To celebrate the 56th National Day of Singapore, I decided to compile a list of 56 well-loved hawker foods in Singapore. (Sorry if your favourites are not in the list, there are just too many to choose from.)
This is possibly the longest blog article I have ever written, with more than 8000 words.
Can’t think of what to eat today? Perhaps pick a number from 1 to 56, and see if you like it. Happy Birthday Singapore!
1 Ayam Penyet
Ayam Penyet a fried chicken dish flattened with a wooden pestle – the action helps to make the chicken more tender and easier to consume.
The plate is typical served with fragrant rice, some vegetables such as cabbage and potent sambal chilli sauce.
Some serve the dish with fried tahu (beancurd) and tempe (soybean cake) on the side.
Rayyan’s Waroeng Upnormal at Amoy Street Food Centre is known for its Jumbo Penyet Classic, which includes a Kampong-style deep fried chicken – just check out the size of the drumstick.
2 Bak Chor Mee
Singapore’s Bak Chor Mee 肉脞面 is a hawker dish we can be proud of – with a Michelin star in the bag, and once listed as the top world street food by World Street Food Congress.
Also known as Minced Pork Noodles or Minced Meat Noodles, the noodles (typically called mee kia) dish is included with minced pork, pork slices, pork liver, stewed mushrooms and pork lard, tossed in vinegar, chilli and other sauces (depending on the stall).
The most famous Bak Chor Mee in Singapore should be the 1-starred Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles at Crawford Lane. Owner Mr Tang Chay Seng was himself very surprised, and said he didn’t think that ang moh Michelin inspectors would know how to eat hawker food, and didn’t ever think he could get a star.
3 Bak Kut Teh
Bak Kut Teh must be one of Singapore’s most iconic food, in which many celebrities from overseas are huge fans of.
In Singapore, we typically get three styles of Bak Kut Teh which is the peppery Teochew style (the most commonly found), Hokkien style which incorporates dark soy sauce, and strong herbal-flavoured Cantonese style.
Hong Ji Claypot Bak Kut Teh at Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 serves up pots with aromatic hot piping broth which takes 6 hours to cook, made with herbs such as dang shen, dang gui and dried tangerine peel.
The tender pork ribs are also cut into shorter lengths, such that they are easier to eat.
4 Ban Mian
Ban Mian is the kind of food that would send you loads of comfort and warmth in the belly, especially when taken during the rainy days.
I remember during growing up years, Ban Mian stalls were less commonly seen, though I think you should be able to find one stall in most hawker centres now.
It is 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.
China Whampoa Ban Mian at Whampoa Food Centre is quite popular. The hawkers 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.
5 BBQ Seafood
Talk about BBQ Seafood, then perhaps hawker centres such as Changi Village, Chomp Chomp, Newton Food Centre, and Pasir Panjang Food Centre will come to mind.
Typical items sold at such stalls include BBQ Stingray, Crayfish, Lobsters, Tiger Prawns, Lala to dishes such as Kangkong Vegetables and Fried Rice.
The quintessential food to have at Newton Food Centre – the Sting Ray at Alliance Seafood (Michelin Bib Gourmand stall) came as small slab of barbecued piece topped with sambal chilli served on banana leaf. 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.
6 Beef Noodles
Ah, smooth and sticky gravy over the strands of thick vermicelli, with bouncy beef balls.
In case you are a Beef Noodle fan, some of the well-known stalls in Singapore include Hong Kee Beef Noodle (Amoy Street Food Centre), Kheng Fatt Hainanese Beef Noodles (Golden Mile Food Centre), Hong Heng Beef Noodle (Ang Mo Kio Kebun Bahru Food Centre), Zheng Yi Hainanese Beef Noodles (Tai Thong Crescent), Joo Chiat Beef King (various locations), and Blanco Court Beef Noodles (Aperia Mall).
While the original name with “Odeon Beef Kway Teow” cannot be used anymore, you can still find that nostalgic taste at Hwa Heng Beef Noodles at Bendemeer Market & Food Centre.
7 Bee Hoon (Economic)
There is almost always at least one Economic Bee Hoon stall at a food centre.
I picked of Tanglin Halt Food Centre for this as there are actually 4 Economic Beehoon stalls at the Block 48A side – which is a really high proportion for a small food centre.
Plus, 3 of them opens till late at night.
