Wednesday, October 18, 2023

What and where to eat local food in Singapore

Memories of hawker center and its good food

Many of my friends come to Singapore and they often ask me this question, "What should we eat (local food) in Singapore? And where?", especially for the first timer.

I have been living here for more that twenty years now but it does not mean that I have tried every nice local food here because of many concerns. First, the location. Yes, Singapore is a small country and you can go almost everywhere using the public transport such as MRT and bus. But for me, I do not eat out every day. Even if I do, I just go to the places nearby where I live or work. Otherwise, when I eat out while meeting friends or family members.

Second, the queue. Many eating places in Singapore are famous for its food. But famous often relates to long queue. I would not waste my time queueing too long to eat nice food.

Third, the price. The more famous the place, also the more it nears to city center, shopping belt and other touristic places, the higher the food price would be. For tourist who comes to Singapore once in a while, they would be ready to spend more money for the delicious famous local food. P.S. For eating in restaurant, you have to fork out additional 10% for service charge and 8% (9% in 2024) of GST - Goods and Service Tax, apart from your bill.

But still, I will give some suggestions of what to eat and where. Whether they want to go ahead with it or not, it will be up to them.

First, you might want to experience to eat at the local hawker center

"A hawker center or cooked food center is an open-air complex commonly found in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. They were built to provide a more sanitary alternative to mobile hawker carts and contain many stalls that sell different varieties of affordable meals. Dedicated tables and chairs are usually provided for diners." - Source:

As mentioned above, it is usually slightly more affordable, no air-conditioning, no service provided (mostly self-service - queue, order, and collect your food), using plastic (not easily break) bowls, plates, cutleries with plastic trays as well, clean the table yourself after finish eating (otherwise you will get fine - Starting 1 September 2021, enforcement officers will continue to advise diners to properly clear their dirty tray, crockery and litter and enforcement will apply to diners who do not heed the officers’ advice. First-time offenders will be issued with a written warning. Subsequent offenders may face composition or court fines of S$300 - Source:, more varieties of food sold, more local ambience or feel - especially with the sight of those uncles occupying table with bucket beers, groups of uncles aunties occupying table, each with glass of kopi or teh on the table, some playing Pokemon, some with shopping trolleys below the tables - usually during breakfast time, and so on.

There are many hawker centers you can experience in Singapore. I will list those nearer to the city center (as more tourists living there).

Maxwell Food Center

1. Maxwell Food Center - nearest MRT: Maxwell/ Chinatown. This place is famous for Fu Shun Shao La Mian Jia (selling roasted meat, char siew, wanton noodle, etc), Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (long queue but price has increased a lot and tastes so so for me), Fried Kway Teow • Fried Prawn Mee • Fried Oyster • Carrot Cake stall (01-53)Rojak · Popiah & Cockle (which you can share with your group - the mixed fruit rojak with peanut crunchy sauce), ( China Street Hum Jin Pang (selling local fried dough - either filled with red bean or made with five spice powder - with a cup of black coffee, Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake (one of my favorite local snacks - must eat with the provided chili sauce), Heng Heng Ondeh-Ondeh & Tapioca Cake (if you want to try the sweet stuff/ local dessert - freshly made every day).

The middle picture - Baguette Huong Viet (Vietnam food) and Bold x Braised (Taiwanese food) - that are located side by side, are recommended by local in case you do not feel like eating local food. Portion, price, and taste are all good.

2. Old Airport Road Food Center - nearest MRT: Dakota. This place is famous for To-Ricos Kway Chap Old Airport Road (delicious pork organs dishes with silky, smooth and chewy white flat noodle - must eat for pork lover!!!), Roast Paradise (roasted pork and char siew with rice), Xiang Ji Lor Mee (thick noodle with dark brown thick broth and fillings), sweet icy desserts at Nyonya Chendol,small little dessert (min jiang kueh or traditional pancake with peanut, red bean, coconut fillings, etc.) at Munchi Pancake, locally craft beer at Hello Ren Min, etc. 

3. Chinatown Complex Food Center - nearest MRT: Chinatown. It is located at the second floor. There are many delicious local food that you can eat and drink. Try the local coffee or tea at the 1950's Coffee “五十年代”. You have not eaten local food in Singapore if you have not tried the breakfast set that contains the traditional kaya toast, half-boiled egg, and tea/coffee. Not all coffee stall gives you a nice cup of coffee though as different stall sources different type of coffee beans. Fret not, if you do not have time to visit hawker center, you can just go to Yakun Kaya Toast to have a taste of this local breakfast set. You can find it especially near shopping area. 

I recommend you to visit this hawker center in the morning time as with empty stomach, you can eat more and they have so much variety of food here. 

