Can’t decide where to start on your Singaporean food adventure? Here are our top 10 picks of hawker centres in the country to check out.
The best way to eat cheap, good food in Singapore is to visit one of its many hawker centres scattered around the island. These traditional open-air structures are pivotal to local life, each home to a diverse collection of street food stalls – where the majority of Singaporeans grab quick, delicious meals at a low cost. Here are 10 of the absolute best.
Built on the runway of Singapore’s old Kallang airport, Old Airport Road Food Centre is a favourite hawker centre for locals to get their fix of cheap good hawker food, though this hidden gem has become increasingly popular with tourists in recent years. There are over 150 stalls to choose from on the first level, and more sundry shops can be found on the second level. Popular picks that see long queues include Nam Sing Fried Hokkien Mee, Xin Mei Xiang Lor Mee and Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow. Each stall has their own opening hours, do your research before you visit.
Maxwell Food Centre is one of the more popular hawker centres with both Singaporeans and tourists in the heritage Chinatown district. It garnered international interest thanks to visits by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to the Hainanese Chicken Rice at Tian Tian Chicken Rice, now a Michelin Bib-Gourmand recipient and a must-try dish at this hawker center. But if you’d rather skip the perpetually long queue, there are plenty of other stalls that locals love, like Zhen Zhen porridge and Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake.
It’s easy to get lost in Chinatown Complex Food Centre, home to the largest hawker centre in Singapore, with over 260 food stalls on its second floor, offering a generous variety of Singaporean street food fare. From the cheapest Michelin meal at Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, to international craft beer on tap at Smith Street Taps, there is a whole plethora of choice, all at budget friendly prices.
Tekka Centre’s first level houses a bustling hawker centre. Located in Little India, naturally you have to try the North and South Indian food stalls here. Allaudin’s Briyani specialises in tasty briyani rice dishes while Sri Tiffin is where you can get your fix of masala thosai. The name Tekka comes from Teh Kia Kah or Tek Kah, a Hokkien name meaning ‘foot of the bamboos’, a reference to the many bamboo plants growing along Rochor Canal.
Tiong Bahru Food Centre has 85 food stalls to choose from, with several hawker food stalls awarded Michelin Bib-Gourmand and The Plate awards – just look for the long queues. A breakfast favourite is Jian Bo Shui Kueh, with its steamed rice cakes topped with diced preserved radish and a dollop of chilli. Tiong Bahru Fried Kway Teow, Teochew Fish Soup and Lor Mee 178 are good places to start your eating journey, though Tiong Bahru does have many indie cafes and restaurants to check out as well.
The historic Lau Pa Sat or ‘the old market’ in the middle of Singapore’s Central Business District is a tourist favourite hawker centre, both for its convenient location near the attractions in the downtown area, and its unique octagonal shape and wrought iron arches with its iconic clock tower in the center. The small road next to the food centre is blocked off at nights to allow for satay sellers to take over, recreating a once-famous Satay Street under the stars.
Changi Village Hawker Centre is located in the far flung eastern end of Singapore, close to Changi Airport with a picturesque view of the coastline. Not the easiest place to get to, it still draws lots of locals, especially those looking for a good supper spot, the centre retains its old-school feel. Standout stalls include International Nasi Lemak, which serves up some of the best nasi lemak across the island and Ho Guan Satay Bee Hoon, which hosts a unique fusion of satay and rice noodles. There are also delights to be had at Weng Kee Ipoh Hor Fun.
Amoy Street Food Centre is located in the heart of Chinatown and has stalls spread over two floors, so there is plenty of choice. It is also home to several of Michelin’s listed Bib-Gourmand stalls – Hoo Kee Rice Dumplings offers some of the most unique steamed dumpling options, including chestnuts, salted egg yolk and mushrooms in a bamboo leaf. Hong Kong Beef Noodle and J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff serve up great traditional versions of their stall names, while A Noodle Story dishes up reimagined fusion Japanese ramen.
Chomp Chomp Food Centre is mostly open in the evenings and seems to be perpetually crowded. It’s a little bit out of the way, located in the mostly residential Serangoon Gardens area. It’s popular for some very specific foods which can be found in abundance in various stalls around the food centre. BBQ sambal stingray and carrot cake are popular, as are the freshly barbecued chicken wings and fried hokkien mee. Wash it all down with some of the largest glasses of refreshing sugarcane juice.
Located along Jalan Bukit Merah in the western part of Singapore, the oddly named ABC Brickworks Food Centre was actually named to commemorate two things: the Archipelago Brewery Company – the first commercial brewery in Singapore – as well as the brickworks kilns that were located around this area. These days it is better known for good food – the traditional double boiled soups of Ah Er Soup attract seriously long queues, but don’t miss out on Fatty Cheong’s Char Siew Rice or the Malay Lontong at Nusa & Tara.