Of Singapore’s 100-plus hawker centres, old-school Golden Mile Food Centre, built in 1975, is one of my favorites.
Male Singaporean citizens, aged 18 – 20, have for decades visited the building’s top floors to stock up on supplies for their two-year national service in the republic’s police, armed, or civil defense forces. Anthony Bourdain once headed downstairs to slurp chili-infused marrow from mutton bones at Haji Kadir & M Baharudeen Sup Tulang. Since March 2014, in-the-know craft beer enthusiasts–and “uncles” searching, in vain, for bottles of Tiger or Heineken– have stopped at this clamorous eating house to sip pints of Schneider Weisse and bottles from such breweries as Mikkeller, Stone Brewing Company, and Beavertown Brewery at craft-focused Beer is Food.
Now solely owned by Hanlin Tan, 25, who opened the stall with a colleague from his day job at an insurance firm, Beer is Food came about fairly quickly. Inspired by the island-best variety of ciders poured at The Cider Pit in Joo Chiat–included in my “Great Singapore Craft Beer Crawl” for NOW! Singapore–Tan looked into opening his own cider-and-beer bar in a more central location, but became discouraged by astronomical rents, considerable start-up costs, and a lag time of up to one year to open. That’s when he turned to Golden Mile, where, instead of suffering the standard four- to six-month procedure of taking over a stall, he found an owner willing to sublet his space.
Boom–two months later, Beer is Food was in business.
Major bonus: it’s right next to Yew Chuan Claypot Rice, the always busy stall which Tan says has “the second-best claypot rice in Singapore.” For those poor souls unfamiliar with the addictive local specialty, claypot rice is basically what it sounds like: a mound of white rice slow-cooked in a claypot over a charcoal stove for 30 – 40 minutes, then topped with Chinese greens, super-salty fish, sausage, and/or chicken. Once served, the proper way to tackle it is to put the meats and greens off to the side, douse the rice in a little cooking oil and a shitload of dark soya sauce, then mix the whole thing up as the rice continues to char and blacken and burn. The best parts are the crispy grains of rice you have to scrape from the sides of the pot, and then…
Wait, where were we? Right. Beer.
Tan stocks more than 50 quality bottles of it at his stall, along with two or three easy-drinking brews on tap at prices lower than most anywhere on the island. In the fridge, look for a few of my personal favorites that are commonly available: Stone’s Go To IPA, Brouwerij Van Steenberge’s Gulden Draak, The Wild Beer Co.’s Beyond Modus, and anything from Beavertown (especially the Gamma Ray).
Unfortunately, Golden Mile Food Centre faces a somewhat uncertain future. Its current lease expires in December 2015, at which point the hope is a private company takes over and, at the most, does some minor upgrades without stripping the place of its rough-and-tumble character and, of course, its well-established vendors. The fear is that it’ll be bulldozed to make way for–wait for it–a(nother) luxury condo development; a similar fate befell Lavender Food Square in 2014.
That’s all the more reason to pound a few craft beers and tuck into an epic claypot rice, or perhaps a sloppy platter of mutton bones, while you still can, just in case.
Beer is Food is located at 505 Beach Rd., Golden Mile Food Centre, #B1-55. +65 9734 0508. Open Monday to Friday 5pm – 10:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 11:30am – 10:30pm.
More Places I Like to Drink in Singapore:
+ Alt. Pizza (California craft brews and delish 11-inch pizzas from an American chef)
+ OBar NUS (The best craft bar in Singapore that you will never go to, but really should)
+ Smith Street Taps (Serving craft beers on draft at a Chinatown hawker centre)
+ JiBiru Japanese Craft Beer Bar (Japanese microbrews in an open-air courtyard)
+ Mohican Pub (An Indian-themed Indian bar in Little India — but not that kind of Indian)
+ Brewerkz Taphouse (The pleasant Dempsey Hill outpost of local microbrewery Brewerkz)
+ The Great Beer Experiment (Off-the-beaten-path craft beer shop/bar at PasarBella Market)
+ LeVeL33 (The highest urban craft brewery in the world)