I usually buy groceries at the supermarket late at night. Mom would usually go to the wet market on Sunday mornings to buy meats and kampong chicken and of course breakfast. I don’t really go to wet markets, but because my Malaysian friend Cher wanted to go and eat proper Malay food, I had to drag myself out of bed early Sunday morning to meet her at Paya Lebar MRT station. Cher recently moved to Singapore to do her Masters at NUS, so she’s missing good Malay food. But before meeting her, I had Nasi Lemak for brekky at home. Nasi Lemak is rice cooked in coconut that’s served with egg, fried fish, fried anchovies and sambal tumis (a sweet and spicy chilli sauce) Our buddy Joycey would join us later.
Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre is located right across from Joo Chiat Shopping Centre. So it was a short walk in the piercing sun from the train station. As it was a Sunday, there were so many families doing marketing and eating. The ground floor was dedicated to the wet market, the meats, poultry and fish was in a dedicated area whilst the vegetable and fruits to the left side of the floor. The food centre, clothing and traditional medicine shops were on the second floor.
We headed straight to the food centre, shared a table with a couple. And left Joycey to hold the fort, and keep our seats whilst Cher and I bought our foods. Cher wanted to eat Laksa Siglap, fat and thick rice noodles smothered in a thick and spicy coconut and fish sauce. As Joycey had recently gotten braces, we got her Bubur Ayam, rice porridge with a spicy chicken broth poured all over it. Two bowls for less than SGD 6. We bought them from Warong Solo. I have been eating from this stall every since I was a little girl. So it’s a pretty established food stall that the same family has managed for decades.
I had an egg masala thosai, a fermented rice flour battered pancake, that had an egg cooked onto it, and potato masala to “beef” it up. I got this at one of the best Indian Muslim stalls at Geylang Serai Market. Oh and every food stall at Geylang Serai Market is halal, permissible for all Muslims and a pretty good place to eat affordably for all races and nationalities.
Sharing a table with other people at the market is pretty common. An older lady and a younger woman joined us. We had pretty interesting conversations with these two ladies. Communal eating is pretty fun when everyone’s there to enjoy the foods. A thunderstorm outside also made the whole setting pretty fun.
It was still raining when we were done eating, and bid our goodbyes to the ladies. So we went around the ground floor looking for herbs, spices, tempeh and tamarind for Cher too cook with. Prices at the market for vegetables and meats are definitely much cheaper and more affordable than supermarkets. And the choice of cuts of meats are so wide! Cher was like a kid in a candy store, she was so happy. Mom gave Cher a bottle of ABC Sambal Terasi which she eats cucumbers and sorts of vegetables with at every meal. So Cher wanted to get some for her bestie in KL. And she found the fermented shrimp paste sambal, or what we call in Singapore sambal belachan or in Indonesia sambal terasi. A spicy hot bottle of goodness that’s a perfect accompaniment for everything, heaps better than a bottle of Sriracha. I bought two types of Jamu for mom and me a traditional Indonesian medicine made out of rhizomes like ginger, turmeric, betel leaf, honey and herbs.
I think maybe next time we’d go to Geylang Serai Market on a weekday. Less people, more taxis, shorter queues at the food stalls.