I try the food and festivities at GastroBeats to figure out what the fuss is about

Let’s start with a caveat, festivals aren’t exactly my jam.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m passionate about food and I love attending live music events (read: concerts).

But when the two are combined, I get the sense that you somehow end up with a watered-down version that may not deliver on either front.

Sorry Coachella and Laneway die-hards.

So when I was tasked to check out Gastrobeats at Bayfront Event Space, I was more intrigued than anything else.

Immediate impressions

@asiaone Live music, bouncy castles and over 50 food vendors. Gastrobeats is back at Bay Front Events Space this year from June 1 – 25, 2023. Here’s what went down. #fyp #sgtiktok #bayfronteventspace #gastrobeatssingapore #goodvibes ♬ original sound – AsiaOne

Upon arrival, the first thing I noticed was the music.

An All Time Low classic blared from the speakers followed by more hits from Blink-182 and Paramore. 

Was this GastroBeats or Emo Night SG? Is My Chemical Romance about to pop up on stage for a surprise performance?

Spoiler alert, it didn’t happen so don’t get your hopes too high.

Regardless, the angsty pop-punk playlist was a pleasant audio backdrop to me taking in the sights at GastroBeats for the first time. 

Right off the bat, this place is huge and a bit of a sensory overload.

Entering the festival grounds, I was immediately greeted by a row of tantalising-looking food vendors.

The festival promises a gastronomic extravaganza with culinary delights aplenty – and they weren’t kidding.

Knowing that GastroBeats has a line-up of up to 50 food stalls, I avoided jumping the gun and did a full walk-through before picking out what looked intriguing.

There were burgers, franks, Korean fried chicken (and the list goes on) but one stall, in particular, caught my eye.

It’s a wrap! (Or taco)

When I learned that Papi’s Tacos was one of the food vendors for this year’s event, I knew I had to try it.

The Mexican food establishment has two outlets in town, and I’ve been eyeing it for quite some time.

Burrito and quesadilla lovers would have to contend with tacos as it makes up the bulk of the menu for Papi’s Tacos at GastroBeats.

I got myself the grilled chicken tacos (two for $12) and waited eagerly as the chef assembled it in front of me.

If you are getting the tacos, don’t forget to give the lime a squeeze before taking that first bite.

It will make a world of difference, trust me. 

All in all, the tacos were enjoyable if not a tad bit small (and pricey), but that’s to be expected.

So be prepared to order a few more dishes in order to fill up the belly.

I’d give Papi’s Tacos another try but might opt for the grilled fish and grilled tiger prawn with mentaiko sauce instead.

If you value variety, GastroBeats has carefully curated themed ‘streets’ that promise to transport you to the night markets of Taiwan and Thailand.

On the ‘Taiwanese street’, Baoderful serves up some baos that definitely get the thumbs up.

One option that is worth a shot is the Nashville chicken with slaw bao. Not the most traditional but yummy all the same. 

Two of these buns are $12.90, while it’s $18.50 for three.

On the ‘Thai street’, I headed to Mahachai Market for some skewers.

The stall offers sotong sticks at $4.50 per piece and Thai beef sticks for $3 each.

But for me, the octopus stick ($10 each) is the winner here. The meat was tender while the marinade was punchy without being overpowering.

If you’re not a big fan of spice, be warned. The food can get quite fiery. 

What else is there?

If you’re not a big foodie, no worries as there are plenty of thrilling games and activities at GastroBeats that all ages can enjoy.

Carnival games are always good fun. I mean, who could turn down the opportunity to bring home a cute stuffed toy?

All you have to do is successfully toss a ring so that it lands on the neck of a bottle, or knock down three cans from afar.

It’s harder than it sounds, mind you.

Towards the back end of the festival, next to the unmissable giant inflatables, is where you’d find the arcade classic from yesteryear.

Relive your teenage days with video games such as Time Crisis 4 to Daytona USA.

If you’re up for a challenge, take up the GastroBeats Chomp Champs challenge. 

This takes place onstage every Sunday during the festival and pits participants against each other in a high-intensity eating competition that requires speed, skill and a serious appetite.

Music-wise, GastroBeats has got you covered.

Visitors will also get to enjoy the best of local music talents such as 53A, Jive Talkin’, Peep Show, Shirlyn + The UnXpected and Jack & Rai.

There’s plenty to digest (quite literally) at GastroBeats, and you may even need more than one visit to try everything.

So it helps that entry to the festival is free of charge this year.

Address: 12A Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018970

Opening hours: June 1 to 25, 4pm to 11pm daily

ALSO READ: New exhibition shows why Singapore has been a choice destination since the 1800s


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