Heart attacks, cheap eats and all the quails.

Hawker

I usually update you guys on the amazing cuisine in Auckland, but (as you may have picked up) I’m not actually IN Auckland currently. As the boy and I travel, we’ve had a checklist, a kid of culinary ‘to do’. Not masterminded by me (I’m having a hard enough time trying to tick “paleo” off as is), but from the boy. Our adventures have be a sort of foodie tour of South East Asia, with decisions on places to stop being made purely based on where historically makes tasty noms. My personal tour guide is quite partial to hawkers markets, or street vendors (despite every warning against this) and I’ve found it to be one of the best ways to truly chuck yourself in the deep end, (both culturally and digestively) and discover the real essence behind a city. So, for my readers in this area (or my readers heading this way), I give you my two favourite street markets spots (so far).

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Gluttons Bay – Singapore

This hawkers centre is very well documented, but still, it deserves the hype. What serves as the ‘creme de la creme’ of Singaporean street food, bands together to create a buzz of finger lickin’ traditional fare, right on the (rather breathtaking) water front of Singapore.

When we headed here we completely lucked out and happened upon an installation art exhibition (that quite literally lit up the sky) going on along Marina Bay too.

For this, our first Friday traveling, the boy decided we had to have the most decadent looking dish available, chilli crab. This is a Singaporean specialty consisting of an actual whole crab just hanging out in a pile of delicately spicy, full bodied, tomato sauce. It was swimming in so much of the stuff I swear it had died by drowning. Paired with sticky rice and crispy sweet buns for my dinner date (no sexual reference intended), this messy but oh-so-much-fun dish left us wanting more.

Other notable Singaporean dishes worth a try are chicken rice, oyster omelet and carrot cake (which is neither a cake, nor contains carrots – who ever named that was on something whack).

Soak up the sounds of Singapore whilst sipping on a coconut, but be prepared to fight (like really, really hard) for a table.

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Night Markets – Trang

This little spot was almost over looked! We only stopped in Trang for one night (as most do). It’s a sort of transit town for tourists heading to Thai Islands. Lucky for us, our one night also happened to be a Friday, the evening the small patch of town right outside the rundown train station (and, it turns out, our equally run down digs for the night) comes alive with food, fashions, and odd trinkets galore.

Eating here was like dinner and a show all rolled up into one, with small elderly ladies making fresh roti, whole fish slung on coals and squid kebabs going round the barbie. Everywhere you looked there was something amazing to watch and some new oddity to taste. Often food choices were a bit of a lucky dip, not understanding the offerings (just the price – the price always seems to be easy to translate), but none were a disappointment.

I settled on a papaya salad, mixed up in front of my eyes (and allowing my control over spice levels – thank god), fried quail eggs and big chunks of watermelon for dessert. Needless to say, I was one insanely happy camper as this was my first proper healthy style eating since we had set off on our travels. Also, all that probably came to under $2.50 (NZ), leaving plenty of money for other things (these “things” may or may not have been a new handbag*). The boy, who doesn’t give two hoots about healthy, went for spicy squid, quail egg money bags (we are yet to discover where all the quails were hiding) and a sweet roti filled with banana and covered in not only chocolate, but sugar and condensed milk too (aka heart attack on a plate).

I don’t know whether it was because we had absolutely no expectation of this little town, or because the food was spectacular, or because I finally felt nourished in a healthy way, but this was one of my favourite food memories on our adventure.

*Ok, ok, they were definitely a new handbag.

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