Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Hawker Food For A Cause

I think I found my answer to indulging in great hawker food without the guilt.  No I am not talking about following in the footsteps of fitness fanatics who might opt for fish soup without the noodles, plain rice instead of chicken rice,  Fried Carrot Cake without the Carrot Cake or Fried Hokkien Mee without the Mee, at the hawker centers.  I am talking about indulging in great hawker fare for a good cause.

Singaporeans within my age group will remember Rasa Singapura Food Centre, an iconic hawker centre that was located at the current Tudor Court in Tanglin during the 1970s-80s.  As a child, I remembered having a feast of Fried Carrot Cake (fried to a crisp), Char Kway Teow (complete with lots of sweet dark sauce and cockles),  Satay and more for supper with my parents. When this beloved hawker centre had to go to make way for new, modern and soulless buildings, our entire nation grieved.   I think very few people understood that Rasa Singapura Food Centre, meant more than good food to us.  It was a place that bonded families and friends over great Singaporean Hawker fare, my uncles took their then girlfriends there for date nights, we fell out with our siblings over the last stick of Satay there, we chatted about our career ambitions, new love, upcoming marriage, getting keys to our new HDB flats, kids, and just about everything about a typical Singaporean life, at Rasa Singapura Food Centre.  Of course, I grieved when the bulldozers came for a piece of my childhood.

 At the end of 2015, Josephine Ng launched the New Rasa Singapura, at the old premises of the Tanglin Post Office, just across the road from the former Rasa Singapura Food Centre.   The New Rasa Singapura, tries to preserve the traditional flavors of our well-loved local hawker delights.

More importantly, the reason why one could indulge without the guilt, was that Josephine had established New Rasa Singapura as a social enterprise with the aim of providing training and jobs that could help the disadvantaged reintegrate into society.  Through New Rasa Singapura, Josephine had been helping the less fortunate including people with physical or hearing impairment, recovering stroke patients, and mature vulnerable individuals.

Her menu boasts a wide selection of dishes that ranged from familiar favourites  which are reasonably priced like Mee Rebus, Hainanese Chicken Rice, and Soup Kambing.  Did I mention the weekday lunch specials cost only $8?

We tried the Dry Laksa, Beef Rendang, Chicken Wings and Satay.  I found the Dry Laksa not spicy enough and a little too soggy but the serving staff told us that we could request for a spicier version in future and they would be happy to entertain any special requests like “less oil, less salt etc” so my fitness fanatic friends would be happy to know that.  The  Beef Rendang is not called “Must Try Beef Rendang” for nothing.  It was so full of flavor and there was quite a lot of tender chunks of beef in the dish.  We had to stop ourselves from ordering an extra helping of rice to go with the delicious gravy.  The Chicken Wings was the husband’s favorite.  He loved the traditional prawn paste chicken that we often ordered at Cantonese restaurants.  The Chicken Wings served here were also marinated with prawn paste and fried to a crisp.  They did not go overboard with the marinade so I was glad the dish did not turn out too salty, like other versions served at most restaurants.  The Satays were well grilled and I liked that the meat was so tender that they fell off the skewers.  I was glad the peanut sauce that accompanied the Satay was not oily at all, unlike those served at some hawker centres which came covered with a thick film of oil.

 While New Rasa Singapura can never bring back the same atmosphere and the old world charm of old Rasa Singapura Food Centre, the fact that we were still served good local fare, for a great cause was enough reason for me to spread the word and make a return visit to try the other dishes that I have yet to try.

Beyond the good food, I am awed by the tremendous effort and energy put into New Rasa Singapura as a social enterprise that aims to serve the community with its heart-centric business sense.


New Rasa Chicken Wings






Must Have Beef Rendang



Dry Laksa






About The Writer:

This blog post was co-written by my brother Jerome and I. Although we are siblings who grew up 11 years apart, shaped by differing experiences to see the world from different perspectives, we do share a common obsession – FOOD.  We celebrate our passion for life with food.  However, our attitudes to food are quite different and the way we celebrate our love for food are also quite different.  Jerome lives to eat and hoovers everything edible that crosses his path.  As he shovels food into his mouth with that fork in his right hand, he takes photographs of what he eats, and posts pictures and notes up on Facebook with his left.  Often, his beautifully written prose about what he had eaten would be 7 paragraphs in length and would not have any punctuations in between because he had been too busy multi-tasking. 

I, on the other hand, eat to live. It is not just about my attempts to eat healthily. As I am a “cam-whore” and “social media hussy”, I spend about half an hour styling my food, taking photographs, writing notes and posting them across my social media platforms before eating them, right after the hubby has paid for the bill and is about to head out of the restaurant.  I enjoy reading all my posts about what I had eaten because I know that I had lived fully in spite of watching what I eat.  Welcome to the foodie world of the quirky Ong siblings.


No comments:

Post a Comment