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Street food By Marcus Samuelsson

It is hard to pick one dish that I loved in Singapore. Like most everything else in this city, the street food is diverse, extremely clean, and sharply controlled. But that is only at the surface. Once you step into one of the many many hawker centers licensed and managed by the government, you enter a wonderland of tasty bites that come from all over Asia, whether it is Indian curry, Malaysian canai, or Indonesian asam laksa.

I have had many of the city's specialties - fish cakes wrapped in banana leaves, fiery chili crab, fishy and fruity rojak salad. A visit to a Singapore hawker centre is like eating the safest, best-traveled seafood from around the world, without having an expert tour guide or even buying a ticket.

After entering a hawker center, you mark any of the numbered tables as taken by putting something inexpensive on it to flag it. This way other visitors know you are planning to sit there. Then you go to any of the stalls that entices you with its aromas and offerings and you order what you like. Don't forget to say what your table number is. Walk around the center and keep doing this to satisfy all your appetites and cravings.

Unlike Singapore's food courts, you don't have to carry your food to the table or clean up after yourself. At this point, after your circuit, the food will quickly appear on your table, and quickly disappear as you devour it. There are professional cleaners to take care of the rest.

This is what is unique about Singapore's street food. It is street food, but with more luxury and variety than you will find anywhere in the world.

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The First Healthy Hawker Center

If you've ever been to Singapore, then you have likely encountered the wonderful maze of hawker stands that sell vibrant dishes ranging from Chinese to Thai to Malaysian.  Many stands prepare only one dish, and it is not uncommon to have an entire meal spread over a few different stands. Most hawker centers are comprised of a cooked food section, and a produce and market section. The food of many different cultures comes together in hawker centers, and now in April, Singapore's first healthy hawker center will be launched. Offering healthier alternatives than other hawker centers, this new center comes from an effort to curb rising obesity.  This is a "bottom up" approach to fight obesity, and promote healthy lifestyle.  Best of all, the prices for healthier food will not be higher, encouraging people to choose the healthy option.  The US would do well to learn from this example.