Hawker Centre Guide
The first thing to do when you arrive in a hawker is to find a table and chope (reserve) it. You do this by placing something on the table. Packets of tissues are most commonly used, but anything that shows the table is occupied will do. Make a mental note of your table number and move on to the hard part – deciding what you want to eat!
What To Eat
In any hawker centre, you will find a diverse range of food including Chinese, Malay, Indian, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, Thai, and Peranakan among others. With that level of selection, there are countless mouthwatering options, but here are a few iconic Singaporean dishes to get you started.
Chili crab is Singapore’s most iconic food. This delicious dish features a thick, sweet and spicy chili sauce filled with pieces of egg. If you choose this dish, add some mantous (fried buns) to your meal to wipe up the sauce after you’ve devoured every morsel of crab. Another way of serving crab is with a black pepper rub. It’s a dry rub that the crab is fried in. Be aware that crab is often sold by weight (usually per 100 grams), so check the scales at the stall before you complete your order to avoid a nasty surprise when you receive your bill.
Perhaps the most famous Singaporean dish, chicken rice, (it’s actually Hainanese, from the Hainan province in China) is an everyday staple. To prepare this dish, the entire chicken is first poached in near-boiling water. Once cooked, the fat from this stock, along with a mix of ginger, garlic and other herbs, is used to cook the rice. The result is perfectly tender chicken and deliciously fragrant rice.
Finally, another dish that must be tried while at a hawker is laksa. There seem to be as many different versions of laksa as there are people in Singapore! This dish originates from Peranakan culture, which is a mix of Straits Chinese and Malay influences. Laksa is a noodle soup made from coconut milk, spicy curry or assam and filled with a mix of vermicelli, fish cakes, tofu, prawns and cockles.