I have tried Mei Wei Xiao Chi (supposedly the OG stall), Piao Xiang Xiao Chi, Mei Jia Fried Bee Hoon, and You Quan before, and noted they are actually all quite similar in styles.
I liked each in various ways, and noted all have their fans. (My friend who stays in the hood said go for You Quan at night.)
Their no-frills Bee Hoon may look plain in colour, but actually had light flavours cooked from stock and soy sauce. Customers may love it for the bits of bean sprouts and carrot for that varying texture.
8 Char Kway Teow
Char Kway Teow 炒粿条 which is essentially stir-fried noodles with rice noodles, is one of those local hawker dishes that I appreciate more as I get older.
There is this ‘fear’ that when the hawker retires, I am never going to get that taste again, especially when more stalls serve up the similar ‘food-court-taste’.
One of my favourite places is Hai Kee Teochew Cha Kuay Teow at Telok Blangah Crescent.
Even if you spot ‘just’ 5-10 customers in the line, you may have to wait at least 30 minutes because uncle fries this up PLATE BY PLATE, unhurriedly in his own style and rhythm. Quite a joy to watch really.
This was one plate that gave me the “wow” on the first bite. It is on a different level all together… the wok-hei, smokiness, the moist texture, and that CRUNCH of the pork lard is all delicious-ness.
9 Char Siew (Roast Meats) Rice
Traditionally sold by displaying them hanged in glass cases by the entrance, char siew and other roasted meats are visually appetising. But once it reaches your plate, it is hard not to drool over this sweet, sticky and savoury pork.
The perfect Char Siew has marbled cuts to allow fat to do its job in keeping the meat moist, juicy and tender.
Its overall flavour is toasty savoury sweet due to the soy and sugars in the marinade. The roasting process, whether over charcoals or in a gas or combi oven, creates that charred exterior with crispy parts.
88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist 88 香港燒臘 88 Hong Kong Roast Meat Specialist is known for their roasts such as Sio Bak – complete with crunchy crackling, moist meat and melt-in-your-mouth fats.
The Char Siew is prepared within the stall, with laborious steps from braising the pork loin with a sweet malt sugar marinate, blow-drying, roasting to drenching the pieces over with dark gooey sauce.
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.
Most stalls in Singapore serve Chendol as part of their huge dessert repertoire; and some may choose to add in ingredients that lang-ga (clash) from glass jelly to agar agar cubes.
Jin Jin at ABC Brickworks Food Centre Hawker enjoys a steady line of customers waiting to get a taste of the 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.
11 Cheng Tng
One of Singapore’s most popular local desserts is Cheng Tng 清汤 (sometimes spelt “Ching Teng”), a bowl of sweet and refreshing treat to beat the summer heat.
Cheng Tng which literally means “clear soup”, is included with many nutritious ingredients such as pang da hai (胖⼤海), gingko, pearl barley, dried longans, red dates, white fungus and dried lotus seed.
However, there are some versions that don’t include certain ingredients (due to cost and effort needed to prepare), and add jelly or agar agar instead.
$1 dessert! Xi Le Ting at Commonwealth Crescent serves up old-school desserts that have recipes that are being perfected since half a century ago. The refreshing Cheng Tng contains plentiful of ingredients from white fungus, dried longan, barley, dried persimmon to ‘pang da hai’ (boat sterculia seed).
They key ingredient to many is pang dai hai, a type of dried malva nut which has a cooling effect and disperses qi to bring down body heat (not advisable for pregnant woman to have though).
12 Chwee Kueh
Chwee Kueh 水粿 while being a relatively known breakfast dish in Singapore, is also fast-diminishing.
With the exception of a couple of famous brands opening up branches or franchises around, indie stalls are getting hard to find. This is because the older hawkers are finding it hard for the younger generation to take over this labour-intensive work.
The Teochew dish comprises of steamed rice cake topped with preserved radish known as chai poh, and served with chilli sauce. While traditionally made with pork lard, many stalls are replacing with healthier alternatives.
One main characteristic of Chwee kueh is that the rice flour mixture is steamed in silver small bowl-shaped containers, and scooped out fresh when ready-to-serve.
Bedok Chwee Kueh at Bedok Interchange Food Centre is a popular stall with branches island-wide (Clementi 448, Chong Boon Food Centre, Chong Pang Food Centre, Lorong Ah Soo, Chinatown Food Centre, Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 etc) in Singapore, famed for its soft, light and supple chwee kuehs.