Ann Chin Popiah from Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre 

Jia Ji Mei Shi offers local breakfast food such as: chee cheong fan, yam cake, triangle rice dumpling, soon kueh, taro cake, peanut porridge, fried bee hoon, etc. You can buy one each and share it with your accompanies. Ann Chin Popiah offers delicious wrapped cooked turnip, veg, bean sprout, grated peanut, crispy bits, and boiled egg. Personally, I love this very much! You can also try their kueh pie tee (with crispy made cup instead of wrapped with popiah skin). 

You can try chwee kueh as breakfast too at the Bedok chwee kueh 水粿. Chwee kueh is a steamed water with rice flour and combination of other gluten-free flour served with cooked preserved turnip/ chai poh and chili - originated from Teo Chew. The chili is a bit oily but taste better with it than without.

If you like fried kway teow, you can try Hill Street Fried Kway Teow. They still cook it with cockles, prawns, preserved sausage, and crispy pork bits. When your body needs some nourishment after so much walk, you may want to try the herbal soup from Herbal Soup 瓦罐煨汤. The soups are cooked using the clay pot burnt with charcoal. If you not sure what to eat, you can ask the seller which soup is suitable to your needs. 

For lunch, you can have the soya chicken, roasted pork, and/ or char siew rice or noodle at the famous Hawker Chan 香港油鸡饭面2/F, the origin store. You may need to queue though.

Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice

If you have time to spare for dinner (open from 4.30 to 10.30pm), you may want to order the clay pot rice at Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice. It may take at least half an hour for the food to be ready but it is prepared fresh and from scratch upon ordering and cooked on top of the charcoal, which gives it a fragrant rice as a result. Inside the mixed rice, they put the chicken chunks, mushroom, preserved sausage, salted fish, and vegetable. Before serving, they will pour dark soy sauce and shallot oil. This shop has more than 40 years history and recognized as one of the Michelin-Bib Gourmand stalls. 

When you go Chinatown, you sure want to taste some Chinese food. Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao 中国拉面小笼包 is famous for their xiao long bao (steamed juicy pork dumpling made with thin skin), pan fried or steamed dumplings, beef noodle, zha jiang mian (fried bean sauce noodle), and so on. You have to queue and wait for your food though because they prepare it fresh upon ordering.

For dessert, you may want to try the peanut/sesame/red bean ball soup (ginger or peanut soup) at the 75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup. You can try other local dessert at 一 一五糖水 115 Tang Shui. They sell sesame paste, peanut paste, combination of both, bobo chacha, walnut paste, almond paste, and so on. For cold dessert, you can taste delicious Chendol at Old Amoy Chendol.

4. Hong Lim Market and Food Center - nearest MRT: Chinatown. Ji Ji Wanton Noodle Specialist is famous for local. Long queue is expected during peak hours (lunch and dinner). Take note on the opening time as the stall close in between. If you crave for laksa, you can try it at the Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa. They also sell mee siam, which is also my favorite! This hawker is famous for curry chicken noodle from Heng Kee Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee. So, if you are fans of curry noodle, join the queue and try it! The Tai Wah bak chor mee (minced pork meat noodle) is famous too but usually at a long queue. So does with Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee. If you have enough time, join the queue!!! If you like the combination of chicken cutlet curry noodle, you can try it at the Cantonese Delights - 廣東小吃. Try to avoid peak hour though!  

5. Tekka Market and Food Center - nearest MRT: Little India. It is just finished being renovated and now has opened for business starting beginning of October 2023. Indian food lover, you can head here and eat some delicious Indian such as nasi Briyani at the Allauddin's Briyani, Yakader Muslim Food, roti prata at the Prata Saga Sambal Berlada, Ar Rahman Royal Prata, various Indian Muslim food including roti prata, briyani, rice with meat or fish curry at Zham Zham Muslim Food, etc. 

You can also find non-Indian local food here, such as prawn noodle from 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles, duck rice from Heng Gi Goose and Duck Rice, mee siam and Chinese rojak - not the fruit rojak by the way - from Grandma Mee Siam 燻鲨鱼五香虾饼, and so on. Talking about rojak, you can taste the Indian rojak at the Temasek Indian Rojak. You can not even find it in India :D if you know what I mean. So, fulfil your craving of various Indian food at this hawker center!!!

6. Golden Mile Food Centre - nearest MRT: Nicole Highway. I have eaten the chili mee (noodle) from Chung Cheng Chilli Mee/崇正辣椒面 since many many years ago, and still love it!!! The mee is topped with prawns, pork ribs, fish cakes, taupok, slices of boiled egg, bean sprouts, and of course, chili, accompanied with a bowl of soup. If you can bear spicy food, you can try it!!!

Chung Cheng Chilli Mee - Golden Mile Food Centre

If you love the fried Hokkien prawn mee, you may want to try You Fu's. Just by looking at the photos from Google map, it makes me drooling and craving for it :D For prawn mee soup, you can try it at Liang Seah Street Prawn Noodle.

