Prata outlet edges out the competition

Straits Times: Thu, Dec 01

POPULAR roti prata eatery Casuarina Curry Restaurant was named a Singapore Hawker Master at the Asian Masters Gala Dinner last night.

The Asian Masters were launched in January to celebrate hawker food and give recognition to deserving hawkers. In January, Casuarina Curry Restaurant was not nominated and there was no winner in the roti prata category. This time round, it edged out Sin Ming Roti Prata and The Prata Place.

Casuarina’s co-owner Elango Subramaniam, 40, said: ‘We had heard of the competition and wondered why we were not included. I guess this time, customers knew more about the competition and decided to vote for us.’

Asked what gave his restaurant the edge, he said: ‘I believe it’s the consistency of the crispy prata that people like.’

He and his elder brother Ramanan Subramaniam, 45, received the award from Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at the Conrad Centennial Singapore.

Four other hawkers were recognised in the categories of satay, tau suan, fried Hokkien mee and wonton noodles. There was no winner in the bak kut teh (pork rib tea) category.

Straits Times food critic and executive sub-editor Wong Ah Yoke, who is on the judging panel, said the stand-out dishes were the roti prata and wonton noodles.

He said: ‘The prata had crispy edges and went well with the curry which was not too spicy and did not overpower the prata. The wonton mee had the perfect balance of noodles and wonton, and the wonton skin was very smooth.’

The eight judges for the Singapore Hawker Masters 2011 spent a fortnight sampling food from 18 different stalls. The other judges were Professor Tommy Koh, ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ST’s deputy news editor and food writer Tan Hsueh Yun, food consultant Violet Oon, Lianhe Zaobao’s food writer Marcus Yeo and features editor Tan Pin Yen, Mr Chia Boon Pin, president of Far East Food Concepts, and Mr Dennis Wee, chairman of real estate agency Dennis Wee Group.

The hunt started in August with the public making more than 3,000 nominations. Based on over 8,000 votes cast by readers of The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao, the three most popular stalls in each category were shortlisted for the final selection.

Mr Wee said: ‘Overall, I think the standard of the hawkers this time is similar to the previous Hawker Masters. The hawkers have to remain consistent. You want to try dishes that make you want to go back again.’

Mr Wong added: ‘Second time around, the fact that we have no winner for another category shows that hawker standards really need to improve. Hopefully, next year will be better.’

The inaugural Asian Masters Icon Award was presented at the gala dinner last night to Les Amis group’s chairman Desmond Lim, for contributions to Singapore’s F&B industry.

The group has 23 restaurants in its stable, including the high-end Les Amis restaurant, Canele patisserie and Peperoni pizza outlets.

Mr Lim, 54, said: ‘I’m very honoured. I didn’t even realise I was on the radar. I’ve always believed the group’s growth is never complete and we have the energy and the good people to take things to the next level.’

The gala dinner was the grand finale of the second run of the month-long culinary event Asian Masters. The food festival is organised by Sphere Exhibits, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings.

The next search for Singapore Hawker Masters is slated for the second half of next year.

The winners


Tiong Bahru Tau Suan

Where: Block 30 Seng Poh Road, Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre, 02-55

Opening hours: 7am to 3pm daily.


Casuarina Curry Restaurant

Where: 136 Casuarina Road

Opening hours: 7am to midnight daily.


Eng’s Char Siew Wanton Mee

Where: Dunman Food Centre, 271 Onan Road, 01-02

Opening hours: 3.20pm to 9pm, Tuesdays to Sundays. Closed on Mondays.


Original Serangoon Fried Hokkien Mee

Where: Xin Wang Coffee & Tea House, 566 Serangoon Road

Opening hours: 4.30pm to 11.15pm, Tuesdays to Sundays. Closed on Mondays.


Haron Satay

Where: East Coast Lagoon Food Village, 1220 East Coast Parkway, 01-55

Opening hours: 2pm to 11pm, Tuesdays to Sundays. Closed on Mondays.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.

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