Anthony Bourdain to open Singapore-style, open-air food court in Manhattan

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Jan 13, 2014

Imagine a Satay by the Bay right in the financial district of New York City?

Singapore's style of open-air food centres might very well find a place in downtown lower Manhattan, complete with its famous street and hawker food, if celebrity chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain has his way.

He is planning to open a giant open-air food market there, similar to the kind found in Singapore and Quebec, reported Esquire magazine on its online blog.

The post, headlined "Did Anthony Bourdain just reinvent the food truck?", said he will presumably open the high-end food court in 3 World Trade Center, down south close to tres chic Tribeca or perhaps Hudson Yards on the west side of Manhattan. Bourdain, 57, is quoted as saying: "I am indeed working on this project - carefully assembling a dream-list of chefs, operators, street food and hawker legends from around the world - in hopes of bringing them together in one New York City space.

"As (New York is) the greatest city in the world, I've long felt that we should have the kind of delicious, diverse food centres that Singapore (for instance) enjoys.

"And, in fact, it is my hope that an important component of this project will be representatives of Straits hawker masters.

"My likes are pretty well-known: dai pai dong in Hong Kong, La Boqueria in Spain, hawker centres in Singapore, street tostadas in Ensenada, Mexico.

"To the extent that I can help bring those things home to New York, along with a truly interesting collection of home-grown innovators, I will be very, very pleased. If nothing else, I hope to soon be able to enjoy a really good chicken rice in NYC."

The American chef and TV host is known for his love of street food including Singapore fare, and he is a fan of chicken rice at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre.

In his books, he has covered Singapore food such as dishes in Sin Huat Seafood Restaurant in Geylang. He listed the eatery as one of his 13 Places To Eat Before You Die, following his visit here in 2003.

Satay by the Bay opened last January within Gardens by the Bay, with eight pushcarts selling satay and more than 20 other food stalls in an outdoor area.

New York City, as in other cities in the United States, has its own street food culture, represented by food trucks, which are food stalls on wheels converted from trucks. They sell inexpensive local to gourmet food catering to workers and people on the run, and add another dimension to the food scene filled with fast-food chains.

Bourdain's plan for an open-air food centre similiar to Singapore's might find shape using such food trucks.

As writer Ned Hepburn writes in the Esquire article, which was published last Thursday: "If Bourdain's plans for a food utopia succeed, who's to say that there won't be a separate parking lot of delicious NYC food trucks?"