Follow chef Malcolm Lee as he leads you on a trail through Singapore, peppered by his love for food and Peranakan heritage.
1. Little India
A taste of aromatic briyani (an Indian spiced rice dish with meat or vegetables) at Tekka Centre is a fitting (and filling) way to start the day, and you’ll get to experience an environment where Singaporeans of different ethnicities come together.
The meat [in the briyani] is tender and so flavourful,” Malcolm enthuses. “It’s one big pot of chicken, mutton and spices. It’s very, very good.” Yakader may be Malcolm’s favourite pick when it comes to briyani, but the food centre is also home to vendors that serve up piping hot tandoor bread (bread cooked in a clay oven), rava dosa (an Indian pancake made from fermented butter) and appam (pancake made with rice batter and coconut milk).
While here, stock up on local spices and produce at Tekka Market, housed in the same complex. This is Malcolm’s old stomping ground, and where he shops for fresh ingredients. “Because of how [big] the restaurant has grown, I don’t get to buy groceries at the market as often as before,” Malcolm tells us, “[but] I still try to go at least once a week.”
2. Mustafa Centre
For bargain deals and a suburban shopping experience, pay a visit to nearby 24-hour Mustafa Centre. This sprawling eight-storey complex in Little India stocks everything from mobile phones to perfume and kitchen appliances. The area is abuzz with activity and foot traffic, no matter the time of the day. “The Little India area is a really nice place to explore. It gives you a sense of what history we had before,” Malcolm shares.
3. Bukit Merah
Round off this day of culinary delights with more food—dinner at Keng Eng Kee. Known for their hearty plates of Chinese zi char (Hokkien Chinese dialect for ‘cook and fry’, generally affordable, home-cooked Chinese fare), their speciality coffee pork ribs and chilli crab are some of Malcolm’s favourite dishes. “Singaporean food may look like a mess,” Malcolm opines, “but it’s damn tasty!”