One of the more unusual places where you can dine in Singapore is the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. The many hawker stalls here cater to the travellers moving between Singapore and Malaysia. At night, residents living in the vicinity also flock here for the cheap and diverse chow.
But do you know what’s really unusual about this place? (answer’s at the end of this post. Heh.)
The station was established in the year 1932. With its dank and dreary facade, it seems like a place that time has forgotten! Nonetheless, it still houses enough food stalls to draw crowds every night. Looking at the clientele, most of the stalls do serve halal food if I’m not wrong.
Look what I’ve found at one of the stalls! Can you tell what it is?
They call it the baseball soto! The “baseball” is actually a baseball-sized begedil, the Malay fried potato croquette. The base is akin to the spicy soup in mee soto. Hence, baseball soto!
The hot hot soup really makes you work up a sweat and your nose run. Not a pretty sight, guys. The auntie would even ask you if you’d like more chilli. And if you do she would gladly add a dollop of thick chilli paste to the baseball. Mmm… Challenging.
Tearing apart the soft baseball reveals an interior of fluffy mashed potato and tasty minced mutton. The whole ball has been dipped in beaten eggs before frying, resulting in a nice colour and flavour.
From a neighbouring stall, we get the nasi ayam sambal. This is another hot hot dish, with chicken and rice this time.
The bird is semi-smashed, like ayam penyet, and coated in a dark sambal chilli sauce. While it tastes good, the portion is rather small and pricey.
It’s a pity that the outdoor dining seems to have disappeared. previously, rows of tables and chairs were laid out on the road after dark. People could dine under the stars! The concept was exactly like Lau Pa Sat, just without the pesky touts and the smoke from the dozens of satay grills.
I remember back then there was only one lone seller grilling his satay in a corner. Now, the satay seller, along with the alfresco dining, are no longer around. This is what it was like before. Are they really gone?
Directly adjacent to the dining area is the central waiting hall. It boasts vast spaces and a high dome ceiling. If you stare close enough, you can see the beautiful wall panels depicting traditional Malaysian scenes such as rubber tapping and farming.
As for my earlier question: what’s really unusual about this place? Well, the railway station and the land it sits on are technically not part of Singapore. Ktm, the Malaysian railway operator, still hold the property on a 999-year lease.
So the next time you feel a need to go to Malaysia, you don’t actually have to travel far!
30 Keppel Road
Bus services: 10, 30, 57, 80, 97, 100, 131, 145, 97E
Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar