After procrastinating for a long while, I decided to spend my holiday on Singapore’s 54th Birthday compiling this. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY SINGAPORE!
It is actually tough picking out 54 famous local dishes, and there are quite many I would have wanted to include in, from Ayam Penyet, Horfun, Indian Rojak, Beef Noodles, Teochew Porridge, Goreng Pisang, Mee Goreng, Lontong, Ngor Hiang, Thunder Tea Rice to Roast Pork.
As for the recommended stalls, they are generally some of the popular ones – though may not be the best. (Well, the best may be found at the kopitiam right below the flat. Who knows?)
Well, enjoy the list, and appreciate the food and hawkers (who work so, so hard)!
1 Bak Chor Mee
Bak Chor Mee is quite a uniquely-Singapore hawker dish, typically of dry noodles with minced pork, pork balls and braised mushroom tossed in a vingary-sauce. The soup version has gotten quite popular as well.
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles 大华猪肉粿条面 at Crawford Lane is well-known as it is one of the 2 hawker stalls in Singapore awarded THE MICHELIN STAR.
It is commonly known as the best Teochew style Bak Chor Mee aka minced pork noodles in Singapore.
Here’s the magic: Al dente springy noodles tossed in a savoury vinegary sauce, filled with tender pork and liver slices, minced pork, dumplings, and a sprinkling of fried sole fish.
Each bowl is priced at $5 – $10.
The queue is crazy though, and can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours as many tourists would have made this part of their itinerary. Please be ready for the heat if you intend to join in the line.
2 Bak Kut Teh
Talk about Singapore’s most iconic dishes, and Bak Kut Teh or Pork Rib Soup will come to mind.
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh (with main outlet at New Bridge Road) is one of the most known brands around, in fact the only Bak Kut Teh shop in Singapore awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand.
There are generally three main styles of Bak Kut Teh in Singapore – the dark, soy sauce Hokkien soup base; the less commonly seen herbal Cantonese style; and the peppery garlicy Teochew style.
Song Fa specialises in the Teochew-style heritage soup.
Its features include fall-off-the-bone tender ribs, and soup that is lighter in colour and aromatic. Served piping hot, the soup displays its trademark clarity and spicy-peppery flavour.
3 Ban Mian
Ban Mian considered a fairly simple dish, of handmade noodles (usually rolled over a pasta maker), cooked in soup typically, and added with ingredients such as minced pork, anchovies, mushrooms and spinach.
There are You Mian and Mee Hoon Kway fans – one’s thinner, while the other is squarish and flat. The dry versions are gaining popularity as well.
China Whampoa Home Made Noodles at Whampoa Food Centre make their noodles within the stall in little batches, with a range of delicious ingredients like fish slices, clams, abalone or prawns.
It is then added to the light and clear broth with mani cai to give it a tangible sweetness.
After CNN named “Cendol from Singapore” as one of the 50 world’s best desserts, there was an uproar on social media about the dessert’s origin.
Cendol (or “Chendol”) is a sweet iced dessert known for its mixture of ingredients from the signature green rice flour jelly, to coconut milk and palm sugar (Gula Melaka).
Some add in other ingredients such as red bean, sweet corn and attap chee.
Jin Jin Hot / Cold Dessert at ABC Brickworks Food Centre serves up a version of ‘Power Chendol’.
The Gula Melaka was thick, flavourful and mildly sticky, almost like glue sticking on top of the mini-hill. The gooey and heavy palm sugar imparted an intense and rich flavour.
5 Char Kway Teow
Char Kway Teow, which is essentially stir-fried noodles with rice noodles, is one of those local hawker dishes that I appreciate more as I get older.
You never get the same type of Char Kway Teow between stalls. And as most owners (typically older uncles of a certain age) fry them plate by plate, you may not even get that same taste even as you go back to the same stall.
Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee at Hong Lim Food Centre serves up a semi-wet, eggy version with soft texture, and lots of cockles added.
Hawker Ng Chin Chye (who took over the stall from his father) fries every plate individually, squeezing an exact 42 squeezes of a special mixture made of soy sauce and fish sauce.
6 Chicken Rice
A quintessential local Singapore dish. The Hainanese Chicken Rice is made up of poached chicken and fluffy rice (typically cooked with chicken stock), served with cucumber, minced garlic, chilli sauce and dark sauce.
The most famous Chicken Rice stall in Singapore is probably Tian Tian Chicken Rice Maxwell Food Centre, though it is probably seeing more tourists than locals in its queue nowadays.
