Newton still pricier than other food centres

This stall sells two pieces of plain prata for $5. Many Newton hawkers cite high maintenance costs and rent for their prices.
This stall sells two pieces of plain prata for $5. Many Newton hawkers cite high maintenance costs and rent for their prices. ST PHOTO: CLARICE TEO

Newton Food Centre has a fresh look, with more spacious aisles, shelters for some tables and new toilets. But one thing never changes: high food prices.

Netizens were irked by how one stall sold two pieces of plain prata for $5. They usually cost $1.80 at other hawker stalls, according to a survey by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) last year.

Mr S. Abdulla, 24, a stall assistant at the Faizur Famous Muslim Food, which sells the $5 prata, explained that the price of the dish is his stall's "standard" price.

"(We) have maintained these prices before and after renovation, without change. It's simply to meet the rent and other expenses," he told The Straits Times.

Prices of common local dishes sold at seven stalls in Newton are higher than those at other hawker centres, Case's survey of 584 hawker stalls - excluding those from Newton - found last year.

The Straits Times visited the renovated food centre on May 31.

Chicken nasi briyani goes for $5.90 to $7, compared with $5 elsewhere.

Chicken rice is $4 to $5, higher than the $3 at other centres. Newton's fishball noodles go for $4 to $4.50, but other hawker stalls sell the dish for $3.

Many stall owners at Newton cited high maintenance costs, rent and their customer base for setting prices higher than those of other hawker centres.

 

For some stalls like Indian Palace, having European expatriates and tourists making up the bulk of their customers means the high prices can be maintained.

Indian Palace's owner, Mr Man Kumar, said his customers are ready to pay for the "authentic Indian cuisine sold at the stall, despite the higher price".

His business has remained steady even from a year ago after Newton reopened.

He sells a plate of butter prawns for $19. Similar dishes cost between $16.90 and $22.90 at restaurants listed on food review site HungryGoWhere and food delivery service Foodpanda.

Teacher Louis O'Donnell, 30, said food at Newton has always been expensive, but "I enjoy food at (Indian Palace), so I don't mind the price".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2016, with the headline 'Newton still pricier than other food centres'. Print Edition | Subscribe