Upper Thomson Road holds a special place in the heart of every foodie in Singapore.
It is known for its delectable eateries and quaint cafés that are not only known for their food, but also the warm and welcoming ambiance that reminds one of simpler times with familiar flavors.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of this busy area, Sembawang Hills Food Centre sits as a cozy little hawker centre without demanding much attention, yet still getting noticed for its affordability and variety.
Albeit a little unassuming, you will love the local hawker delights at various stalls. Note that many stalls close quite early, say just after lunch time.
Here are a list of stalls at Sembawang Hills Food Centre you can dabao your food from if you stay nearby, or bookmark for your next visit:
Seng Huat Duck Rice
#01-07 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 1pm (Wed, Thurs, Sat, Sun), Closed Mon, Tues, Fri
When you are good at something, it’s best to focus on that alone instead of adding needless variety. This hawker stall runs on the same motto and is best known for their delectable braised duck dish.
They have mastered the art of braised duck and served with rice or porridge – a comforting hot bowl that soothes and nourishes.
The Duck Porridge is sold at an affordable $2.80, while a Braised Duck Rice is at $3.50, with a set at $4.50).
Regulars would tell you to be at the stall by early hours of the morning as they run out of it quite fast.
The Braised Duck Rice Set ($4.50) surprisingly has quite a good portion, enough to be shared between two not-so-hungry people.
The meat was delectably tender with braising sauce and scrumptious dark soya flavours working impeccably with the subtle kick from the herbs.
San Ba Wang Guo Zhi Shu Shi
#01-06 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 7am – 12pm (Mon – Tues, Fri – Sun), Closed Wed, Thurs
Don’t be mistaken if you don’t exactly see a queue here, they may be many customers waiting around for more than 30 minutes just for this Kway Chap.
Also, even if you come about 10am+, don’t be surprised if the “stall closed” or “sold out” sign come on. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
A portion here of Kway Chap here is very affordable, priced at $3 and $4.
What I found were that the pig intestines were clean and didn’t have the funky smell, while the braising sauce was slightly salty. The kway (rich sheets) were more on the average side, and would have been better if they were smoother.
Though overall with tender parts and inexpensive pricing, it is no wonder they enjoy such popularity.
If you love offals, another stall you can check out there is Jia Jia Xing Pig’s Organ Soup.
Jia Jia Xing Pigs Organ Soup
#01-10 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 7:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Jia Jia Xing serves up Pig’s Organ Soup ($4.50), Pig’s Stomach Soup ($4.50), Pig’s Trotter with Black Vinegar ($6, $8) along with Vegetables ($3).
While some of the popular Pig’s Organ Soup in Singapore takes on a more peppery slant, this was pleasantly light yet flavourful, and had a delicate taste of salted vegetables.
All that pickled vegetables in the soup just helped whet the appetite.
The pig’s stomach slices and liver were prepared so that they were clean without the strong ‘porky’ taste, and the there were other ingredients such as meatballs, sliced pork and tofu.
The weaker link I thought was the rice, while looking brown didn’t have much flavour in the grains and was clumpy.
Khoon’s Katong Laksa & Seafood Soup
590 Upper Thomson Rd, Sembawang Hills Food Centre #01-26, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 10am – 7pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Another variation of the “Katong Laksa” and this comes served in a metallic bowl, available in options of $3, $4, and $5. I ordered the $4 bowl.
The thick vermicelli is cut into rather short strands, so you just need to scoop it up all up with a spoon without chopsticks.
Compared to other styles of Laksa, they do not add that much coconut milk so you would find it easy to slurp without being too cloying.
There was a certain lightness and not too spicy, but even those who cannot take the heat would likely find this manageable. I would have personally preferred if it was slightly more aromatic overall.
Lai Heng Char Kway Teow
#01-32 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Nobody can conjure up food pairings like Char Kway Teow and Otah. This stall sells both. The husband and wife team is friendly as well.
The Char Kway Teow ($3 and $4) comes in two serving sizes, and you can get Otah ($1) with it to enjoy this unlikely duo that just works.
Interesting to note is that the Char Kway Teow is fried with vegetable oil, and even so not too much oil is added, resulting in a healthier plate.
There is good wok hei but some people may wish for richer dark sauce and smoky flavours.