The late Anthony Bourdain once mentioned that the chicken rice was so fragrant and delicious that it could be eaten on its own. Gordon Ramsey ‘lost’ a hawker challenge here.
7 Chilli Crab
Chilli crab can be said to be one of Singapore’s most representative dishes, and I like dipping deep fried mantou into that gooey spicy-sweet-orange sauce.
This is also the kind of food that can get our hands dirty, with lots of laughter from sharing stories around the round table.
You cannot talk about Chilli Crabs without a mention of Roland Restaurant at Marine Parade, known to be the creator of the iconic Chilli Crabs and mecca for crab devotees.
Of course, some other restaurants also do lay claim on that honours, but probably none has “The Year 1956 – Founder Of Chilli Crab” printed on the menu.
Compared to most Singaporean seafood restaurants, their chili sauce was more red than orange, and its savoury taste mildly spicy and slightly sweet. Very delicious.
8 Chwee Kueh
Many Singaporeans would agree that Jian Bo at Tiong Bahru Food Centre offers one of the best chwee kuehs around, a simple dish of smooth and soft steamed rice cakes topped with oily preserved radish.
This is actually what I eat regularly since I was a child. Simple, yet so very satisfying and nostalgic.
9 Claypot Rice
Traditional Claypot Rice requires the rice to be cooked within the pot itself, with appropriate control of the fire. Stalls which uses charcoal, would require customers to wait at least 30 to 45 minutes for the rice to be cooked (Tip: always call to reserve first).
New Lucky Claypot Rice at Holland Drive is known to serve one of the best Claypot Rice renditions arouns.
The signatures at New Lucky Claypot Rice include the Claypot “Wu Wei” Rice for two pax ($10/$15), 3 pax ($15/$20), 4 pax at ($20/$25). The “Wu Wei” rice includes a mix of both chicken and Chinese sausages.
The waiting time is estimated to be between 20 to 30 minutes for off-peak periods, and 45 to 90 minutes for peak period.
10 Curry Chicken Noodles
Just how did poached chicken and curry come together again? While Singapore is the land of Hainanese Chicken Rice, the other much over-looked dish is Curry Chicken Noodles.
If you are looking for Curry Chicken Noodles, your best bet is at Hong Lim Food Centre.
There is Heng Kee Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee downstairs – said to be the original, and oh that chilli sauce; and Ah Heng Chicken Curry Bee Hoon Mee which now comes with a Michelin recommendation.
A bowl comes with bee hoon (rice noodles) or yellow-noodles in a laksa-resembling curry broth, topped with ingredients like chunks of potato, spongy tau pok (fried bean curd), slices of fish cake, bean sprouts, and the main protein of Hainanese chicken.
11 Curry Puff
Those deep-fried (some baked) pastries with curried fillings, potatoes and chicken make such as comforting, semi-filling treat. I start with both ends of the crimping, then go towards the centre.
For travellers, you may find the Curry Puff similar to the British Cornish pastry.
The popular ones in Singapore include Old Chang Kee, Polar and A1, but some indie hawker stalls also make very delicious ones with varying styles – though they are fast disappearing.
The fillings made of zesty curried potatoes, chicken chunks, slices of boiled eggs and spices, make it a comforting treat.
12 Duck Rice
Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap stall at Chinatown Complex Food Centrehelmed 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.
13 Durian and Durian Puffs
Described to “taste like heaven, but smell like hell” – Durian is many Singaporean’s favourite fruit.
Goodwood Park Hotel’s Durian Puffs are some of the best known, and a must-have even for non-durian lover like myself.
The puff looks like a profiterole with light mousse-y durian flesh, is dainty, and fits into one mouthful.
14 Fish Beehoon Soup
Sliced Fish Soup Bee Hoon or Fish Head Bee Hoon, is served hot usually with thick white vermicelli in a cloudy, milky soup. Customers can order sliced fish, deep fried dish, or a mixture of both (some stalls call it the “yuan yang”).
Beach Road Fish Head Bee Hoon at Whampoa Food Centre offers choices of Sliced Fish Bee Hoon, Sliced Fish Soup, Fish Porridge, Seafood Soup and Special Tom Yum Soup, all priced inexpensively at $4.50 per bowl.
The Clear Fish Soup ($4.50) comes with a generous slices of fresh fish (5-6 thick slices) in a beautifully clear broth that is mildly sweet and salty at the same time.
The subtle saltiness comes from the added fried flat fish/snakehead fish. The meat from the fish’s head is cooked well, firm enough to pick up with chopsticks but not rubbery.
