Visiting Singapore’s Largest Wet Market

[Millie] My first trip to Tekka market didn’t turn out as planned. I arrived early straight from taking the children to school and found most of it closed. I presumed it was because of Covid and so I visited the fruit and veg stalls that were open. One fruit stall owner offered me strawberries – that might have had something to do with being the only white girl in the market, but I declined and asked for my favourites – longan and mangosteens. She didn’t mean anything by it but it was one of the very few times I’ve felt stereotyped here. It’s never been meant with any unkindness mind you. 

I wandered some more and then headed to the hawker centre and was again met by many closed shutters. I had asked on Instagram for recommendations of things to try at Tekka and headed for a noodle place that was mentioned several times, 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles. As expected with any food recommendations there was a small cue. I placed my order as the cue continued to grow behind me.  I watched the chef prepare my prawn noodles, taking out each ingredient from individual tubs that had been prepared early that morning ready to be added together to create the dish. 

I paid a modest $4 and and took my tray to a seat in front of the second recommendation – a coffee place by the name of Generation Coffee. They pride themselves on local kopi and more modern blends. I’m not a coffee drinker so I ordered their matcha latte. Whilst waiting for my milk to be steamed I asked about all the closed shutters. She told me the market is closed on a Monday and praised me on my choice of noodles! 

I had done my research on the market but somehow missed to spot that bit of information! Still, it was nice to sit and eat watching the world go by. I tired my first ever matcha latte and would definitely have one again! 

Leaving with a happy stomach I decided I’d go back the next day, and I am so glad I did! 

There was already a buzz on the way to the market from the MRT. Shopping trollies dancing along behind their fast walking owners eager to get there first in the unofficial race. 

I made my way down the first isle of the market, a completely different feel to the day before. A variety of loud music was playing from several stores at the same time, incense was burning causing some isles to be shrouded in smoke. 

Vendors selling a wide variety of fruits and vegetables

I passed many fruit and veg stalls displaying things I’d never seen before, having only had it already prepared in a dish. Some stalls displayed the prices and others didn’t which is something that’s often put me off market shopping. I picked up some wingbeans for $2 and freshly grated coconut for another $2. 

As I looked around I tried to think about the price compared to the supermarket I usually order from. Herbs and spices seemed cheaper here and you can often order by weight, which in the past isn’t something I’ve been so good at estimating. Frequently ending up with too much of one thing and not enough of another. But I guess with regular market shopping I will learn. 

Meat was being prepared there and then. Locals knowing the best cuts to ask for. The sound of cleavers on wooden blocks ringing around the market. You smell the fish stalls before you get there. I have very little experience with cooking fish but would like to learn. A wide variety of fish was laying on a bed of ice, live crabs wriggled in boxes and I think I even saw some sharks for sale. The prawns looks fresh and were bigger than ones I’ve seen in a supermarket. The wet market is known for being washed down with a hose resulting in wet feet too so wear closed shoes!

All in all an enjoyable experience and I look forward to going back regularly. 

2 thoughts on “Visiting Singapore’s Largest Wet Market

  1. I felt as though I was walking along beside you. Great description of the wonders from the market.
    To buy fresh food is a great experience.

  2. You’re v descriptive and I can just about smell the fish 😬 I loved going to the wet market as everything from veg to meat to seafood seemed more fresh than the supermarkets. Loved seeing the varieties of fruits and veg too.

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