Street food comes to CK Choi lobby

Juicy Hainan chicken rice, spicy rendang and sizzling satay. These are some of the culinary delights offered during a series of monthly festivals of Asian street foods and cultural events at the Institute of Asian Research (IAR).

The week-long festivals start this month and mark the one-year anniversary of the institute's move to the CK Choi building.

Plans are to convert the Choi building lobby into a modern version of "The Carpark," a Singapore tourist attraction in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"It was a parking lot during the day and a food festival at night," IAR's Eleanor Laquian explains. "At around 6 p.m. the food vendors would arrive with their carts, and set up kitchens all over the place and tourists would come and eat."

As part of its community outreach program this year, the IAR will revive the street food tradition Monday to Friday on the following dates: Feb. 17-21, March 17-21 and April 14-18. Festivals take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with cooking demonstrations and information about street food.

Ethnic community associations and local Asian restaurants will cater lunches offered at $6 per meal. That includes taxes and all the tea in China.