As you might be able to tell from my recent post about the movie ‘Ratatouille’, food – the procurement, cooking and consuming thereof – is one of my abiding passions. Before my recent trip to Singapore, I therefore invested a fair amount of time researching the city’s dining options.
Hawker centres, it seemed, are the city’s culinary hotbed – collections of independent stalls, each specialising in a particular dish or two. The Lobby, Starwood hotels’ blog, passed on an interesting perspective:
Singapore’s Ministry of Health rates restaurants on an A-D scale not on their quality but on their cleanliness. Oddly, the rating you want to watch for is C, not A, according to Serious Eats.
“Here’s the local logic: Being generally one-man outfits, if the hawker’s food were any good, he would be flat out busy taking orders, cooking, serving, collecting payment, and doling out change. Where would he find time to clean the stall to the obsessively nit-picky standards of a government official? Therefore, only nonpopular stalls with sub-par food would be able to earn an A or B grade.”
But the resulting proposals are dreadful – mediocre, dull, merely ‘complete and compliant’ rather than ’superbly articulating a compelling story’. There’s no spark, no flair, no creativity; no burning desire to produce truly first-class output, no originality, no passion.
It’s almost as if they’re the Singaporean ‘category A’ stalls – sterile environments, creating dull output, providing customers with a mundane solution. They’re so absorbed in the internal process that they forget to look outward, to the customer and the competition, forgetting the very purpose of the proposal centre’s existence as they do.