15 Fish Head Curry
Muthu’s Curry at Race Course Road has a long history of over 40 years, and has emerged as an icon serving hearty South Indian fare.
Having their Fish Head Curry with rich gravy blended with aromatic spices plus a glass of Mango Lassi can be an unforgettable eating experience.
16 Fishball Noodles
There are many Fishball Noodle stalls in Singapore, though it is getting hard to find hand-made fishballs already due to commercialisation. They are typically served with mee kia, mee pok – which I feel goes better, to kway teow.
There are possibly a few reasons why Ah Ter Teochew Fishball Noodles at Amoy Street Food Centre got in the radar.
It offers a slightly different take of Fishball Noodles and Bak Chor Mee; and son Gilbert was voted “Most Handsome Hawker” and has a nickname of “Hawker Hunk”.
An order consists of a bowl of soup, with your preferred noodle in a separate bowl – tossed in the signature chili sauce.
The medium-sized fishballs are made from fresh saury fish, bought fresh daily from the market at 3am, and have a soft, bouncy texture.
17 Fried Carrot Cake
For foreigners reading this, this is a savoury carrot cake, unless the sliced cakes you are more familiar with.
Also known as “Chai Tow Kway it is a dish of stir-fried cubes of radish cake, commonly available in white and black versions – added with dark sweet sauce.
The owners from Heng still steam their own Carrot Cake, which is getting more unusual in Singapore as many stalls simply get supplies from the factory.
Typically, I find that ‘homemade’ carrot cakes have a more wobbly texture with less generic taste – sometimes you can feel those strips of radish.
I personally preferred Heng’s Black version, with flavourful sweet-savoury taste of the dark soy sauce.
18 Hainanese Curry Rice
Hainanese Curry Rice is such a uniquely Singapore food, one can see some colonial, Chinese and Malay influence. You probably don’t think this anywhere else.
Messy and gooey, not photogenic, usually brownish in one aerial – yet tasting all together lip-smacking.
Singapore’s top choices for Hainanese curry rice include Loo’s Hainanese curry rice at Eng Hoon, No Name at Bt Ho Swee Beo Crescent, Feng Kee at Pasir Panjang and Beach Road Scissor Cut Curry Rice at Jalan Besar.
For a Hainanese curry rice novice, order the most basic classic dishes of Deep Fried Pork Chop, Curry Chicken, Kong Bak (pork belly) and Chap Chye. Other dishes should include Assam Fish, Steamed Meat Balls, Fried Eggs, Sambal Sotong and Deep Fried Prawn Fritters.
19 Hokkien Mee
Hokkien Mee 福建炒蝦麵 is admittedly one of my favourite local hawker food, and I know of people who enjoy ta-paoing (takeaway) this dish.
The dish typically consist of yellow noodles and rice vermicelli stir-fried with slices of prawn, squid, pork belly, egg and pork lard. It is often served with sambal sauce and lime for that added citrusy flavour.
Some of the key components at ‘judging’ a dish of Hokkien Mee include the wok-hei, consistency (too wet or dry), and flavours of the stock.
Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Hokkien Mee at ABC Food Centre is run by the second generation hawker Mr Toh Seng Wang, nearing 70, often wearing goggles cooking up a storm behind his large wok.
The plate of noodles comes with a sizeable amount of toppings including prawns and pieces of pork belly.
The noodles cooked in prawn stock is considered moist, though I won’t say it is wet, brimming with umami flavours, with good wok-hei.
20 Ice Cream Sandwich
So when a BuzzFeed listicle dissed the Singapore Ice Cream Sandwich in a listicle, Singaporeans were outraged and were quick to ‘defend’ one of our favourite growing up food.
We used to find the ice cream man all around, but they have been dwindling in numbers and your best bet is at Orchard Road stretch and Waterloo area during noon time.
They go around serving old-school blocks of ice cream – in flavours such as red bean, durian and chocolate, wrapped within rainbow-colour soft bread or biscuit wafers.
Simple joys costing just $1 or $1.20 – depending on where you are.
21 Kaya Toast
Ya Kun Kaya Toast is probably THE shop that started the entire wave of local kopi toast chains. Founded by Loi Ah Koon in 1944, one of its most original shops is at Far East Square.
After they started franchising in 2000, Ya Kun never looked back.
Many Singaporeans and tourists love their thin, brown crispy grilled bread, spread with homemade kaya comprising of coconut milk, sugar, eggs and fragrant pandan.
22 Kway Chap
Kway Chap is a two-part Teochew dish consisting of braised pig’s innards, and slippery broad rice noodles.
