Street food is all the rage at the moment and if you’re visiting Singapore you’re in luck as the island is brimming with a great variety of cheap and tasty food. Singaporeans are real foodies – they love to dine out and would think nothing of traveling to the other side of the island to queue up for their favourite Char kway teow or Nasi Goreng. Since the birth of Hawker stalls in the 1950s they have become a centrepiece of Singaporean culture and a place where families and friends come together. The country has the advantage of being rich in a diversity of Asian cultures, each one adding their own flavours to the vast assortment of street food. Singapore is littered with Hawker Centres which is where you’ll find the best and most economical food. Usually a collection of food stalls centred around a seating area, each one has its own speciality which must be sampled when visiting.We’ve picked five of our favourites:
Changi Village Food Centre
The speciality here is Nasi Lemak, a popular Malaysian dish which consists of rice cooked in coconut milk served with pandan leaves, dried anchovies, a boiled egg and a spice paste called Rendah. Locals claim it’s the signature aroma of the fragrant, floral pandan leaves that makes the dish and without it, it wouldn’t be a true Nasi Lemak.
You’ll be able to smell and hear this raucous open- air food court before you can see it. The enticing aromas of generously spiced grilled meat, mingle in the air with the calls from various vendors offering popular dishes such as sting ray with chilli sauce, crispy fried baby squid and steaming plates of kai lang. Your senses will lead you into the labyrinth of endless food and drink stalls, which will suck you in and eventually spit you out contented and full stomached. Be prepared to get hounded by vendors competing for your business and sure, they’ve seen a tourist or two, but the food is good and there is plenty of variety. The speciality is the satay – served with peanut dipping sauce, order a variety of chicken, mutton and beef.
Maxwell Food Centre
Maxwell Food Centre is undercover so a good option if you’re dodging a seasonal monsoon downpour. Join the queue at Tian Tian Chicken Rice to sample the specialty here. Another favourite at Maxwell is congee, commonly called Chinese porridge – it can be served with different kinds of meat, seafood or even frogs eggs. Try the congee with sliced pork, topped with an egg, chopped chillies, spring onions and deep-fried balls of dough. The Singaporeans often eat it if they are ill and swear by it as a great hangover cure! Find the Ho Kee Porridge or Zhen Zhen Porridge stalls for the best.
This outdoor hawker centre sits on the eastern coast line of the island which is a pleasant area to eat and absorb the atmosphere. Sit on the grassy banks and enjoy an alfresco dinner whilst watching roller bladers whizz up and down the bike lanes and dog walkers parade their pooches. The hawker centre boasts over 50 food stalls with a wide variety of Asian cuisines and dishes. Come here for the seafood – in particular chilli crab which is Singapore’s signature dish.
Ayer Rajah Food Centre
On the other side of the island, you will find the Ayer Rajah Food Centre which specialises in Indian food and in particular Indian Rojak. You’ll be served a large plate of deep-fried prawn fritters with boiled eggs, bean sprouts, cucumber and a spicy chilli sauce. The mutton stew is also worth a mention.
- Don’t expect luxury. You’ll most likely be eating sat on a plastic chair around a communal table
- Watch out for locals ‘choping’ tables – they place a packet of tissues on a free table to reserve it but this is fast becoming frowned upon
- If you’re eating at dining rush hours, watch for free tables like a hawk and have no shame in pouncing as soon as a diner has taken their last mouthful
- Head for the vendor with the biggest queue as it’s likely to have the best food
- Have patience, the food is usually worth the wait