Once steamed, it forms a silky-smooth appearance, firm jelly-like texture, and a subtle sweet taste.
The Hainanese chicken rice typically consist of poached or steamed chicken chopped into pieces, then served on fragrant rice. This is occupied with light or dark soy sauce (or both), and garlic-chilli sauce.
A main highlight is the rice, which gets its flavours from chicken fat and broth.
As to why you would usually find many Hainanese Chicken Rice shops in the North Bridge Road area, that is because the dish is said to have taken root in Middle Road, Purvis Street and Koek Road more than 60 years ago.
Founded in 1971 as a hawker stall at the now-defunct Margaret Drive Food Centre, Sin Kee Famous Cantonese Chicken Rice at Holland Drive is a family business owned by a Mr. Leong. This stall is operated by one of his sons Benson.
Sin Kee’s chicken are poached in a flavourful stock using chicken bones and other seasonings, to produce chicken that’s tender, smooth-skinned, succulent, and evenly cooked through.
14 Claypot Rice
In our modern Singapore society where everything is about being fast, fast, fast… having a meal of Claypot Rice can certainly test the patience of many.
I am talking about the traditional Claypot Rice cooked over charcoal from scratch, which is fast disappearing. At the popular stalls, be prepared to wait anything from 45 minutes to more than an hour.
It is the skill in cooking and managing the fire, and of course the type of dark soya sauce, oil and chilli given to enhance the flavours.
Not forgetting about the ”guo ba”, when the charcoal cooking leaves a nice charred layer of rice sticking to the bowl waiting to be scraped off once the bulk of the rice is gone.
New Lucky Claypot Rice at Holland Drive features chicken pieces that were well marinated, had a smoky flavour, without being too bony.
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.
There are several stalls famous for congee at Chinatown and Maxwell Food Centre, such as Tiong Shian Porridge Centre and Hoe Kee Porridge, but many have a soft spot for Zhen Zhen Porridge.
The congee was warm and pleasant with thick and dense rice grains cooked to a perfect consistency. Every spoonful was full of delicious ingredients like meat, chicken, and century egg along with other peripherals of spring onion, shallots and chopped preserved vegetables.
16 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.
Ah Heng at Hong Lim Food Centre is known for its Chicken Curry Bee Hoon Mee available in different sizes.
This dish is made 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.
My personal favourite part are usually the potatoes – soft, delicate, yet does not disintegrate within.
17 Curry Puff
These deep-fried (some baked)
Curry Puffs of 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.
AMK Curry Puffs located at Toa Payoh Central are delicately done, with ribbons thin and crispy.
The fillings are robust, spicy, full of flavours containing chicken pieces and part of a hard-boiled egg.
The old Mr Leo behind AMK Curry Puffs is still in the kitchen over-looking the processes. There is always something very attractive when you know it is a grandfather’s original recipe.
18 Duck Rice & Noodles
Duck Rice can be the ultimate comfort food to many Singaporeans.
You will mainly find two types of duck rice in Singapore, the Teochew style which has a simple prep with a light gravy, and the fancier Hokkien style, which has heavy sauce and may or may not have yam rice to add richness to the dish.
Heng Gi Goose and Duck Rice at Tekka Centre sells traditional Teochew-style braised duck (meat, wings, feet) offal, pork belly, pig ears, pig head meat, tau kwa, and egg.
The Duck Rice comes with a plate of duck meat, a bowl of steamed white rice drizzled with the braising sauce, and a bowl of herbal-flavoured soup.
But what stands out is the fragrant herbal dark soy-based lor (braising sauce), thin in consistency but well-balanced in flavour.
19 Double Boiled Soups
Soups of the typical Double Boiled Soups offered include Buddha Jumps Over The Wall, Ten Tonic Ginseng Chicken Soup, Herbal Ginseng Black Chicken Soup, Lotus Root Peanut Pork Ribs Soup, Old Cucumber Pork Rib Soup, Watercress Pork Ribs Soup, and ABC Chicken Soup.
Ah Er Soup at ABC Food Centre was established in 2012 by Mr Ma Pit San, serving traditional Chinese herbal soups at affordable prices. Nothing above $6.50.
20 Fish Soup
Sliced Fish Soup 鱼片汤 has become a popular hawker dish to have especially during days when we want to eat healthier.
