Makansutra: Reinstating the Relevance of Street FoodSeptember 20, 2016
The hawker stalls of Singapore have become an iconic portion of their food culture. A step above the regular street fare of other countries, the hawkers stall has institutionalized street food—made it tourist friendly while still keeping its notable grit. It has become an ardent reminder of what street food is and can become. Makansutra allows for this institution to board itself on a different shore. In Makansutra we find the intersection of the bubbling, exciting street fare of Asia paired with the prospect of a brighter future for our street food.
Heralded by Singaporean street food mogul, K.F. Seetoh, and assisted by Chefs JJ Yulo and Him Uy De Baron, Makansutra attempts to bring the frenetic, exciting energy of street fare from all around Asia into one shared space. An intersection of cultures, if you would allow it.
Housing twelve stalls, the hawkers sell a variation of street food fare from countries like India, China, Malaysia and Singapore, it’s a cacophony of different cuisines—a hodgepodge of flavors. A defining trait of Singapore, and, similarly, a tone not so different from our own colorfully confusing culture. It’s a mix of many things, and that’s what draws us in. So visiting Makansutra is not a far off adventure, it’s not a culinary venture into nowhere, because even though we are not familiar to the flavors, we can very much relate to the sentiment.
From something awfully familiar and somewhat subdued like the Singaporean chicken rice and bak tut teh—a bone soup cooked with a variation of spices—to the more unfamiliar and adventurous flavors like laksa and the various curries available, it’s a variation of extremes and contrasts. There’s also a myriad of seafood, if that’s what you fancy. From the universally loved chili crab to the cereal prawns coated in oats and a dusting of salted egg yolk. There’s a piece of Asia that anyone can immediately bite into.
But beyond this, Seetoh notes that Makansutra is not just an opportunity to spread the reach of Asian street food. The hawker stalls can also serve as a reminder that street food is more than just cheap food. Makanstutra is an attempt to bring the colorful flavors of Asia and the inspiration that the hawker system has created to serve as a reminder that our street food can be more exciting than it is.
The sprawling space can seat about 500 people, but it seems bigger, more sprawling. Because beyond the food is pieces of cultures so very different and so very familiar, stalls that talk of survival and innovation rather than pure creation. It’s a work of tenacity, and if we can relate to anything it’s hard work. It’s different cultures, sure. But somehow, beyond the frenzied atmosphere of the jumping pots, and skidding noodles, and that random claypot filled with crisp rice; is a place we’re all too familiar with, a place that reminds us that we’re not all that different. That maybe we can do what they’re doing as well.
A food hub serving popular Singaporean fare all within five meters of each other.