Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre is considered one of Singapore’s favourite hawker centres. An interesting fact is that it is the first ‘modern’ market to be built in a housing area in 1955.
During 2004 (to 2006), this building that you see now was erected, partly incorporated an Art Deco style. The wet produce market sits on the ground level, while the food centre takes up the second storey (above it is the carpark).
Several well-known food items have in fact been synonymous with the name “Tiong Bahru”, from chwee kueh, pau, porridge to roast pork (bakery doesn’t count).
There are many worthy stalls to be featured, other than the ones below (don’t scold me if your favourites aren’t in, ie “You should have included XXX!”)
Check out the following favourites from Tiong Bahru Food Centre:
Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-67/68
Opening Hours: 8am – 2:45pm (Fri – Wed), Closed Thurs
Mr Loo Kia Chee took the business from his father and has been running it since then, preserving his traditional Hainanese curry recipe.
The curry recipe is said to be created in the 1940s by the founder, who blended the cooking style of Hainanese dishes (where he was from) and Nonya curries.
Each batch of curry is prepared for days, including a couple of days chopping ingredients and a day of machine grinding.
If you come early enough, you would get to choose from dishes such as Dark Soy Sauce Stewed Pork, Crispy Pork Chop, Sambal Sotong, Sambal Prawns, Curry Chicken, Chap Chye (cabbage) and more. Many of the popular food items generally get sold out by 1pm or so.
Read more at: Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice (Tiong Bahru Food Centre)
Zhong Yu Yuan Wei Wanton Mee 忠于原味雲吞麵
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-30
Opening Hours: 7am – 1pm (Wed – Thurs, Sat – Sun), Closed Mon, Tues, Fri
The stall which has been operating for more than 30 years is famous of their “Bu Jian Tian” Char Siew Wanton Noodles 不见天云吞面, literally translated as the “roast pork that doesn’t see the sky”.
That is because the meat is taken from the arm pit of the pig – a part which is seldom exposed to sunlight, and thereby being more tender than the other cuts.
The Char Siew marinated for hours and roasted over charcoal in small batches, is sliced thicker than what you find at the usual Wanton Mee stall in Singapore.
Upon closer look, you would find the roast pork slice come with alternating layer of lean meat and fats, just slightly charred on the outer layer. Best paired with the QQ springy Hong Kong style noodles.
Read more at: Zhong Yu Yuan Wei Wanton Mee (Tiong Bahru Food Centre)
Hui Ji Fishball Noodles & Yong Tau Foo
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-44
Opening Hours: 5:30am – 2:30pm (Mon – Tues, Thurs – Sun), Closed Wed
They are one of the original hawkers from the old Seng Poh Market. It is considered old-school and no-frills, yet not alike your conventional fishball noodles.
The old uncle whips on a bowl of QQ noodles basking in a tasty and unique-tasting sweet and salty sauce with crunchy pork lards.
The bowl includes ingredients of handmade fishballs, fish dumplings (her kiao), sliced fish cake and tender pork slices.
However, I must add that the taste may not be that consistent all the time – sometimes the sauce seemed lacking (as I ordered from here quite frequently.) When it is good, it is very good.
Qing Feng Yuan 慶楓源
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-49
Opening Hours: 9am – 7:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
With a poetic name of Qing Feng Yuan 慶楓源, expect comforting bowls of Teochew style Fish Soup.
The two hawkers have accumulated quite some culinary experience; one the ex-head chef of Naked Finn and the other from Perch at Jewel Changi Airport.
On its menu are Batang Fish Head Soup ($5), Batang Fish Soup, Seafood Soup ($6), Deep Fried Pomfret with HK Soy Sauce ($6, $7), and Homemade Ngoh Hiang ($3).
Also look out for the occasional special item, such as New Zealand Blue Cod Soup.
Cooked using fish, pork and chicken bones, there was a certain cloudiness in the soup with flavours both mellow-tasty and comforting.
Read more at: Qing Feng Yuan 慶楓源(Tiong Bahru Food Centre)
Jian Bo Shui Kueh
30 Seng Poh Rd, #02-05 Market, Singapore 168898
Opening Hours: 5:30am – 8:30pm (Mon – Sun)
Jian Bo Tiong Bahru Shui Kueh was founded by a Mr Wang in 1958, who sold his steamed rice cakes in a pushcart at the Tiong Bahru Market then.
Third-generation owner Eric Ang has taken over the business, and ingredients are now prepared in the central kitchen before they are delivered to outlets around the island.
