Singapore's best hawker stalls now in Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Singapore's street food maven K.F. Seetoh, together with established chefs JJ Yulo and Him Uy De Baron, is bringing the authentic Singaporean hawker experience to Manila.

Twelve food stations in a hawker center-style establishment are serving Singapore's well-loved dishes, such as laksa, chicken claypot rice, oyster omelette, savory carrot cake, and Hainanese chicken rice.

Seetoh and his local business partners Yulo and Uy de Baron are very hands-on — from the selection of stalls (which Seetoh personally handpicked) to the dishes they sell.

The food stalls are from established kiosks in Singapore, Malaysia, and other Asian countries like the famous Geylang Claypot Rice, Donald & Lily, and Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee. Some are also the well-received hawkers stalls in the World Street Food Congress.

Seetoh, however, clarified although Makansutra is patterned after a Singaporean-style of dining, the food served are not only Singaporean.

"This is not a Singapore food center. This is not a Singapore food pot. All these dishes came from China, Indonesia, India, and many parts of Asia. People from there came to Singapore many years ago and they gave us the gift of culinary," he told CNN Philippines on Tuesday.

What to eat in Makansutra

The 12 food stations, each serving different specialties, may overwhelm first-time diners. But Seetoh and Yulo shared with us the must-tries and their personal favorite dishes.

Yulo swears by Ah Tee's Oyster Omelette (P260/P360). It has a gummy consistency, but with the right amount of crisp.

"The oyster pancake is crispy, fluffy, and starchy. It has oysters on top. It's one of my favorite things here, so please, do not miss," said Yulo.

Seetoh's tip is to add chili sauce to cut through the oiliness of the appetizer.

The Guru of Grub also picked his favorite: The Geylang Claypot Rice's Chicken Claypot Rice (P280/good for one).

Aside from the Singaporean Chili Crab (seasonal price from P900 or market price), Hong Kong Street Old Chun Kee is also serving current food trend: Salted Egg Pork (P380). Yulo said this is also a must-try.

For the foodies who are a little more adventurous, Yulo suggested getting Jin Ji's Kway Chap and Braised Duck (P300), which is Chinese-style braised pork, offal, and stewed duck. But he says it  is clean tasting despite it being innards.

He also mentioned Donald & Lily's Mee Siam with Prawns (P250) made from thin vermicelli noodles noodles served with spicy, sweet, and sour light gravy made with tamarind.

"I was not familiar with it but when I tried it, I was like, 'Oh my God, I can eat this anytime,'" Yulo said.

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Seetoh added he won't bring in the food stalls if he didn't like their food.

The food sold in Makansutra are as authentic as authentic Singaporean food can get — so much that Seetoh, Yulo, and Uy de Baron did not tweak the recipes to fit the Filipino tastebuds.

"I tell myself, 'keep it authentic,' because that's the only way you can defend it. We cook it the way the rest of the world enjoys it," Seetoh said.

Yulo also vouched for the food stalls selected to be a part of Makansutra, "It's one-dish stalls. There's no place to go but up. You get better and better and better."

LOOK: Makansutra in SM Megamall

More than savory dishes

The beverage, snacks, and dessert kiosk is placed in the middle of the establishment — just like how it is in Singapore hawker centers. Here is where you can get Milo Dinosaur (P150), Roti Kaya (P150/2 slices), and Singaporean breakfast staple Pork Floss and Luncheon Meat sandwich (P180).

They are also serving iced desserts reminiscent of our halo-halo, such as Malaysian Ice Kachang with Ice Cream (P180) and Indonesia's Chendol (P200).

Despite the food court-style of dining, the smell surprisingly doesn't stick to the clothes and hair, so you won't have to worry about going around the mall smelling like food.

Makansutra can seat up to 500 people and it is self-service.

Creating opportunities for Filipinos

Seetoh openly expressed his intention to help underprivileged Filipinos through his business.

"It is my personal wish. Also JJ he's also very excited about this and I said listen, 'I can empower displaced and disadvantaged people. We train them to cook a dish. I can teach anyone who understands some basic skills in the kitchen," he said.

Seetoh said Makansutra employs Filipinos from Payatas and Tuloy Foundation.

"If you can do that for younger people  — to give good opportunities — then I'm all for it. I support it," said Yulo.

"In the end, I'm not giving you fish; I'm teaching you how to fish," Seetoh added.

Makansutra in SM Megamall A in Mandaluyong opens on September 8.

CNN Philippines' interns Karl Andrew Sonio, Emmanuel Calingacion, Geloy Marasigan, and Angela Zenarosa contributed to this report.