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We arrived at Newton Hawker Center (Food Centre) towards the end of the night, and some of the food stalls were starting to close down. The crowd was sparse as most people had eaten, the remaining people mainly getting their drink on.
Interesting enough, Newtown Hawker Center is actually promoted by the Singaporean Tourism Board to give a “sampling of Singaporean cuisine. As most of the food stalls were closed or empty at the time of my visit I cannot attest to that.
The first thing I noticed when we arrived is that many food stall owners or workers would come up to us and try to drag us to their stall in order to buy food. The almost non-stop harassment was a big turn off.
The center is designed as a big circle with seating in the middle. As walking around was getting tiresome due to the constant harassment, we decided to grab a seat to take a look at the options that remained. This was to almost no avail since we didn’t have any food or drinks in front of us. Food stall owners or their shills continued to come up to us shoving their menus in our face.
In looking at the prices of some of the different stalls, they seemed to be pretty high. Newton has the reputation of overcharging for mediocre food and harassing customers, both of which I can now attest to as the evening wore on.
My wife asked me what I wanted to eat and I told her that I would like to have mantis shrimp if they had any. She was gone for about 10 minutes and came back, and told me they would deliver the food to our table. I asked her how much it costs and she told me $50 SGD. She likes to joke around when it comes to these things, so I was sure she was kidding. After asking her the real price, she said $50 SGD, which was ~$37 USD. I asked her how many we were getting for that price and she said two. I couldn’t believe my ears that that we were paying over $18 for one shrimp.
They didn’t have mantis shrimp but they were called “jumbo prawns”. When they were delivered to our table, my heart really sank. Although they were big, I was sorely disappointed in what I saw.
Each shrimp was split in half and grilled, with a bread crumb type topping. It was served with a lime wedge. The shrimp itself tasted kind of mealy, and disappointment turned into me just wanting to leave.
It’s a good thing we didn’t get there earlier in the night or really hungry, otherwise it would have been a very costly and rather unenjoyable night of eating.
Since Newton Food Centre is fairly close to the Orchard Road, about 5 minutes from the Grand Hyatt, it will draw a lot of tourists, especially those new to Singapore. The food stall owners feed on this and can therefore serve substandard food and overcharge, and most of all, get away with it.
I would definitely avoid this place due to the constant harassment by the workers, mediocre food and high prices.