There is only one word to describe the ambience, decor and atmosphere of open air Food Republic Beer Garden: AWESOME!!!! Situated beside Vivocity–cross from Golden Village theatre at Vivocity–the theme is 60s, 70s Singapore. There is even a ge-tai (stage) and a singer singing Deng Li Jun’s songs!!! And the singer sounds a lot like Deng Li Jun too.
And how awesome it is to have a lorry as a food cart!!!! Do you see the hawker frying the Hokkien Mee? He was wearing a bucket hat, what coolies, beggars and rickshaw pullers used to wear in 60s Singapore!
For drinks, we sampled the homemade long’an drink ($2) and grass jelly drink ($2) from Hot and Cold Drink Stall (pictured above). The long’an drink was a tad sweet. I preferred the grass jelly drink, just a tinge of sweetness, quite refreshing.
From the Auntie Jessie Rojak kiosk, we tried the large portions of traditional black rojak ($7) and the white rojak ($7). Besides the traditional ingredients of cucumber, tau-pok, you-tiao, etc, there are also strawberries and lettuce. The difference between the black and white rojak is the sauce: Black is the traditional one, using belachan, sugar, lime juice, etc while the white one uses sour plum sauce and has a vinegary taste. To me, the two rojaks are satisfactory.
The Satay Power stall provided us with three types of satay: mutton, chicken and beef at $0.60 each. They taste decent. My favorite is the mutton because it is so fat and tender.
What a humorous name for a stall: What You Do Prata. I tried two pieces of murtabak ($5.50). The first slice was cooled so it tasted dry. But the second slice (from another plate) was hot. Although chicken is the main meat, it tastes a lot like tuna when you dip the murtabak in the fish curry. The dish is ok but I thought there could be more chicken in the murtabak.
With 15 years in the business, Zhong Zhong Fine Spice, known for its ngoh hiang, offered us the BBQ chicken wings ($1.50 each). While I thought it could be marinated heavier and grilled crispier, it was moist and tender.
I love the outlet of Boon Tat Street BBQ Seafood at Smith Street, Chinatown; the BBQ stingray is soooo good there. When I go there, I’d order one entire stingray for myself. Because of my high expectations, I was disappointed because the sambal stingray ($12) is decidedly sweeter and not as spicy as the Smith Street outlet. It is competently done (moist inside) but it’s different from other sambal stingrays.
Stall 3: Wok n Roll
Wok n Roll gave us the long-lost recipe of Java Mee ($5.50). It is a cross between mee goreng and Pinoy tomato-based spaghetti: it is slightly spicy, but mostly sweet with strong taste of ketchup. If you don’t like sweet food, this one is probably not for you but this is a must-try for me because there isn’t anything quite like it in Singapore.
The fried hokkien mee ($7 for large with 5 big prawns) from Thye Chua Hokkien Mee is the moist kind and is more salty than sweet. On first bite, it is just ok. But it gets addictive and on subsequent bites, you can taste the fragrance of stock in the hokkien mee.
Lorong 9 Geylang Frog Leg Porridge has 17 years of experience and won accolades from Straits Times, Lianhe Zaobao and Shin Min Daily News. I, who cannot eat spicy things, would prefer a spicier Gong bao frog leg porridge ($8, regular size) but the gong bao frog they serve here is more salty. However, this is a favorite of many foodies for this tasting.
The mushroom sauce is stewed for six hours and the soup is boiled overnight. Each bak chor mee ($4.50) from Old Days Minced Pork Noodles is served with minced pork, stewed mushroom, pork liver, pork lean meat, and a fried wanton. The noodles are done in an al dente way, springy with a bite. The chili is quite sedap (delicious) and packs a punch. This is my plus-one’s (who blogs at anything also eat) favorite dish and one of my favorites.
Balestier Bak Kut Teh let us sample two of their dishes: bak ku teh soup ($6.50) and braised trotter ($6.50, pictured above). The Hainanese-styled bak ku teh soup comes boiling hot in a claypot, visually very awesome. It is the clear broth soup, not the dark colored ones. While it is too light and not peppery enough for me, it may refreshing to other people, especially if you’re looking for a light meal.
The braised trotter is soft and tender although I (again) wish the taste can be heavier.
I couldn’t quite appreciate the Chinatown Tan’s Tutu Kueh ($0.60 each) because the steamed coconut cake part was hard although the peanut filling was satisfying. There is another filling, coconut filling, which I didn’t try.
Overall, eating at Food Republic Beer Garden is a nostalgic and fun trip down memory lane to 1960s Singapore. Recommended for families with children (teach the kids a history lesson), clubbers (opens till 5am daily) and shoppers at Vivocity.
Food Republic Beer Garden
St James Power Station
3 Sentosa Gateway
T: 6376 9768
F-Sat, eve of PH: 6pm-6am
PS: We thank Junyi, Joy, St James and Food Republic for the invite and most of all, we thank the hawkers for the food and their hard work.