Blanco Court Food Centre Kwap Chap at Old Airport Food Centre offers sets for or 1 or 2 persons, and you can order an add-on if you like additional ingredients or innards.
The favourite part in the entire plate was the intestines, cut in large bite-size pieces, are spongy tender yet not springy. Interesting to note that the stall does not offer small intestines.
The other highlight was the kway itself, broad yet thin and slippery smooth.
The fragrant soy sauce broth was mildly sweet and herbal, complemented by the aroma of fried shallots.
23 Kopi (Nanyang style)
Kopitiam is a common part of Singapore, where a typical drink stall would sell coffee (kopi), tea (teh), milo and other soft drinks, along with breakfast items such as kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs.
This has become our way of life.
There are Killiney Shops around, but I guess the best place to serve Killiney-style kopi is really at Killiney Road itself (a short walk from Somerset MRT).
Our Nanyang-style coffee is indeed a class of its own.
The spicy coconut milk-based Laksa is probably one of Singapore’s most popular dish among tourists, and many end up buying packs of Prima Deli noodles back home.
Laksa is typically flavoured with coconut milk and dried shrimp, and topped with ingredients like cockles, prawns, fishcake and sprinkling of laksa leaves.
The famous brand is the “Katong Laksa”, though there are several different naming and branches due to family-splits and copycat versions. For the authentic version, you are supposed to eat the Laksa only with a spoon – no chopsticks or fork given.
Sungei Road Laksa is the other famous shop, selling Laksa cooked over charcoal, with deliciously light and coconutty gravy.
25 Lor Mee
Lor Mee 卤面, the Hokkien-based gooey-gravy hawker food with thick-flat yellow noodles may not be everybody’s kind of dish.
Some say starchy, filling, and somewhat plain. But find a good bowl, and it can be a comforting and satisfying treat.
Xin Mei Xiang Lor Mee at Old Airport Road Food Centre is often lauded for its Lor Mee done right.
The sauce, a key element in a good Lor Mee, was quite unlike any others I had before – thick and flavourful as it was prepared with five-spice and other seasonings.
The balance of being vinegary and spicy was done just right.
26 Mala Xiang Guo
What? Mala Xiang Guo?
This dish might not have been included a couple of years ago, but now you would spot a Mala Xiang Guo stall in almost every hawker centre, even food courts and coffee shop.
For the uninitiated, the dish consists of a variety of picked ingredients (such as sliced meats, spam, mushroom, vegetables to instant noodles) wok-fried in high heat together with tongue-numbing sauce.
Be careful with picking too much without considering, or it would be a very expensive meal.
Customers can usually pick from ”Xiao La” (little spicy), ”Zhong La” (medium spicy), to ”Da La” (very spicy).
While “Mala” has always been known for its Sichuan and Chong Qing origin, this particular dish did take up in Singapore in quite a big way.
One of the most popular stalls credited for making this famous, is Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo at People’s Park Food Centre.
27 Mee Rebus
Mee Rebus typically with yellow noodles in a spicy potato-based gravy, hard-boiled eggs and tau-pok.
The Mee Rebus from Lina’s Café (Jalan Pisang) is a must-try, cooked using the “Special Fatimah Ahmah original recipe since the 1970s” (which is from Lina’s mother), priced very affordably for a café setting.
Though it seemed like a simple fare, the Mee Rebus was hearty and tasty, with a mildly sweet and thick gravy, garnished with a hard-boiled egg, spring onions, bean sprouts, and fried shallots.
28 Mee Siam
Mee Siam which means “Siamese noodle” in Malay, is a dish of thin rice vermicelli, originating from Southeast Asia and probably adapted from Thai flavours
Jia Xiang Mee Siam at Redhill Food Centre has been serving up Mee Siam for more than 50 years, the owner having learnt the recipe from her mother. Don’t be fooled by the faded signboard, because it is the food that really matters.
You get a myriad of ingredients spread atop the orange bee hoon such as hard boiled eggs, tau pork, tiny fried croutons, a thin piece eggs, fried ikan billis, and finished with a dollop of chilli.
Once you taste the gravy, you know where the magic is – the right proportion of sourness with that zing. Very addictive.
29 Mee Soto
Mee Soto is a spicy Indonesian-style noodle soup dish – “soto” refer to Indonesian soup.
Wedang’s Bee Hoon Soto Ayam, a Javanese-influenced dish of rice vermicelli with a deep fried begedil (potato cake), shredded chicken in yellow spicy chicken stock, was pleasingly tasty.
