Artbox, the Singapore Food x Art event is back for the third year running and our media friends are kind enough to send us an invitation our way to bring you the latest in queuing-up-for-food festivals.
As my inaugural attendance for this particular event, was it worth it dragging slightly more than an hours’ worth of transportation if you didn’t happen to live close by? Let’s find out.
This time, they have swapped out the central locational comforts of Marina Bay for a bigger event space up north and is now situated next to Kranji Turf Club called The Grounds@Kranji; right next to the horse racing and go-karting tracks.
Traveling via MRT to Kranji is enough to put you a mere 5 minutes-walk from the festival with signage available the moment you reach the entrance that will normally lead you to the stadium.
Opening on a non-weekend like Friday, the crowd on a mid-afternoon is more than manageable and there were hardly any situations where the queue for food takes longer than a couple of minutes.
From what I’ve seen, the layout of the event is generously wide to accommodate for very large amount of foot traffic which is good to see.
Compared to the nightmare of many people complaining on social media last year (and the year before) about it being overly crowded, the festival that continues this weekend is sure to have eased up a little.
Still, I don’t think there is nearly enough sheltered venues around the place in case of rain so come prepared; least you want to be one of the many that will have to crowd around Kranji Stadium’s sheltered walkways.
A word of advice to the event goers: many of the free events and activities, especially on the main stage, are only going to start at 6.30pm. So, if you enjoy lightshows or performances, it will do you no harm to come hungry at night.
The event ends at 11pm so there is still plenty of time to walk around in the night if you prefer to do so.
The event planners have partnered up with fave for their cashless payment needs so all the food-related stores (at least the ones I’ve been to) can be paid using that if you prefer.
General Vendors of the non-food kind
What would an event in Singapore be without also having merchandise that you can buy and peruse; this event is no exception. While I of course had no time to go through all of it, the ones I’ve been to seem to be selling pretty good quality goods and I have personally bought some for myself as well.
Our Tour of the place (and areas of interest)
Below is our media tour of the place that gave us a quick rundown on the goings in this year’s event:
Video coming soon!
Various Art Exhibits
There are various art exhibits littered around and most are worth a gander. Though I wasn’t particularly infatuated with any of the pieces, all of them looked pretty nice and I was rather bemused by the central exhibit that is one of the first things you see in the event itself.
Not in awe of what it looks like but at the logistical and the safety paperwork in order for something like this to be placed in the event. Of course, our guide immediately reassures us that this is safe.
“Garden of Eden” Exhibition
Price: $5/per entry, $8/2-person entry
I had a chance to go into one of the art exhibits of the place named “Garden of Eden” recreated within a shipping container which was initially, for about 30 seconds, kind of cool to see. The entire length of the container had been replaced with full-body mirrors filled with hanging vines and a small grove/tree at the middle; there are even some apples dangling from it together with a slew of fairy and strobe lights to create the sense of insects and moving butterflies on the ceiling.
Then you quickly realize that there really wasn’t much to see (or do) besides taking pictures with a full-body image of yourself followed by a prompt exit. Unfortunately, I’d give this one a pass.
Horseshoes for Charity
Price: $20/per horseshoe
The event planners have teamed up with the Kranji Turf Club to raise money for charity by selling self-made coloured horseshoes. The process takes roughly 2 minutes and needs about 10 minutes to dry before it is ready for collection.
While I’ve seen immersion dipping plenty of times, its still a fun experience to do and try on your own. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get a nice colour on it like the pair that went before me; oh well.
If you’re unsure about what color to use, they’ve also had some samples on the right side of the payment counter for your consideration.
If you didn’t have a chance to try it out, here is some footage of immersion dipping in action:
All proceeds will go towards Singapore Children’s Society for a good cause so if you have a need to have a decorative horseshoe in your life, definitely give it a whirl.
Price: $20/per person ($15 if using favepay)
For the hands-on and the creative, there is always the myriad of workshops you can attend. These are bit-sized ~20-minute workshops that will teach people artisanal skills for handicraft making.
I especially like the one where an instructor would teach you how to make tiny little leather-bound scrapbooks that wouldn’t look out of place in a toy set or doll house.
You do need to register at the counter though and people are allocated a session so you might have to wait awhile before your turn.
Handily, the media booth also had a stand which lists out all the activities in the workshops that you can participate.
This was perhaps the coolest thing on display at the show; a ray of dazzling lights casted on 3 tall shipping containers that you even get to interact with once the lightshow is over.
Once the show is done, head on over to the yellow squares marked in front of the sensor and try to wave your arms; your arms now directly control a portion of light which is fun to play around for a couple of minutes.
If you were late for the showing, don’t fret as the display has been made to repeat at 30-minute intervals.
For those unable to stay late or are otherwise too lazy to go, here is some footage of it in action:
Being the pompous and rotund horseman that I am, I wouldn’t dare to miss out on the occasion to have some food to snack on while touring the exhibits. Unfortunately, doing both means that I could really only try out some of the stores that stood out to me but rest assured that there are plenty of choices and stalls available for your perusal.
Kazo Creampuffs and Cheese Tarts
Price: $3.50/creampuff, $3.50/cheese tart
This stall initially caught my eye with a contrasting yellow/black scheme and thus was my first stop once the guided tour was over.
Taking a bite in this cream puff immediately reminds me that hedonism is an all-powerful thing and should be kept off the hands of a few. Life has no simpler pleasure or delight that comes with eating a buttery polo bun with an astutely balanced butter-and-cream-ratio filling which actually outweighs the instant regret you get by consuming that much fats at once.
