Sharon shared her thoughts after a 2.5 year period away from it, and here’s mine…
I feel that the combination of smaller portions,lower quality food, and a lower level of service personnel made the food experience a total loss across the board. Hawker centers,housing estate coffee-shops, air-conditioned food courts, restaurants all gave me the same kind of feeling: a sense of loss of what used to be good.
Two examples that reiterated how it is nowadays:
1) A well-known second-generation stir-fry prawn noodle stall has either a branch or a franchise (most likely) in the neighborhood mall, and Sharon wanted to get a taste of a dish she used to like.I went to the stall, and read a few of those typical newspapers/TV programmes’ photos on the display window. Those are getting quite common everywhere, but the signage about the 30+ years of family traditional way of cooking it surely wasn’t as common as the others.
I acknowledge the 30+ years, but looking at the hired folks that are obviously not in the “family” implied to me that it is no longer about the family anymore, but just another typical stall. Indeed, that was the case as i saw a hurriedly made dish amidst some cellphone usage to the workers’ contacts in a faraway land.
2) Every year that i’m back, i will visit the sinseh based in Chai Chee that helped my back to fully recover. Visiting Bedok central was part of the routine but hearing a Malay old lady screaming at a Muslim stall about buying nasi lemak was definitely not routine. I looked closer and saw that the worker at the stall didn’t understand what the Malay lady said in Malay. WTH? Indeed it was a foreign worker, probably a Chinese national, that was working there. Now that was a surprise to me, even though reciting the incident to my friend’s mother later indicated to me that this is also common even in Little India?
The saddest thing about this common experience between Sharon and myself is that the previously VERY IMPORTANT thing about local food is no longer a factor for us to yearn for a visit. That made us really sad and disappointed.
I’m guessing the immediate visit of Japan before Singapore and the focus of quality of food, service, and experience might have given me a tinted pair of glasses, but looking at how much changes in the last 12 months made me wonder about what have occurred?
Edit: Just after posting this, i saw a report on the Serangoon Road restaurants here..
PS: Happy new year to you all!