What’s it like
Known initially as Telok Ayer Market before taking on the more tourist-friendly Hokkien moniker, Lau Pa Sat (meaning ‘old market’), this 120-year-old market started as a congregation point for push-cart street vendors and has evolved into a one-stop hawker centre in the heart of the CBD. Now, after a $4 million makeover that stretched out to eight months, the hourly bell chimes of its signature clock tower are once again drawing in plenty of local business-types and tourists alike.
With the revamp, hawker centre operator Kopitiam streamlined its 80 stalls to about 60 to make space for 460 additional seats (there are now 2,500 seats in all), larger shopfronts and 14 mini restaurants. Eight four-metre-wide fans were installed to cool the 5,500-square-metre complex. Its signature cast-iron archways with Victorian-era filigreed infills were also repainted a rustic green as a throwback to its original look in 1894. On weekend nights, live bands will continue to crank up oldie tunes on the centre stage.
What to eat
The Singaporean maxim of ‘if it’s got a queue, the food must be good’ doesn’t apply here. You can wait up to 30 minutes for up-priced, unsatisfying bowls at branches of popular hawker stalls like Qiu Lian Ban Mian (#01-16, $4.30-5.80), Lai Heng Fried Kway Teow (#01-19, $4-5) and Song Kee Fish Balls (#01-17, $4), but they’re nowhere near as good as their original outlets. Also avoid the overpriced Costa Rican tacos at Mamacitas’s (#01-06) – their Krunchy Chalupas set is marked up to $7.90 (versus $6.90 at their Amoy Street branch).
Spend your time waiting instead for the ultra-crispy pork belly ($6.50) that oozes juicy goodness at Mang Kiko’s Lechon (#01-71), which recently shuttered their Golden Mile branch to concentrate their efforts here, and the Thunder Tea special ($8.50) topped with a choice of fish fillet, chicken patty, or chicken prawn meat roll that provides meaty relief for the traditional vegetarian option ($5.50) at Hakka Thunder Tea Rice stall (#01-31).
Given its downtown location, there’s also a selection of atas cuisine on offer here. Spiffy Japanese bakery Mugiho (#01- 88/95) – part of a chain of bakeries originally from Osaka – and pastelería and café Delicius (#01-25/27) share the same executive chef, Takehide Tsujimori. The former serves simple artisanal breads like an ojiisan a-ge pan (fried bread filled with azuki beanpaste, $2.50), skinny baked doughnuts ($2) and walnut cream sandwichs ($3), while Delicius puts forth dressed-up desserts: pomme fromage (French for ‘apple cheese’, $5.50/slice), chantilly fruit cake ($6/slice) and an uji macha Bavarian (cup of thick macha cream, $4.80). The Little Flower Shop (#01-42) in its cosy corner beside mini-restaurant Wendy’s is also noted for their edible flower savoury sandwiches ($6) and canapés ($19.90/six). WPT
|Venue name:||Lau Pa Sat||Contact:|
18 Raffles Quay (#01-00)
18 Raffles Quay
|Opening hours:||Daily 24 hours|