The Hari Raya Bazaar in Geylang Serai is going hip, young and international this year.
On offer are snacks from all over the world, such as fluffy mini Dutch pancakes or poffertjes, Indian street fare such as pani puri (hollow shells filled with potatoes and topped with spice water and sauce) and double-fried Russet potatoes modelled after crispy frites found on the streets of Amsterdam.
Not convinced? There is still spicy Korean yogurt and rainbow bagels inspired by those from New York.
Photogenic, exotic or just plain weird, these new-generation snacks are sold by 10 or so creative young business owners who wanted to go beyond the usual fare of Ramly burgers, kebabs and goreng pisang.
Take Ms Miza Nazili, 22, who runs Iceburnz, a food and drinks stall across two units. A new product here is Croatian Nutella balls ($4.50 a cup), an idea inspired by her trip to the European country a month ago.
The balls are based on fritules or mini Croatian doughnuts, minus the booze and raisins. Her version uses banana paste instead, similar to the Malay snack jemput jemput (fried banana ball), and the balls are topped with Nutella. She sells up to 300 cups a night and the product is especially popular with teens.
Another item setting social media on fire is the rainbow bagel ($8) by Word., a cafe in Upper Thomson that has set up two stalls at the bazaar.
The dough comprises multi-coloured layers twisted together and takes six times longer to prepare compared with a regular bagel, says cafe co-founder Shereen Anwar, 32. Looking like a piece of Play-Doh art, the neon-coloured bread is so popular that each customer is limited to buying two bagels. Up to 400 bagels are sold daily.
Stall owners are taking advantage of the crowds that descend on the fair during the fasting month of Ramadan. Muslims, as well as Singaporeans of other faiths, head to the fair after sundown to indulge in a common passion: food.
Geylang Serai's fair is the mother of all Hari Raya fairs, with about 800 stalls this year. It runs till July 5, the day before Hari Raya Puasa.
This year, it has shrunk about 20 per cent in size due to construction taking place at the area next to Paya Lebar MRT station and the Singapore Post Centre. It is now concentrated in three areas around Tanjong Katong Complex and along Geylang Road between One KM Mall and Geylang Serai Market. Renting a booth costs between $10,000 and $15,000, stall holders say.
Despite its reduced size, it is still the biggest Hari Raya bazaar in town. Others are held in Tampines, Woodlands, Eunos and Kampong Glam and have 36 to 100 stalls each.
Sharing a booth in Geylang Serai are Dutch entrepreneur Barbara Riedijk, 32, and Singaporean Shivani Gupta, 28, who want to create greater awareness of their products.
Ms Riedijk owns food pop-up The Dutch Pancake Store, selling mini treats (from $2.50 for five pieces) while Ms Gupta runs Chaat Ok Please!, selling classic Indian snacks such as pani puri ($6).
Ms Gupta's dream is to open a restaurant selling progressive Indian cuisine. Her booth is a way to test the waters. "A lot of locals here don't know about Indian street food," she says. "Here, I can educate them about the various dishes."
For Ms Riedijk, the booth builds on her travelling pancake business that started late last year. This is her third bazaar. She says: "It's funny to hear people say I'm the first ang moh to sell at the bazaar. This is a good place to reach out to more customers."
The most bizarre item at the fair is probably the spicy Korean yogurt ($5), a combination of froyo and a spicy sauce reminiscent of the marinade used in Korean cuisine. It is the original creation of J.J. Ng, 36, of 365 Foodologist. She says the yogurt is a healthier option in a place dominated by sugary and fried food.
After seeing the fancy fare on social media, auditor Ng Hui Kin, 24, visited the bazaar last Saturday and tried several items, including the spicy Korean yogurt and rainbow bagel. She says: "I was attracted to the wider options. It's not just rows of stalls selling Ramly burgers and kebabs any more."
Eight must-tries at Geylang Serai bazaar
1 Spicy Korean yogurt by 365 Foodologist
What: This funky new creation comprises vanilla-flavoured frozen yogurt and a light caramel- coloured spicy sauce topping ($5, above). The sweet yet spicy sauce is reminiscent of the marinade used in the popular Korean meat dish, bulgogi. The coolness from the yogurt cuts through the heat and, for added texture, two other toppings such as dried fruits, nuts or mini marshmallows can be added.
A post shared by Double Fried Russets (@thekatoshka) on
What: The name of this stall might be drawn from "kartoshka", the Russian word for potato, but the food is inspired by a popular Dutch street dish sold in Amsterdam: crispy frites. Focusing on one item - double-fried Russet potatoes ($4.90, above) - the golden-brown fries come with the potato skin intact for added flavour and smothered with either salted yolk, "special" cheese, sour ranch or barbecue sauce.
Where: Stalls 40 and 53, in front of the Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore (or Darul Arqam), 32 Onan Road
Open: 5pm to midnight (Monday to Thursday), 5pm to 1am (Friday to Sunday)
What: Kebab stalls are a regular sight in Hari Raya bazaars, but new entrant Dubai Street Food hopes to shake things up with its shawarmas cooked using methods practised in Dubai. Expect punchier, spicier flavours when you order its chicken shawarma ($5.90) or lamb shawarma with rice and soup ($8.50).
