The Noodles Anthony Bourdain Dreamed Of

I stepped off the icy street into a bustling food hall. This is Urban Hawker — a Singaporean market that was one of Anthony Bourdain’s last projects.

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Hawker centers are everywhere in Singapore. The descendant of street stands, these food courts bring together people from all walks of life to enjoy dishes like chicken rice and pork noodles.

Singaporean hawkers were the first street food ever to win a Michelin star.

These humble stands selling some of the best food on earth captured the imagination of Anthony Bourdain. The chef and travel show host worked to bring hawker centers to his home, New York City.

The original plan called for a massive complex on Pier 57 in Chelsea. But negotiating the lease proved impossible, and the plan was abandoned.

Sadly, Bourdain committed suicide a few months later. It looked like his dream for a Singaporean market in America might never be realized.

But one of Bourdain’s partners, KF Seetoh, refused to give up.

In September of 2022, he opened Urban Hawker, the first Singaporean hawker’s market in the United States. While smaller than the original plan, it contains 17 stalls offering a wide variety of Southeast Asian specialties.

My friend and I circumnavigated the market, mesmerized. Everything looked so good!

“Let’s not get distracted,” I told her. “We have to make the right decision.” 🙂

We landed at Prawnaholic. Prawnaholic specializes in seafood noodle dishes, one of my favorites.

I ordered Singapore Char Kway Teow. The chef kindly substituted fish cakes for the pork, a thoughtful touch.

The dark noodles and glossy sauce had a deep, rich flavor. They reminded me a little of squid ink pasta, an Italian specialty.

The shrimp were perfectly tender, the fish cakes light and delectable.

My friend ordered an oyster omelette. She offered me a bite, and I couldn’t resist.

I thought I didn’t like oysters, but I was wrong! They were tender and delicious, not overcooked and chewy like so many others.

Next to our table were the beautiful cakes of Lady Wong. I only wished I had room — next time!

This is a market Anthony Bourdain would’ve been proud of. I only wish he could’ve sat there with us, eating and laughing.

What are your favorite restaurants in New York? Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

More on food:

Korean Noodle Heaven at Food Gallery 32

Puerto Rico’s Finest at La Casa

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

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