The vibrant Tekka Centre in Little India has been a much-loved shopping hub for years — you can find just about anything at Tekka! I started shopping at the centre’s wet market four years ago. Frustrated with buying (supposedly) fresh produce from the large chain supermarkets, I set about finding an alternative.
At the market you will find a wide range of western and eastern vegetables, beautiful fresh flowers, seafood, nuts, eggs, spices, fruit and even goat! Given there is limited refrigeration; produce is turned over daily so you can be certain that what you are buying is very fresh.
Did I mention the savings too? As a bit of a foodie, and with a love of cooking (my husband and I make most of our meals at home and try to use mostly fresh produce), we found our weekly food shopping bill decreased by at least 50% when we started frequenting the market. Generally prices are lower than the large chain supermarkets and you tend to get more mileage out of your produce because it’s so fresh when you purchase it.
Here are my top tips to help you enjoy your Tekka experience. I’ve even listed a few of my favourite vendors to get you started.
Happy shopping girls!
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask
All of the stall operators at the market are more than willing to assist. If there is something you can’t find or if you don’t know what something is then ask away. They will proudly tell you about the wares they have on offer.
Get in there!
I am not saying be rude or aggressive but you will need to ‘get in there’! Part of the charm of the market is the hustle and bustle. Aisles are small, space is cramped and people are reaching over, under and around you to get at the produce. Don’t wait for an invitation just jump into the fray and enjoy the jostle.
If you are originally from a western country consider yourself spoilt! At the market you will find a wide range of western vegetables as well as a large array of vegetables used in eastern cuisine that you may not be familiar with. Buy a different unknown veggie each week; take it home and experiment with it.
If you are buying meat, poultry or seafood you must specify exactly how you would like it presented to you. Most of the produce at the wet market is still in its ‘original condition’, which can include things like heads and tails still intact! Be specific in your instructions to avoid finding unwanted surprises in your shopping bag when you get home.
You need to carry cash with you, preferably smaller denominations, as all of the stall operators will only trade in cash. There is a POSB/DBS ATM located at the Serangoon Road entrance, just outside the Hawker centre, but they only service certain cards and have been known to be inconveniently out of order. It is best to come prepared to avoid disappointment.
Getting there and away
The market has a very busy taxi rank on the Buffalo Road side, but is also conveniently located just 150m from the Little India MRT station. There’s also an underground car park for those who drive and it only costs $1.30/hr from 7am to 5pm Monday to Saturday.
My favourite vendors
Chia’s Vegetables stall #01-08
My favourite stall at the market and possibly the most easily spotted thanks to the funky upbeat tunes the owner has playing. Here you’ll find a wide range of western vegetables such as kale, fennel and fabulously fresh baby spinach, alongside large bunches of lush herbs, bamboo roots and chillies galore! The stall operators are extremely helpful, knowledgeable about what is in season and where their produce has come from. Not sure what something is? They will tell you! Have your hands full? They’ll help you carry your bags to the taxi line or to your car. Now that’s service!
Hai Kee stall #01-202
For walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, pine nuts or any other kind of nut you can think of, drop into Hai Kee and stock up.
P&M Eggs stall #01-102
This husband and wife team really know their eggs! They sell many different varieties, including regular farmhouse hen eggs right through to quail eggs and even salted duck eggs.
CJ Low High Grade Beef stall #01-105
Sells Australian and New Zealand Beef — my pick is always the beef short ribs (fantastic for slow cooking) or the New Zealand rib eye. Delicious!
Seafood: Lee Yit Huat Trading stall #01-53 to 58
You can find just about any seafood at this stall, from crab and squid through to snapper and salmon. When selecting a whole fish be sure to specify how you would like it prepped. I typically ask for no head, no tail, no skin and filleted.
Fruit: Stall 160 or stall 01-152/153
Is the only produce I would consider ‘expensive’ compared to what I would expect to pay in my home country, or when compared with the rest of the wet market, however prices are still far lower than what you will pay at the chain supermarkets and the variety is tenfold.