No vertical rotisserie is in sight at this stall. Instead, the counter is lined with large gold-plated bowls straight from Dubai that are filled with various meats, be it chicken, lamb, fish or prawn.
Where: Stalls 38 and 39, in front of the Muslim Converts' Association of Singapore, 32 Onan Road
What: Those with a sweet tooth will love poffertjes (above), soft and fluffy mini pancakes served with butter and powdered sugar. Best eaten hot off the skillet, the poffertjes are sold either in sets of five (from $2.50), 10 or 20.
Two new fruity flavours - banana and coconut - were introduced recently. Add-ons include whipped cream, maple or chocolate syrup.
Where: Stall 6, along Engku Aman Road facing the Tanjong Katong Complex carpark
What: You might recognise the doughnut-shaped Indian fritter vadai, but what about pani puri (above, crunchy shells filled with potatoes and lentils and topped with spice water and sauces)? The snack is an example of quintessential street food found in northern India.
The stall also sells sweet treats. Prices start at $1.50 for a cup of mango lassi to $6 for a serving of pani puri.
Where: Stall 6, along Engku Aman Road facing the Tanjong Katong Complex carpark
What: Festive Croatian doughnuts, called fritules, are the draw here. Instead of being laced with booze and packed with raisins, the deep-fried pastries ($4.50, above) are banana-flavoured and modelled after traditional Malay snack jemput jemput (fried banana ball). Generous dollops of Nutella are drizzled over the balls to top off the dessert.
Where: Stall 8, along Engku Aman Road facing the Tanjong Katong Complex carpark
Open: 3pm to 2am daily; the balls sell out by 10pm
What: Probably the most Instagrammable food item at the bazaar this year. Looking like a piece of Play-Doh art, the neon-coloured pastry ($8, above) is such a hit that each customer is limited to buying at most two bagels. Filled with strawberry cream cheese, biscuit crumble and marshmallows, the bagels have a slight taste of strawberry and can be toasted on the spot.
Where: Bagels are sold at stall 9, along Engku Aman Road facing the Tanjong Katong Complex carpark. There is another stall, number 127, along Block 12 Haig Road, selling only drinks
Open: 3pm to midnight daily; bagels sell out by 7pm
What: Want a healthier alternative to Ramly burger? Try the salmon burger ($5.50, above) at Sahwon, made with hot smoked salmon and herbs. Add wasabi mayo or salted egg yolk sauce to kick the flavours up a notch. Also, try the Paddle Pop pudding dadih (Malay milk pudding drink, $5, below). Layers of corn, pandan, yam and bandung are stacked on top of one another in four colours.
Where: Stall 24, along Engku Aman Road facing the Tanjong Katong Complex carpark
A 15-minute walk from the Geylang Serai Hari Raya Bazaar, the Eunos Hari Raya Bazaar might be smaller in size, but boasts an equally impressive array of food.
One example is the duck leg confit burger ($6, above) by The Ugly Duckling SG - By Sundaymarket (stall 6). Haute cuisine classic duck confit is shredded, doused in a kicap manis (sweet soya sauce) glaze, paired with caramelised pineapple and packed into a toasted brioche bun. Other items on the menu are duck fat cheese fries ($5) and beef rendang lasagne ($6).
If you are not too full from all the eating, hop on one of the amusement rides by travelling funfair operator Uncle Ringo.
Where: Open field next to Eunos MRT station
When: Till July 5
TAMPINES HARI RAYA BAZAAR
This is the next best bazaar to head to if you want a good mix of oldies such as Ramly burger and newer fare such as eight-inch corndogs.
Check out WhatTheCorndog (stall 11), which is re-introducing a childhood treat: a hotdog coated in a batter on a stick (above).
Go for the original ($4) if you prefer to keep it simple or pick from three sauces: cinnamon maple ($4.60), gula melaka or chocolate ($4.20). A cheese sauce will be offered from next week.
Where: Open field next to Tampines MRT station
When: Till June 27
RAMADAN FOOD FEST 2016
This cosy bazaar located in the rustic Kampong Glam enclave serves up flavours from yesteryear.
There is an extensive array of Malay kueh, lemang (glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk in bamboo) served with side dishes as well as soupy noodle dish mee bandung with sotong (squid).
From next Friday, another bazaar will open in nearby Baghdad Street and sell festive cookies, garments and home decor.
Where: Area in front of Sultan Mosque, Muscat Street
When: Till July 4
WOODLANDS HARI RAYA BAZAAR
Hearty dinner options abound at this bazaar. There are at least eight stalls including popular eateries such as Al-Azhar Eating Restaurant and Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak selling rice dishes such as nasi ayam, nasi briyani and nasi lemak.
If you are in the mood for something lighter, consider a meaty salad by Mela Food Junction (stall 66). Pick from three meat options - roasted beef brisket, lamb flap or grilled chicken - and pair it with a salad (from $5.50) or have it sandwiched between a brioche bun or ciabatta roll (from $6).
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