(CNN) — Every night at 7 p.m., Singapore’s Boon Tat Street channels the spirit of the 1950s — before the city state’s skyscrapers stole the show — and magically transforms into a street food lover’s paradise.
As the sun goes down, streetlights cast a glow. The road shuts to autos to make way for hawkers, who set up tables and chairs in the middle of the street. The whole production feels choreographed, like a Broadway production. The largest outdoor barbecue in Singapore is about to begin.
Located behind the Lau Pa Sat hawker center, Boon Tat Street — also known as “Satay Street” — centers around 10 hawkers who serve up the grilled sticks of meat in all styles and flavors, alongside delicious dipping sauces.
For a few hours, everything is the way it used to be.
“Its openness, the smell, the smoke rising is free,” Abrahim Allaudin, a second-generation stall owner, tells CNN. “There’s nothing else like this in Singapore.”
How to order
From 7 p.m. to midnight, you can choose from an array of satay platters for SG$30-40 ($20-30).
You’ll find mixed sets of skewered shrimp, chicken, beef, mutton and even duck — but no pork, as the food is halal-friendly. Your clothes should still smell of smoke the next day, if you’re doing it right.
“I’ve eaten at every satay corner from here to Indonesia,” says vendor Ainon Hussin. “On Satay Street (in Singapore), different stalls offer different tastes it depends on what you prefer. I like to focus on the basics, like the chili spices.”
It’s hard to go wrong at any of these stalls, but we’d put our money on stall No. 6. The meat is crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and the caramelized sauces melt in your mouth like warm honey.
Meanwhile, stall No. 10 specializes in plump prawns, and stalls 3 and 4 serve up satay with a curry kick. Jefri Jumein — third-generation owner of multiple stalls including No. 10 — caters to the health conscious.
“We don’t use MSG and we have healthy choices like mushrooms, while still using traditional spices like coriander and turmeric.”
And for big flavor? Allaudin says his stall has extra “oompf.”
“We don’t say something is delicious, we say it has power,” he says. “That’s why I call my stall, Satay Power.”
No matter where you dine, you’ve never feasted with 50 strangers like this before. As the Tiger beer flows and satay sizzles, the experience is like a family affair, where everyone feels at home.
“This is the only satay club in Singapore, and it’s like the golden days,” says vendor Hussin.
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