The dish with a Teochew origin, typically contains fresh or deep-fried sliced fish in steamy broth. It can be coupled with thick vermicelli (”cu mi fen”), kway teow noodles, or rice, and various assortment of veggies.
First Street Teochew Fish Soup at Upper Serangoon is a family stall hugely popular for their deliciously sweet fish soup.
As the focus of Teochew fish soup is on the freshness and flavours of the fish, they are dedicated and hardworking, getting their fish fresh and preparing for the soup as early as 3 to 4am every day (except Mondays which are off days).
When I had the first sip of the Batang (Spanish Mackeral) Fish Soup, there was a beautiful clear sweetness to it, with hints of ginger in a light but flavourful soup.
As for the fish slices, they were succulent and fresh, with none of that fishy aftertaste.
21 Fishball Noodles
There are many Fishball Noodles stalls in Singapore, but not many serve hand-made fishballs and fishcakes anymore. So, I really treasure one if I come across any.
Ru Ji Kitchen first started at Holland Drive, Blk 44 #02-28, and now 3 other outlets in Singapore – Old Airport Rd, Blk 51 #01-37, Redhill Lane, Blk 85 #01-25, and Toa Payoh Lor 7, Blk 22 #01-58.
Being freshly made, the fishballs and fishcake are of great quality. The famed fishballs begin as a beaten mixture of fish paste, using only pure fish meat with no flour extenders added.
22 Fried Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake is well-loved local hawker dish, also known as Chai Tow Kway. For foreigners reading, this is not to be confused with the slices of sweet “Carrot Cake” with cream cheese.
It is a dish of cubes of radish cake, stir-fried with eggs, preserved radish (called “chai po”, and other seasonings, then added with spring onions.
Oh, no carrots within? This is due to a loose Hokkien translation of “radish pastry” (chai tow) which can mean radish or carrot.
“Chai Tow Kway” is commonly available in white and black versions – which is added with dark sweet sauce.
Chey Sua Carrot Cake at Toa Payoh Lor 1 offers White Carrot Cake fried like rectangular blocks. Crisp brown on the outside, spread with a thin layer of chilli, looking thinner and flatter than usual.
Beneath the outer layer contains soft, small pieces, and I liked the texture which was moist and soft (unlike factory-made ones which have a certain firmness).
23 Fried Oyster Omelette
Oyster Omelette 蠔煎, commonly called “Orh Jian” or ”Orh Luak” consist of starch (typically potato starch), egg batter and small oysters fried together, usually enhanced with a spicy chilli sauce with lime.
There are different styles all around for this dish Hokkien and Teochew origins.
Shrimp can sometimes be substituted in place of oysters; and there is a version without the starch called “Hao Dan” or Oyster Egg.
The Singapore style is quite different from say the Taiwanese version – which is starchier and has a sweet-sauce poured over.
Lim’s Fried Oysters at Bersah Food Centre features batter with secret spices and a perfect balance of flavours is what makes the Fried Oyster Omelette such a hit.
They make the batter themselves along with two types of chilies for the fried oysters and the dip for oyster omelette. Like a symphony of textures and flavours in the mouth.
24 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 dapaoing (takeaway) this dish.
This is so that the noodles can absorb all the ‘chup’ (sauce), and the key moment is when you open the packet, and the pork lard aroma would fill up the house.
The dish typically consists 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.
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 sotong.
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.
25 Hor Fun
Fried Hor Fun is typically found in zi char stalls in Singapore, offering variants from Seafood, San Lou, to Beef with black bean sauce.
Bee Kia Restaurant is well known for its signature saucy Beef Hor Fun which was actually enough to feed two people.
The velvety smooth rice noodles were cooked to appetizing charred flavour with nice smokiness.
The succulent beef slices were drenched in luscious black bean and cut chilli which added mild spiciness, making every mouthful rather full of flavour.
26 Ipoh Hor Fun
While the dish of Shredded Chicken Flat Rice Noodles is more commonly known as Kai See Hor Fun” (Cantonese) in Ipoh, we usually simply call it “Ipoh Hor Fun” in Singapore.
This comforting plate consists of silky flat rice noodles soaked in an indulgent savoury gravy with shredded chicken and braised mushrooms. Though it also comes in various permutations and ingredients here.