The Chwee Kueh is now sold at $3 for five, which works out to be $0.60 per piece.
While that hot-piping, soft melt-in-your-mouth feeling from my childhood days is no longer around, I still find Jian Bo one of the best you can find around for its chye poh and chilli with hints of dried shrimps.
You may find an oily glob haphazardly presented on top, but the aroma and mildly-salty pickled taste can be addictive.
Read more at: Jian Bo Shui Kueh (Tiong Bahru Food Centre)
Lor Mee 178 鹵麵178
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-23
Opening Hours: 7am – 1:45pm (Tues, Thurs – Sun), Closed Mon, Wed
Lor Mee 178’s signature Lor Mee ($4) is a bowl of thick, flat yellow noodles in viscous gravy (the lor).
Unlike the ones in other Lor Mees, its flavourful gravy was not too starchy and had a good consistency to it. You could finish slurping a bowl without feeling too full.
I would suggest going for the upgraded version with additional topping of crispy fried shark fritter ($5), evidently the winning element in this dish.
Though crisp, the shark meat was rather bland so it is best to let the nuggets absorb all the flavours in the gravy.
Read more at: Lor Mee 178 (Tiong Bahru Food Centre)
Koh Brother Pig’s Organ Soup 许兄弟猪什汤
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-29
Opening Hours: 9am – 2:30pm (Tue – Sun), 5pm – 7:45pm (Tue – Sat), Closed Mon
A Michelin-recommended stall, it specialises in Teochew-style clear soup, freshly made daily from pig bones and offal and salted preserved mustard vegetables.
The Pig’s Organ Soup ($5) came 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 had a natural sweetness from the pig bones imparted to the stock, accentuated with slight saltiness from the vegetables.
Read more at: Koh Brother Pig’s Organ Soup (Tiong Bahru Food Centre)
Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-82
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
The stall which has opened since 1988, serves up Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice, Roasted Chicken Rice, Lemon Chicken Rice, Soya Sauce Vegetables, and Bean Sprouts.
There are now several outlets across the island.
The owner learnt the ropes of making Chicken Rice from a friend who used to work at Mandarin Hotel – known for its “legendary” Chatterbox Chicken Rice, and added his own modifications.
Compared to some of the more famous brands, the chicken here takes up a more muted slant – the chicken meat was smooth, not too oily, still somewhat juicy but would have preferred plumper pieces.
The fluffy rice cooked with chicken stock, garlic, spring onions, ginger and onion, also had a more subtle taste.
Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-01
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 4:30pm – 7:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Sun, Mon
What is so special about Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee is that it has been featured in the Michelin Guide, receiving the Michelin Bib Gourmand for consecutive years.
The Hokkien Mee is cooked to order in small batches (rather than some stalls which already pre-cooked halfway) and makes use of flavourful stock and fresh ingredients.
3rd generation owner Manfred Lim will still take time to cook it quite traditionally in a wok, serve plate-by-plate, giving the noodles a slight charred flavour.
Ru Yi Vegetarian Food
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-26
Opening Hours: 7am – 11:30am (Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat), Closed Mon, Thurs, Sun
Ru Yi’s Vegetarian Bee Hoon looks so plain and simple, that you wonder why the long queue. It being more than 40 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 won’t make you feel bloated.
Even though I am not the biggest fan of Vegetarian Bee Hoon, I found their version rather tasty and fresh-tasting. The mild gravy and pickled cut green chilies complete the plate.
The CoCo Rice – Authentic Blue Pea Nasi Lemak Kukus
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-58
Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm (Mon – Sun)
The CoCo Rice’s owner Ms Aries Chan is well-known for her Nasi Lemak even before setting up this stall at Tiong Bahru Food Centre.
Previously, she operated from home and served multiple orders of her Nasi Lemak Cake. This prompted her to set up Coco Rice to sell Blue Pea Nasi Lemak Sets.
There are four options to choose from when you head to the stall. Would recommend the Fried Chicken Whole Leg with Herbs and Spice for $7.90.
A set has blue pea nasi lemak rice with fried anchovies and peanuts, a blistering sunny-side-up egg, and a fried golden brown chicken leg marinated with herbs and spices.
Or, if you prefer lighter options, go for the Sambal Lady Finger and Fried Tempeh Bean Curd ($6.90), Fried Fish with Sambal Kicap Chili ($8.90) or Sambal Prawn with Petai ($9.90).