The Chinese beef noodle and Singapore style beef noodle are different. Have you tried one? If you are a fans of it, or curious how it tastes like, you can try one at the Bugis (Longhouse) Lim Kee Beef Noodles. You can choose soup type or the thick gravy type. Try both if you cannot decide, but personally if I am alone, I would choose the dry (thick gravy) one. It uses white round noodle poured with gravy and topped with salted vegetable, and a small bowl of soup at the side.

Keng Heng Whampoa Teochew Lor Mee serves good lor mee. Apart from the usual fish cake, pork belly, fried fish, and ngoh hiang, the seller put in fried fish skin and wanton as well. The gravy is thick and nice. Do not forget to put some garlic and chili, plus drizzle some black vinegar on it. Guarantee, you will love it!!! :)

For duck rice lover, you may want to join the queue at the Ah Xiao Teochew Duck Rice (亞笑潮洲卤鸭). Many people recommend this place.

Have you ever tried the peranakan dish Singapore style? “Peranakan” generally refers to a person of mixed Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage. The peranakan food is the result of blending Chinese ingredients with various distinct spices and cooking techniques used by them. The taste is somehow heavy depending on various spices they use. I never try the food here myself, but one day I would love to bring my friend who loves eating peranakan food to eat at Charlie's Peranakan Food. The price is not very cheap but I think it is worth it as it really needs right spices both in quantity and types in order to make a delicious ones and the portion is quite a lot. They sell varieties of it, such as: babi ponteh, itek sio, sambal lengkong (spicy fish floss), ayam buah keluak, etc. The names itself are exotic and make you wonder how the taste would like. Go down and try it if you are curious! :) The dishes are supposed to be eaten with rice, so do not forget to order plain rice with it.

Tulang (bones) lover must have known Deen Tulang Specialist very well!!! The stall has been there since more than 2 decades ago. Expect for a queue!!! Must try - sup tulang merah (red mutton bone marrow soup - originated in Singapore). Use your hand to pick, eat, and suck the bones. Use the other end of the spoon or even straw to take the filling out from the bones - just be creative with it! Be careful not to dirty your clothes or people's clothes surrounding you hehehe... And better not wearing white shirt here! :D Can try the mee goreng too! 

For dessert, a bowl of icy grass jelly would be perfect for such a hot Singapore weather!!! You can get it at the Zhao An Granny Grass Jelly. You can add toppings like nata de coco, palm seeds, longan, and sea coconuts. Or head down to Thong Sum Hot & Cold Desserts 糖心糖水 for a more variety desserts!!! 

7. People's Park Food Centre - nearest MRT: Chinatown. Back to Chinatown area. I think this place is a favorite place for Chinese people who come from China to work in Singapore since many food stalls here are selling the Chinese food that suit their taste buds. Chinese noodle and dumpling, Mala hotpot, grilled fish, cold dishes, etc. Sunday will be the worst day for you to visit as this place will sure be very crowded. There are two sides of seating area though. So when one side is crowded, try to sit at the other side. 

Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo - People's Park Food Center, Chinatown

Ri Ri Hong Mala Xiang Guo 日日紅麻辣香鍋 used to serve the best Mala hotpot. I brought so many friends to eat their food. But after the recent renovation, I personally feel that the standard has dropped. It has become dried and less tasty (perhaps they cut down on their spices when cooking the ingredients. They have two stalls. One in front, and another one at the back. I have tried them both recently and do not reach my expectation. But you may want to give it a try because you may like them. 

Hong Peng La Mian Xiao Long Bao is my most favorite shop in this hawker center. I have purchased from them since long time ago, since before they moved their shop from the other side. They serve the best Zha Jiang Mian or fried bean paste noodle and kuo tie or fried dumpling, in my opinion. Their xiao long bao and hot sour and spicy soup are delicious too! They make the dumpling fresh almost every day. In the past, he even pulled the noodle in front of you upon ordering, but now he uses machine as the quantity ordered increased and only few of them work. Try it and see if you agree with me :)

I am not a fans of braised duck, but this stall - Lek Kee Authentic Teochew Braised Duck - are liked by many. People say the stall serves a very good Teochew braised duck dishes. 

Yong Xiang Xing Dou Fu 永祥興豆腐 always draws long queue. Fyi this shop sells clear soup with variety of tofu (beancurd) with fish cake products and fish ball. Most customers are elderly but they keep coming back. It must be one of the comfort food for them and their ingredients are freshly made.

If you want to try homemade local delicacies, you can head to Fatt Soon Kueh. They sell soon kueh (Teochew style steamed crystal skin dumpling filled with jicama, bamboo shoot, black fungus and carrot), ku chye kueh (made of chive), and png kueh or rice kueh (Teochew glutinous peach-shape kueh).