The queue for Tuck Kee Ipoh Sah Hor Fun tucked at a corner of Hong Lim Food Centre Level 2 can be considered insane to some, with a long line that can start way before opening hours.
Tuck Kee is most popular for its ‘ultimate’ Crayfish and Prawn Hor Fun. While more expensive than an average plate, it comes in a sizable serving, with three large prawns and whole crayfish halves.
The winning combination is really the smooth thinner than usual horfun that would slide down as you eat, and the tasty sauce cooked with chicken bones and prawns.
27 Indian Rojak
Siraj Famous Waterloo St Indian Rojak at Albert Food Centre is known is known to be the “Original Waterloo Street Rojak Since The 1980s”.
Choose from ingredients such as Potato, Tahu, Hot Dog, Tempeh, Fried Sotong, Small or Big Prawns, and Fish Cake.
The Indian Rajok I had quite a rich-sweet sauce that was thickened with sweet potatoes to give it a creamy, wholesome flavour.
28 Kopi & Kaya Toast
The tradition of kaya toast and kopi in Singapore can be attributed to the Hainanese, and one of the first was Kheng Hoe Heng founded in 1919 which was later renamed to “Killiney Kopitiam” in the 90s.
Heap Seng Leong is one of those treasures in Singapore, a short walk away from the famous ”Michelin” Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles.
It is known for its extremely old-school setting that is caught in time of the 70s, from the tables, chairs, tiles and décor.
Uncle is often filmed for making traditional kopi in his white singlet and stripped pajama pants (but I decided that I just wanted to enjoy my coffee and leave him to his craft).
You can order its Kopi Gu You, local coffee with a slab of butter dropped within for caramelised flavour and softer notes of the coffee beans.
29 Kway Chap
Kway Chap comes in two parts – the rice noodles accompanied with braised sides.
These items include pig intestines, pork belly, pork rind, pig tongue, pork trotters, duck meat, tau kwa, tau pok, fishcakes, preserved salted vegetables, and braised hard-boiled eggs.
Though this Teochew dish looks ‘simple’, it requires meticulous preparation.
In Singapore, you often find this dish paired with Braised Duck Rice.
Chris Kway Chap at Bedok 216 is known for its well-balanced braising liquid – it is both sweet and savoury and carries herbal notes.
All ingredients, from thoroughly cleaned intestines to pork belly, are braised for hours in this potent pot of umami flavour.
Another secret to its success is that Chris is particular about keeping all the intestine and parts clean, and braises them separately (rather than dump them together in a pot).
Laksa must be one of Singapore’s most iconic hawker food, and “Katong Laksa” has become synonymous with this bowl of spicy and coconuty rice noodle dish.
You use only your spoon to eat the short strands of vermicelli. No fork. No chopsticks.
Laksa is complete when a lot of delicious components are brought together in one bowl to give you an authentic taste of Singaporean cuisines, with the sweetness of prawns, fishcakes and cockles, the springiness of thick bee hoon and the tang and spice of coconut-based soup.
Sungei Road Laksa at Jalan Besar is one of the few stalls who still cook the gravy using charcoal. The bowl is served in a typical Katong style with spoon, and the lovely orange gravy shines through and fills up the senses with a tantalising aroma.
There’s also a generous amount of cockles, and garnishing with green laksa leaves to give it more flavour.
31 Lor Mee
Lor Mee 卤面 is a popular Singapore hawker noodle dish with Hokkien origins.
It is categorised by thick gravy cooked with corn starch, five-spice powder and eggs, added with ingredients such as hard-boiled eggs, fish flakes, fish cake, ngor hiang (meat rolls) or fried fish – depending on the stall.
To complement the savoury flavours, customers add a drizzle of the rice-based black vinegar (usually the Chinkiang), some minced garlic, and for spice lovers, a dollop or two of sambal chili.
Feng Zhen Lor Mee 鳳珍鹵麵 at Taman Jurong Food Centre has sauce with good consistency, moreish with well-balanced flavours that went amazingly well with the tender meatballs.
32 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.
33 Mee Rebus
Mee Rebus is one of the iconic hawker noodles dishes in Singapore, of yellow noodles served with thick and spicy potato-based gravy.
“Rebus” means “to blanch” in Malay, and therefore “Mee Rebus refers to “blanched noodles”.