Skirt and Dirt
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-66
Opening Hours: 11pm – 8pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Skirt & Dirt first got my attention as it has an intriguing black signboard with a stacking-burger logo.
They are possibly the first hawker stall in Singapore to serve Cheese Skirt Burger ($8), which has the cheese seared with a salty, cracker-like texture.
The patties are made of 100% beef rump, which was juicy and complemented the crispy texture of the cheese skirt very well.
Look out for other burgers such as the SND Hamburger ($6), Big Bad Wolf Pork Burger ($7), Fish Crisp with Tropical Salsa ($6), Cheesy Chicken Katsu Burger ($6), and Truffle Mushroom Swiss Cheese & Rockets ($8).
There are also Western Delight offerings of Chicken Chop ($8.80), Fish & Chips ($7.80), Hamburg Steak & Sausage with Rice ($8.80), and Ah Ma Style Wings & Rice ($4.80).
Read more at: Skirt & Dirt (Tiong Bahru Food Centre)
Tow Kwar Pop
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-06
Opening Hours: 7am – 5:30pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
One of the diminishing hawker foods you would find in Singapore, the ‘Tow Kwar Pop’ (like a beancurd puff) is grilled on charcoal upon order, filled with cucumber and beansprouts, and served with cool turnip and pineapple slices on the side.
You can get it as a Rojak Set priced at $4, or $5.
The winning ingredient is the sweet prawn paste sauce poured over, with a dash of peanut. Very old-school.
Tiong Bahru Teochew Kueh Since 1974
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-02
Opening Hours: 7:31am – 1:59pm (Mon – Sun)
This Teochew kueh stall sells a wide variety of traditional cakes, such as peng kueh (glutinous rice cakes), soon kueh (rice flour cake with turnip), ku chye kueh (rice flour cake with chives), and the more-unusual ou kueh (rice cake with black bean).
Since its opening in 1974, the stall has been using the recipes handled down by the owner’s mother. Their offerings are very homely-tasting, as though it is made by your favourite aunties.
Tip: request for pan-fried versions of the cakes.
Tiong Bahru Pau & Snack
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-18
This famous dim sum stall is most famous for their handmade pau, baked by hand since 1969.
Of course, Pau (Steamed Buns) is the menu highlight here. Pack them piping warm for your breakfast or tea, with recommendations being the Char Siu Pau ($1.20), Dou Sha Pau ($0.80), Lian Rong Pau ($0.80), Xiao Ji Rou Pau ($1.20), and Da Rou Pau ($2.00).
They are most famous for their Char Siu Pau ($1.20) with fluffy skin, and sweet, honeyed moist pork char siew fillings.
The other interesting item to get it the Phoenix Egg ($1.20) which is an egg wrapped with minced chicken and deep-fried.
Tiong Bahru Tau Suan
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-55
Opening Hours: 7am – 1pm (Wed – Sun), Closed Mon, Tues
Tiong Bahru Food Centre has a number of good dessert stalls, but this only serves up three types of desserts – Tau Suan, Bubur Terigu and Pulut Hitam. Each bowl is priced at $2.
The recipe is based on the late Mr Sng Han Chai which started selling in 1942.
The Tau Suan has a lovely consistency that is neither too starchy (sticky) or diluted, and I noted that they have reduced the sugar level. If only the youtiao is crispier, I would have preferred it much better.
But it is still a comforting bowl.
Teck Seng Soya Bean Milk
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-69
Opening Hours: 4:30pm – 12pm (Tues – Sun), Closed Mon
Uncle knows my order already. I am regular because their ‘tau hway chwee’ is so fresh and smooth tasting, laboriously prepared in the wee hours of the morning by the friendly husband and wife team.
Hawker Loh Teck Seng took over the business from his father in 1985, and continued making the soya bean milk and curds from scratch.
Their ‘Michael Jackson’, the combination of soya bean milk with glass jelly is very popular too. Their queue is long, but it moves fast. Note that the soya bean milk can get sold out before closing hours.
Tiong Bahru Food Centre #02-81
Opening Hours: 6am – 8:30pm (Mon – Sun)
There are so many coffee stalls at Tiong Bahru Food Centre – actually I quite like a number of them, and you wonder why people would choose to queue at 238.
After all, it’s just kopi, right?
Their kopi is especially aromatic, and the blend is stronger and sharper than usual stalls. After sips, the coffee-bitterness would linger in your tongue. Watch the skillful auntie in action.