Macaroni under the flyover

18 05 2010

On the subject of some of our lost makan (food or eating) places, there would be many that we can collectively remember, which could be the many stalls that lined much of the old streets of Singapore, or the ones that appeared in car parks in the evenings as they emptied of their day time occupants. In an effort to clean up the streets of Singapore and to improve hygiene of street food vendors, many of the hawkers were taken off the streets in the 1970s, moved to purpose the built food or hawker centres we are familiar with these days. With the food centres, proper rubbish disposal facilities and running water could be provided, as well as well maintained food preparation areas – a huge improvement on the pushcarts that were used, where leftovers could have been tossed into the drains, and the lack of running water often meant that water for washing was often reused. One such food centre that my parents were fond of going to, being close to where we lived in Toa Payoh, was the one that my parents referred to as “Under the Flyover” along Whitley Road. This was built to house hawkers at the end of Balestier Road near its junction with Thomson Road, and came into being sometime in the 1970s.

Under the flyover which once was a bustle of food stalls and diners. The original flyover is the one on the right of the picture.

The food Centre was referred to by my parents as “Under the Flyover” as it was literally located under the flyover that connected Jalan Toa Payoh to Whitley Road (now all part of the Pan Island Expressway or PIE – the original flyover is the one that now carries the west bound traffic on the expressway). Popular particularly with taxi drivers, it was well known for the stall which sold Prawn Noodles with large prawns, and another which served Pork Porridge and Macaroni Soup, Singapore style (usually Macaroni boiled in clear chicken broth, served with shredded pieces of chicken or with minced pork). My favourite stalls there were however the one that served cut fruits, for the triangular colourful pieces of jelly that was sold, the Won Ton noodle stall and the Char Siew Rice stall.

The location of the food centre under the flyover ...

Once a haunt of diners looking to fill their stomachs with their favourite hawker fare is now a forgotten plot of emptiness under the Thomson flyover.

During the year that I was in Primary Six, and equipped with a monthly bus pass, I had the freedom of hopping on and off the public buses as and when I wanted, and as the food centre was located conveniently along the public bus route home, I could often stop over at the food centre with my schoolmates on my way home from school. We would always head straight for the cut fruit stall – for its refreshing iced pineapple juice, displayed in a clear plastic container in which cut pieces of boiled cubed pineapple could be seen at the bottom of. Another favourite of ours was the Indian convenience store that operated out of one of the units close to the entrance from the bus stop where we could pick up Shoot! and our favourite snacks.

Part of the area where the food centre was is now a heavy vehicle parking area.

The food centre remained a popular choice of my parents for dinner or a late night supper even after we had moved further away from Toa Payoh. Sadly, the food centre has gone the way of many other things I loved about Singapore, disappearing sometime in the early 1990s, and what is left in its place is an empty plot of land which is used as a heavy vehicle park, and now, not one, but two flyovers (a newer flyover was constructed to carry eastbound traffic on the PIE) cross over the what had once been the food centre that had a hand in feeding the growing appetite of my youth.

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11 responses

18 05 2010
peter

Yes I like to know which was the original flyover – guess here and there still my problem not resolved? Maybe tell me in which direction – Changi Airport or in the direction of Whitley Road. I was thinking the one nearer to Toa Payoh Estate i.e. towards Changi Airport. Also why is there a 1/2completed flyover next to the slip road into the Toa Payoh estate – I had been wondering for many decades so here’s my chance to ask. Was it bcos the govt was thinking of a flyover slip road to Toa Payoh Estate?

I remember the flyover collapse and one mama tea-tarik got pinned down by the beams and “mati”.

18 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

Peter, I’d say it is the west bound (i.e. direction towards Whitley Road) one, based on the impression that I have. Also, an observation of the structure supports this – if you look at the support pillars in my first picture – the westbound one (on the right) has the older style squarish pillars, whereas the eastbound flyover has the more modern looking round pillar supports. Yes, there was an accident during the construction which my father did remember – he mentioned it was during the construction of the original flyover. I think that the other structure you mention serves as a noise barrier rather than being a half completed flyover.

20 05 2010
peter

U r right, the squarish pillar tells one which was the older flyover. In my mind I thot the one eastbound; looks like memory plays tricks. I just checked an old publication from 1969.

Now I have to figure out on the older flyover which one was westbound and eastbound – at that time 3 lanes in each direction.

Can email me the pic with different pillars? thanks.

20 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

Perhaps this photo on the PICAS site can help you, Peter. Will send the photo with the pillars over to you.

24 05 2010
Lam Chun See

When I was working in Philips in Toa Payoh around 1980, my colleagues and I used to go to MacRitchie for jogging once a week after work. After our jogs we would adjourn to this place for dinner. Other times we would go to the food centre near Lake View in Upper Thomson. That one also gone.

As for Toa Payoh itself, sometimes we would drive to Lor 6/7 area. Now its called Kim Keat -something. With a multi-storey carpark.

24 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

Thanks for sharing Chun See … yes, this would have been a popular choice for joggers going to MacRitchie … Lake View too which as you have said is gone as well. I think I know which food centre in Toa Payoh you meant – think the area is referred to as Kim Keat Palm, but most would probably refer to its as Lor 7 market. I grew up in nearby Lor 5 and I remember that my mother had a colleague whose family ran a stall selling pau there and the Siew Mai from the stall was my favourite!

30 05 2010
Lam Chun See

Yes. Kim Keat Palm is right. Just went there for dinner on Vesak Day. Hard to believe that such a new place is now so dirty and run down; especially the car park.

But during my Philips days, it was very different. We used to patronize a Hainanese Beef Noodle stall (Goo yok hoon). But this hawker centre was already in existience when I was living in my kampong at Lorong Chuan. Which means before 1974. I remember sometimes we went there to ta-pau the Hokkien Prawn Noodles at night when our friends drop by. Somehow the city folks liked to sleep over at our place.

31 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

Yes, it should have been around from the later 60s … if I remember correctly, the Hokkien Prawn Noodles you mentioned was quite popular! Your kampong was at Lorong Chuan? Would that be the area by the river? I remember there werr quite a lot vegetable farms around the area.

27 05 2011
Frankie

Hi Jerome. your FB post brought me here. The Pork Porridge is my all time favorite. We used to call this place just “Hawker centre at Police Academy”. Had countless supper there. I missed the Porridge after the closure of the hawker centre. It wasn’t after some years that they re-appeared at Jason Centre at MacPherson. Now it’s gone again. Any idea if they are still operating somewhere?

2 06 2011
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Hi Frankie, thanks for visiting once again! Someone on the FB thread mentioned that it is now operating behind the former Jackson centre … 🙂

23 02 2017
Albert lopez

i just found your story about whitley road. i have been trying to find out more. back in the late fifties and sixties my father used to drive thru whitley road towards bukit timah road. i remember very clearly as you came up to the left hand bend just after the now college where the road descends to bukit timah road there was a dirt road on the right leading slightly upward to a sort of highway inn. i have been breaking my head trying to remember what it was and what was the name of the road. my uncle used to use it to get access to the cemetery where we went hunting those huge bats which made delicious eating.
i would appreciate any help please.

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