Before last weekend, Madam Anna Tay had never eaten a traditional oyster cake - and now she cannot get enough of it.
The 47-year-old secondary school teacher tore into a piping hot one for the first time last Saturday morning at Maxwell Food Centre and said: "I like fried, crispy things and this was so good because it was filled with lots of ingredients.
"I cannot wait to take my parents to the stall some day, so that they can try some too."
The oyster cake was from the Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake stall, the first of 10 hawker delights that she got to enjoy that day as part of the ST Hawker Masters Hopping Trail.
The one-off event, which was organised by The Straits Times and sponsored by piped town gas provider City Gas, shuttled Madam Tay and 18 other readers to five food centres for a day of feasting.
The trail was hosted by ST Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun, who also curated the food list.
A new TV or the once-in-a-lifetime chance to eat delicious food with Hsueh Yun? Of course I pick the latter.
STRAITS TIMES READER KHNG HWEE PENG, who changed the date of a home delivery to attend the ST Hawker Masters Hopping Trail led by ST Life editor Tan Hsueh Yun
Besides the oyster cake, readers also got to enjoy ondeh-ondeh and tapioca kueh from Xing Xing at Maxwell; fish soup from Piao Ji Fish Porridge, lor mee from Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee, and curry puffs from J2 Crispy Curry Puff, all at Amoy Street Food Centre; cheng tng and cuttlefish kang kong from Ye Lai Xiang at Bedok Food Centre; mee goreng from Hass Bawa at Marine Parade Central Market And Food Centre; and satay from Haron Satay 55 at East Coast Lagoon Food Village.
Many of the stalls, such as Piao Ji and Yuan Chun, were previously named winners of the annual Hawker Masters awards organised by ST and Lianhe Zaobao.
While Madam Tay was most impressed with the oyster cake, one couple in the group were particularly excited about the cheng tng from Ye Lai Xiang.
It turns out that retiree teachers Mr James Oh and his wife Madam Rachel Wong, both 60, used to frequent the stall regularly more than three decades ago, when they first started dating. They celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary this year.
Madam Wong said: "We used to have this once a week, but we haven't been back in years ever since that one time when a grasshopper landed in our food.
"But it's nice to be back. There are a lot of memories here and I don't see any grasshoppers today."
Other participants, such as Ms Khng Hwee Peng, 48, were only too happy to join the event to interact with ST Life editor Tan.
The hospital coordinator, who has been following Ms Tan's recipes for years, changed the date of a home delivery so she could attend the trail. She said: "A new TV or the once-in-a-lifetime chance to eat delicious food with Hsueh Yun? Of course I pick the latter."
The attendees were selected for the event after entering a contest that was part of the ST+ loyalty programme, which aims to reward direct subscribers of the paper.
Sponsor City Gas said that it was "pleased to partner and support The Straits Times for this exciting food trail that serves up some of the best hawker delights to ST readers.
"It is a great way for us to bring value to our hawkers and connect with Straits Times readers to showcase the benefits of piped town gas and gas appliances usage."
Ms Tan also enjoyed herself. She said: "I got to have good food with such a great group of people today - the conversation flowed easily - and I think it is because what we all have in common is that we love to eat.
"Many of them also gave me suggestions for other hawker stalls, which I am now determined to hunt down. Who knows - they may be part of a food trail that we organise in the future."
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