Singapore celebrates its love for food19 July, 2010 by Chad
The Singapore Food Festival is a yearly dining themed event supported by the Singapore Tourism Board. This year, most of the happenings take place near the areas surrounding Clark Quay. We were there over the weekend to check out the celebration.
If there is one thing that Singapore can be proud for, it has got to be its wide range of available cuisines. Thanks to the country’s mix of cultures, Singapore benefits from an extensive variety of international foods. It is a pity that the organizers decided to focus exclusively on Chinese food only for this year’s Singapore Food Festival.
The Singapore Food Festival is effectively the culinary version of the Great Singapore Sale. During this season, many restaurants are offering minor discounts. Sadly, because the Standard Chartered bank is the main organizer this, most discounts require you to have a credit card from the bank.
There are a couple of main events during the week of 16th to 25th July which the general public can enjoy. A Chinese-themed boat ride called the “Tingkat Cruise” (a Tingkat is a traditional tiffin carrier) is available from the Singapore Merlion Park where you can have your dinner during a 45 minute trip down the Singapore River.
A number of street stalls have been set up on top of Clark Quay Read Bridge. Here, Singapore attempts to mimic the success of the London Bridge by constructing the greatest local fire hazard since Mustafa Center. We headed over for a look.
We walked through the bridge once. Disgusted we decided to head elsewhere for dinner before returning again later that night.
At first sight, it is apparent that it wasn’t a good idea to hold such an event on the tiny Read Bridge. It’s amazing how the organizers thought it possible to fit dozens of stalls when the bridge already gets tight on a normal weekend.
The lack of utilities at the location also means that all the food had to be prepared beforehand. Cold food didn’t seem that attractive when the rest of the Quay was lined with comfortable restaurants serving gourmet cuisine. Those seeking oriental cuisine might have better luck visiting Indochine’s Madame Butterfly at the end of the bridge.
To make things worse, all transactions at the stalls will have to be made using the suspicious “Kopitiam” card (Kopitiam is a Singaporean food court chain that provides hawker-styled fast food).
Basically, to purchase anything on the bridge, you will first need to purchase a Kopitiam card for $10 that comes with $10 worth of credits. This is of course a simple con, since it’s been proven time and time again that humans have trouble understanding the value of money the moment its turned into imaginary dollars.
Single dishes have been inflated to the point that a simple plate of Chicken Rice costs $6.50, double the price of what you would normally pay. And regardless of what you’ve purchased, you’re bound to end up with a strange balance on your card so you can pretty much expect to pay $10 for a single hawker meal and drink. Otherwise, you could top up the card again to try to purchase something else.
Ignoring all of the above, Kopitiam as sponsors also puts serious doubts to the authenticity of the food on show.
In the evening, the crowds got increasingly worse. Traversing the bridge meant that you would be literally shoulder to shoulder with the other people passing through. Even those sitting down were not spared from an endless stream of sweaty people rubbing up against their backs. The organization of the event was quite the…
Like most local events targeted toward foreigners, the Food Street at the Singapore Food Festival is yet another ploy to part tourists with their money. Judging from the insane crowds, the trap seemed to have caught more locals again. As such, unless you are heading down to Singapore for the purpose of groping tourism, it’s better to look elsewhere and even then, the rush hour at the Central Business District is a much better choice.
The Tingkat Cruise does seem like a promising attraction though, with the promise of being able to enjoy a meal on a boat away from the crowds. You’ll even be able to take home the Tingkat in which you meal is served in.
On the 25th of July (the final day of the Food Festival), the Food Street will be converted to a buffet style event when visitors will be able have their pick from all the same stalls for a flat fee of $38. Those who wish to visit the venue despite warnings might want to wait till then.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.