Its soup base came across as being balanced, cloudy yet not overly rich, spicy but manageable. It is not as salty as some of the Mee Soto I have come across.
You can add some sambal kicap, which is a black sweet-spicy sauce to a portion of the soup to add some kick.
30 Mutton Soup
Do the young even drink Mutton Soup nowadays? But we don’t even see many of such stalls around nowadays.
Mutton Soup seems to be popular food for the older generation, as
Chai Chuan Tou Yang Rou Tang at Bukit Merah View Food Centre attracts a long line of taxi driver uncles and workers during lunch time.
The stalls serves up a variety, from mutton meat, balls, tendon, tripe to even brain, all priced affordable at $5, $6, $7 or $8.
The Mutton Soup came across very pleasant, flavourful with slight aromatic herbal taste that didn’t overpower (compared to some other soups which could be just one-dimensional herbal or peppery)
The meats and parts came across as tender and soft, had slight gamey taste, best savoured with a dip of the tangy chilli (similar to what you get from a beef noodle stall).
31 Nasi Biryani
Take a walk around Singapore’s Little India, and you would realise how multi-culturally rich and colourful our little city is.
Other than Mustafa Centre, perhaps you can make your way to Bismillah Biryani.
This restaurant located at 50A Dunlop Street serves up Dum Biryani and other authentically cooked Pakistani and North Indian cuisine.
The humble eatery has also been praised by the Lonely Planet for having “the best biryani and kebabs this side of the Bay of Bengal”.
The basmati rice was flavourful, as the meat was cooked together with it rather than separately, additionally coated with strong spices.
32 Nasi Lemak
Nasi lemak, the Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in creamy coconut milk and pandan leaf, is one of Singaporean’s favourite dishes.
Add some crispy chicken wings, deep-fried fish, otah otah, fried ikan bilis and peanuts, eggs and cucumber slices for a more indulgent treat.
Not forgetting the much-need sambal chilli sauce for that oomph.
There are two famous stalls at Adam Road Food Centre – Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak and No. 1 Adam’s Nasi Lemak.
Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak attributes its popularity to the family recipe that emphasizes on the 4 key ingredients: basmati rice, sambal chilli, chicken wing and otah otah.
The winning element to me was the Sambal Chilli, specially cooked with both Indian and Japanese chillies.
33 Nasi Padang
For those who are unfamiliar, Nasi Padang consists of steamed rice served with various choices of pre-cooked dishes, typically with a window display with rows of stacked food.
There are usually 2 types of serving in a Nasi Padang restaurant – ‘pesan’ (ordering) and ‘hidang’ (serve) method.
Hjh Maimunah Restaurant at Jalan Pisang is quite a well-known Nasi Padang eatery serving up more than 40 dishes.
This belongs to the ‘pesan’ way when diners choose the food they want from the window display, which will then be shifted to an individual plate of rice, or served in small dishes which is better for sharing.
Individual or sharing (‘hidang’ style) – your choice, so tell the server beforehand.
The signature dishes here include the Juicy Sundanese Grilled Chicken, Lemak Siput (a type of shellfish called needle snails cooked in spicy coconut gravy), Beef Rendang (braised beef cooked in coconut milk and spices) and variety of Barbecued Fish.
You can also order ala-carte dishes such as Sambal Goreng (stir fry with vegetables), Tahu Telur (bean curd omelette with spicy sauce), Sotong Hitam (squid cooked in squid ink) and Sup Buntut (oxtail soup).
34 Nonya Kueh
From Ang Ku Kueh (to celebrate births), Kueh Salat, Sago Kueh, Kueh Lapis, to the ‘trending’ Ondeh Ondeh, every Nonya Kueh is a piece of culture, story, and hard work.
One of my favourite places to get Nonya Kueh is from HarriAnn. The stall which is at Tiong Bahru Food Centre, was founded by couple Harry and Ann who learnt traditional Nonya Kueh making from Harry’s mother.
Harry’s mother Mdm Chia had to raise the family single-handedly. Other than its glutinous rice (which tastes almost like what my grandma used to make), I think our foreign friends should try our local version of the ‘rainbow cake’, the Nonya-style Rainbow Lapis.
35 Orh Luak aka Oyster Omelette
Oyster Omelette 蠔煎, commonly called ”Orh Luak” consist of starch (typically potato starch), egg batter and small oysters fried today, usually enhanced with a spicy chilli sauce with lime.
The Singapore style is quite different from say the Taiwanese version – which is starchier and has a sweet-sauce poured over.
