A delightful detour around Singapore’s sidewalks | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

PART of the row of houses that made us ditch the cab and walk around Singapore late at night. PHOTO BY CATHY YAMSUAN
PART of the row of houses that made us ditch the cab and walk around Singapore late at night. PHOTO BY CATHY YAMSUAN

We would not have been walking down Tanjong Pagar Road in the middle of the night, were it not for an expensive gift we accidentally left at Starbucks along Orchard Road in Singapore earlier that day.

THE COOK’S workstations are also set up in the middle of the street. PHOTO BY CATHY YAMSUAN


Giddy with relief after retrieving the package from an amused barista, we were riding a cab on the way back to the hotel when a row of old, quaint, refurbished houses basking in the dreamy glow of incandescent streetlamps caught our attention.


We asked our friend Richard, “Would you mind if we stop here and get down?” We were to catch a flight back to Manila in the morning, but the chance to walk around and take in the interesting sights presented itself. Richard was thinking of the same thing.


We sauntered on the sidewalk, gawking at display windows. Old houses were transformed into modern, bright and noisy restaurants.


THE UNRULY omelette called Fresh Fried Oysters. PHOTO BY CATHY YAMSUAN

One door led to a dentist’s office.


Then, there it was, like a party in the middle of nowhere. The sign said Smith Street, quite an ordinary name for a road, but it stood out for its sights, smells and tastes.


We stumbled upon Chinatown Food Street (CFS), a row of street hawkers and kiosks offering specialty dishes as varied as the cultures that have converged in Singapore.


Enjoying the alfresco vibe. PHOTO BY CATHY YAMSUAN

Amid stalls were chairs and tables that were promptly wiped clean after the diners left.


On one table was a Filipino family, obviously in a happy mood after a day of shopping.


We might have walked around with mouth agape, our head turning this way and that toward menus and food displays. Rushing over to a coffee shop before its closing hours can make one hungry, especially after seeing signs that read: steamed fish heads, beef noodle, pork noodle and satay.


Unpretentious street signs that welcome diners to Chinatown Food Street. PHOTO BY CATHY YAMSUAN

One stall had a glass booth that said “fresh fried oysters” in bold red paint. We ordered it.


“Small, medium, large?” an old woman asked, her fingers pointing to the corresponding plates.


She cracked five fresh eggs that came with a medium-size order, poured these into a steaming wok and mixed in chillies, wansuy, onions, oysters and broth. Our order looked like an unruly omelet.


The cook handed us a small dipping bowl of red sauce. Two cans of Tiger lager helped counter the alfresco humidity.


Honestly, we couldn’t remember how the food tasted, due to the distracting visual overload around us.


Overhead were white round lanterns that lined the whole CFS stretch.


The real draw, however, was still the eye-catching architectural details on two facing rows of old houses that have been converted to hotels, karaoke bars and restaurants.


There were also offices. One sign boasted of a poetry club upstairs.


The whole scene reminded one of how heritage conservation works with a well-conceived plan. We whipped out our camera phone and took snapshots.


We walked the rest of the way back to the hotel, comforted by the thought that the one-mile route somehow dissolved the heavy load of oysters in our tummy.





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