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SINGAPORE: Do a search for the Geylang Serai bazaar on social media and you'll likely come across netizens complaining about the "hipsterisation" of the annual Ramadan mega-event.
As more young businesses choose to cut their teeth at the "mother of all pasar malams", innovation is inevitable. But it's not all bad – some offerings are just familiar favourites in fresh, new iterations. And they're just as tasty.
Here are six trends that are really taking off at this year's bazaar.
TREND NO 1: HALAL JAPANESE GRUB
Danial Ashriq is playing down his acting chops in favour of the chopping board – at least for this Ramadan. The Police And Thief star fronts Beef Bro, the halal mentaiko beef cube stall founded with his friend Norvan Tan.
This hot-selling dish (S$18) can also be served with barbecue sauce, garlic chilli and sambal belacan, with the latter also for sale separately at S$2.50 per tub.
Find Beef Bro at stall 70, opposite OneKM outside Tanjong Katong Complex.
TREND NO 2: EATING OUT OF A BUCKET
It might sound like a gimmick, but if you think about it, it's a pretty good idea. While the bazaar organisers have prepared more tables at each food tent this year, the chances of you copping a seat in the evening are still pretty low.
In come the cups and buckets, which you can tote around and eat out of when you find a quiet corner. The pails can also be taken home, washed and reused, which beats single-use plastic bags.
WORD. cafe, founded by enterprising sisters Shereen and Toni Anwar, is serving up what they call their Gangster Ribs (lamb or beef, starts from S$12) in a cup, along with briyani or fries. The Upper Thomson cafe, which brought you previous years' epic rainbow bagels, also have mocktails in buckets, with flavours like "Minah blackcurrant" making a debut at the Ramadan bazaar.
Find WORD. at Stall 39 outside Wisma Geylang Serai and Stall 202 outside the Muslim Converts Association.
Sofnade's Mee Kuah in a Bucket (S$7) is - let's be honest - going to be tough to eat in whatever situation, but it's currently a hot seller. You can also try their festive special, Chicken Meatball Satay in a Bucket (S$9), which has all the works including ketupat, cucumber and sliced onion.
Find Sofnade at Stall 4 outside Tanjong Katong Complex and Stalls 243 and 244 outside the Muslim Converts' Association.
TREND NO 3: ALL MANNER OF MILK TEA
Businesses are churning out more creative ways to enjoy the ever-popular iced milk tea this year. Hot on the heels of the “halal Butterbeer” trend is IceBurnz’s Butterfoam Milk Tea (S$4) in the flavours coconut matcha, dark salted chocolate, Kinder Bueno, Hokkaido matcha and Nutella.
BREWUP has also added Iced Speculoos Milk Tea (S$5) to their already popular flavours, which include maple lemon, masala, pandan and rose milk (S$4 each).
Find IceBurnz at Stall 518 outside the Muslim Converts' Association and BREWUP at Stalls 55 and 56 outside Tanjong Katong Complex.
TREND NO 4: FOR THE LOVE OF CHEESE
The Raclette Factory continues to draw the crowds this year, with a new item added to their bazaar menu - Swiss Raclette Rosti (S$12).
Other stalls are jumping on the cheese bandwagon as well - Chickaaaboom has four options for their chicken chop in a cone (starting from S$7) - chilli crab, garlic butter, "sambal works" and aligot, a cheese and mash fondue originating in France.
Love macaroni and cheese? The MNC Co specialises in just that with flavours like chilli crab, laksa and tomyam (starting at S$5 each).
TREND NO 5: THE ‘NEW’ APAM BALIK
Their love for martabak manis, the popular Indonesian sweet pancake, drove the couple behind Markozar to start their first stall together at the bazaar. The pancakes are similar to the local favourite apam balik, a bazaar mainstay, in that they're both turnovers stuffed with chopped peanuts. Markozar’s martabak manis (S$6.50 each), which is also known as terang bulan (bright as the moon), is available with Nutella or chocolate rice, as well as milk.
Want something sweeter? There's also Fountain Banana Cheese, which is pisang keju (cheesy grilled banana, S$6 each) drizzled with melted milk chocolate, white chocolate, berry chocolate or Nutella.
Find Markozar at Stall 10 outside Tanjong Katong Complex and Stall 202 outside Muslim Converts' Association.