What it’s like
Originally an abattoir in the early 1900s at its initial site closer to Sungei Road, Tekka Centre in its present incarnation at the corner of Buffalo, Race Course and Serangoon Roads presents a far more appetising prospect. Now home to one of the best wet markets in town with a greater offering of halal-slaughtered meats than most, the pasar’s adjoining food centre has become a hawker institution offering great grub from a range of cuisines. Seating a total of 1,226, its 2008 Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme revamp not only gave Tekka a modern facelift, but also managed the off-putting pong of raw lamb and bad plumbing once characteristic of the market.
What to eat
Great things are always said about the biryani at Tekka Centre, and tangled in vicious rivalry are the plates offered by Yakader (#01-259) and Allauddin (#01-229), of which we prefer the former’s offering. You’ll often find yourself in the middle of the two stalls’ very public tussle for business, but the chicken dum biryani ($4) served at Yakader is reason for its popularity – buttery, yet not greasy, the chicken is impossibly tender and beautifully spiced. Other good Indian cuisine options on offer include the very decent bowls of butter chicken ($3) best supped up with the crispy garlic naan ($1.50) at SJ Tandoori (#01-218); and the mixed plates of shrimp fritters, fishballs and potatoes drenched in a spicy thick orange sauce at Temasek Indian Rojak (#01-254) are a must for communal dining.
As well as the stellar offering of Indian dishes at the market, the Chinese cuisine plates are no slouch either. Heng Gi Goose and Duck Rice (#01-335) is notable for its rich and succulent duck breast served on a umami-rich soy-sauce drenched rice ($3.50), though the word ‘goose’ in the name seemed redundant as none seemed available on our visit. Swee Heng Teochew Porridge Rice (#01-332/333) will please even the finickiest of eaters with its almost endless combo of options, though we’re partial to the stewed pork porridge with beancurd and chilli-fried prawns ($5) for its melange of textures. And though you won’t find a long queue in front of 545 Whampoa Prawn (#01-326), which encourages its customers to sit nearby while waiting instead – their simple bowls of prawn noodles ($4) are as popular as ever, with a rich prawn stock that might come across as over-spiced to some. The only way of guesstimating how long you’ll have to wait is by eyeing the stack of purple bowls placed next to the chef. George Worsley