Are hawker maestros in the street food haven of Penang being lured to neighbouring cities and countries? Should we be worried?

This is the Malaysian Food Street in Sentosa, Singapore… and “17 of Malaysia’s best hawkers” have been hand-picked to set up stall there, reports CNN.

I heard that even the street food taste in some parts of KL are gradually losing authenticity as hired hands take over the actual cooking. Is this true?

Should we be doing more to protect our street food heritage in Penang? That doesn’t mean gentrification of street food or using artificial marketing gimmicks. After all, street food has to be on the street out in the open in natural settings.

As CNN reports here:

Without a doubt, the longest-running and most vociferous war between the two cities has always involved food.

In Singapore, street food equals hawker centers. And let’s face it — while they’re supposedly cleaner, they just don’t have the taste of a gritty roadside stall. While Singapore does do better Peranakan and Teochew cuisine, and a meaner chili sauce, there’s something to be said about street food actually coming from the street.

And in Kuala Lumpur the stalls are never-ending — from Ramly burgers to lok lok and satay. Their popularity proves something that oh-so-clean Singapore can’t: when your street food is still in the street, you know you’re in Asia.

Verdict: Kuala Lumpur

We could celebrate Penang street food in all its glory – while being open to other cultural influences in this melting wok.

We also need to recognise vendors who have contributed so much to Penang. That’s where a street food museum or hall of fame could come in handy.

This report from theSun:

Malaysian street food at Sentosa
Posted on 5 January 2012 – 12:52pm

S. Indra Sathiabalan

POPULAR Malaysian street food find pride of place at Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa’s Malaysian Food Street.

Officially opened last month, members of the media from Malaysia, Singapore and China were treated to what the street has to offer.

There are 18 stalls, including two halal ones selling roti canai, nasi lemak and briyani.

Most of the stalls cater to famous street food from Kuala Lumpur as well as Penang.

They include Kuala Lumpur’s well-known Jalan Alor Hokkien mee, the Fung Wong Confectionery, Petaling Street Famous Porridge, and Huen Kee claypot rice.

Penang offerings include the Ah Mei Hokkien prawn mee, Penang Hai Beng Hainan lor mee, Penang Ah Long lor bak, Penang Lim Brothers char koay teow and cendol from the original stall on the island.

The interior of the Malaysian food street is designed to evoke the look and feel of streets in Malaysia with facades of old buildings, complete with outdoor tables and chairs for a casual dining experience.

According to Haw Kian Siong, manager of operations for Malaysian Food Street, the concept took over a year of planning.

One of the major challenges was convincing the original hawkers to come in as they had never branched out of their locations before.

However, once they understood what Malaysian Food Street was all about, they jumped at the chance.

Adolf Tan, chef de cuisine at Malaysian Food Street, said in order to decide which hawker fare to feature on the street, they had to consider whether or not the food was eye-catching, as well as its aroma and, of course, taste.

“We later finalised the eight best hawker food. Some of the hawkers who make them have been around since the 60s,” he added.

The opening of the Malaysian Food Street adds to the already wide selection of food and beverages options found in Resorts World Sentosa which range from celebrity chef-run restaurants, themed dining, to the hottest bars and clubs.