Singapore is famous worldwide for being a food paradise, thanks to the melting pot of different cultures that call the island home. Perhaps then it is no surprise that the locals who live here are also famous for being foodies and are fiercely passionate about the food they love.
This is especially true when it comes to hawker centres in Singapore. The food here is usually cheap and tasty, and everyone in this wonderful country has his/her own favourite stalls. Trying to determine the best among the rest will take a long while, so why not take a look at some of the more popular ones instead?
What Is A Hawker Centre?
If you did not already know, a hawker centre is basically a large food court where food and drink stalls are set up side by side within a perimeter. The area is typically open-air to help with ventilation, and there are fixed tables and seats all around for people to use.
Hawker centres are comparable to street food from other parts of Asia, albeit constructed to be more convenient for consumers, while also being cleaner and more hygienic. Each stall generally specializes in a single dish or a few similarly-styled dishes, and the cuisine of each stall corresponds to one of the many races that call Singapore home. You’ll find Chinese, Malay, Indian, Western, and all sorts of other foods from around the world in one place.
The best part is that hawker fare in Singapore is cheap, yet absolutely tasty and delicious — a single meal would cost you less than S$10. If you’re looking for a truly authentic Singaporean dining experience, there’s really no better way than hitting up a hawker centre.
Lau Pa Sat
Lau Pa Sat means “the old market” in Mandarin, and this hawker centre does indeed have a storied past. Also known as Telok Ayer Market, it was first built in 1894 — though it has undergone a few renovation facelifts — and it has since been designated as a Singapore national monument, which just goes to show how important food can be to Singaporeans.
It is located right in the heart of Singapore’s business district, conveniently located between 3 MRT stations — Raffles Place, Downtown, and Telok Ayer. It’s also Singapore’s largest and most popular hawker centre too, and the large crowds that gather every day during lunch are a testament to the quality of the food. Did we mention it is open for 24 hours, seven days a week?
With over 100 different stalls, everyone is spoiled for choice. Try the Hainanese chicken rice, or if you’re going in the evening, get some satay from one of the many vendors standing around. These little meat skewers may not fill you up, but they sure are tasty.
Old Airport Road Food Centre
While Lau Pa Sat may look modern and appeal to tourists, many locals will say it pales in comparison to Old Airport Road Food Centre. As a stark comparison, this humble hawker centre in Kallang doesn’t look as new and as flashy like its older brother, but the food here is widely regarded as being one of the best in Singapore, in terms of both taste and value.
Old Airport Road is known as such because Singapore’s first civil airport was originally built there, though it was later relocated to Changi. When the move happened, the area gradually became a lot quieter, but it is said that the food centre gained such a solid reputation for having such delicious food that the area is once again a bustling and lively neighbourhood.
With almost 150 stalls, there are plenty of options for everyone. Popular choices include Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow, where the fried char kway teow noodles are spicy and yummy, and Western Barbecue, where you can get your fix for western dishes like fish and chips at really affordable prices.
Chomp Chomp Food Centre
Most hawker centres open bright and early in the day and close up shop by evening, but Chomp Chomp Food Centre is different. This hawker centre only opens in the evenings at 6:00 pm, and stays open until the wee hours of the morning. That’s because it caters to the late-night crowds out for some supper.
Chomp Chomp is also known as the Serangoon Gardens Food Centre — not to be confused with the Serangoon Gardens Market, which is another hawker centre right across the road from it. It’s located in the Serangoon district, which is not exactly near the town area. As a result, this place tends to be more crowded with locals instead of tourists — that’s a sure sign that the food is great.
If you do decide to pay a visit to Chomp Chomp, you definitely have to get a plate of fried Hokkien mee — or Hokkien noodles — from Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Noodles. Generous servings of noodles with prawns, squid, and chilli makes this dish stand out among the crowd — so much so that it was recognized and listed in the official Michelin Plate guide, hence truly living up to the title of Singapore as a food paradise.