This was definitely worth its price.
The saleslady was also generous enough to give me a free sample of cheese tart with my purchase so I was able to try that too. Thanks!
The cheese tart was, I have to say, almost right up there with the cream puff I’ve just eaten. No sign of a bland crust from the under-use of butter or moist insides from bad filling consistency. It’s a pleasure to eat and I really can find no fault in either of these desserts.
Golden Moments Durian Desserts
Price: $10/ice cream, $13/puree
While I’m not the biggest fan of anything Durian flavoured, I had the opportunity to try free desserts on a hot day (something only madman would say no to) from a media coupon that was provided so I went with it.
The ice cream was my favourite of the two and should taste like what you expect; the flavour was quite heavy and is definitely more suitable for a Durian lover for which I am not. Still, the ice cream had a nice texture that was neither too milky or icy and I enjoyed it for what it is.
Unfortunately, the puree was a different story. I just don’t find the slushie nature of the dessert to be that palatable and I found the Durian flavour to be upped a notch; something which was a little too much for my tastes. Stick with the ice cream.
The Juice Way Fruit-Blended Beverages
Price: $5-5.50/per bottle
A couple of nice-looking bottles caught my eye when I was thirsty for something to drink and it came from a company that I have not heard of so I decided to give it a try.
I also had a nice chat with Darryl, (or Darren, hazy memory, sorry if I remembered wrong!) who were friends with the founders of the company, helping to man the store; some aspects of it which I found particularly interesting.
The company does not compete with brick and mortar drink stalls with a place for point-of-sale but instead gets their customers through online orders and the such. They target events and catering services which was why I’ve never came across them at all; despite selling these beverages for about 5 years.
I opted for The Big Bang which is made from dragon fruit, guava and honeydew with blue peaflower (I’m not going to pretend to know what peaflower is). Mixing it all with a straw, the initial taste is about what you should expect; its fruit juice. I could really only taste the dragon fruit with a few hints of honeydew here and there and for some reason expected it to have more water content than it actually does because you know, I’m thirsty.
While it certainly looks much better than it actually tastes (and it tastes fine), it’s not a bad thing. I wouldn’t pass to try on this at a party or event, which I guess is what they were going for anyway.
Another thanks to Darryl (Or Darren) for giving me an additional drink which I pretty much have the same comment on but with different fruits instead.
Goodburger Plant-Based Burgers
Price: $16 – varies/burger (Classic with a side of fries)
On my adventures of deciding what to have for dinner, I remembered coming across the burger food truck from the tour and thought that would be nice to try.
I had an especially nice chat with one of the co-founders of Goodburger, Ken. I was particularly intrigued by the prospect of operating a “western” idea such as a Food truck and have it sell plant-based food which I reasonably assume is less popular than just selling regular burgers. I even managed to conduct a short Q&A with him!
“Q: Why would you be [opting to go] for the food truck concept [especially in Singapore] where it is so foreign in Asia?
A: Well I do think that it is foreign but a lot of people do know about them and they like the idea of that. There is a lot more interest because Netflix has a show called “chef” which is based on a movie which also has the same name which is also on food trucks so there is [already] a lot of awareness. It’s a unique concept for us so we decide “Hey let’s start a food truck and sell some plant-based burgers that taste like the real thing” “Ken, Goodburger co-founder
Q: Is there a reason why you would do plant-based burgers instead of just regular burgers?
A: The reason why we’re doing this is … a way of trying to create a platform to create sustainability and also a more climate-friendly world. That’s really our mission and the driving force [for our concept]. It’s not because no animals were harmed then it’s a good burger”Ken, Goodburger co-founder
Note: Its my first time trying a plant-based burger but I have eaten vegetarian meat substitutes before
On the burger side, the classic is served with the usual “beef” patty, egg-toasted buns, onions, tomato sauce, cheese and pickles. The patty came pretty close to the real thing at first glance and will fool most that don’t pay any attention. The patty is tender, looks just about the same as it would if it were real meat and I definitely found it delicious overall.
This definitely exceeded my expectations. Nice job.
For those with culinary experience (and at no discredit to the chefs making this awesome burger), one can tell that a burger is a good place to mask the different smell of a plant-based patty due to the liberal use of condiments and the unfortunate fact that the chewy consistency of meat derived from lean fats and tendon, even grounded, is pretty hard to replicate on a plant-based substitute.
To come pretty close for a person like me is still very commendable (and honestly, might beat out poor quality meats). Kudos to that. Would definitely recommend.
Another round of thanks for the service crew in providing me with a free burger even though I was going to buy it for today’s dinner anyway.
With my limited time at the event, I wasn’t able to see it all within the approximately 5 hours at the event. Even with foot traffic relatively sparse, there is quite a number of stalls at the event so you will be taking awhile if you want to see it all.
On the prose, I am neutral to slightly positive on the travel time on account that I didn’t have to squeeze with a lot of people at the event. Hopefully, the foot traffic can be manageable for tomorrow as well.
For the foodie or those living nearby, why not? The food is above average, has a nice atmosphere and has bonus points for people who like seeing the work of other artists.
For the lazy or undecided, the event will also run the next weekend so you have 5 days in the weekday to decide.
In my opinion, its worth at least one trip down if you’re like me, who missed the 2 previous times this event has existed.