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In the past, there were plenty of stalls selling handmade songkok and traditional baju kurung. I’ll always remember the pakcik with his white towel draped over his shoulders as he grilled his satay and dendeng all night long. Not forgetting that really loud makcik who would shove her kuih in your face to sample.

But stalls selling traditional fare that once lined Geylang Serai in the lead-up to Hari Raya Puasa are dwindling or have vanished altogether.

The Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar used to be one of the most exciting “pasar malam” I’d look forward to every year when I was younger but I honestly don’t know what to feel of what it has become. The sanctity that is the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar has been threatened and it’s worrying.

From unicorn everything to edible flavoured balloons, these are the things that my 5 year old nephew would get excited over.

Is paying $8.90 for edible air really worth the hype?

So, instead of spending all of our money to find the latest hype this year, we challenged the team to spend only $30 at Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar to find food and drinks that are actually worth the money.

Make Geylang Serai Bazaar Great Again

Many of the stalls are run by young entrepreneurs who have given our traditional food a modern twist, or offer creations that I could only ever dream of.

Upon reaching the bazaar, we first decided that we needed a drink. A huge one. I was dying from the heat and a small canned drink was not going to suffice.

I came across Broti, a famous stall selling teas in their signature 1 litre cups for only $4. You know how most vendors would fill your cup halfway with ice and the remaining half with water? Well, Broti is truly a bro because they don’t play you dirty like that. Best part, their teas aren’t overly sweet at all.

Thai Iced Tea ($4)

We ordered their Thai Iced Tea ($4) and went on our merry way. Thank god for their 1 litre drinks because there is no way I could survive the crowd and heat without staying hydrated.

Balance Amount: $26

We moved on and decided that we needed something to munch on. There were plenty of fried snacks we could have ordered such as the keropok lekor and goreng pisang. I did my quick maths and realised that they weren’t cheap too. I could have easily splurged $5-6 on finger food as well.

That’s when we came across Katoshka. They go by a very simple concept: good ol’ fries served in cups laden in different sauces, from special cheese, sour ranch, chilli beef and sambal cheese.

This stall in particular stood out to me because it wasn’t trying too hard to please the crowd.

Katoshka Fries with Special Cheese ($5.90)

We got their Fries with Special Cheese ($5.90) which was honestly one of my favourite food of the night. It was classic and hearty and definitely worth the $5.90. Do note that Katoshka is a pretty popular stall so you might have to wait in a long queue before getting your hands on their fries.

But I must say, Katoshka’s fries are worth the hype.

Balance Amount: $20.10

Next up, mains! We realised that most of the hyped mains were crazy expensive for the portion given. We weren’t about the $12 hotdog bun life so we searched high and low for a main that won’t cost us more than $6 at the bazaar.
I was close to getting a ramly burger ($4) until I came across Dendeng Duo selling Burger Dendeng for $4 as well!
Image Credit: Discover SG
As much as I love my ramly burger, I knew I had to try something different. It was the same price anyway. They used the same usual ingredients but with a dendeng patty instead!
Burger Dendeng ($4)
It was simple, it filled me up, I was happy indeed.
Balance Amount: $16.10
We had quite a bit of cash to play around with so I knew we could afford one more main. I saw a long snaking line for the meatballs in a bucket for $9 but it did NOT look appetising at all. Can we please not make eating out of a bucket a thing?
That’s when I turned around and smelled something so hearty and satisfying. That’s when I knew, this is what I came for.
You can’t miss out on the kebab stalls when you’re at the bazaar, especially if there’s a Turkish man preparing the bread right in front of you.
Image Credit: Discover SG
Since my friend has never tried the turkish version of a pizza or more commonly known as a pide, we got the Turkish Chicken Pide ($8) which was enough to feed 2 adults. They were extremely generous with their ingredients and even topped our pide off with all their sauces.
Turkish Chicken Pide ($8)
Safe to say, we wiped the entire box clean.
Balance Amount: $8.10
No trip to the bazaar is complete without dessert. My tip at the bazaar is, if it looks too pretty, it probably won’t taste as nice. So we avoided anything rainbow, unicorn, galaxy or anything that had smoke coming out of it.
We came across Markozar, a stall known for their martabak manis and banana fritters. We got a box of Ferrero Banana Cheese ($6). It is pretty pricey for what is essentially goreng pisang drenched in chocolate fondue and grated cheese, but then again, it’s THE Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar.
Ferrero Banana Cheese ($6)
The Ferrero Banana Cheese did taste good and the bananas were still crispy when we ate them. It is slightly “hipster” but I guess that’s what you have to do if you want to attract youngsters to buy goreng pisang.
Balance Amount: $2.10
Who said you couldn’t get anything with $2 at the bazaar. We saw a banner saying “Mini Vadai 10 for $2” and we knew that’s how we’re going to spend our last few dollars.
Image Credit: Discover SG
As much as I would’ve enjoyed their prawn vadai (3 for $2.50), it was not in our budget so mini vadai it is.
10 Mini Vadai for $2
It was simple, bite sized, fuss-free.
Balance Amount: $0.10
We spent a total of $29.90 on 1 drink, 1 appetiser, 2 mains and even managed to squeeze in a snack. Safe to say, we managed to stretch our $30 pretty well.
Although I had to miss out on the beautiful Instagram-worthy food, I did leave the bazaar with a full stomach. The food we picked out were still satisfying and worth the amount we paid for.

With the classic staples scattered sparsely around, lost among an explosion of rainbow coloured food and unicorn drinks, it’s safe to say that the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar has been properly gentrified. It’s truly unfortunate that the bazaar has come to this.

I think it’s about time we ban unicorn drinks and rainbow-coloured food already.
Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar 2018
When:  12 May 2018 to 14 June 2018
Nearest MRT Station: Paya Lebar Station

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(Header Image Source: DiscoverSG)