Office workers in downtown Singapore welcomed the re-opening of Lau Pa Sat a few weeks ago. The iconic downtown hawker centre features improved ventilation (massive ceiling fans), new tables and seats (similar to the ones at the new Chinatown Food Street), and a functional grand clock that chimes every 15 minutes.
While the new Lau Pa Sat looks like a fabulous upgrade, you sort of feel like the old charm of the place is slowly draining away.
The circular hawker can get confusing for first-timers. But what’s on offer is the standard fare of Yong Tau Foo, mixed vegetable rice, Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese, etc. They also have Costa Rican (“Mamacitas”), sushi rolls (“Zooshi”), and a Turkish stall among others. As I have only been in Singapore for a little over two years, I wasn’t acquainted much with the old Lau Pa Sat.
Lau Pa Sat has three Filipino food stalls. I’ve never seen something quite like it outside Lucky Plaza. I think Filipino food stalls in Singapore are still few in number. Here are the ones I discovered at Lau Pa Sat:
- Mang Kiko’s Roasted Pork and Chicken
- Authentic Filipino Cuisine: Ang Hapag Kainan
- Lutong Pinoy
Mang Kiko’s Roasted Pork and Chicken (Lau Pa Sat, stall)
You can say that Mang Kiko’s is already an automatic go-to for pork liempo if you are in the Filipino community in Singapore (the ones who are just too tired to cook!). They have a branch at Somerset opposite *SCAPE (at the Kopitiam). Mang Kiko’s is known for its roasted pork belly or pork liempo. It comes with a cup of steamed rice. No vegetables. You can help yourself to a small styro cup of sinigang soup base (sour soup).
TBH, Mang Kiko’s pork liempo (est. SGD 7.00+) could be much more tastier. There’s a snappy crunch when you bite into the pork liempo. But the flavour comes in when you moisten it with soy sauce or Mang Tomas (brown sweet sauce that goes with lechon).
- What to try here? Pork liempo.
Don’t be surprised if the cashier here doesn’t smile much or even smile at all. They’ve mastered the poker face, perhaps borne out of grilling meat the whole day. 😛
Authentic Filipino Cuisine: Ang Hapag Kainan (Lau Pa Sat, stall)
The sweet Filipina lady at the cashier here greets you with a smile. On offer, a stroke of Filipino dishes ranging from pork sinigang (sour soup) and pork sisig (diced pork innards) to daing na bangus (milkfish). While their menu is posted in the background, they also have written out “specialties” which suggests they probably offer certain items on select days. I’m intrigued by their a la carte with rice.
I went straight for the pork sisig (SGD 6.50). It is served on top of a generous amount of steamed rice on a styro plate. You can grab a sliced kalamansi next to the cutleries and squeeze the juice over your sisig to add some zest.
And yes, it’s filling. I ordered the same thing twice. It’s not trying to be the world’s best sisig but it’s enough to satisfy a craving. I really like the lady here who shares some of her wit with Filipino customers. I bet she’d do the same for non-Filipinos, with her bright smile.
- What to try here? Pork sisig. (I have yet to try the bangus, sinigang, and kaldereta)
Lutong Pinoy (Lau Pa Sat, stall)
Originally I thought there were just two Filipino food stalls at Lau Pa Sat (two is enough, better than none as is the case in many areas in Singapore). After having a Frosty at Wendy’s (it’s still there after the renovation), I ran right into this stall. And I was in OMG mode after seeing Pinoy-style pork BBQ (on a stick) being barbecued right there on-the-spot. A rarity.
The staff here are just as bubbly as the lady at Ang Hapag Kainan. The menu here appears to be more oriented towards “for sharing” as they have meals that are priced above SGD 12.00 which feature two cups of rice served with a select dish. They have budget options though.
I tried the pork BBQ even if they were quite pricy at SGD 3.50 for a stick. That’s PHP 120.00 back in Manila, enough for several sticks, a cup of rice, and a bottle of Coke! The slices of pork were pretty big and I started to doubt why I bought two sticks (SGD 7.00 or PHP 240.00 omg).
My sentimental side got the best of me when I should have tried other things on their menu. The pork BBQ, even as enticing as it appeared being grilled in front of you, pales in (unfair) comparison to the pork BBQ back home in Manila. I miss thinner and crispier slices which balances the sweetness of the barbecue sauce.
- What to try here? Another dish perhaps (I’ll update again when I visit them in the upcoming weeks)
I asked about the Tapa King branch that used to be at Lau Pa Sat before the renovation. Apparently I’ve heard they pulled out of Singapore. That’s sad because even if they have three Filipino food stalls at Lau Pa Sat today, they are generic Filipino cuisine that caters to all. I miss my tapa, my chicken inasal.
* I’ll update this post as I try more items at these stalls. *
Lau Pa Sat sits almost at the heart of Singapore’s CBD. The nearest MRT station is Raffles Place (Exit F). Approximately a 7 to 10 minute walk. Follow the directions on the Locality Maps.
- Where do you go to get your Filipino food fix in Singapore?
- What’s your favourite Filipino food?