However, this is not a hawker dish that everyone loves, as it can be heavy and greasy.
Some of the notable stalls to get it from include Ang Sa Lee (Chomp Chomp Food Centre), 85 Bedok North Fried Oyster (Fengshan Food Centre), Heng 興 (Newton Food Centre), and Ah Chuan Fried Oyster Omelette (Toa Payoh Lor 7), and Huat Heng Fried Oyster (Whampoa Drive Food Centre)Huat Heng Fried Oyster (Whampoa Drive Food Centre).
36 Pandan Cake
Some friends overseas always get me to ‘tompang’ a few of Bengawan Solo’s pandan chiffon cakes when I travel, especially to Hong Kong.
On a usual day, I get just one slice, and enjoy the pillowy soft goodness, humming that famous song in my head, “Bengawan Solo, Riwayatmu ini…”
Mandopop singer JJ Lin brought this cake to a Chinese variety show to share with other celebs, and made the cake even more popular than ever for our overseas friends.
37 Peranakan Food
Peranakan food holds a special place in my heart, and I would always recommend in for our foreign friends to give it a try.
This is heritage cuisine combining Chinese ingredients with Indonesian and Malaysian spices and cooking techniques, with taste profile that can be that is tangy, aromatic, and spicy ie an explosion in your mouth.
Iconic Peranakan dishes include Babi Buah Keluak, Babi Pongteh, Chap Chye, Itek Tim, Otak-Otak- and Pie Tee.
Candlenut at Dempsey is the only Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant in the world; Violet Oon’s restaurants have been getting increasingly popular; while Blue Ginger and
True Blue Cuisine provide a more traditional take.
38 Pig’s Organ Soup
Koh Brother Pig’s Organ Soup at Tiong Bahru Food Centre began in 1955 by a pioneer hawker named Koh Kee with a secret recipe and a push cart.
Now, his son and grandson run the business.
The Pig’s Organ Soup ($4.00, $5.00) comes with that special soup along with cut pieces of pig organs, such as pig liver, tripe, intestines, as well as pork belly and pork balls, lean meat.
The special element about this stall is their soup is a natural sweetness from the pig bones imparted to the stock, accentuated with slight saltiness from the vegetables.
Aside from the signature Pig’s Organ Soup, the stall serves Glutinous Rice with Stuffed Chestnuts Wrapped in Pig Intestine, another specialty.
Those who grew up in Singapore will be quite familiar with Popiah – a Fujianese/Teochew-style fresh spring roll wrapped with radish and carrot fillings.
Getting Popiah at the Ann Chin Popiah 安珍 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.
Porridge or congee, called ”chog” in Cantonese, is a Chinese rice porridge dish added with ingredients such as meat, fish, eggs, peanuts and even seafood.
A smooth, delicious bowl of congee is the perfect food that warms the belly.
Ah Chiang’s Porridge at Tiong Bahru has been my regular favourite since the good-old days.
While it may look simple and plain, it has a creamy consistency with fresh ingredients. Add some soy sauce, pepper and cut chilies, and you have got yourself a delightful bowl. Tip: There are some side dishes of Fried Wantons and Dou-Miao which you can get.
41 Prawn Noodles
When people go for Prawn Noodles aka Hae Mee, it is always about the broth.
It has to be flavourful, brimming with seafood-goodness, with tinge of sweetness, and most importantly taste gao-gao (intensely rich).
However, I personally prefer the dry version because I get to try the best of both worlds – the mixture of sauces, along with the comforting soup – usually available in a small bowl.
Fresh Taste Big Prawn Noodle at Zion Road or “Noo Cheng Adam Road Big Prawn Mee” serves up Prawn Mee cooked for hours with pork ribs and prawn heads, the broth was incredibly tasty (and I don’t get MSG attacks after).
There are prawn mee lovers who like bowls as if an ocean of prawns died within to create that stock. This isn’t one of them, but was still flavourful.
Order the dry version, ask for some chilli, and you would find a spicy bowl of ‘al dente’ medium-thick bee hoon addictively tasty with fragrant fried shallots.
42 Putu Piring
Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring owned by Ms Aisha Hashim and her family, was the key stall featured in Netflix’s new series “Street Food” – produced from the creators of Chef’s Table.
Maybe it is not considered as Singapore’s most representative food, but it certainly caught quite a bit of attention.
These Malay desserts look like the Chinese kueh tutu, but the origins are said to be from India.
The stalls continue to use the traditional method of making Putu Piring using the same recipe as when it was founded. The round cakes were made of ground rice flour, filled with gula Melaka (palm sugar) in the centre, covered with another layer of rice flour and then steamed in metal conical moulds for about 5 minutes.
