The Best Hawker Centres in Singapore

Hawk what? Hawker centre. Hawker centres are what we like to call the heart and soul of Singapore where you see everyone, rich, poor, young and old, all mixed up in an average to a good looking hall filled with little food stalls. We wouldn’t be too wrong to say that Singaporeans favourite pastime is to eat and that they will go far and wide to find the best of the best of each dish. Once they found their favourite, they usually also stay very loyal, keep returning and invite newbies like us to join them for some heart to heart-eating time. Kevin Kwan from Crazy Rich Asians didn’t say “Welcome to Singapore, where arguing about food is the national pastime” for nothing!

These complexes have been developed a long time ago to be quite efficient to clean and organize street food and making sure the vendors all had access to clean water and plumbing. All Hawker centres in Singapore are unique and have incredible stories from their tenants. There are obviously some more popular Hawker Centres for tourists, but there are also the local favourites in addition to any neighbourhood ones!

The Best Hawker Centres in Singapore

Hawkers usually have a dozen stalls that sell all kinds of different food, snacks and drinks. Singapore is (in my opinion) quite expensive, so if you are looking for the cheapest options to eat, going to Hawkers is the way to save your money! Although, it’s not about being cheap. It is the cheapest option BUT also one of the best options for an authentic Singaporean culinary experience in which you can sample all of the cultures of the country in one food hall (or almost all cultures).

So if you are in Singapore, come on, eat like a local and guzzle your way through the national dishes like nasi lemak, laksa, chicken rice satay and more, the list is long, hope you are hungry!

Price of the food at Hawker Centres in Singapore

Dishes are between S$3-12. Higher costs go to usually bigger dishes with fish, seafood, or if you simply order tons of individual items priced as low as 2 dollars. It is also the cheapest way to go for a drink if it is not for buying yourself drinking at home! Bring cash if you go eat at a Hawker and preferably have small denominations. Hawkers usually won’t take cards but bigger ones do have the card option like at Lau Pa Sat, which is more touristy and for people working around the downtown area.

The Best Hawker Centres in Singapore

Advice when eating at Hawker Centres in Singapore

You may notice random items on tables with no one sat around. It’s called Chopping your place. That is how locals reserve a seat or table, by simply placing a business card, but usually any item like a tissue pack, an umbrella, a water bottle, etc, and it’ll be waiting for you when you get back. Crime is so uncommon in Singapore so people do honour that reservation system they call “chope”. Note that it is common to share a table with strangers.

Speaking of tissues, do bring some and hand sanitizer because there are no napkins in most Hawkers in Singapore (99% won’t have tissues for you!), but if you don’t have any, usually cute aunties or uncles walk around selling some for a buck or two. Now that you know the basics, get ready to be overwhelmed with amazing smells and food options and dive on in!

Sometimes, do try to remember your table number because some hawker stalls will bring the food directly to your table when it’s ready. If the stall says “self-service” means they will not so simply wait at the stall until it’s ready.

The Best Hawker Centres in Singapore

When you’re finished eating sometimes there are areas where you shold bring your plates. At some hawkers, you can leave your table exactly as it is as they have employees who clean up after you. The beauty of eating at hawkers is that you eat in dishes that are washed and reused. Singapore isn’t great with its initiatives to reduce plastic so this practice is great considering that.

Most popular Hawker Centres for expats and tourists are the ones in Telok Ayer, Chinatown, Amoy Street and Maxwell Road. Locals sometimes find better alternatives at other Hawkers all around Singapore! So let’s start with these more popular ones to others you should really visit also if you have more time in Singapore!

1) Lau Pa Sat aka Telok Ayer Market

Probably the most popular Hawker and very touristy! If you have family or friends living here, they very much likely will bring you at this market at night for some satay!

Lau Pa Sat is a restored hawker centre and a perfect one for any hawker newbies who want to try everything. Find diverse cuisine, North Indian, Malay, Singaporean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and even a Costa Rican food stall is there! Each stall is clearly labeled with the specialty it serves. It is conveniently located in the CBD, near Marina Bay and Club Street for visitors to go for a cheap feed.

Locals usually turn their noses up at Lau Pa Sat beacause of its touristy nature, but this historic building has its charms with the open air building renovated in the style of the British colonial period. It has a functional clock tower in the centre original from 1888.

Come night-time, the Boon Tat Street side behind Lau Pa Sat blocks the whole street to makes way for satay (barbecue skewers) which stay open late into the night for food and beers! Beware, the satay people can get pretty pushy!

The Best Hawker Centres in Singapore

Try: Best Lau Pa Sat food stalls? Ok, top one, there’s a reason why there is a queue at Seng Kee Local Delights, people love its hot-off-the-wok fried Hokkien prawn mee soaked in rich gravy for less than 5 bucks. YUM. If you are into soups try their Laksa. Kway Chap is something you can try if you are adventurous, which is Pig Organ’s Soup & Kway Chap. As for Satay, stalls 7 and 8 arguably sell the best rendition of the street’s grilled beef and chicken skewers.

