There isn’t quite anything like Singaporean cuisine in the world. Maybe we’re biased, but hear us out: with her diverse racial makeup, you’ll find that food here often blurs the lines between different cultures, often encompassing various elements (the best ones!) from across cultures to get the best of both worlds. Here, you’ll find the food an explosion of flavour, hitting every flavour and textural profile out there. It is no wonder that Singapore has birthed people that love eating—you’ll find no shortage of good food, no matter which corner of Singapore you may be at. The best part? These aren’t found at glitzy, out-of-budget restaurants. In this 3-part series, we present to you the best food that Singapore has to offer at its humble hawker centres:
Bak Chor Mee
A truly Singaporean dish, Bak Chor Mee is literally translated to minced meat and noodles. It features a satisfying combination of springy egg noodles and tender minced pork. Like most Chinese noodle dishes in Singapore, it is available either with soup or dry. The soup version is laden with an umami richness, while the dry version features noodles tossed in a combination of vinegar, chilli sauce and lard, resulting in a satisfying blend of textures that lend a savoury and slightly sour taste to the tongue.
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
You may have to jump through hoops of fire for this one, but boy, is it worth it. The queues here are infamously long, doubling after the stall was awarded a Michelin star in 2016—a star well-deserved, that’s for sure! Seasoned generously with chilli, vinegar and lard, with perfectly firm, slightly bouncy noodles, Hill Street Tai Hwa may serve up some of the best Bak Chor Mee that Singapore has to offer. Join the queue earlier (avoid peak hours at all costs!). For those who love the extra tang from black vinegar, you’ll love this.
Address: Blk 466 Crawford Lane #01-12, Singapore 190465
Bedok 85 Xing Ji Rou Cuo Mian
Only the soup version is available here, but don’t be fooled by the deceptively clear-looking soup. The broth here is light but filled with a savoury, garlicky flavour, and the noodles are handmade in-house, retaining a pleasant chew. You’ll be surprised to find how something so simple can taste so good!
Address: 85, #01-07 Bedok North Rd, 460085
Char Kway Teow
This indulgent noodle dish is stir-fried over high heat with a variety of flavourful ingredients such as lap cheong (Chinese sausage), cockles, fish cake, all which impart a certain rich umami-ness to the dish. The charred, slightly sweet taste of the noodles is known as wok hei; a characteristic of many Singaporean Chinese dishes. It’s what makes it irresistible, and will leave you wanting more!
Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee
Situated in Chinatown, this stall has always been popular, having even been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand. The Char Kway Teow here is full of smoky wok hei flavour, and scattered generously amongst the thick brown noodles are bits of egg and cockles.
Address: 531A Upper Cross St, #02-17, Singapore 051531
No. 18 Zion Road Fried Kway Teow
Well-known to be the stall that Singapore’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong is fond of, No. 18 Zion Road Fried Kway Teow serves up a mean plate of Char Kway Teow. The noodles are freshly fried in batches upon order, and you’ll find the wok hei fragrance lingering even as the noodles cool down. The servings here are generous, and you’ll find plenty of cockles in your Char Kway Teow.
Address: 70 Zion Rd, #01-17 Zion Riverside Food Centre, Singapore 247792
Rojak is somewhat of a salad dish, consisting of mixed vegetables and fruits, mixed in with a sweet and sour sauce and garnished with peanuts. Encompassing a variety of textures—crunchy, hard, crispy, soft and sticky—it makes a satisfying side dish to any meal.
Lau Hong Ser Rojak
This is one interesting stall—for one, their opening hours are from 4:38pm to 1:38am. While most places simply toast the pieces of you tiao (fried dough sticks) and tau pok (fried beancurd), the ones here are chargrilled, making it extra crispy and lending a subtle smokey char. The vegetables and fruits here are fresh and crunchy, making the dish extra pleasant.
Brace yourself, for this one’s going to be messy. It seems to be common consensus that manners don’t quite matter when delicious food is on the table, and chilli crab is certainly one of those dishes! The crab is simmered in a delicious sauce, and the dish is often served with mantou, a soft, steamed bun to help mop up the delicious sauce.
When you mention seafood, JUMBO Seafood will probably be the first name that comes to everyones’ mind. A classic rendition of Singaporean chilli crab, the sauce here is slightly spicy (perfect for Western palates!) and deliciously sweet. Reservations are recommended here, they are always packed at dinner times!
Address: 30 Merchant Rd, #01-01/02 Riverside Point, Singapore 058282
Bak Kut Teh
Literally translated to ‘meat bone tea’ from Hokkien, this comforting dish features pork ribs simmered in a warming broth; either peppery (Teochew style) or herbal (Hokkien style). The Teochew style is more popular.
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh
It’s accessible location in the heart of Singapore makes it an extremely popular option among locals and tourists, and not without good reason! The star here is really the soup, which is strongly flavoured with pepper and garlic. The pork ribs are also tender and delightfully moist.