The ingredients of Mee Rebus are typically included with hard-boiled egg, bean sprouts, fried shallots, tau kwa (fried beancurd) and spring onions.
With a history of over 39 years of scrumptious goodness, Yunos N Family at Ang Mo Kio Ave 6 Food Centre had a humble start at Hashtings Road before moving to Ang Mo Kio during 1979. The recipe and taste of their dishes are said to have remained unchanged since the good old days.
The Mee Rebus can be added with several options of meats such as chicken, wing, drumstick, ekor (oxtail) and babat (tripe).
On the note of satay, do order the Mee Rebus Tarik which includes satay sauce and meat. “Tarik” means “pull” in Malay, and so three sticks of satay would be ‘pulled’ into the sumptuous bowl.
34 Mee Siam
Mee Siam which means “Siamese noodle” in Malay, is a local hawker dish which makes for an ideal breakfast type of food.
A basic Mee Siam comprises of rice vermicelli (bee hoon) along with tau pok and hardboiled egg, all of which are in a tangy and sweet-spicy gravy.
Delicious 美味 Mee Rebus, Mee Siam, Lontong at Tanjong Pagar Food Centre sells only sells 3 items.
The Mee Siam, complete with the thin orange rice vermicelli and tangy piping-hot gravy, tasted rather old-school (like those I had while growing-up) – a taste that is fast disappearing.
35 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.
It is not often you find a stall specializing in just Mee Soto and Mee Rebus, and Selamat Datang Warong Pak Spari at Adam Road Food Centre is probably where you need to head down if you love Mee Soto.
The Mee Soto is not for the faint-hearted in terms of the spice levels, but this is one that hits you on the palate with shiokness and satisfaction.
The robust has this robust taste that is said to be a result of brewing of whole chickens for a minimum of 3 hours.
36 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 stall 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).
37 Nasi Biryani
Briyani (also called “Biryani” depending on region) is a type of mixed long-grain Indian rice dish flavoured with spices such that it is rich and flavourful; with the word derived from a Persian word “birian” which means fried before cooking.
Tekka Centre at Little India is an iconic destination at this part of town for this Indian dish.
Allauddin is known for the Mutton, Chicken or Fish Briyani; while customers can top up with chicken sambal, fried chicken, fried fish, or mutton cutlet.
38 Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak is one of Singapore’s most popular hawker dish, known for fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf.
The basic style that many of us are familiar with comes in simple fashion with egg, fried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, sliced cucumber, and sambal chill.
Traditionally eaten during breakfast, there are already many restaurants and hawker stalls serving Nasi Lemak from noon till supper with more fanciful versions.
Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak at Adam Road Food Centre emphasises on the 4 key ingredients: basmati rice, sambal chilli, chicken wing and otah otah.
What stood out for me was first the aroma of the basmati rice, then the rich quality that went unbelievably well with the coconut milk, lemongrass and pandan leaves.
39 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.
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.
40 Ngor Hiang
“Ngoh Hiang” is the Singaporean version of five-spice pork rolls wrapped with beancurd skin, though this can represent a type of stall selling similar deep-fried items such as prawn fritters, fish cake, sausages, beancurd and more.
Called “Wu Xiang Xia Bing”, this is typically accompanied with a plate of bee hoon, with century egg and cucumber.
Some places to get this include China Street Fritters art Maxwell, Hup Kee Ngoh Hiang at Maxwell, 93 Wu Xiang Xia Bin at Toa Payoh Lor 4, and Xin Sheng Gor Hiong at Taman Jurong.
One of my favourite is from Lao Zhong Zhong Five Spice at Tai Thong Crescent (MacPherson) (pictured above).
41 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.
The Pig’s Organ Soup 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.
Popiah 薄餅 which is one of Singapore’s most popular hawker dishes, was actually traditionally eaten during the Qingming Festival Period.
People may pay respect to their ancestors then by eating cold food ”Han Shi” (fire was not allowed during the festival) such as Popiah.
These rolls filled with crunchy turnip strips and other vegetables, wrapped in a paper-thin ‘crepe’ are from the Fujian and Chaoshan provinces.
When it was brought to Singapore, the Popiah had been adapted to local culture and tastes. Thus, you may find similar versions elsewhere such as Taiwan’s run bing 潤餅.
In Singapore, you generally get two styles which are the Hokkien Popiah (tend to have bamboo shoots and pork) and the Nyonya Popiah (which includes prawn or crab meat), though there are others which are somewhere in between.
