With over 100 hawker centres dotted across the island, eating at hawker centres is essential to the fabric of Singaporean life. Be it breakfast of soft-cooked eggs, kaya toast and coffee, or satays for supper, when you’re hungry in Singapore, these iconic open-air food courts are always the answer. Pack some napkins and cash, and Bob’s your uncle, lah.
Amoy Street Food Centre
Filled to the brim at lunchtimes with the office crowd, go off-peak to make sure you get a seat and avoid the queues at famous stalls like Hoo Kee Rice Dumpling for glutinous rice dumplings steamed in bamboo leaves, J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff and Hong Kee Beef Noodles, all of which are also in the Michelin Guide. Another popular stall is Ah Seng Hai Nam Coffee, which has been serving navy strength coffee to hard-working Singaporeans since 1964. Pair it with some kaya toast, or for something a little different, French toast with kaya on the side.
Location: While the official address is 7 Maxwell Road, the Food Centre is actually located at the intersection of Amoy Street and Telok Ayer Street.
Changi Airport Canteen
Need one last fix before getting on the plane? Insiders and truly intrepid foodies know to make a beeline for the staff canteens at the airport, where you can get an extremely reasonably priced meal. You’ll find everything from chicken rice to roti prata, and even Korean, Thai and Japanese stalls. When inside the terminal, just follow the signs for “staff canteen”, and make sure you’ve already checked in or are travelling light, as you may need to take the stairs to get there.
Location: Basement 1, Terminal 1, Changi Airport, Singapore
The largest hawker centre in Singapore, Chinatown Complex has over 260 stalls and houses a wet market (fresh food market) below. With so much competition, prices tend to be even more friendly on the hip-pocket than usual, and there’s a huge variety, with Chinese dishes dominating. Liao Fan Hawker Chan, the first hawker stall to be awarded 1 Michelin-star is located here, with their famous soy sauce chicken as well as Zhao Ji Claypot Rice—who can resist that crispy bottom? Whatever you pick, pair it with some craft beer from Smith Street Taps—the city’s first “hawker bar”.
Location: 335 Smith Street, Singapore
Hong Lim Market And Food Centre
If Chinatown Complex seems too overwhelming, skip across to Hong Lim, where a much calmer, but no less delicious experience awaits. You’ll find Teochew-style congee and five-spice braised pork at Teo Heng Teochew Porridge, curry chicken noodles at Heng Kee Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee, as well as two Michelin Bib Gourmand stalls, Tai Wah Pork Noodle for bak chor mee (pork noodles), and Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa with crayfish topped laksa.
Location: 531A Upper Cross St, Singapore
Maxwell Food Centre
Thanks to its central location, accessible from both Chinatown and the CBD, Maxwell Food Centre is one of the city’s most popular hawker centres. On that note, things do sell out, so pop in as early as you can, especially if you’re looking to nab a plate from rockstars like Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice or Zhen Zhen Porridge. If the queues there are too long, head to the inconspicuous, yet no less delicious gems such as Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake for all its deep-fried glory, or China Street Hum Jin Pang; for some wallet friendly DIY dough fritters.
Location: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore
Old Airport Road Food Centre
While little off the beaten track on Singapore’s east coast, Old Airport Road Food Centre remains one of the island’s most popular hawker centres thanks to the many crave-worthy dishes worth crossing town for. It’s also huge, with almost 170 stalls to choose from. Some favourites include Lao Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow, whose char kway teow earned it a Michelin Bib Gourmand, but mention that and locals might counter with Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow and Lucky Char Kuey Tiao. Mattar Road Seafood is great for a chilli crab fix without the restaurant price tag. To cool off, try Toa Payoh Rojak for the tangy, saucy fruit & vegetable salad, and finish up with Lao Ban Soya Beancurd for some silky beancurd.
Location: 51 Old Airport Road, Singapore
Telok Ayer Market (Lau Pa Sat)
Smack-bang in the middle of Singapore’s CBD, this is probably the most atmospheric of the city’s hawker centres. A national landmark, it boasts 19th Century colonial architecture, complete with wrought iron and soaring Victorian arches. While open during the day, it’s not till around 7pm that a row of vendors nicknamed “satay street” opens (along Boon Tat Street), who of course, have numerous satays on offer, as well as well-loved dishes like grilled stingray with spicy sambal. Be sure to visit Food Folks, where both familiar and innovative products/food are on the table, as well as educational, multi-sensorial encounters. For something a little lighter, try Thunder Tea Rice, which serves the eponymous Hakka dish that can hardly be found anywhere else.
Location: 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore
If you have a hankering for the flavours of the Indian subcontinent with a Singaporean twist, head to Tekka, which houses both a wet (fresh food) market mostly serving the Indian community, as well as an excellent hawker section. Gorge on biryani at Allauddin or Yakader, feast on dosas at Anna Dosai Stall, savour curries and grills at SJ Tandoori. If spice isn’t right for you, fret not, as Tekka is also home to 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles one of the best-loved hae mee (prawn noodle) stalls on the island.
Location: 665 Buffalo Road, Singapore
This “gastro park” is a converted hawker centre, consisting of a series of interconnected warehouses and refurbished containers housing a myriad of small food stalls, often young, innovative start-ups, from wontons with tomato noodles to crispy rendang chicken burgers, to zi char with a modern twist, including dishes such as chilli crab meat seafood hor fun. The semi-open-air design means that there are plenty of terraces and cosy nooks to kick back with a pint or freshly grounded & brewed coffee after you’ve filled up on street eats.
Location: 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, JTC Launchpad, Singapore
Tiong Bahru Market
If you’re a fan of Art Deco architecture, take a gander around Tiong Bahru’s low-rise housing blocks, then trot to the hawker centre perched above Tiong Bahru wet market, itself housed in a refurbished Bauhaus-influenced building. Pop in for chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes topped with pickled radish) at the Michelin-recommended Jian Bo Shui Kueh, slurp on some lor mee (noodles with thick gravy) at 178 Lor Mee, and cool off with a Milo dinosaur ice kachang (Milo shaved ice topped with Milo powder), a nostalgic flavour for many a Singaporean.
Location: 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore
Singapore is brimming with authentic, tasty—and affordable—dishes just waiting to be devoured. And with so many delicious hawker centres around, why just stop at one? For more information on Singapore’s hawker centres, head to Singapore Tourism.
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