MAKANSUTRA GLUTTONS BAY – The icon of our hawker culture

I’ve been wanting to visit Makansutra’s Gluttons Bay for many years.

But never did.

I somehow had the impression that it’s more for tourists and I wouldn’t want to jostle with heaving crowds with polite Japanese bowing to everyone, Europeans with slinky sun dresses and Sentosa beach tans , and copious groups of PRC Chinese shouting to each other and bearing flags and whistles, moving like blobs of jellyfish, only noisier.

In my minds eye, I also imagined it next to the giant Ferris wheel they call The Singapore Fryer, difficult to park, and the place hot like hell’s furnace.

Boy was I wrong on all accounts.

My Gluttons in Sin Conquistadors Sanjay and Kuan asked me earlier this week if I wanted to have a bite there, and my inner Glutton stirred and I said yes.

So I found myself one evening at Gluttons Bay.

Not the Ferris Wheel but the Giant Plate

It is nowhere near the Ferris Wheel.

And that wheel is called The Singapore Flyer, not Fryer.

So no food there.

To get to Gluttons Bay, just park at the underground carpark of The Esplanade itself or the Marina Square carpark which is just a hop and a skip literally across the road (if you come out at the right exit).

Gluttons Bay is actually right next to The Esplanade Opera House and is in fact an annex to the Esplanade.

From the main road, if you are driving and approaching the Esplanade driveway drop off point, you will in fact see, from the road, this giant plate:

A plate so big you could bring your blanket and sleep comfortably in there after you get food coma (which you will) and pretend you are overnight Chutoro.

I think that plate also transmits radio signals to extra terrestrials to tell them where the best stalls are, and where is the best place to park their spaceships.

Super intelligence my foot. They still need directions.

Because the spaceship pilot is male duh.

That plate marks the entrance to Gluttons Bay, an open air strip with stalls adorning one side of the walkway, and a beautiful view at the other end of the strip featuring the river and the breathtaking skyline of Marina Bay Sands.

Makansutra

The Guru of Grub

CNA

Makansutra Gluttons Bay is the brainchild of owner and operator KF Seetoh, the gregarious and charismatic ambassador of Singapore hawker food culture.

For more than 20 years, Seetoh has dominated the F&B scene in Singapore with his charismatic influence, his deep insights into Singapore food culture and his stalwart representation of our hawker food culture in the region and sometimes on the world stage.

Seetoh has an almost fervent zeal in preserving and imparting to a new generation of Singaporeans our much beloved and eclectic gastronomical roots, our very grounded hawker food culture passed down by our fathers and theirs, and to keep it alive for posterity.

CNN has dubbed him the “Guru of Grub” and I think that epitomises best his influence in trying to keep our hawker heritage alive.

Mothership

So it comes as no surprise when I am told that Seetoh curates the stalls in Gluttons Bay carefully, and keeps a strict eye on the quality of food offered at Gluttons Bay.

GOG is watching.

The Ambience

I have the genetic make up of an effusively sweaty hog and perspires like an East African left handed albino Swahilian wild boar with a defective double leaking sweat gland.

So if I tell you that it was breezy airy and comfortable, you can take my word for it.

The multiple ceiling fans installed strategically throughout the whole strip also added to the “wind tunnel” effect, and it was very comfortable indeed.

This made for elegant dining instead of a balmy sweat fest.

Dining outdoors with glimpses of water and beautiful skylines of the Marina district and the modern towers of the central business district in the near vicinity somehow added to the allure, and added a soothing, almost therapeutic ambience.

The Feast

We spread out like a pack of ravenous hunting wolves and started ordering and bringing food back to our lair.

Soon, we had a smorgasbord of local delights at our table:

And just when you thought we had overdone it, exuberance took over.

And more food arrived.

HUAT HUAT CHICKEN WINGS

I’ve eaten enough chicken wings in my lifetime to cripple half the chicken population in Singapore.

These wings impressed me.

The skin was crispy and the chicken succulent.

But it was the marinade that made these wings special.

It was robust and complex, tasted of soy, maybe rose wine, maybe honey and other guilty pleasures.

And the chilli it came with was the bomb.

DO RAE MEE

We were recommended to have the fried Hokkien Mee with oysters.

The prawns had a nice bite and the oysters added a layer of decadence to the dish.

But nice oysters was a theatrical touch (quite apt since were right next to the Esplanade Theatre) but it will not save the dish if the Hokkien Mee itself was lack lustre.

Luckily, that was not the case.

The waft of the seafood broth that the Hokkien Mee was cooked in was aromatic and reminiscent of briny indulgent pleasures.

That broth carried the dish and was the main Aria. Everything else was just delightful recitatives which brought the experience to a climatic crescendo.

Wok Hei was very subtle and some Wok Hei fiends might have liked it more pronounced.

The consistency was just right if you are a fan of the wet kind of Hokkien Mee.

Slurpy and orgasmic.

I came back repeatedly for seconds

Quadruple seconds.

OLD SATAY CLUB MEE GORENG

I am a mee goreng freak and just had to order the mee goreng when I saw it’s colour.

The mee goreng that came was a sight to behold. It was blood red and the spiciness was fearsome, exactly the way I wanted it.

It was delicious but at this stage, I feared that I was going into carbo REM sleep.

The nasi goreng ikan bilis was similarly very umami but I couldn’t do it justice.

All of us enjoyed the mutton steak which was nice and spicy, and the raw sliced onions and condiments added a nice touch to the dish.

SYIFA SATAY

I saved the best for last.

This was what I came for after hearing platitudes heaped on the satay and mee soto from this stall.

The satay is one of the better ones I’ve had anywhere. The meats were well marinated and fragrant, albeit a little sweet for my palate.

The rice cake that came with it was soft and delicious.

But that Mee Soto.

It was truly magical.

The robust and hedonistic aroma of herbs like coriander, cumin, galangal, turmeric and pepper invaded our senses and we couldn’t stop slurping the orgasmic gravy.

And the Beef Rib? It was fall off the bone tender, velvety and surreal.

This dish takes the prize for the evening.

As Makan Maestro Seetoh will say, this was a dish that is

“……… Die Die Must Try ………..”

SWEET SPOT

We swore on all our mothers’ names that we couldn’t eat one more morsel.

Then this arrived and we immediately, to a man, besmirched all our mothers’ names immediately.

Crispy fried mini banana fritters, with a batter that was on cloud nine.

Sweet bananas nestling inside.

Dipped in a fragrant kaya dip.

Heaven.

Alarmy

Hawker stalls:
Gluttons Bar
Sweet Spot
Syifa’ Satay
Old Satay Club Mee Goreng
Huat Huat BBQ Chicken Wing & Carrot Cake
Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee
Kebabchi Charcoal BBQ
BBKia Stingray
Do Rae Mee

Makansutra Gluttons by the Bay
8 Raffles Ave.
Singapore, Central Singapore 039802,Singapore

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