Jing Ji Fishball Noodle
#01-23 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Tel: +65 9062 7453
Opening Hours: 6am – 1pm (Wed, Thurs, Sat, Sun)
Nostalgic springy fishball noodles that has been around for about 70 years.
This is one of those stalls where a family run business serves a dish that’s been passed down from generations. They have been using the same recipe since Day 1, with the exception of the addition of meat balls and some extra ingredients.
Get there early if you want to have their famous fishballs, as they run out pretty fast in the early morning hours.
At only $3, the Dry Fishball Mee Pok is simple and homely, with ample amounts of noodles, coated in a good mix of sauces including their homemade chilli.
The bowl of wholesome soup includes their bouncy fishballs, prawns, slices of fishcakes, meat and liver.
Yummy Noodle House
#01-18 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm (Mon – Thurs, Sat – Sun), Closed Fri
A relatively popular stall, serving up Chicken Horfun, Vegetable Noodles, Wanton Noodles, Fried Wanton Noodles, Laksa and more. Generally priced from $3.50 to $6.
The strength of its Wanton Noodles ($3.50, $5) would be the springiness and the al dente bite of the long and thin egg noodles, that would toss well with the sauce.
I thought that the char siew was on the lackluster side.
Customers also order some of their deep-fried items as an accompaniment, such as Fried Wanton, Fried Cheese Wanton, Fried Meatballs, Fried Dumplings to Prawn Paste Chicken.
Sembawang Hills Shui Kway
#01-16 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 6am – 5pm (Mon – Sun)
While most are familiar with the Tiong Bahru and Bedok Chwee Kueh, could try this stall for something different.
They sell the Chwee Kueh in portions of 4 pieces ($1.40), 6 pieces ($2.10) and 8 pieces ($2.80).
The Chwee Kueh at this stall is somewhat pastier and firmer than the ones you would have tried before (so I can imagine some would prefer the smoother, more wobbly types).
The savoury chye poh is fried with dried shrimp that gave it a nice hint of umami.
Surprisingly not too greasy or oily at all.
Makan Food Stall
#01-32 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 6:30am – 7pm (Mon – Sun)
This is a Muslim-owned stall with halal-certified ingredients that make for delicious local dishes such as Mee Siam ($3), Mee Rebus ($3), Lontong ($3), as well as Nasi Lemak ($3).
You can top up with ingredients such as chicken wing, chicken leg, beef, fish, priced between $1.50 and $3.
The reasonably priced dishes are in high demand throughout the opening hours, but their Mee Siam and Mee Rebus in particular stands out for its impeccable flavours.
The Mee Rebus ($3) had thick, luscious sauce that was quite well balanced in terms of sweetness and spiciness. Do take a bite with some of the green chilies for that extra kick.
Ping Kee Popiah
#01-32 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 11:15am – 8pm (Tues – Sun)
This stall serves warm and indulgent servings of Popiah that is affordably priced at $1.70 per piece.
I loved how generous they were with the fillings and sauce. The ingredients tasted quite fresh with hard-boiled eggs pairing up with crunchy beansprouts, grounded peanuts and braised turnips. The bits of surprise are Chinese sausages.
Though I wished that the popiah skin could have been softer.
Also available is Kueh Pie Tee ($3.20 for 4 cups) which has the same fillings in cups of crispy crust.
Yong Kee Curry Puff
#01-02 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Tel: +65 9842 6019
Opening Hours: 7am – 3pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
This is another family stall with homemade currypuff goodness and flavors. The stall is helmed by Mr Lim Meng Kuang and his wife, who used to make dim sum and puffs for their friends and received good reviews.
They start the preparations every morning as early as 5am, using fresh ingredients and preparing the filling with special care and love for devoted customers.
You may see a small queue forming early in the morning.
A Chicken Curry Puff goes at $1.30 per piece. What people would like is the buttery crispiness of the skin, and it has quite a not-so-predictable spicy filling of potatoes and chicken.
The puffs are on the thinner side though, so perhaps I wished they were packed fuller.
Sin Hoe Huat Café
#01-01 590 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574419
Opening Hours: 6am – 1:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
For an early morning treat, you get old-school style delectable warm breads alongside a great variety of local beverages will warm you up from inside and send you off to a great day ahead.
The stall serves up Traditional Toast, Kaya Toast, Peanut Butter Toast and sandwiches.
Customers also go for soft-boiled eggs to go with the fluffy bread, making it the perfect comfort food to have with a strong cup of kopi.
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