Chinatown Complex Food Centre located at Block 335 Smith Street is the largest hawker centre in Singapore with over 260 food stalls, also boosting the world’s first Michelin hawker stall.
Come here during lunch time, and you would find an interesting mix of the local elderly, office executive and curious tourists.
The food centre which has closed for renovations from March, has reopened 1st June. The renovation is reported to cost about $2.5 million for the upgrading of the building that is more than 35 years old.
However, take note that not all stalls will return yet, some during the 2nd and 3rd weeks of June.
After a quick visit, I noted that overall the food centre looked more or less the same, though slightly cleaner with refurnished toilets, netting (to prevent birds from flying in), new signage and more fans.
Here are 10 Must-Try stalls at Chinatown Complex Food Centre:
Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle 香港油雞飯麵
335 Smith St, #02-126, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 8:00pm, or till sold out (Mon – Sun)
Of course this is the stall that most tourists (and perhaps locals) would head for.
Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles at Crawford Lane are the first street hawker stalls in the world awarded 1 Michelin Star.
At $2 (USD1.47) for a plate of Soya Sauce Chicken Rice, this is THE CHEAPEST Michelin Star Meal you can get anywhere.
Chef Chan Hon Meng (now marketed as “Hawker Chan”) used to helmed the stall, but now his business has expanded to chains around the world. But to get the best taste of his food, I think it still has to be at this food centre.
The stall serves up items of Soya Sauce Chicken Rice, Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle, Roasted Pork Rice, Char Siew Rice, and Char Siew Noodles at unbelievable prices of $2 – $3.
A whole chicken goes for $14. VERY affordable, for one of the most expensive countries in the world.
The Soya Sauce Chicken I thought was slippery skinned, tender and smooth meat, good enough to have without adding more chilli sauce. Whether it is “over-rated” or not… really depends. (By the way, there are many other Soya Sauce Chicken stalls you can try at this food centre, such as Maria Virgin Chicken, Emerald Soy Sauce Chicken.)
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot
335 Smith St, #02-198/199, Singapore 050335
Tel: +65 6227 2470
Opening Hours: 4:30pm – 11:00pm (Fri – Wed), Closed Thurs
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot 联合本记砂煲饭 located at the corner of Chinatown Complex Food Centre is one of the most popular claypot rice stalls in Singapore.
It has also made it as one of the 50 restaurants and hawker stalls in the Michelin Bib Gourmand Selection list.
The average waiting time can be anything from 30 minutes to more than an hour, as they have no shortage of customers. (So call to reserve if you can.)
With this tried-and-tested-for-years cooking method in the claypot which takes a long time, the rice turns out fluffy, tender yet retains a subtle firmness. Moist but not too wet. Each grain is distinct, not mushy.
They do not scrimp on ingredients and use good chunks of chicken in bone, duck liver sausages, pork belly, and slivers of salted fish, wax meat, and lup cheong (Chinese sausage).
And for those who like guo-ba, that’s the best part.
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao 中国拉面小笼包
335 Smith St, #02-135, Singapore 050335
Tel: +65 9743 5287
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 5pm – 8:30pm (Wed – Sun), Closed Mon, Tues
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao offers a great value for your money with delicious handmade Xiao Long Bao and noodles such as Sour & Spicy Noodle, Beef Noodles, Dumpling Noodles and Sour & Spicy Noodles (each priced at $2.50 – $4).
Who doesn’t love a good dumpling? Digging into that smooth skin to find steamy and belly warming soup and juicy filling awaiting you is a blissful experience.
The Xiao Long Bao are considered affordable too, at $6 for 2 baskets of 5.
The Chinese couple running this stall makes thousands of delicious XLBs on a daily basis. The dumplings are only $0.60 per piece and have generous fillings of tasty and broth which is on the sweetish side. Add some vinegar and chilli for a better experience.
You could also enjoy their Szechuan style Spicy Wantons ($5 for 10 pieces) and Pan-Fried Dumplings aka Guo Tie ($6 for 10 pieces).
Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap 金记潮州卤鸭
335 Smith St, #02-156, Singapore 050335
Tel: +65 9018 9052
Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm (Sat – Thurs), Closed Fri
Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap stall helmed by Melvin Chew and his mum gives a modern twist to our familiar local hawker dish.
Having a braised duck with golden lava egg is something that you don’t usually find on the menu card, but you can enjoy this ingenious concoction at this stall.
The Duck Rice Bento is priced at $8, and has a generous serving size. This platter includes yam rice rolled in the shape of balls, braised duck cooked till tender, offals, bean curd, a variety of pickled vegetables and Japanese style lava eggs with runny yolk.
The succulent duck slices is the true winner of this dish, bursting with flavor in every mouthful. You can also get braised duck and pig’s organ porridge starting at $3.
