In honour of National Day, we’ve rounded up our fave hawker food in Singapore, from chicken rice to char kway teow and everything in between
Singapore does many things well, but surely the dual national pastimes are shopping and eating. Our tiny city-state has made a name for itself on the global stage thanks to its legendary hawker culture, with a multicultural heritage that blends flavours and cuisines – including Chinese, Indian, Malay, and many others – unlike anywhere else in the world. In fact, did you know that by next year you’ll be able to locate stalls at all 114 of Singapore’s hawker centres on Google Maps? How cool is that?!
Whether you’re looking for some food inspo, wondering where to take visiting foodie guests, or simply want to celebrate Singapore, swipe through the gallery to check out our fave hawker dishes and stalls…and tell us what you think we’ve missed!
Lead image sourced via National Heritage Board Singapore
This flaky, soft and crisp Indian flatbread is cheap, filling and delicious. I love that you can have it plain, or with a filling of cheese, egg, mushrooms, or all combined! Roti Prata generally goes best with a side of spicy curry, or some dhal. Pre-kid days my hubby and I would cross across the city to hunt down Roti prata at 2am. Nowadays we enjoy taking the kids to try the various types, but neither is yet a fan of the delicious spicy sauce that accompanies it.
Image sourced via Flickr
Hakka Thunder Tea Rice, also called Lei Cha Fan, comprises a bowl of rice (ideally brown) with various toppings from chopped green beans, to cabbage, radish, cubes of tofu, dried anchovies and peanuts. It’s served with a side of bright green tea soup which can be used to drench the rice, though I prefer slurping it separately, savouring its distinct herbal taste from the blend of tea leaves, mugwort, coriander, basil, mint and seeds. Thunder tea rice is sadly becoming harder to find in Singapore so if you spot it being offered, it’s worth trying this dish out for a healthier taste of hawker food and to keep this little cult cuisine alive.
Favourite stalls: Find it at Bukit Timah Food Centre, Lau Pa Sat and Joo Chiat.
Image by National Environment Agency
I rarely have the opportunity to eat at Hawker Centres these days but my all time favourites are laksa and chicken rice. I know some chicken rice stalls are extremely popular but I have found that most of the ones I have tried were very good so I leave the long queues to the fans. As for Laksa, my favourite used to be the stall at the East Coast Lagoon Hawker centre but we couldn’t find it the last time we went; hopefully I’ll be able to find it again. Let us know if you know where it’s gone!
Image sourced via Pixabay
Is there a better Singaporean comfort food? The thin, crispy toast, the slices of butter, and a generous layer of delicious kaya jam… I was an early convert to the toast, but it took me longer to try it with the runny eggs. I now happily order the Kaya toast set though, and it’s one of my favourite Singaporean foods to introduce to visiting family or friends. (Although I’ve had more than one uncle laugh kindly at me while demonstrating how to eat it, so I’m probably still not doing it right!)
Our favourite is Ya Kun Kaya Toast, but you can’t go wrong with Toast Box either. (Bonus – it’s obviously not a healthy option but it makes a great treat for the kids, mine absolutely love it.)
Image by Ya Kun Kaya Toast
I love pretty much any and all hawker food, but every now and then it can start to feel a little heavy and greasy. Popiah is the exception, though, with light-as-air skins (the best ones are made fresh in Joo Chiat!) that are somewhere between rice paper and a tortilla, and bright, zingy fillings like radish and chilis. Definitely one of my lunchtime go-tos, preferably paired with some yummy teh halia!
Favourite stall: Kway Guan Huat in Joo Chiat
Image by Qiji
Growing up in Singapore char kway teow has always been the ultimate hawker comfort food for me. Char kway teow is stir fried flat rice noodles in dark soy sauce with prawns, pork, cockles (I usually pass on those), fishcakes and beansprouts. Sundays in high school were typically spent with a family round of golf at Singapore Island Country Club (SICC) followed by kway teow and 100 Plus – in my opinion they make the best. I have sampled a lot of versions at various hawker centers trying to find one that lives up to my SICC memory. My favorite right now is the Kway Teow stall (#01-01) at Amoy Street Food Centre. It’s the first stall so it’s super easy to find!
If you make a trip to Amoy Street Food Centre do yourself a favor and also do a drive by of J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff (stall #01-21). One of the best around! Every time my mom comes to visit we go on a curry puff “hunt” and try to test out the various curry puff stalls – this one is one of our favorites! The crust is amazing and definitely lives up to the “crispy” in the stalls name.
Image sourced via Flickr
I love so many of them it’s SO hard to choose. But I know if I get to a food court, I always gravitate to the Hokkien Prawn Mee stall. This dish is so simple yet so flavourful. As with many Singaporean hawker dishes, the KEY is usually in the sambal that accompanies it. Every spoonful MUST be accompanied by that tasty burst of sambal – and every dish has a specific sambal designed just for that dish. Divine!
Image sourced via Wikimedia Commons
Fragrant coconut rice, crispy fried chicken or fish, sambal… what’s not to love? Nasi lemak is my idea of Singaporean comfort food and I can have it at any time of the day. It’s so nice and warm in the belly for breakfast, yet delightfully filling for lunch or dinner. Not every plate of nasi lemak is made equal though, so I do have my go-to’s – one is v a nasi lemak chain that branched out from the famous Selera Rasa stall at Adam Road Food Centre; the other is Qiji, another local casual dining chain best known for their nasi lemak, laksa and popiah.
My kids like to mix it up at hawker centers but a favorite dish is Char Siew Wanton Mee served dry (not in soup). The noodles come with the sweet roast pork, a few dumplings and some crunchy greens. So yum.
Image courtesy of Marisa Karplus