Near Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar, Telok Ayer and Downtown MRT stations.
Lau Pa Sat. 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582
Select stalls are open 24 hours daily (different during the pandemic)

 
 
 
 
 
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2) Amoy Street Food Centre

Amoy Street Food Centre is the Hawker par excellence for professionals and white-collar workers from around the area. As a tourist, you might be around because you were on a hunt for the city’s best street art! The hawker is decked with wall art that reflects its heritage and home to both traditional hawker offerings and with some modern fusion fare at affordable prices. During peak lunch hours, around 11h30-1h30 PM, queues can be long and it might be hard for you to find a seat that isn’t chope-d!

Try: Delicious Fish porridge (#02-100) and Lor mee (#02-79) a yellow noodles in a thick savoury gravy. A Noodle Story (#01-139) serves up a Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded noodle, a local spin on Japanese ramen. Think Japanese ramen with prawns, roast meat and dumplings.

Don’t leave without trying Curry puffs (S$1.20 to $1.50) from the J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff stall, honoured Bib Gourmand!

Near Telok Ayer and Tanjong Pagar MRT stations.
Amoy Street Food Centre. 7 Maxwell Road, Singapore 069111.
Daily 6.30am-9pm.

 
 
 
 
 
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3) Tiong Bahru Market

Tiong Bahru Market is a celebrity chef magnet! Anthony Bourdain went there and had it on his show, it is also the favourite haunt of Tetsuya Wakuda and even Cat Cora (a world-renowned celebrity chef from Iron Chef) was spotted at the wet market! The Tiong Bahru Market is huge, with over 1,400 seats and 80+ food units laid out in an open triangular pattern. It has two floors, first floor you will find the wet market: stalls full of meat, fruits, plants, fresh flowers, and traditional Chinese spiritual materials. Upstairs is what you want, the array of delicious hawker stalls around.

Tiong Bahru itself is a heritage neighbourhood you absolutely should go around for walks and explore its many wall art. It has a very traditional feel mixed with a hipster upgrade. Discover tons of unique boutiques, charming bookshops, independent art galleries and many many cafes.

Try: The Chai poh (S$1.20/four pieces, $2.40/eight), a classic Chinese Preserved Radish Omelette at Jian Bo Shui Kueh (#02-05). You usually would eat this for breakfast.

Also try Char siu pau (a Cantonese barbecue-pork-filled bun) (S$0.90) at Tiong Bahru Pau (#02-18/19). It is soft and fluffy with juicy and meaty char siew. Be ready to queue as the line can be quite long. People tend to think it is the best Char siew pau in Singapore!

If you have never tried, go for Fish Soup Noodle and Fish Head Bee Hoon (S$5) at Blanco Court Fried Fish Soup (#02-62).

TBM is home to two famous Lor Mee (Hokkien noodle dish from Zhangzhou served in a thick starchy gravy) stalls. Both attract long queues with a 20-minute wait on weekends. Try 178 Lor Mee (#02-23, closed on Tuesdays) that has pretty unusual ingredients like deep-fried shark nuggets ($2.50/bowl, $3 for extra nuggets) and flat yellow noodles. The other stall is Tiong Bahru Lor Mee (#02-80, $3/bowl) is more of a traditional take on the Lor Mee. The gravy is thicker and less-sweet. It will be sureved along with ngoh hiang, fish cakes, braised meat and eggs.

Between Outram and Tiong Bahru MRT stations
Tiong Bahru Market. 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
Daily 6am-11pm

 
 
 
 
 
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4) Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre

Chinatown is a must visit in Singapore and if you feel like a feed, you should go to the Chinatown Complex Food Centre, home to all the typical Singapore dishes you need to experience at reasonable prices.It is home to 200+ stalls, including the local craft beer bar Smith Street Taps and the Michelin-starred Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle. After your feed, do explore around at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, etc.

Try: Soya sauce chicken rice or noodle, char siew rice or noodles, roasted pork rice (S$4) at Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle. It is the famous Hawker Chan by Chan Hon Meng, the cheapest Michelin meal you’ll ever get!

Chinatown MRT Station
Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre. 335 Smith St, Singapore 050335
Open Daily 8am-12am

 
 
 
 
 
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5) Maxwell Food Centre

Maxwell Food Centre borders Chinatown & Tanjong Pagar, nestled in a storied neighbourhood of pre-war shophouses and various places of worship. It is minutes away from Ann Siang and Club Street. The Maxwell Food Centre is the favourite for lunchtime for those in the CBD.

Try: The Chicken rice by Tian Tian Chicken Rice (#01-10/11), recommended by the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand, is a tasty fragrant rice, chicken, mixed in garlic, chili sauce and light soy sauce. Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain both tried their delicious take of the chicken rice.

Shepherd’s pie and Devil’s curry (spicy curry flavoured with candlenuts and vinegar) by Popo and Nana’s Delights Eurasian and Peranakan Food (#01-70) is also a nother hit at this hawker.

Stop by the hipster microbrew stall for a wide range of regional brews and knowledgable staff to help you pick. 

