INSIDER Food’s video on “S’porean street food” at NYC’s Chomp Chomp doesn’t show real hawker food
Going to the hawker for some Lamb Rendang Mee Pok now.
Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow
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If you’ve ever been overseas for an extended period of time (say, more than three days), you will inevitably find yourself craving for some hawker favourites, like bak chor mee or char kway teow.
Hawker food in Singapore are cultural and heritage gems that Singaporeans hold dear. So, when our hawker culture is reproduced overseas, we would reasonably expect them to be as close to what we have back home as possible.
It is unfortunate then, that INSIDER Food, has quite a different idea of what our hawker food looks like.
In a video that introduces New York City’s Chomp Chomp, the lifestyle page happily touts Crab Omelettes (US$17), Chilli Crab Cheese Fries (US$16), and Lamb Rendang Mee Pok (US$16) as “Singaporean street food”.
While the food looks admittedly good, they are not we can usually find in our hawker centres.
Rather, they lean more towards ModSin (short for “Modern Singaporean”) cuisine, a whole other style of cooking, which aims to elevate our local nosh with a touch of modernity. These are also dishes that are more commonly found in higher-end restaurants.
And we haven’t even quibbled over the term “Singaporean street food”.
As it is, a quick look at their Facebook comments reveals vehement cries of “whitewashing”, “gimmick” and “misrepresentation”:
And you know it’s not the real thing when there are “gluten-free” labels on the menu:
But thankfully, familiar dishes like popiah (US$8.50), fried hokkien mee (US$14), and Hainanese chicken rice (US$14.50) are also available, although they were not mentioned in the video (and cost about five times more than their authentic Singaporean counterparts):
While it is understandable and perfectly normal for food to evolve or localise as it comes into contact with other cultures, perhaps calling it “inspired” might be a better term (for once, eh) than hawking the entire menu as an authentic Singapore hawker food experience.
Watch the INSIDER Food video here:
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Top image taken from INSIDER Food’s video.