Ann Chin Popiah
335 Smith St, #02-112, Singapore 050335
Tel: +65 8189 4699
Opening Hours: 8am – 8pm (Mon – Sun)
Those who grew up in Singapore will be quite familiar with Popiah. Getting Popiah at the Ann Chin is not just about the dish, but a whole experience.
You get to see the friendly staff preparing everything from scratch every day, including the popiah skin.
They are quite fast in the wrapping, so you probably wouldn’t have to wait that long.
Ann Chin Popiah charges $1.60 per Popiah roll, and also include other varieties such as Kueh Pie Tee ($3 for 4 pieces), Yam Roll ($1.60), Deep Fried Spring Roll ($1.60), Curry Spring Roll ($1.60).
The best parts to me are the juicy turnips and crunchy bits, balanced by the light and sweet sauce wrapped in smooth and silky skin. Tasted fresh and moist in every bite. There is no pork and lard used in this stall.
Jia Ji Mei Shi 佳記美食
335 Smith St, #02-166 Singapore 050335
Tel: +65 6222 7209
Opening Hours: 6am – 10pm (Mon – Sun)
Jia Ji Mei Shi is also known as the “Photogenic Memory Delicacies” for its tasty steamed dishes at a great value.
This stall serves up a variety of breakfast type of items (though they open till late), such as Sooh Kueh (80c), Economic Bee Hoon ($1.00), Economic Noodles ($1.00), Yam Cake with Chee Cheong Fun ($2.00), Green Bean Rice Dumpling ($3.00), Pork Rice Dumpling ($3), Glutinous Rice ($2.00) to Century Egg Minced Meat Porridge ($3.00).
I tried a couple of their items such as the Economic Noodles and thought they were okay – similar to what you get from other stalls.
What was more special was the Yam Cake with Chee Cheong Fun, as the Yam Cake was very smooth, soft and flavorsome, drenched flavourfully in sauces.
Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Fu 秀記江魚仔釀豆腐
335 Smith St, #02-88, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 5:45am – 3pm (Mon – Sun)
Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Fu is one of those stalls that enjoy the longest queues in this food centre.
Their Yong Tau Foo, priced at $3.00 with 6 pieces (cannot choose your own) with bee hoon or noodles is a class of its own.
Part of the fact is that they make their own special fish paste which adds that level of freshness of ‘genuine’ flavor, instead of using the factory-made varieties. Those deep fried anchovies also add some flavours and crunch.
You can also get a bitter gourd or eggplant included to your order for an additional $0.50.
Fatty Ox Hong Kong Kitchen
335 Smith St, #02-84, Singapore 050335
Tel: +65 9638 5345
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 2:30pm (Wed – Sun), Closed Mon, Tues
This is one of those places where you can get quite authentic tasting Hong Kong noodle dishes.
Run by a Hong Kong born chef, you can find that taste of Hong Kong in dishes such as Beef Brisket Noodles ($4), Soy Sauce Chicken Noodles ($3, $4), Roast Chicken Noodles ($4), Pork Knuckles Noodles ($4), Roasted Duck Noodles ($5), and Char Siew Noodles ($4).
Okay, the guy in front of me bought every last plate of the Beef Brisket Noodles (which everyone tells me is the best thing here), so I had the Char Siew Wanton Noodles ($4).
While the thing egg noodles had some of that characteristic alkaline taste (just a bit), it had an enjoyable springy texture. The char siew was chunky and tender, while the dumplings were generously wrapped and plump.
The 1950s Coffee Wu Shi Nian Dai 五十年代
335 Smith St, #02-48, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 7am – 8:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Charge up with freshly brewed kopi (coffee) and variety of breakfast toasts at this stall.
Wu Shi Nian Dai serves up typical kopi tiam items such as Traditional Toast ($1.20), Peanut Thick Toast ($1.20) and Kaya Thick Toast ($1.20) that have a decent taste matched at inexpensive price.
Okay, I won’t say that the toast or eggs are anything to shout about, it is the kopi that has a fragrant aroma, not too bitter and smooth texture.
Old Amoy Cendol
335 Smith St, #02-008, Singapore 050335
Tel: +65 8748 7590
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9pm (Mon – Sun)
Run by young hawkers, I would say that Old Amoy Chendol is one of the best versions I had in Singapore, with rich and thick gula melaka.
Get a delicious bowl of the famous cold dessert at only $2 for a bowl, and this stall is dedicated to just this one dessert. The cheap price doesn’t take away from the serving size or great and filling quality of the dish.
It was light with a lovely coconut taste, smoky and fragrant gula melaka to complement the soft and sweet red beans.
Smith Street Chinatown Food Complex has reopened. However, only a portion of the stalls will return that Saturday and some are taking time to come back later in the month.
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