For years, Pasir Ris didn’t had quite a hawker center they could call their own. This need is often filled by commercial coffee shop and food court operators. These usually operate at void decks, the NTUC downtown east and White Sands by the MRT. This year, the eastern neighborhood got its first government operated hawker centre. Let take a look at the new food joint.
Labeled as the new “Hipster” food center, the open air Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre is a government owned (NEA) hawker center. It is operated and managed by NTUC Foodfare. Interestingly, NTUC similarly operates the eateries at the nearby Downtown east just a couple of block away.
Notably, this food center is a sprawling tall multi-floor complex just beside the current Pasir Ris Sports Center. Moreover, it is located at Pasir Ris Central road. It is 5 minute sheltered walk away from White Sands shopping center, which is just beside Pasir Ris MRT station. There is also ample covered multi-storey parking at the venue.
Behold the new Pasir Ris Central hawker center
Additionally, the entire complex was opened end January this year. It is home to 42 stalls spanning over two floors. Moreover, it has space for 770 seats. This is achieved through a combination of regular hawker stool tables, as well as raised bar seating.
Notably, the first level of the complex is your typical run-of-the mill mainstream hawker center. Here, you can find stalls selling budget staples such as chicken rice, fish ball noodles. A typical meal is very affordable even by today’s standards, costs in the range of $2.50 to $3.50.
However, head upstairs onto the second floor and you enter the “Faregrounds“. This is essentially what is known as the “Hipster section”. This section of the Hawker Centre offers traditional and hipster cuisine at affordable prices. However, prices do vary at these hipster stalls. The stalls do serve a mix of mainstream and premium selections, such as beer. Hence, do expect to pay a premium for these items.
Craft Beer at a Hawker anyone?
I shall briefly touch on the range of stores here without going into details into any of them. What’s more it offers you surprises when you visit the place on your own. Here are some notable ones worth mentioning. You can find craft beer stores such as Jim Holim (Nice to drink in Hokkien) which does even today look quite out of place in a government hawker center.
Here, there are food options to cater to everyone’s tastes. There are a mix of budget offerings as well as relatively expensive ones if do. Notable stores includes a Seafood crab basket store (similar to dancing crab) and BBQ steamboat. Thai food offerings (Kukhon Thai), a couple of Japanese (and ramen stores), as well as, your staple Western stores, (e.g. Daburu, Fins and Feather and Wild Olives).
If you are in for a snack, there is also a Kebab store for that need. When you are done, you can wash it down with bubble tea or premium Ice cream from a Dedicated ice-cream creamery store.
Reasonable price point
A typical meal offering ranges from $5 to $8 per person on average. Drinks costs about $2.00 to even the $10 range for a craft beer. This is a very good price by restaurant standard, but definitely above the average hawkerfare prices. After all, what you are paying for is the venue too.
Moreover, the place is themed to an artsy style, and offers music at night. Furthermore, even the store front signboards here are all decorated and decked out individually too. This paints the individualism you see in these new age hawkers. Gone are the days of the old typical monotonous plastic back lit signboards. It does give the hawker area a refreshing look.
This is part of the government initiative to get the younger generation into the hawker business by making it cool and chic. Notably, it seems to be paying off. The average age of a store holder here is about half of what you expect a typical hawker owner to be in mature estates. Take-up rates looks good, with no vacant store and a healthy patronage crowd size.
Doing the Cashless Payment thing
Additionally, besides old ‘ol cash, there are also a variety of cashless payment options available. Being an NTUC establishment, you can do so with NTUC Plus! cards, Plus! Cards. Additionally, you can use Pay or DBS Paylah! on the Foodfare mobile application. There is however, no Visa Paywave options.
The hawker center is large, open and airy with a rather high ceiling. It is surprisingly not overly-crowded even on weekends, with plenty of seats. You won’t have an issue in finding a seat or bench, even for large groups. Also, the food center has nice views from the upper floor. It overlooks Pasir Ris Park, facing the fishing pond.
Moreover, it is nice that NTUC choose to keep the lower floors like a traditional hawker center, where you can get a quick cheap no-frills meals, with the option for higher quality meals with a premium upstairs if patrons so desire.
Free (Use of) Trays
Surprisingly, this Hawker concept is largely modeled after the likes of the successful commercially-run Timbre+ outlet in One North Area. Notably, there are no automated $1 tray-deposit tray return racks here, like those you find in Bukit Merah or Marsiling Hawker center. Here, you have your usual standard tray return shelves and hand-washing bays spread all about the seating areas. Notably, there are also duty cleaners on stand-by if required too.
All in all, Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre is a refreshing addition to the Singapore Hawker Fare. It is a delight particularly to residents in the east. We could possibly see this conventional and hipster hawker concept replicated across Singapore. Also, this is where we can truly see the hawker operator generation gap start to close to revive the dying trade.
Do check it out when you are in the east.
Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre
110 Pasir Ris Central, Singapore 519641
Opening hours: 7am– 10:30pm (Individual store opening times may vary).
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