What is a hawker center? For one, it’s a Singapore staple and also the best way to hit all the local specialties for a cheap price. Hawker centers are open-air complexes found in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and other places that are basically a conglomerate of stalls. In Singapore, they are a lifeblood for amazing food and two of the stalls are Michelin starred (but more on that later)
Before we start, here is a list of all the things you should really try while you’re in Singapore. You really can’t go wrong but be aware that most hawker centers are only open during the day and close up shop very early. Each hawker center has a few stand out dishes they’re especially known for so you should really just go to every single hawker center and gorge on food.
- Char Siu/Char Siew (Cantonese BBQ Pork though some consider it Malaysian)
- Nasi Lemak (Malaysian coconut milk rice dish served with hot chili sauce, peanuts, cucumbers and maybe a hard-boiled egg amongst other toppings)
- Laksa (Malaysian, coconut broth, yummy noodles and comes in many variants)
- Chili Crab (we couldn’t eat any of this due to Ben’s allergies ha)
- Kaya Toast (A coconut toast known for it’s Singaporean and Malaysian origin)
- Fried carrot cake (I’m told there’s a sweet version that is Singaporean and a salty one that is Malaysian, we liked salty)
- Satay (you knowwww it, check out Satay Street for more)
- Dim Sum (same goes here)
- Ice Kachang (Ben describes this as the weirdest shaved ice ever. I loved it. Like Bingsoo but with corn, sometimes sweet and a little salty)
- Hainanese Chicken Rice (Hainan province, Chinese origin food that’s become a Malaysian staple. Pay special attention to the rice, that’s the best part)
Note: There’s so much more than this but I honestly think there should be some mystery in finding things out yourself. My hottest tips are two things: Lunch will cost $1 and cocktails $20 so watch out world and second, just stand in the longest line at the hawker stalls, you’ll likely be right. When in Rome!
Tiong Bahru Hawker Centre
Location: 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
Bonus: There is a wet market downstairs
Lau Pa Sat Hawker Center
Location: 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582
Bonus: It’s beautiful inside. Cons: I stopped taking pictures at other centers because I was too busy eating.
Locations: Ah Seng (Hai Nam) Coffee @ Amoy Street Food Center AND Tong Ah Eating House
The first isn’t a hawker center but you may as well diversify your day. Our friends Everett and Anna (more on that in a future post) moved to Singapore a little bit a go and we let them show us all over the city. We were just very happy to catch up and could barely focus on the actual tour of delicious kaya toast. I was basically too full to eat lunch by the end of it.