Ann Chin Popiah 安珍 is founded by Mr Lim Kam Chwee, who brought this from Fujian to Singapore in the 1940s.
The popiah skin is freshly made, very different from those machine-made ones which are generally hard and dry. Generally delightfully thin and clear, and has a soft and rather chewy texture.
43 Prawn Noodles
When people go for Prawn Noodles aka Hae Mee, 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.
Zion Road Prawn Noodles is good for their 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.
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 in Whampoa Makan Place is perhaps one of the best known Rojak places in Singapore.
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).
45 Roti Prata
For those who do not know what Roti Prata is, Roti means ‘bread’, and Prata or paratha means ‘flat’ in Hindi language.
It is South-Indian flat bread made by frying stretched dough flavoured with ghee (Indian clarified butter), typically served with fish or mutton curry.
Roti Prata is a well-loved hawker food in Singapore. Also known as “roti canai” in other parts of Southeast Asia, the Indian-influenced flatbread dish is usually served with curry or dal.
However, you do find more creative savoury and sweet variations, filled with cheese, bananas, or even chocolate.
The prata is typically crispy outside and doughy inside, making it a flexible choice for breakfast, lunch, snack, or supper.
Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata at Joo Chiat has widely been recognised to serve up one of the best crispy Prata in Singapore.
Satay, spelled as sate in Indonesia and Malaysia is a Southeast Asian dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with a sauce
Though originally from Indonesia, it is gained popularity in nearby countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines.
Meats can be chicken, pork, beef, mutton, fish, or even duck. They are skewered, then grilled or barbecued over charcoal fire.
Traditionally, “satay” refers to any grilled skewered meats with various sauces, not necessarily peanut sauce. But then, a popular variant of chicken satay in peanut sauce has became so popular that peanut sauce became inevitable.
Founded by Haron Abu Bakar in 1980, Haron Satay 55 at East Coast Food Centre (named one of Singapore’s Hawker Masters by The Straits Times) has remained popular for its consistent quality and generous amounts of meat per stick.
Haron’s signature juicy satays are available in chicken, mutton, and beef. These well-marinated meats are grilled upon order, so you get them hot, tender and succulent.
47 Satay Bee Hoon
Ugly, messy, gooey, and warms the cockles of your heart. Satay Bee Hoon is one of those fast disappearing hawker food in Singapore, that only a handful of stalls still serve them as it is labour-intensive to prepare the sauce.
Invented by the Teochew people who immigrated to Singapore with both Malay and Chinese cultural influences, it is a rice vermicelli dish topped with ingredients such as pork slices, cuttlefish, tau pok, cockles, beansprouts and poured over with a nutty and spicy peanut sauce.
Not everybody’s kind of food. And perhaps hardly ‘instagrammable’ due to its flat, brown appearance.
What constitutes to a good plate of Satay Bee Hoon? To me, it is a combination of flavourful, creamy satay sauce (must be warm!), fresh ingredients, and smooth bee hoon.
Sin Chew at Bukit Timah Food Centre serves up quite a note-worthy version of Satay Bee Hoon.
All is drenched in this luscious, rich peanut sauce with lovely texture of finely ground peanut sauce that had some special spices included.
48 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 at 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”.
The Soya Sauce Chicken is slippery skinned, tender and smooth meat, good enough to have without adding more chilli sauce.
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.
49 Teochew Porridge
Teochew porridge 潮州糜 or ‘Teochew Mui’ is a type of rice soup similar to the Chinese congee but in a non-gooey and non-mushy way. Compared to the Cantonese-style congee, it has a waterier texture.
The rice grains are traditionally boiled and softened in water, and remain whole and not in a starchy state.
As Teochew cuisine is known for its seafood and vegetarian dishes, the porridge is typically paired with boiled or steamed fish, crustacean, shellfish, kiam chai (salted vegetables), char por (preserved radish), and many others.
Later on, the original recipe was modified by early immigrants in Malaysia and Singapore to adapt to local tastes.
A comfort food best for breakfast or dinner, especially on rainy days, you can find some of the best Teochew porridge in Singapore at Ah Seah Eating House (Teck Chye Terrace), Heng Long Teochew Porridge (North Bridge Road), Joo Seng Teochew Porridge (Cheong Chin Nam), Lim Joo Jin Eating House (Havelock Road), and Choon Seng Teochew Porridge (Pek Kio).
