SINGAPORE - After years of waiting, Pasir Ris Town finally got its first hawker centre - and it's a place that offers traditional and hipster cuisine at affordable prices, as well as a taste of the arts and music.
Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre, which officially opened on Thursday (Jan 25), has 770 seats with 42 stalls on two floors and overlooks Pasir Ris Park.
Twenty stalls on the ground floor sell popular local dishes, while 22 stalls on the second floor offer cuisine such as rice bowls with wagyu beef and Thai boat noodles.
Visitors can also attend events at the hawker centre such as art markets, craft fairs and music gigs. A kids' area is also in the works.
Pasir Ris resident Yulili, 50, who goes by only one name, was among the patrons at the hawker centre on Thursday morning, said: "I've lived in Pasir Ris since 1999 and this is our first hawker centre. It's well worth the wait."
"It's really the ideal place for me. It's not cramped like a restaurant, and I get to sit next to nature. The food is cheap too, even on the second floor," said Ms Yulili, an education coach at MindChamps.
The hawker centre is managed by NTUC Foodfare, a social enterprise tasked with keeping meals healthy and affordable for Singaporeans.
At least two dishes at every stall will be labelled as budget meals - offering patrons affordable and quality food, said NTUC Foodfare. Budget meal prices at the stalls on the first level cost a maximum of $2.80, but prices will vary at the hipster stalls.
Healthier meals under 500 calories are also offered, marked with the Healthier Choice symbol by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
The hawker centre also features centralised dishwashing and common crockery systems. Diners will also have to clear their own trays.
Cashless payment service is available. Diners can use their Plus! cards, Plus! Pay or DBS Paylah! on the mobile application Foodfare.
By mid-2018, they can order food via the app - wherever they are - and collect it from the hawker centre, said an NTUC Foodfare spokesman.
The hawker centre is the third one managed by NTUC Foodfare, after Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre and Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre.
It was originally scheduled to open in late 2017, but the installation of the gas supply took longer than expected, causing the delay.
The hawker centre provides an opportunity in entrepreneurship for aspiring hipster hawkers like Ms Cheryl Tan, 24.
After working as a pastry chef in hotels and restaurants for more than three years, she quit her job and set up a stall with two friends from her culinary course at Temasek Polytechnic.
Their stall Tasty Street sells donburi - fusion rice bowls with ingredients like wagyu beef, deep fried tofu and sous vide chicken breast.
They are beneficiaries of the "hawker-preneurship" programme that offers help in the form of funds, branding advice and equipment management training by NTUC Foodfare.
"We graduated and decided to part ways to learn different cuisines, from Thai to French cuisines. Our main goal now... is to bring our background on premium food, and translate that into food for the masses," said Ms Tan.
That is good news for residents like Ms Yulili.
"We were sad for many years about not having a hawker centre. And today, the answer is finally given to us."