It is probably one of the places you’ve been told you MUST visit if you love food, and there’s a good reason why.
Sometimes referred to as Telok Ayer Market or Lau Pa Sat (which means “old market” in the Hokkien), Festival Market, Singapore’s iconic landmark opened in 1823 and it has been at its current location since 1894.
The octagonal national monument also boasts many architectural merits as seen with its beautiful cast-iron columns, clock tower, and high ceilings.
We ventured around the food centre to find out why it is not just a place for tourists and office workers around the area.
1. Eat around the world
Needless to say, there are so many choices when it comes to food here. We took a walk around the place and noticed stalls offering Filipino, Japanese (including ramen, udon, yakitori and katsu curry), Korean (including bingsu), Vietnamese, Indonesian, Turkish, Costa Rican, Thai, Indian (includes vegetarian-only options), and Western (including pizza) food. Global gastronomy indeed!
2. Best of local delights
But of course, Lau Pa Sat also offers a good selection of local favourites from good old chicken rice, satay, rojak, popiah, pig’s organ soup, char kway teow, fishball noodles, biryani and other localised Indian food, economy rice, and fish soup. Not forgetting Singapore’s very own Tiger Beer.
Some stall owners may be a little too enthusiastic to offer you their services but do take your time to walk around before deciding what to have.
Tip: Check out our guide to awesome local hawker food here.
3. Street dining
We also love the outdoor ambience of eating on Boon Tat Street when it is closed to traffic in the evenings. This part of the market is close to many satay stalls offering this delicious skewered grilled meat with peanut sauce.
4. Ocean catch
If you’re in the mood for seafood, take your pick from the various stalls offering tasty chili crab, sambal stingray and barbequed seafood. Yum!
Tip: Find out how to choose the best crab here.
5. On the go
6. Make room for dessert
Desserts in Singapore are usually categorised as “hot” (such as cheng tng) or “cold” (such as ice kacang and chendol). Don’t miss your chance to try them when at the dessert stalls near the centre of Lau Pa Sat. (We also love the sugar cane drink here.)
Tip: Check out our guide on mouth-watering Singapore desserts here.
7. Strategic location
Besides its sheer size that can house around 80 food vendors, Lau Pa Sat’s central location also makes it easy and accessible to visit. The venue is a few minutes walk from three MRT stations — Raffles Place (Exit I), Downtown (Exit F), and Telok Ayer (Exit C). Plus, it is open round the clock so you will never go hungry.
Lau Pa Sat is located at 18 Raffles Quay.
By Muneerah Bee, November 2016
Photos by Muneerah Bee