Every few months or so, there are tents always popping up on the field nearby my place and the only thing it can be (if it’s not ghost festival month), is the pasar malam. Since young, pasar malams has always been a favourite place of mine to discover new things and food. However, they are becoming more of a rarity these days, but if they do come, there are several food items that I always look forward to.
There are also several stalls that seem to always have a queue and their attraction pull are never ending. Here are 10 items that are popular.
1. Bird’s Nest Drink
For me, the only drink I look forward to in the pasar malam is the Bird’s Nest Drink. It is one of the oldest drinks available and also the best. The sweetness of the sugar added with the jelly strips and fake bird’s nest flavor is often enough to quench my thirst while walking through the night market.
Another favourite of mine, which I can gobble down the whole night without being sick. Takoyaki is a Japanese favourite often sold by street stalls in Japan. Tako, which means Octopus, is cooked in a batter and then shaped into a ball. The takoyaki of the past contains bigger tako pieces as compared to today, but I can’t complain, as it is hard to make this at home. Similarly, there are other flavors of takoyaki including chicken ham, prawn, and cheese.
3. Burger Ramly
Definitely a crowd favourite in the pasar malam. One pasar malam can have a few vendors selling Burger Ramly each with their own distinct taste and method of cooking. There’d be long rows of people queuing up to get their hands on the burger. However, I advise you not to buy it early in the day or late at night as the meat wouldn’t be as fresh as the ones cooked in the middle of the day.
4. Roti John
Often found in the same stall as the Burger Ramly, Roti John also has a faithful following and fans. It is named Roti John because it is believed that last time there was a man called John who always ordered an omelette to be fried together with slices of bread, onions and meat. Thus, the cook named the dish after him. Now, throngs of queues can be seen thanks to John.
5. Fried Food
The fried foods at the Chinese vendors are also a huge draw with the crowd. People can often be seen purchasing the huge drumsticks and Taiwanese sausages. Also available at the stall are other fried food items such as sotong balls and Taiwanese fried chicken. If you’re lucky you can even get herbal eggs and (fake) Shark’s Fin Soup.
6. Muah Chee
Muah Chee stalls have often be seen as the underdog of the pasar malam. Nobody queues at the stall but you can see that most of the people have them in their hands. The sweet and peanuty old school snack is also a cheap and quick snack to munch on along the streets.
The Kebab is a new addition to the popular food category. They were introduced a few years ago by Turkish men who were bent on introducing their staple to Singaporeans. Ok kidding. Anyhow, the popular food can now be seen in a lot of pasar malams and there are always queues for it. If you wait till just before the stall closes, the seller might even give you a discount!
8. Popcorn/Candy Floss
The candy stall at pasar malams is usually the first indicator that it is opening soon. Once you see the popcorn pushcart arrives, it means that it is all ready to go. Popcorn is the main seller although candy floss is popular amongst kids. They sell other snacks nowadays, but the main attraction will forever be popcorn and candy floss.
The fried Indian dough snack also contributes to the throngs of queues in pasar malams. It is shaped like a donut but it has a prawn on top. The savory snack has a few variations. Now, it also has a few different flavors such as crab, plain, and squid. It also comes in bite sized pieces and you can mix and match the flavors. Yum yum.
10. Drink stalls
Lastly, how can I ever leave out the drink stalls! They sell sugar syrup drinks in every possible color and flavor you can think of. Blueberry, honeydew, rose, corn and fruit punch are some of the flavors available. Usually, the stall vendors also sell coconut juice, canned and bottled drinks. Some of them even sell sugar cane juice. Talk about all in one!
Ultimately, pasar malam food will forever evolve. Nowadays, there are even stalls selling fried oreos and chocolate bars. But one thing is for sure, they will never replace the old school pasar malam food. Did I miss anything out? If I did, tell me!
Featured image credit: Source