Cheap & Good

Cheap & Good: Generous nasi padang-style meal sets at a hospital foodcourt

The ayam masak merah is delightfully spicy and tangy.
The ayam masak merah is delightfully spicy and tangy.ST PHOTO: EUNICE QUEK

A foodcourt in a hospital does not strike me as an ideal venue for dining.

I guess it brings up more negative than positive memories for me, and the meals I would have had are out of necessity due to sheer hunger. Not exactly a gourmet experience.

So when The Sunday Times reader Marc Tan writes in to recommend the two-month-old Heritage Food Street foodcourt at the Raffles Specialist Centre - a new wing of the Raffles Hospital in Bugis - I am intrigued and keen to find out what it offers.

The foodcourt is under FM Foodcourt, a subsidiary of Sheng Siong Group, which also runs eight other foodcourts in Singapore.

The spacious venue sells a variety of food, from herbal soup to Korean cuisine, as well as Western food and the ever-popular mala xiang guo (a stir-fried version of mala hotpot).

My current favourite stall is Chilli Spicy - a simplified version of a nasi padang stall.

  • CHILLI SPICY

  • Stall 4, Heritage Food Street, Basement 1 Raffles Hospital, 585 North Bridge Road; open: 9am to 9pm daily (foodcourt opens from 7am to 11pm daily)

    Rating: 3.5/5

The menu is straightforward - a meat to accompany rice - but it is not the usual spread of dishes to pick from. So think options such as ayam masak merah (spicy tomato chicken, $5), chicken rendang ($5), beef rendang ($6) and assam fish ($5.50) to go with white rice, pickled cucumbers and a fried egg.

And don't forget the delicious sambal. I get a hunk of chicken - a quarter of the breast plus the wing - for both the ayam masak merah and chicken rendang orders.

In both cases, the meat is juicy and tender and drenched in gravy.

The ayam masak merah is delightfully spicy and tangy and the chicken rendang has an aromatic coconut-based gravy.

I also like that the pickled cucumber, which retains a good crunch, cuts through the heat.

I return again to try the nasi lemak ($5), which comes with a large fried chicken drumstick, fried egg, ikan bilis and peanuts.

The chicken skin is crispy and has a lovely turmeric flavour. Although the rice is green, it is still fragrant from the coconut.

Other dishes include nasi biryani ($6.50), mutton soup ($6) and mee soto ($4).

What sweetens the deal is that Chilli Spicy is offering its dishes at a promotional price until Oct 31.

For the ayam masak merah, chicken rendang and nasi lemak, I pay only $4.

But overall, the prices in this foodcourt are reasonable, especially when you consider that it is in the Bugis area. Healthier options are also marked out at the stalls - after all, this is a hospital.

Yet the welcoming space does not make you feel like you are in one.

Guess I'll soon be a frequent diner like Mr Tan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 08, 2018, with the headline 'Hospital food that is tasty'. Print Edition | Subscribe