26 August 2016 marks the launch of Makan Bus, a new novelty tour around Singapore that is centred around (…Makan-ing. You’ve guessed it right, eating!) hunting down the best local foods in the heartlands of Singapore.
Unlike most guided tours, Makan Bus aims to introduce 10 carefully curated popular stops with up to 20 varieties of local delights. With a hop-on-hop-off concept to both Singaporeans and tourists, it aims to offer the “tastes, sights and sounds of real Singapore”.
A fleet of specially chartered buses will arrive at the various stops at 20 minutes intervals, starting from the first bus that leaves Orchard Gateway at 11am, and the last bus leaving at 7.37pm.
Using the map provided by Makan Bus, the route covers from Orchard Gateway, Balestier, Thomson, Sin Ming, Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh, and back to Orchard Gateway.
With tickets selling at S$28, you’ll get to tailor the tour to your own preference, so you can always alight the bus when a stop catches your eyes, and hop back on when the next bus comes by, for an unlimited amount of time within the same day — that way, you don’t have to waste time visiting stalls and places of attraction that you’re not too interested in and you can choose to spend however much time you like at a certain stop without worrying about holding back a tour group.
Apart from food places, the bus will also stop at local monuments and places of worships, like The Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery at Sin Ming’s stop, Sun Yat Sun Memorial Hall, Masjid Hajjah Rahimabi Kebun Limau, and many others.
A friendly guide will be stationed in every bus, feel free to ask them questions or be entertained by the stories they tell of each place, along with the recommendations of the dishes available at each stop. Our guide was really energetic and enthusiastic, tempting us with the photos of foods and ingredients used to cook the dishes.
Intrigued by a Malay dish called Mee Rebus Tarik, we alighted at the Jubilee/S11 bus stop at Ang Mo Kio (AMK). Mee Rebus is commonly heard of, but a Tarik (literally translates to pull, a common method used in frothing teas) is totally unheard of. We had to give it a try!
Once you’ve alighted at Jubilee/S11 bus stop, walk towards block 724, and look out for Yunos N Family (#01-01), it’s where you’ll find the unique Mee Rebus Tarik. The stall is evidently popular with the residents of AMK, seeing a line of patrons waiting for their meal.
Mee Rebus Tarik ($4.80)
The bowl spots the same yellow noodles doused in thick gravy, along with the usual tau pok, egg, bean sprouts and fried shallots. The noticeable difference is the addition of a scoop of peanut sauce, used for dipping satays, garnished with cucumber slices and onions.
When placing your orders, you can choose from chicken, mutton or beef satay. Before digging in, give the noodles a good mix, then go ahead and enjoy the rich, flavourful dish.
The taste of the Mee Rebus Tarik is much stronger than the usual mee rebus, which flavours are accentuated with the additional peanut gravy. The satay meats lend a smoky character to the dish, while the cucumbers and onions give each bite a crunchy texture. I would definitely come back for this.
And if you’re looking for desserts, Four Seasons Ching Teng (#01-34) will do the job in refreshing you up with a bowl of sweet soup. You could choose between having it iced or warm, of which we had the latter to beat the heat.
Generous in its ingredients, the Ching Teng 清汤 ($2) was laden with an assortment of dried longans, gingko nuts, barley, lotus seeds, white fungus, and dried melons. A substantial amount of ingredients as compared to most stalls these days.
While you’re munching away, don’t forget to grab a cup of sugar cane drink, which are usually freshly pressed and extracted upon ordering. An instant thirst-quencher from this sweltering heat, perking you up for more food adventures to come on the Makan Bus.
Address: 724 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6, Ang Mo Kio Market & Food Centre, S560724 | Opening hours: Daily 9am – 9pm
We ended our tour at Toa Payoh (TPY) by checking out the Moon Sun Restaurant, a small hawker centre conveniently located at TPY Town Centre, just in front of the Makan Bus stop.
Naming itself Toa Payoh Lucky Pisang Raja, which translates to King of Bananas, the stall front is filled with bunches of bananas hanging from the ceiling. You can be assured that its banana fritters are freshly made every day.
Address: 117 Toa Payoh Central, Moon Sun Restaurant, S310177 | Opening hours: Daily 1230pm – 9pm
We concluded our Makan Bus ride with our tummies satisfactorily filled.
Makan Bus is an initiative of MeGuideU and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, priding itself to bring tourists and Singaporeans on a gastronomical tour into the heartlands of Singapore, to savour the best and underrated foods that the local hawkers can offer.
If you’re a tourist, Makan Bus has also partnered with info-communications provider StarHub to help travellers stay connected to friends and family as they explore our little red dot.
Click on the link to purchase a Makan Bus ticket, or head to the ticketing booth at Orchard Gateway. Otherwise check with your hotel concierge if they are selling it. Do note that the S$28 ticket does not include foods and drinks, and it’ll be a self-guide tour upon hopping off the bus.