Owner Mohamad Hashim first learnt how to make the putu piring from his grandmother, and had continues to do so for 20 years.
Since its founding, the franchise has grown to 4 branches including the original at the Haig Road Hawker Centre. His daughter and son-in-law continue to manage the stalls.
Funny how we often use the word ”Rojak” in our colloquial language, yet the dish has somehow gone under-the-radar in the recent few years.
For foreign friends who are wondering what exactly is Rojak… in Malay, it means “eclectic mix”.
It is a uniquely Singapore experience to try – this humble dish, with its interesting mix of ingredients, is a spot-on reflection of the multi-cultural diversity of Singapore.
Some call this our local-style salad (some call it a fruit salad) and what makes this dish much talked-about is its killer sauce and unique ingredients.
Balestier Road Hoover Rojak at Whampoa Food Centreis famous for its Rojak ($4 or $5 for a small plate), the Hoover rojak uses hardly-seen ingredients such as jellyfish, century egg, and bunga kantan (torch ginger flower buds).
Joining the seemingly-odd combination of ingredients are bean sprouts, cucumbers, turnip, guava, chunks of pineapple, unripe mangoes, taupok (deep-fried beancurd puffs), and you tiao (deep-fried dough fritters).
44 Roti Prata and Murtabak
Although ”flip like Roti Prata” has a total different meaning though, one of my favourite hawkers to watch is the prata man flipping his dough.
Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, the South-Indian flat bread of Roti Prata is usually served with fish or mutton curry. It now comes with fanciful fillings from cheese to chocolate.
Some of the favourite places to get it include Springleaf Prata Place, Casuarina Curry, Sin Ming Roti Prata, to Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata.
Zam Zam, opposite the famous Sultan Mosque, is popular with its Roti Prata and Murtabak. Do you know that they have been around since 1908? That makes it more than 110 years old.
The restaurant is supremely crowded, the service staff exude an air of arrogance, and note that you MUST order either a Briyani or Murtabak if you sit on the second level.
Some say the Murtabak is the best in Singapore; while others say the standard has dropped. Still, how many restaurants in Singapore can say they have been around more than a century?
45 Salted Egg-whatever
Funny how I see tourist lug back packets or even cartons of Irvins’ Salted Egg Chips and Fish Skin back home, which has become quite an iconic take-home souvenir.
Several Singapore iconic food items have also taken on a salted egg twist, from the most commonly found Salted Egg Crabs, to Salted Egg Kway Teow, Salted Egg Carrot Cake, Salted Egg Curry Puff, to Salted Egg Chicken Rice.
Mellben Seafood has always been attracting crowds for their Chilli or Bee Hoon Crabs, but you can also try their Salted Egg Yolk Crabs.
I was expecting a wetter sauce, but the mighty crustacean came in a drier form such that the fleshly crabs had already absorbed some of the flavours.
The outer coating was grainy with a moderate touch of sweetness, added with fragrance from the curry leaves and butter. You will find yourself licking your fingers pretty soon
46 Sambal Stingray
Head over to the tourist-favourite Newton Food Centre, and you would find many stalls selling the Sambal Sting Ray, which comes with a slab of barbecued piece topped with sambal chilli served on banana leaf.
Alliance Seafood is one of the most popular stalls there selling this dish.
Good for two to share (or one if this is the only thing you are having), the flesh was fresh and tender and pulled apart easily.
The sambal chilli felt only mildly spicy compared to more fiery versions I had elsewhere, and was perhaps tamed down to suit the palates of foreign visitors in Singapore.
Satay which is seasoned grilled meat, typically comes served with peanut sauce and rice cakes of ketupat (extra order).
The people of Crazy Rich Asians get their fill of “Singapore’s best satay” at Newton Food Centre.
You can consider Chomp Chomp Satay at Chomp Chomp Food Centre too. Priced at $0.70 per stick, the satay is available in pork, chicken, beef and mutton or ketupat, served with pineapple peanut sauce.
I ordered a combination of pork and chicken, and their well-marinated skewered satay meats are not overcooked so they turn out still tender and succulent.
Their charred exterior added a nice smoky taste that complemented the accompanying traditional peanut sauce.
I particularly liked the chicken satay which had slight sweet-honeyed coating, and was relatively juicy.
48 Satay Bee Hoon
Satay Bee Hoon is one of those fast-disappearing dishes in Singapore, and I won’t be surprised if some of the millennials have yet to even try it before.
