Ask any foreigner or local on the streets of Singapore: What makes our little red dot a great tourist destination? You’d probably receive many different answers. Well, this year’s Singapore Festival held in Myanmar by Singapore Tourism Board decided to highlight two of those possible responses: food and art. And we had the chance to find out exactly how it all went down.
500 Kyat Street Food Fair
Divided into various zones across food and arts, the festival stretches down the entire length of Yangon’s historic Bogalayzay Street. This is a living, breathing space where locals live and run their diverse trades. With its rustic colonial-style buildings, the street exudes a quiet charm and vibrancy that is hard to match.
The Foodie Zone is where we found the 500 Kyat Street Food Fair, a foodie’s sampling paradise inspired by our very own 50 Cents Food Fair. True to its purpose (and reference), there were plenty of stalls showcasing Singaporean cuisine.
We spotted Chef Chan Hong Meng of Hawker Chan’s Soy Sauce Chicken personally dishing out his Michelin-starred Chicken Rice to hungry Yangonites. With a whopping 1,500 plates sold on the first day, we dare say that the people of Myanmar were sufficiently convinced of the goodness of this dish.
The Chilli Crab Samosa stall jointly helmed by Singaporean Chef Jeremy Cheok and Yangon’s Rangoon Tea House combined warm bite-sized samosas (a favourite staple in Myanmar) with Singapore’s iconic Chilli Crab. The brilliant combination gave us plump, flavourful samosas with generous amounts of pickled crab meat – comforting and satisfying in one bite.
As part of the festival’s spirit of exchange, Rangoon Tea House also hosted Chef Jeremy in an exclusive four-hands dinner that fused cuisines and ingredients from both countries.
Local Myanmar fare were represented at the Food Fair too. In fact, Singaporean vendors set up next to Burmese counterparts of a similar culinary profile so that locals could better appreciate Singapore cuisine through their traditional fare.
For instance, the notable Payit Kyaw stall located right beside our fragrant samosas dished out a local delicacy – crickets sautéed in a savoury mix of garlic and spices!
These crispy critters are a must-try in Myanmar and are known for delivering robust flavours albeit in bite-sized portions.
Atypical Singapore Art & Augmented Reality Technology Showcase
Having eaten our fill, we wandered over to the Cultural Shapers Zone where the Atypical showcase took place. The artworks displayed are truly unconventional – curator Khairuddin Hori and his seven contemporary artists used elements of Augmented Reality (AR) and other digital technology to create interactive displays that tested our senses.
We were teleported to Singapore and back while walking through Speak Cryptic’s S*GATTE and got to watch tech artist Eugene Soh’s recreations of iconic Renaissance paintings come to live in their frames.
Other fascinating works such as Amanda Tan’s visual-based What Tribe is Thi$? attracted large crowds of visitors that took photos in front of the large video installations where Amanda’s characters flitted and danced in various costumes created by local fashion designers as a representation of Singapore’s local talent, race and culture.
At the end of the street, we found the exclusive live graffiti performance by Myanmar’s contemporary street artist Bart Was Not Here. Having studied at LaSalle in Singapore, Bart drew inspirations from his time in Singapore to create giant murals filled with visions of fire-breathers painting the sky with flame explosions and chefs frying up local Singapore cuisines for visitors to enjoy.
Together with the non-governmental organisation Doh Eain and the local residents of Bogalayzay Street, the location was fitted with new street lighting, outdoor potted plants and other improvements inspired by Singapore’s Garden City, making it the perfect place to enjoy Yangon’s first-ever outdoor festival.
Singapore Festival 2018 is an annual event organized by Singapore Tourism Board to promote Singapore tourism and the Passion Made Possible Campaign.
Top Image: Singapore Tourism Board