Back in the old days, sarabat stalls run by Indians and Sikhs would sell their ginger tea, curry puffs and kuehs along the Tanglin Halt Road and Commonwealth Drive. Sarabat stalls were favourite hang-out places in Queenstown for many residents. There were stalls that sell ice cream, where the distinct bell would attract stares from children and adult alike; stalls that sell Malay food, where these itinerant hawkers would cook his mee goreng and nasi goreng on a built in charcoal stove.
Dimmed Interior of Tanglin Halt Market
Itinerant hawking and marketing in Tanglin Halt ended with the construction of Tanglin Halt Market in 1962 and a ban on itinerant hawkers in the 1970s. Food prices in Tanglin Halt Market was nearly twice to thrice the prices offered by itinerant and sabarat hawkers. Unlike Commonwealth Avenue Food Centre, residents in Tanglin Halt were happy to say goodbye to the market on 1 April 2003 with its dark interior, cramped conditions and poor ventilation that attracted rodents, cockroaches and other undesirable creatures. It was closed for six months.
Tanglin Halt Market was closed for upgrading in 1 April 2003
In the newly upgraded market, both hawkers and customers would enjoy better ventilation compared to the old market. The cooked food section has a tall arched ceiling which enhances natural ventilation and daylight for the food. This means that the food centre is not as stuffy as before since artificial lights are reflected off the ceiling. Furthermore, unlike the previous food centre, each food stall has individual cooker hoods, shutters so that rats will not enter the food stalls and contaminate the food.
Shutters for every stall
Spacious Hawker Centre
Hawkers and patrons welcomed the new market in delight after years of frustration with the older food centre. The container bins, which collect the refuse from the food centre and market has an electric shutter, which prevents odour from entering the food centre.
The transformation of Tanglin Halt Market also marks the changing landscape of ordinary "fields of care" in Queenstown, which descended from sarabat stalls and itinerant hawkers. Today, Tanglin Halt Market remains home to some of the nicest food around including Wei Yi Laksa. For Tanglin Halt residents, this market will always hold a special place in our hearts!