Singapore Food Festival: Food and drinks that go as low as 50 cents

By: Rei Kurohi |

Festival organisers have announced the return of The 50 Cents Fest, a food festival featuring food and drinks that go for as low as 50 cents and up to just $3.

The 50 Cents Fest is part of the annual Singapore Food Festival, which is in its 25th year, and will be held at Chinatown Food Street in Smith Street on July 28 and 29, from 11am to 11pm on both days.

This year’s fest is inspired by the colonial era. A total of 44 stalls will recreate 48 dishes from 1930s Singapore.

One such dish is fish molee, a creamy fish curry dish with Indian and Portuguese origins. The lightly spiced dish featuring coconut milk is popular in the South Indian state of Kerala.

Another dish brought to Singapore from South India, uttapam, will feature at The 50 Cents Fest. The dosa-like dish was a popular and affordable meal option for Indian immigrant labourers in the 1930s.

Kerabu bee hoon, a Peranakan style of cooking Chinese rice vermicelli, will also be available. It features a marinade of shallots, belachan chilli, lime juice, ginger and toasted shredded coconut.

Festivalgoers can also enjoy black pepper crab, an iconic Singaporean dish, on the cheap. Pepper was an important commodity and a source of income for traders in early Singapore.

Kopi gu you, an uncommon variant of local coffee made by adding butter to black coffee, is hard to find here nowadays, but will be sold at The 50 Cents Fest. It was rumoured to be a favourite among opium smokers in the 1930s for its soothing effect on their throats.

As a sweet treat, the Portuguese dish known as banana balls can be sampled at the fest. These banana fritters were the precursors to the popular pisang goreng, and were enjoyed by Portuguese immigrants for breakfast.

Other authentic period sweets on offer include egg cookies and walnut cookies from home-grown brand Tong Heng Bakery. Some of its traditional recipes have remained unchanged since 1935.

Singapore’s oldest restaurant, Spring Court, will be serving up its original kong bak pau, based on a recipe that has been in use since 1929.

In addition to these food offerings, festivalgoers can experience a variety of performances and activities designed to recreate the colonial era.

Popular songs from the 1930s will be performed by 1023, a local a capella group, on both days. A back-alley barber will also be on hand to offer old-school haircuts for just $2.

A free augmented reality experience will give the old a modern twist. Participants can immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the 1930s, with samsui women at work, opium smokers in the alleys, and shady gambling dens to be seen.

Recycling machines will present another anachronism for festivalgoers, who can get rewards for recycling their trash at these machines.

Modern payment solutions such as DBS PayLah! will also be available for customers.

This is the third consecutive year that The 50 Cents Fest has been run. Last year’s fest attracted more than 81,500 diners – both Singaporeans and tourists – over two days.

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