8 tiger prawns cost $239 at an outdoor eatery

Eating at a hawker stall in Singapore is one of the cheapest dining options–unless you get taken for a ride. This seems to have happened to this American couple who took four friends to Newton Centre, one of the most touristy hawker establishments in the country. Although dining out at a hawker stall can be as inexpensive as dining in, these six people ordered from stall 43 Tanglin Best BBQ Seafood and found a different story. At the end of their meal that included: “four crabs, baby squids, half a steamed chicken, four bottles of beer and fruit juices,” in addition to the prawns, they were handed a bill for $491. The eight prawns accounted for $239 of the total.

That’s insane. I ate at Newton Centre on a few occasions. In my experience food there might have cost a little more than other hawker centers, but nothing over the top. According to what’s reported in this Straits Times article, there wasn’t anything special about these prawns either.

As people who have ordered without asking a price first–my husband and I have been stung, but only $50 for snake in Vietnam, this story reminds me of a piece of travel wisdom. Make sure you know what things cost before you order, but also know what is a reasonable price before you sit down. I can tell you, if you’re spending $491 in Singapore, you don’t know where to eat.

By the way, hawker stalls are outdoor food courts where the various stalls offer a variety of foods. Most have items considered that stall’s specialty dish. This one has the best pineapple rice, for example, but that one has the best Hakka chicken. Customers browse the various offerings, order food and then find a table with seats. When the food is cooked, it’s delivered to the table. It is possible to order food from more than one stall at a time.