The local hawker dish is said (accordingly to Wikipedia) to be invented by the Teochew people who immigrated to Singapore … one of those foods that is proudly created here that nobody is taking claims of its origins yet.
This is essentially hot satay sauce poured on bee hoon (vermicelli), added with ingredients such as pork slices, prawns, cockles, cuttlefish and kang kong.
Its appearance might not be enticing and looks can hardly be recongised as “instagrammable”, but this is one of those dishes you should get your hands on.
Some of the stalls you can get your fix include Shi Wei Da at Bedok 85 aka Feng Shan Food Centre, Sin Chew Satay Bee Hoon at Bukit Timah Food Centre, and Bak Kee Teochew Satay Beehoon at 85 Redhill Food Centre.
49 Soya Sauce Chicken
One of the 2 hawker stalls in Singapore with a Michelin star. Liao Fan Hawker Chan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle (Chinatown Food Complex) sells Soya Sauce Chicken Rice, Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle, Roasted Pork Rice, Char Siew Rice, and Char Siew Noodles are unbelievable prices of $2 – $3.
It is otherwise known as the “Cheapest Michelin Star Meal In The World”.
Hawker Chan has found his world opening branches throughout the world, from Bangkok, Jakarta, Taipei to Melbourne.
However with commercialisation, customers have reflected disappointment (especially in Bangkok where it opened with a bang and is now relatively quiet), and perhaps the best place to have it is still at the original stall.
If the stall is closed or has too long a queue, there are so many other Soya Sauce Chicken style at
Chinatown Complex Food Centre worth checking out, such as Ma Li Ya Virgin Chicken, Emerald Soya Sauce Chicken, and Fatty Ox HK Kitchen.
50 Tutu Kueh
“Tu Tu” comes from Hokken word “push push”. These Tutu cakes came about in the 40s, where immigrants with the surname Tan sold these snacks on the streets on push carts, therefore the name.
These cakes made of rice flour with sweet coconut and grounded peanut are still meticulously hand made to retain its original flavour. One of the most famous places to get this is from Queensway Lau Tan Tutu Kueh.
51 Wanton Mee
A good plate of Wanton Mee in Singapore would certainly be the most debatable, because there are just so many styles.
From the old-school local (usually characterised by thin char siew and little sauce), Malaysian Pontian, Hong Kong (thicker cuts of char siew with thinner noodles), Thai (fragrant pork lard), and many other versions in between.
Kok Kee Wanton Noodle’s winning element is probably the special secret recipe sauce, poured all over the springy noodles with an agreeable bite. That sauce is everything.
The noodles were springy yet with a soft bite, and didn’t have that strong alkaline taste.
If you are completely new to the noodles, you may wonder what the fuss is about – especially the extremely long queue. But to many, this is part of their growing up years.
52 Western Food
“Western Food” in Singapore is hugely influenced by the Hainanese during the early 19th century when the immigrants first came to Singapore to work under British employers.
Thus, you get versions of Chicken Chop, Chicken Cutlet or Steak served with mushroom or black pepper sauce, with fried, baked beans and coleslaw – which are all not commonly seen elsewhere.
Wow Wow West at ABC Brickworks Food Centre which started as a school canteen stall, employs a number of ex-offenders in order to provide them a second chance to give back to society. (Christian Hokkien and Mandarin songs can often be heard playing in the background.
Their signatures include the Chicken Chop and Chicken Cutlet, which is massive for just $6. The gravy and coleslaw used is also prepared on a daily basis and is not mass produced.
I also usually add on an extra order of jumbo Cheese Sausage.
53 Yong Tau Foo
Yong Tau Foo is a Hakka Chinese cuisine consisting primarily of tofu filled with ground meat mixture or fish paste.
Some stalls allow you to pick and choose items; while others have a pre-fixed set, and they are usually dipped in a mixture of dark sweet and chilli sauce.
Not many stalls make Yong Tau Fu like Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Fu at Chinatown Complex Food Centre anymore – handmade, fresh and simple.
Add those deep-fried anchovies for some flavours and crunch. Long queue though.
54 Zi Char
There is just something about “Zi Char” (or Tze Char 煮炒) that is very comforting, especially when the dishes come served piping hot with that strong wok-hei (wok-heat).
Zi Char places are great for family and friends gathering, mostly at affordable pricing (except when you order seafood and just anyhow order).
Some of my personal favourite dishes to order include Beef Horfun, Sweet & Sour Pork, Sambal Kang Kong and Har Cheong Chicken, though there are many eateries that come out with their own specialty dishes.