Near Chinatown, Telok Ayer and Tanjong Pagar MRT stations
Maxwell Food Centre. 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184
Open daily 8-2am

 
 
 
 
 
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6) Tekka Centre

Tekka Centre is located at the gateway to Little India on Serangoon Road. It is one of the best hawker centres in Singapore to find cheap and generously portioned curries and, of course, some Biryani. Tekka Centre is also home to one of the best wet markets in town with a greater offering of halal-slaughtered meats.

Try: The Biryani at Yakader (#01-259) and Allauddin (#01-297) are the suggested spots. At Yakader, try the Chicken dum biryani ($4).

Butter chicken ($3) with some crispy garlic naan at SJ Tandoori (#01-218).

Our favourite, Temasek Indian Rojak (#01-254), which is a mixed plate of shrimp fritters, fried onions, fishballs and potatoes drenched in a spicy thick orange sauce. Prices range from $0.70 to $2 per ingredient.

If you don’t fancy Indian food, go for the Hae mee, prawn noodles (S$3-4.), at 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles (#01-326) is run by a finance graduate turned third-generation hawker, Li Ruifang.

Don’t miss 60+ years old Heng Gi Goose and Duck Rice (#01-335) and get the famous Teochew Style Duck Rice also a listed in the Singapore Michelin Guide with a Michelin Plate.

For dessert, you must get a Ginger tea and Chendol (Small S$1.30 Big S$1.80) at Ar-Rahman Cafe (#01-247) . If you like durian, get the Durian Chendol (S$2) or the Power Chendol (S$2.20) which has red bean and attap seeds

Little India MRT Stations
Tekka Centre. 665 Buffalo & Serangoon Roads, Singapore 210665

Open daily from 6h30am-10pm

 
 
 
 
 
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7) Chomp Chomp

Chomp Chomp is known to the locals. It is located in the residential neighbourhood of Serangoon Gardens. There are many stalls serving similar hawker food, like Carrot Cake, Oyster Omelette, BBQ Chicken Wings, BBQ Seafood and Hokkien Mee. You will find people around with towers, but not of beer, SUGAR CANE JUICE! It’s like a huge thing at Chomp Chomp!

Because you can’t get no visual cues if a stall is good based on the queue because food is sent to your table, it can be hard to gauge which are the more note-worthy stalls. In general, for convenience, sit somewhere near where you order the most food from.

When at Chomp Chomp, the usual suspects are Hokkien Mee, Satay, Carrot Cake, Friend Oyster and Sugar cane. Swee Heng Wanton Noodle, Stall #12, located at the corner end is where I get my noodle fix. Ang Mo Kio 409 Fried Carrot Cake, Stall #24 is where you can get the best Fried Oyster ($5, $8, $10, $12) and Carrot Cake ($3, $4, $5) in Chomp Chomp. For BBQ Chicken Wings, go to Chong Pang Huat, Stall #26. Since we’ve been to Chomp Chomp a dozen of times, we are pretty much experts now!

Try: Hawker is mostly known for its satay bee hoon (thin rice noodles in satay sauce) at Ah Mai Satay Bee Hoon, Hainan Beef Noodles (#17) and Hokkien mee at Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Mee 亚福炒福建虾面 ( #27) the most popular and known stall at Chomp Chomp. There is always a long queue/wait that can take 30-45 minutes. Their Fried Hokkien Mee (S$3, $4, $5) is a mix of thick yellow noodles, thin bee hoon noodles, prawns, squid and simmered in a rich prawn-flavoured broth. All is served with sambal chili and calamansi.

Chomp Chomp Satay Stall (#34) is a must for satays, im fact, two stalls are listed in the Singapore Michelin Guide with a “Michelin Plate”, which are Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Mee and Chomp Chomp Satay. Sticks are priced at S$0.70, pork, chicken, beef, mutton or ketupat (type of dumpling made from rice), served with pineapple peanut sauce. Hungry yet?

Take a bus from Serangoon MRT station or Lorong Chuan MRT
Chomp Chomp Food Centre. 20 Kensington Park Road, Singapore 557269
Open daily 4pm-12h30am

Singapore Best Hawker Centres - Chomp Chomp
Singapore Best Hawker Centres - Chomp Chomp

8) East Coast Hawker Centre

Go all the way to East Coast for the seafood at the East Coast Lagoon Food Village. Not only you get a nice view of the beach there and can go for bike strolls (you can rent some on ground), you get the freshest stuff from prawns, squid, crab, etc. If you’re not into seafood, the there are stalls full of chicken wings, rows and rows of roasting satay, as well as other hawker staples.

Bus 401 or Bedok South MRT and walk 26 mins
East Coast Lagoon Food Village. 1220 ECP, Singapore 468960
Open dail 5pm-12am

The Best Hawker Centres in Singapore - East Coast Lagoon Food Village
The Best Hawker Centres in Singapore - East Coast Lagoon Food Village
The Best Hawker Centres in Singapore - East Coast Lagoon Food Village
The Best Hawker Centres in Singapore - East Coast Lagoon Food Village
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