The food available in the Singapore F1 GP paddock for walkabout (general admission) and grandstand ticket holders was excellent and, in comparison to the rubbish available in Melbourne during the Australian F1 GP, miraculous. Apart from beer, which was SG$8 a plastic cup (about the same as Melbourne), food was cheaper and of infinitely better freshness and quality.
Although quiet during the early afternoon (gates officially opened at 1pm), in several different areas around the paddock hawker style stalls and carts and outdoor food court areas filled with people at the evening progressed. The Padang area was almost deserted on Friday during the day (above) but manic on Saturday and Sunday nights (below).
On Friday I tried one of my favourite dishes, laksa, from a stall in the Padang area for lunch (stall photos taken later in the evening), and for SG$6 is was fresh, tasty and invigorating. I had just spent 3 hours walking around in heavy rain (I managed to get into the track on Friday 3 hours before the gates were supposed to open) and was soaked to the skin. My shoes and jeans were splashed with mud. I was not cold as it was as warm as ever but I did feel quite demoralised and needed something to pick me up.
On Saturday for dinner I had a wonderful tender beef rendang with peanuts, fluffy rice and fresh pineapple and cucumber salad for SG$10, again in the Padang area. Below is the dish and the stall.
On Sunday I was mainly at another part of the track near the Esplanade arts building, and the nearest food area was called Glutton’s Bay (below).
I had chicken satay for lunch (10 sticks for SG$6.50) with cucumber and diced rice cake (see the top photo, the stall is below).
For dinner I had nasi lemak for SG$5.50 – fried chicken, ikan bilis (dried anchovies), coconut rice and fried egg.
The catering providers were local businesses, often chains or franchises, and they offered pretty much the same kinds of Singaporean foods you can get on the street or in shopping centres. Prices and markups varied considerably. You expect a significant markup at events like this, as the caterers have probably paid a big fee to win the contract and have to make money while working in difficult conditions with restricted movement in and out of the track.
I had great chai tow kway or carrot cake (not the kind with walnuts and icing), a Singaporean dish of chopped up radish and rice cake fried into something like an omelette with fresh egg and sambal (chilli) and a scattering of spring onion on top for SG$3 at the Broadway hawker food centre near my hotel in the Lavender neighborhood. At one stall in the GP it was SG$8, which was a big markup for such a simple dish. At SG$6.50, the satay sticks were much closer to the street price (approx SG$5).
Even soft drinks were good value (500ml bottles were SG$3 at the track compared to SG$1.60 – SG$2.20 at convenience stores throughout the city). One small convenience store in the Esplanade arts building (within the track complex and thus not open to the public over the weekend) clearly had no idea what to expect from the Grand Prix. They were open as usual and charged their standard SG$1.60 for iced tea and other soft drinks. The fans quickly worked out that this was better value than at the nearby drinks stall at Glutton’s Bay and promptly emptied the fridge shelves of every drink they had. The staff served as fast as they could in stunned amazement.
Overall, the prices were very reasonable, especially given the exceptional quality of the food. In most cases, you could watch it being prepared. Most foods at the Singapore F1 GP were much closer to street price and quality than at the Australian F1 GP, which has a lot to learn from Singapore in providing great food for spectators.