8. Seah Im Food Centre - nearest MRT: Harbour Front. Usually I will have breakfast here before starting my morning walk to Mt Faber and Henderson Waves. But after renovation, I have not gone there yet, maybe soon. This hawker center has lots of Indian and Muslim food. I will usually order teh tarik or teh halia here as they will usually pull the tea in the making. With the tea, epok epok (curry puff) from Makan Boleh and some other fried stuff would be the perfect companion, like sardine puff, jemput jemput (sweet fried banana balls), bakwan (vegetable fritters), and goreng pisang (fried banana).

I love having roti prata (Indian flatbread dish served with curry) for breakfast too, also perfect with my teh tarik and teh halia. You can get it from Mohamad Arafat Muslim Food.

If you crave for Malay food like mee rebus, mee soto, soto ayam, lontong, gado gado, satay, etc. you can try the Daliman's Corner. If you love chicken rice, you can have it from the Aspirasi Food Galore.

At Shi Ji Noodle Stall, you can order prawn soup noodle and braised duck lor mie. If you crave for fried kway teow, you can have it from Seah Im Fried Kway Teow Mee. Fish ball and minced meat noodle from Lucky Fishball Noodle Stall 好運魚圓麵攤 is nice and coffee and tea from Coffee Queen stall is recommended too!

9. Changi Village Hawker Centre - nearest bus terminal: Changi Village. There is no MRT nearby and more accessible by taking the public bus. Located at the eastern side of Singapore, it offers varieties of delicious food that sometimes people come all the way just to eat. 

I love nasi lemak, the fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk, eaten with fried egg, ikan bilis (small fried salted fish), fried peanut, cucumber, and sambal chili. It is best eaten with additional fried chicken wing and otah (grilled fish paste wrapped in banana leaf). I used to go to this hawker center just to eat the nasi lemak here from Mizzy Corner Nasi Lemak. It was my favourite! However, there is also another stall - International Muslim Food Stall Nasi Lemak - where you can buy. 

One of my favorite faraway hawker center - Changi Village

Later on, other food is proven to be good there too, apart from nasi lemakWeng Kee Original Taste Ipoh Hor Fun serves a delicious Ipoh Horfun, added with chicken chop. Do not forget to add the sour green chilli! You will crave for another bowl! 

If you like satay bee hoon, you can try Ho Guan Satay Bee Hoon. There is lesser people selling this local food nowadays, hard to find, especially good one. Satay bee hoon is rice vermicelli with kang kong (morning glory), cuttlefish, pork slices, bean sprout, prawn, with lots of chili-based peanut sauce. I eat them once in a while. Really good!! If you have not tried it yet, order one and share.

On your way home, do not bring empty hand. You have traveled far to this place. Dabao (takeaway) some fried stuff snacks from the Million Star Fried Banana and Mei Xiang Goreng Pisang (美香炸香蕉,as it would be prefect with a cup of coffee or tea for the evening tea time. They have various snacks to choose from. I always dabao goreng pisang or fried banana from Warung Nenek. Their bananas are always sweet, its outer layer is crunchy, coated with sesame seeds. It is cheap too. You can always air-fry them at home before eating. Or you can eat them at the nearby Changi beach park :)

Wahh... so many food to eat and all at different places!!! So you know now why I never ever slim down in my life? Hahahaha.... ^^" Singapore is really heaven for food, as many people would eat outside rather than cooking at home. For singles and married couple or even small family with only 1 or 2 children, the cost of eating outside would be more or less or even cheaper than buying food ingredients and cook at home. Not yet count the amount of time and energy required to buy the ingredients, carrying it all the way to home, washing, cutting, preparing, cooking, and again, washing the dishes after eating. When you go to hawker center, you just have to spend time to queue and order your food (sometimes to find seat during peak hours), and money to buy the food you required. At least you do not have to wash the plates afterwards.

But of course, eating out every day would not be a good choice to maintain good health and diet. Exercise is needed and balance meal is important as well (perhaps includes the oatmeal / other healthier options on your daily food intake, choose more vegetable dishes or even salad, and not forgetting to take fruits or dairy like milk, yoghurt) to fulfill the required nutrition for your body. 

As and when I am free, I will update more on the hawker center and food list onto this post.

P.S. I do not do any advertisement or receive any benefit from posting this here. I just want to help my fellow friends who come and visit Singapore and want to know where and what to eat here, especially local Singaporean food, which will add their eating experience from this part of the world. Hope it helps! :)

Almost forgot!!! Please check the location, opening time and day, directions, from Google Map. Thank you!


Sherab Tenzin said...

Nice list Rima. I am not a big fan of Seah Im Food Centre and choices there except that I have to have breakfast when I go for hiking in southern ridges. Wondering if Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice is still there. I want to go there once more. Thanks

Overcome Life said...

Thank you Sherab!!! Yeah, it is still there. Bring me along there tub! :D

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