Located along Jalan Besar Road, Berseh Food Centre is often overshadowed by its neighbours and more famous eateries such as Swee Choon and Mun Chee Kee. Built in 1975, it is neither that big, nor famous enough to command the snaking lines Singaporeans are so famous for. However, it still houses a whole host of hawker goodies like oyster cakes and disappearing dishes such as turtle soup!
The Jalan Besar area used to be a large swampland, which was developed into shophouses after World War I. The older generation like our parents would know a famous landmark that used to be here then – New World Amusement Park! Though it no longer stands, the two-storey food centre is a remnant from the past together with the rows of restored shophouses, and it remains a favourite haunt for the older generation.
Taking a leisurely stroll along the road to get to the food centre, you’ll definitely be able to see and feel the old world charm that locals love Jalan Besar for. Here are 7 delicious eats that’s more than a good meal, it’s a nostalgic link to the past!
This is a stall that’s been around for over 40 years, first as a roadside stall before moving into the food centre. Today, it is run by the second generation Lim, who makes the batter by hand and uses two different chillies in their dish. One is added to the fried oysters during cooking and the other is used as a dip. The husband-and-wife team work perfectly in sync, and the dish has the perfect ratio of crispy charred edges to gooey, starchy middle. Mr Lim also uses Korean oysters, which are plump, succulent and sweet. The robust and tart chilli ties it all together, creating one of the best bites you’ll ever have.
There used to be many turtle soups in the Jalan Besar area, but today only two stalls remain. One of them is Fu He, who is one of the oldest tenants at Berseh Food Centre and has been around for over 30 years. It has two stalls, one which is the claypot rice and tze char section, while the other does herbal soups. They are best known for their exotic meat such as the Nourishing Turtle Soup (which is said to detox blood and boost virility), as well as the XO Crocodile Soup. If you’re feeling less adventurous, go for classics such as the Shi Quan Black Chicken or Lotus Root with Pork Ribs.
By now it should be pretty obvious why Berseh Food Court is such a treasured piece of history! Another rare and fast disappearing dish that you can find here is shark jelly and pig trotter jelly. Lao Liang used to sell shark meat too, but this has become unavailable in recent years. The shark meat jelly is made by boiling collagen-rich shark skin, and the flesh is flaky with a natural sweetness to it. The pig trotter jelly also has an interesting chewiness to it, and Lao Liang’s special chilli sauce perfectly complements it.
There’s nothing quite like fish soup on a cold rainy day. But no matter rain or shine, Mei Xiang Black & White Fish Soup draws in an early crowd. Even before lunchtime there’s already a line forming here! The sweet, rich, cloudy and flavourful broth is the true star here, and the stall is very generous with the ingredients like sliced fish and veggies. Can’t make up your mind? You can order a mix of sliced and fried fish to try both varieties and decide which one you like better!
The quintessential Singaporean breakfast? Definitely a cup of kopi or teh with kaya butter toast and soft-boiled eggs. Start your day the right way at Coffee Hut, whose owner trained under a Hainan coffee master! You can definitely expect a great cup of teh or kopi here, much like those you’d usually get at Ya Kun or Toastbox. The toasts also deserve a special shoutout. The stall makes their own kaya and peanut butter, which can be spread over the toast. Try the Kaya French Toast which is soft and eggy, or the Baguette Toast that is crispy on the outside, pillowy on the inside!
Warm up your soul with a piping hot bowl of curry chicken noodles. Right away you’ll notice the beautifully succulent poached chicken stacked at Sheng Kee Curry Chicken Noodle, and you can even pick your favourite cut to go with your choice of white or yellow noodles. The curry is medium-bodied, aromatic, creamy with just the right amount of spice. You can always choose to top it off with some extra homemade chilli! Besides the tender pieces of chicken, you’ll also get tau pok, fishcake and potato in your bowl of noodles.
Fu Zhou Poh Hwa Oyster Cake is one of three eateries in Singapore where you can get the Fuzhou oyster cake! A traditional street snack in Fuzhou, they are stuffed with minced meat, oysters, prawns and chopped veggies, topped with crunchy peanuts and ikan bilis and deep fried until golden brown. It’s best eaten fresh, and makes for a wonderful afternoon snack! Though we should also say that it’s almost impossible to stop at just one.
Tucked away at a quieter end of Berseh Food Centre, Beef Kway Teow Mee is a stall serving beef noodles that tastes full of nostalgia and makes for a quick, yummy meal. Each bite is tender, meat and extremely slurp-worthy! The aunty has her fair share of loyal customers, and she's generous with her servings. Feel free to let her know your preferences, especially if you don't fancy beef offals!
Touted to be the first Halal Thai mookata in Singapore, we love that Sedap Thai caters to our Malay friends so we can all hang out for a mookata sesh together! Chicken oil and beef fat are used in place of pork lard, and the stall has an assortment of set platters for your enjoyment. Take your pick from the original chicken stock or tom yum soup. And if you've worked up an appetite, you might even consider opting for the all-you-can-eat buffet!