Where in the world can you buy food at a post office? Where can you get a meal at the traffic police station? Where do you have no chance of running a business unless you have a food court attached? Where am I known by the name hello four dollar ?
In Singapore food is number one! Singaporeans have two favorite activites, eating and shopping (luckily easily combined). Every other conversation revolves around food. And for a good reason, food here is fantastic, cheap, varied, clean and available 24/7 as there is always a hawker center nearby. A hawker centre is an open air food complex that houses many food stalls serving all kinds of Asian food, and you will find them everywhere in the suburbs of Singapore.
Our local hawker center is a 5 minute stroll away, and is particularly good. The selection is unmatched, Singaporean, Chinese, Malay, Japanese, Indian, the list goes on forever. We eat there – or get takeaway-ah! – usually at least once a day and I have especially fallen in love with a Singaporean classic: chicken rice.
Chicken rice is roasted or steamed chicken, served with rice, soup and wonderful ginger-chili. The secret is in the rice which is oily and chicken flavoured as it has been prepared using chicken stock. So really, it is chicken with chicken. The taste is fantastic.
At first I had trouble ordering food here. You have to shout and use a chinese form of English. I would go “ah yes, ah, I will have the ehhh chicken rice, the one up there on the sign, eh, roasted chicken please. Oh and 4 dollar portion and take away please”. This would be met by a “???????”. I learned to shout “CHICKEN RICE! ROASTED! 4 DOLLAR! TAKEAWAY-AH!” at the proper volumen and cadence.
Now, I simply show up at the stall. The guys shout “hello 4 dollar” and I smile and just have to shout “having here” or “takeaway ah!”. 2 minutes later, my 4 dollar chicken rice is ready. Magic! And hey, it’s lunch and time for “hello 4 dollar!”.