Thursday, September 21, 2006

I saw a big rat at the Jurong East hawker centre

Rating: 10000
I barely began to dig at my claypot chicken when a big, gray-brown rat (not a cute little mouse mind you!) scurried across from the empty stall beside me to the stall across it.

The chef looked unimpressed at the rat's brazen display of machismo and proceeded to scoop some water into a tabo and splashed it under the cooking counter to where the rat was now hiding.

The rat apparently got wet, left its hiding place and ran back to where it came from expertly dodging the legs of the patrons who were blissfully oblivious of the whole affair.

I have eaten at a lot of hawker centres in Singapore and this one at the Jurong Centre is one of the worst.

Let's start with the ambience-- During the afternoon, it's stifling hot. Despite the heat, i noticed a sizeable number of professionals who work at the adjacent offices dining here. The evenings are a lot less crowded but dotted with uncles drinking and smoking. Apparently, the government's no smoking laws are not enforced here.

The whole place has this rundown, dirty-kitchen vibe to it. It's bigger than most hawker centers i've been and it's the only one i've seen that have the cleaners dragging pails on the floor with a piece of string as they roam about clearing the tables. It's sort of like watching someone walk their dog but instead of a cute barking pup, it's a filthy pail full of dirty bowls and plates. Then they bring their loot to the washing area that occupies the whole length of a wall and is in full view of the dining area. Yummy.

There is a lot of variety in the food but mediocre quality. A dish that i've not seen at other hawker centres is the fish in apple stew... Try it. Not my favorite thing in the world but let's just say that... it's different. The rojak's pretty good because it's the first time i've had it with chopped lime. The dumplings as well as the Japanese food are safe bets, too. The Bak Kut Teh, chicken cutlet noodles, economical mixed rice and claypot rice did not impress me.

One pawikan point. I have had many firsts during my short stay here in Singapore and this is another I will add to my list: the first time I've encountered vermin at a food centre.

Between the roving pails and the big rat... this is just unappetizing (don't even get me started at the state of their toilets!)

If you must eat at Jurong East, go to the airconditioned (and more expensive) Kopitiam at the 2nd floor of Jurong Centre instead.

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