Pictured above it Tian Tian Fatt from Toa Payoh Lor 8.
50 Thunder Tea Rice
Thunder Tea Rice is a Hakka style dish which comparises of two parts – the rice part which comes topped with generous servings of vegetables and sometimes preserved radish; and the bowl of tea.
The recipe differs slightly depending on the region and family.
The tea is said to be made with basil leaves, mint leaves, coriander leaves, mugwort leaves (ai cao ye), and more.
Fun-fact: The 擂 “lei” in 擂茶饭 actually means “grind”, though it is the same pronunciation as “thunder”.
Hakka Thunder Tea Rice at Tanglin Halt Food Centre serves up one of my favourite versions, with a perpetual queue, known for its filling bowl and handmade Yong Tau Foo ingredients on the side.
The Prawn Vadai offered from The Original Vadai is quite different from those found in India, said to be a fusion or Singapore originated dish.
Accordingly, the Prawn Vadai has been around as early as 1970s, made with traditional lentil vadai topped with prawns – typically crispy with a coarse texture.
Mdm Jumana Rani from The Original Vadai tweaked the recipe to make it lighter, fluffier, and more suitable from the local tastebuds.
She first introduced it at the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar about 30 plus years ago, and it became an instant hit. So this style of Prawn Vadai was technically born in Singapore, and you cannot find it anywhere else in the world (not even in Malaysia according to the owners).
52 Vegetarian Bee Hoon
Vegetarian Bee Hoon is a Singaporean-style hawker noodle dish which comprises of cooked topped with vegetarian items such as cabbage, spring rolls, fried tofu skin, and mock meats made from gluten.
Ru Yi Vegetarian at Tiong Bahru Food Centre may serve up bee hoon that looks so plain and simple, and you wonder why the long queue. It being more than 30 years in the business should mean something.
Then you would realize it is not as oily as many other bee hoon stall, clean-tasting and doesn’t make you feel bloated. The mild gravy and pickled cut green chilies complete the plate.
53 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.
Wen Kang Ji Wanton Noodle 文康記 may be one of the newest stalls at Golden Mile Food Centre, located at one of the more secluded corners, but it has certainly gathered quite a bit of buzz amongst wanton mee aficionados.
An underarm cut of the pork is used, with a good lean meat-fat ratio to maintain its juiciness during roasting.
54 Western Food
When we talk about “Western Food” served in hawker centres in Singapore, it is not the American steaks or European fancy dishes that some would imagine.
The “Western Food” are usually Hainanese-influenced, as many of our forefathers worked in British colonial households as cooks or kitchen helps.
They started developing a style of Western dishes such as Chicken Chop and Fish & Chips that Singaporeans are familiar with, added with a localised twist.
A typical serving found in a hawker stall would include accompaniments of fries, baked beans, buttered bread, and some coleslaw. For this guide, I excluded the more modern stalls serving burgers, ribs and pasta, but more on the nostalgic ones.
Chef Hainanese Western Food at Tanglin Halt Food Centre is popular for its Mixed Grill Platters – which offers a serving of pork chop, tender chicken chops, fish cutlet and chicken sausage.
Tender and well-marinated meat with a subtle grilled taste and a citrusy tang from the sauce. Old-school flavours, generous portion, the only thing holding me back is the long queue and longer wait.
55 Yong Tau Foo
Yong Tau Foo is a Hakka Chinese delight that is available in most of the hawker centres and food courts in Singapore, due to its variety and perceived healthiness (you don’t go pick all the deep-fried food and pour all the sauce within lah).
Traditional versions of Yong Tau Foo consist of tofu cubes stuffed with fish paste and minced meat, then braised or deep-fried.
The tofu-licious treats are rich and hearty, and loved by locals and tourists alike. You can get Yong Tau Foo with gravy or soup, as well as a dry variety with or without the fried ingredients.
Yong Xiang Xing Dou Fu 永祥興豆腐 at People’s Park Food Centre only have one choice on their menu and they do justice with it, whether it is the freshness and generosity of ingredients or the delicate and balance of flavours.
The deep-fried bean curd was my favourite ingredient, beautiful golden-brown, along with a great tasting tofu in silky consistency that melts in your mouth.
56 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.