Makan around Camp: Paya Lebar Air BaseLooking for good eats around Paya Lebar Air Base? Here's three homely and affordable options in the first of PIONEER's Makan Around Camp series!
Story by Teo Jing Ting // Photos by Amos Chew
Most famous for being home to the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) F-15SG fighter aircraft, Paya Lebar Air Base (PLAB) might be in a more ulu (remote) part of Singapore but it doesn't fall short of good food options.
For cheap and delicious food, look no further than Eunos Crescent Market & Food Centre. It's a 25-minute bus ride from PLAB (take bus 94 and stop at Eunos Interchange!). By car, it is a mere 10-minute drive.
During our mid-day visit, we saw the occasional air force personnel buying takeaway food from the stalls – proof that it's a known food haunt for base residents!
From char kway teow and lor mee to chicken rice and fish soup, the food at this market is affordably priced. There's a hearty meal to be had for around $4.
Silky, savoury lor mee
We arrived at 10.45am and there was already a queue at Fu Chun Laksa & Lor Mee. Do not be intimidated though – the queue moved really fast.
As the name suggests, this stall only sells two items – laksa and lor mee. Both are priced at $4.
We went for the lor mee and added a dollar's worth of fried fish. Trust me, you will not regret adding it – those large, golden chunks were the best part of the dish.
The lor mee was swimming in a beautiful mess of savoury black starchy gravy.
Every strand of the yellow noodle was coated with the thick gravy, which had a slight herbal taste. The portion of stewed pork in the bowl was generous, and I was delighted to sink my teeth into those delicious chunks of meat.
The dish also came with half a stewed egg and two fried meatballs – I found the latter a little too tough for my liking though.
The star of the dish was the fried fish. There were four huge chunks and despite being soaked in gravy, the batter was still crunchy.
You know how some fried fish has more batter than meat? That was not the case here. The meat-to-batter ratio was perfect and what made it more shiok was how the coating of the gravy added a slight herbal tinge, elevating the taste of fried fish. It was so good, you could eat it on its own.
I was stuffed from just eating half a bowl. It was delicious, comforting and oh-so-value-for-money.
Fu Chun Laksa & Lor Mee Stall 福春叻沙卤面
Eunos Crescent Market & Food Centre #01-25
Opening hours: 6am – 12pm (Closed on Mon & Tues)
Hand-made curry puffs
Once you're done with your mains, pop over to Epok Epok Central for some good ol' handmade epok epok (Malay-style curry puff).
If you're lucky, you get to catch the uncle dancing while making the curry puffs!
It's a sight to behold - he gyrates to soul music in the background while placing a spoon of red curried potatoes and a quarter of a hard-boiled egg into the white pastry. He then deftly folds the pastry into half and seals it all in with the signature curry puff folds.
Once the puffs are ready, he pops them into hot oil and fries them to a beautiful golden brown.
We had to wait almost 30 minutes for a fresh batch of epok epok so we got to see how the uncle made his curry puffs lovingly.
And it was worth the wait. We were the third in line to snag the epok epok. They were piping hot and smelt heavenly. I guess the aroma attracted more customers because within a mere 10 minutes, all 30 curry puffs were sold out.
One bite and you know why they are so popular.
The skin was probably the best part of the puff. It was pretty thin and even though it flaked a little, the fillings were still held nicely together. It was buttery and crispy, just as how a good crust should be.
The curried potatoes had just the right amount of spice. I finished the epok epok in three bites and was already craving for the next one.
The uncle sure knows what he is doing – that's why he's selling the curry puffs at three for $2 'cos one is obviously not enough. If you only have space for just one, then it's priced at $0.70.
Epok Epok Central
Eunos Crescent Market & Food Centre #01-09
Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (Tue to Fri), 7am - 4pm (Sat & Sun)
Closed on Mon
Rich tomato soup noodles
If you're craving something a little more rich and homely in an air-conditioned environment, head down instead to Formosa Delights at Breadtalk IHQ's Food Republic for their signature tomato noodle soup.
Priced at $7.90, the bowl was brimming with ingredients. I counted seven plump red tomatoes, four large minced pork chunks and a handful of vegetables swimming in the orangey-red broth. The slivers of egg white and a sprinkle of fried ikan bilis (dried anchovies) completed the dish.
Tangy and savoury, the soup had a strong tomato flavour and it warmed my tummy immediately. I bit into a juicy tomato – it was sweet, smooth and melted in my mouth.
The minced pork chunks were tasty and slightly salty, which helped to balance out the tanginess of the soup. I wished there were more! The chewy handmade noodles were soaked with the flavourful soup and the ikan bilis added a delightful crunch to the dish.
Being a fan of tomatoes, I slurped up all the soup. It was that good.
Breadtalk IHQ Food Republic
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm daily
Hungry yet? Now you know where to go if you are ever in the vicinity of Paya Lebar Air Base and your stomach calls for a good meal (or two)!
PSA: as with all things in life, please enjoy food in moderation. Healthy lifestyle, okay?