Food Courts – Quality or Quantity of Choice?

On 15/12/2011, in Blog, Features, Observations, by Michael Oon

Food Courts are the modern concept in the presentation of Street Food. It is clean, hygienic and offers personal safety for the clients When I was a young boy in Singapore, I could remember going out for a meal cooked by the road side. These road side stalls would appear at the appropriate meal times […]

Modern Food Court in Malaysia

Modern Food Court in Malaysia

Food Courts are the modern concept in the presentation of Street Food. It is clean, hygienic and offers personal safety for the clients

When I was a young boy in Singapore, I could remember going out for a meal cooked by the road side. These road side stalls would appear at the appropriate meal times on the street and service their customers in the allotted coffee shops. This was the “done” thing in all parts of Singapore then. My parents refused to allow me to consume food from the hawkers or mobile food vendors because of hygiene. As they had limited quantity of water, there was a risk of not cleaning the food utensils thoroughly I would be at risk of getting food poisoning or anything else that my mother could think of.

As I grew older, I realised that the best food in both Singapore and mainland Malaysia was street food. We could travel to the other end of Singapore because, say the fried noodles there was really good. With my cousins, we would do a food crawl. This is analogous to a pub crawl. We would start at one stall, go to another and finish the “meal” at the other end of the city. This was the passion for good food in this part of the world. These street food vendors were specialist in their product. They might only cook say only fried noodles or noodle soup or whatever. As they were specialists. They developed their skills in that food speciality. They had to do a good job to survive. There was always competition around the corner.

From the point of view of the street vendor, if he prepared a particular dish well, he could get a very good reputation and people all over town would come eat at his stall. It is common for people to drive 2 hours to eat at a particular stall. With such a reputation, he might be invited by a coffee shop to be his anchor tenant as he will “bring in the crowds”. Conversely, if a coffee shop is very busy, the street food vendors would bid for spaces around these coffee shops.
Turning to the present, there is considerable interest in street food and there are specialist media on this topic. Makan Sutra in Singapore and the like specialist food bloggers

I have just encountered a twist to the concept of food vendors. In the Bukit Bintang area of Kuala Lumpur, there are 2 food courts with really different propositions. .

Lot 10 shopping mall has a food court called Lot 10 Hutong. This is a compact area but the food vendors have been selected by the CEO of the Shopping mall; Tan Sri Francis Yeoh. (Tan Sri is a conferred title very similar to “Sir” or “Lord” in the UK). He has taken his time to invite vendors to come to his property. In other words, there is the best of the best being sold in one location.

One of the really charming features is the coffee. It is served in thick old fashioned China Cup with really strong coffee. We sat by a real marble table. Just like the times of old.

coffee served as they used to

coffee served as they used to

On the other side of the street in the Pavilion shopping mall. The complete basement is devoted to street food called Food Republic. There is a tremendous variety and selection of foods. Some stalls are really good but there are other stalls that have a different interpretation to my point of view.

Food Republic at the Pavilion, KL

Food Republic at the Pavilion, KL

When I was first visited both these food courts, I was totally bewildered with the size, complexity and variety in the food courts. However, with repeated visits and guidance from the locals, I think I finally got the hang of it.

If I wanted simplicity and quality, I would go to the Lot 10 Hutong. If I wanted to taste something different and have the time to go look the various food vendors I would go to the Food Republic at the Pavilion.

In most instances, I am pushed for time and prefer to have the best of the best.
But in the end, you pays your monies and make your choice.

From a food obsessive Michael Oon

(c) Copyright – Dr Michael Oon. All Rights Reserved Worldwide 2011.

About Michael Oon

Michael Oon has written 145 post in this blog.

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