That night, the Malay cab driver took us to Telok Ayer Festival Market. While driving, he assured us again and again, “Abang-abang jangan risau. Ini tempat gerenti best. Semua sedap-sedap”. What we asked of the cab driver earlier was, to take us to where the locals eat, preferably within the Central Business District. Immediately, without hesitation, he said, “Telok Ayer!”

Colloquially, with Malays being the minority in Singapore and the influx of Chinese nationals as permanent residents, the place is officially called Lau Pa Sat.

The cab driver pulled over at the side of Raffles Quay, adjacent to an old fashioned Malay building with a Victorian touch of a clock tower at its centre. The whole building was the above mentioned hawker’s food centre. But to our surprise, it was almost empty. Majority of the patrons inside the building were old folks, drinking cups of coffee at its kopitiam styled tables and stools.

After a walk-through and observing the whole place, we got to know that everybody else dines outside the building, along the stretch of Boon Tat Street. Open air under the stars, cramped plastic tables and plastic chairs and also, lots, and lots of people. Boon Tat Street closes itself from vehicular traffic every evening to accommodate this gastronomic industry. We also got to know that the speciality of this place is satay. Apart from the stalls outside, people can also order food from inside Lau Pa Sat to be eaten outside.

To our surprise, most of the stalls have awards recognition certificates, proudly displayed on their stalls. “Best Hawker Satay in Singapore 2009, 2010”, “5 Star Choice 2008”, “Most Authentic Hawker Stall 2005”, etc. We were at the right place; hungry in a foreign country and fortunately at an award winning casual food place. Before even tasting the food, my mind recalled Phua Chu Kang’s tagline, “Best in Singapore & JB. Some say Batam”.

We ordered chicken satay, beef satay, mutton satay, bbq prawn satay, spicy clams, mamak mee goreng and also char kway teow, all from award winning stalls.

Let me clarify one thing, I don’t eat Satay Haji Samuri anymore. To me, the taste of his satay has lost the quality and not worth my money. Sometimes, the frozen satays are served undercooked to their customers. It’s just how bad it is currently. Maybe it’s because of the massive franchising or maybe it’s because of cost cutting. I don’t know and I don’t want to know. But if I was given the chance to savour again the food we ordered at Lau Pa Sat, I would rather eat Satay Haji Samuri everyday for the rest of my life!

Well, maybe not everyday. Maybe I can have a cheat day. Just maybe.

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