held during the Ramadan or fasting month typically draws crowds far and wide for its array of garments, knick knacks, and of course, street food. This year’s edition features 150 Muslim-owned or halal-certified food stalls.
If you approach the bazaar from Paya Lebar station, chances are you’d head straight for the tentage at Kampung Gemilang on Engku Aman Road. There’s lots to discover here, such as apam balik, a local corn and peanuts pancake snack; wadeh or vadai, the South Indian-origined deep fried fritters; alongside newer-fangled offerings such as lobster with nasi lemak, praffle (prata + waffle), and what’s dubbed ‘Singapore’s first halal flaming bubble tea’ from Milk Bro by actor Hafiz Aziz.
But follow the fairy lights across the carpark to Tanjong Katong Complex food hub at Lorong Sireh Pinang and you’d come across a new addition this year—a container-style annex dedicated to street food with seating space that invites you to tarry awhile. Around 60 stalls are calling this place home for the month of Ramadan.
Says Danial Hakim, spokesperson for Enniche Global Trading, organisers of the food hub, “The idea for the entire space is to reimagine the 80s with modernity. We felt that traditional food and new-age concepts had to have a balance. Thus we decided to have a few new entrants alongside traditional food, while maintaining our halal standards. We work with our halal consultants from Pure and Good consultancy to make sure that the process and educational angle is delivered to stallholders so that they can adhere to the standards.”
The vendors at the food hub include Geylang Serai bazaar stalwarts such as Loco Loco, serving up popular street snack takoyaki, and Ayam Gerprek Bang Syakir, which is back at the bazaar for the second year. Owner Syakir says he was inspired by a two-year stay in Bali in replicating the authentic taste of ayam gerprek or spicy smashed fried chicken. Their homemade chilli is definitely a fiery number that leaves you remembering the dish hours afterwards.
But there are more than a few stalls who are making their Geylang Serai debut through the food hub, bringing with them a myriad mix of offerings. Here are just a few to look out for:
This is MyLaksa from Malaysia’s first foray into Singapore, offering Penang assam laksa. Although they already have a presence in various Malaysian states such as Kedah, Perak and Selangor, they are looking to expand to Singapore if the opportunity arises. They thought the Geylang Serai Bazaar would be a good opportunity to test the market. Operations Director, Raymond Lim says that they “follow the halal process 100 per cent” from preparation of ingredients at the central kitchen, transportation, and their operations at the bazaar. Visitors can savour their Penang assam laksa dishes such as assam fishball ($5) or laksa special ($7) topped with hard-boiled egg and fish balls.
If you’re not passing by their outlets at Golden Mile Complex or Viva Business Park any time soon, you might want to catch the Muslim-owned Burgs by Project Warung at the food hub. They are offering a special menu featuring their gourmet burgers such as beef ‘bistik’ burger ($7) with slow-cooked beef brisket, Indonesian spices and lettuce; and curry lamb burger ($8.50) with braised lamb shoulder, curry yoghurt sauce and lettuce.
Mohamad Slim of Byblos Grill Authentic Lebanese Cuisine in Kampong Glam says it was a deep desire to share Lebanese cuisine that led him to participate in the bazaar for the first time, along with the ample facilities offered by the organisers. He’s serving up falafel, a common Middle Eastern street food (from $4) made with eight different vegetables apart from chick peas. Have it as a falafel plate or falafel sandwich with hummus, along with meat-stuffed pitas.
Nicknamed ‘the beard’, Kannan Pillai’s love for old-school biryani led up to start Biryani Boss, a new biryani business which makes its debut at the bazaar. He’s offering mango lassi ($4), dum Biryani (chicken $7; lamb shank $10) and nifty butter chicken, mutton keema and potato Bombay sliders ($4 each or 3 for $10). Their rich mango lassi and soft-bun sliders are must-tries.
Muslim-owned Bill & Bell by Yasmine and her husband Ricky offers kürtőskalács or Hungarian chimney cakes (from $6.90), a funnel-shaped roll topped with sugar and cinnamon. The couple travelled to Hungary about two years ago, spotting kürtőskalács at a flea market. They returned inspired to make a business of this unusual snack. At the bazaar, they’d be offering kürtőskalács in flavours ranging from humble cinnamon to their new parmesan cheese kürtőskalác with nacho cheese and shabu shabu beef.
Muslim-owned BOO.EH was started by a group of friends about two years ago and have since been a travelling feature at fairs, events and night markets. Their specialty—butter.booeh—is a non-alcoholic beverage that imagines what the butterbeer found in the Harry Potter books would taste like. It’s no surprise that each member of the group is a hardcore Harry Potter fan. Without revealing the specific ingredients, they often describe their drink as a homemade brew that is slightly carbonated and topped with creamy foam.