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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Malaysia fare at food street

Get the best Malaysian hawker dishes from 17 stalls at Resorts World Sentosa's new foodcourt
The Straits Times - December 7, 2011
By: Rebecca Lynne Tan
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Malaysia fare at food street Prawn star: Ah Mei Hokkien Prawn Mee from Penang

Foodies will no longer need to make the long journey up to Kuala Lumpur and Penang for a taste of authentic Malaysian hawker fare.

A new Malaysian Food Street offering everything from roti canai and tai lok meen to Penang cuttlefish kang kong and char kway teow will open at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) next month.

The 22,000 sq ft food street will feature 17 stalls, of which nine were handpicked from Kuala Lumpur and Penang. It will be located at the Bull Ring, next to Universal Studios.

The star stalls from Kuala Lumpur are: Fung Wong Biscuits - a popular confectionery that started in the early 1900s, known for its baked pork buns, egg tarts and other flaky Chinese pastries; the Famous Jalan Alor KL Hokkien Mee offering delicious tai lok meen - braised thick noodles in a dark soya-sauce gravy with lean pork and prawns; Petaling Street Famous Porridge, which has been selling raw fish porridge and porridge with crispy pork intestines since 1949; and Huen Kee Claypot Rice located near Pudu wet market.

Penang's well-known stall offerings include Ah Mei Hokkien Prawn Mee from Pulau Tikus, Penang Hai Beng Hainan Lor Mee with outlets in Pitt Street and Pulau Tikus, as well as Penang Lim Brothers' Char Koay Teow, Penang Ah Long Lor Bak and Cendol from Penang's New World Park foodcourt.

The rest of the stalls will be run by RWS, with recipes by the resort's chefs who hail from Malaysia. Dishes will include nasi lemak, Klang bak kut teh, KL wonton mee and Ampang yong tau foo.

The air-conditioned foodcourt will have a seating capacity of up to 516 people. Prices will start from $1.50 for a baked pork bun, and from $4 for other dishes.

On why the resort decided to set up a Malaysian-centric foodcourt, its director of operations, food and beverage, West zone, Mr Teo Sian Keong, 47, says: 'They (Singaporeans) will travel hundreds of miles just to have that plate of Penang char kway teow or Hokkien prawn noodles. It was a natural choice to set up a dining establishment offering traditional Malaysian food by bona fide hawkers from Malaysia.'

He adds that most of the hawkers selected boast a history of more than 30 years with recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Ms Cheah Yit Cheng, 37, who has been helping out at her father's 54-year-old lor mee stall, Penang Hai Beng Hainan Lor Mee, since she was a child, says: 'We wanted to share our traditional lor mee with people in a different location.'

The two-stall chain is run by Ms Cheah and her six siblings, with her 85-year-old father at its helm. The family had thought about expanding to other parts of Malaysia, but when the opportunity to open in Singapore arose, they seized it.

Ms Cheah, who is now based here, will prepare the stock in exactly the same way with no short cuts. It will be simmered for 10 hours and contain the same Bo Ai Tong brand five-spice powder used in her family's stall in Penang.

But it took a lot more coaxing before some of the other hawkers agreed to set up shop here, Mr Teo says.

Madam Huen May Lan, 68, owner of Huen Kee Claypot Rice, for example, had turned down the resort's offer several times.

But after the resort's team made a few more visits to the restaurant, she finally gave in.

Her son-in-law, Mr Ray Teoh, 34, says: 'They were very persistent, and in the end, the timing was right for us.'

He will be bringing in salted fish for the dish, and the stall, which will use traditional charcoal-burners, will prepare the dish with the same brand of rice it uses in Kuala Lumpur.

While some of the hawkers will be based in Singapore, others will spend three consecutive days in the country every month to ensure their offerings remain authentic and consistent.

The RWS team behind the food street comprised about seven members - chefs and senior managers - mostly Malaysians from areas such as Sarawak, Penang and KL, save for one Singaporean - Mr Teo.

They shortlisted more than 100 stalls after research and recommendations, and have taken more than 20 eating trips to Malaysia since February this year.

Each trip was between three and five days long and they ate their way through dozens of stalls, which included more than 10 stalls offering different versions of the same dish. They frequented the stalls at least five times on various occasions to test for consistency before approaching the hawkers.

The food street will be the latest addition to the resort's myriad food offerings which include celebrity chef restaurants such as Chinois and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

The Malaysian Food Street will open at the Resorts World Sentosa, the Bull Ring near Universal Studios, next month before Chinese New Year. Opening hours are 11am to 10pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 9am to midnight (Fridays and Saturdays) and 9am to 10pm on Sundays.



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