Street food in Singapore has been a culinary cornucopia for centuries. Delicious local food can be enjoyed without blowing your budget at the many hawker (vendor) centres found throughout the city-state.
1. Porky delights
Keong Saik Road on the outskirts of Chinatown is dotted with interesting restaurants, both Chinese and international. The most famous is Foong Kee, but it’s a nondescript, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair. Kee’s main attraction is roasted meat, especially char siew (barbecued pork), tender and caramelised with just the right amount of fat. Another meaty marvel is siew yoke, roasted pork belly with crunchy crackling skin. Foong Kee Coffee Shop, 6 Keong Saik Road
2. Hawker heaven
“Avoid touristy hawker centres like Chinatown Food Street. Prices are higher, but the quality is not,” says celebrity chef Willin Low, owner of Wild Rocket restaurant. Low’s favourite is Chomp Chomp Food Centre, a 20-minute taxi ride from Central, Singapore’s city centre. “Most of the famous hawker centres in central locations like Maxwell Road and near Amoy are great places to splurge, too,” Low says. At the Amoy Street Food Centre, Hong Kee’s amazing beef noodle soup comes highly recommended: the noodles are firm and chewy, the broth an explosion of umami. And while there, don’t miss J2’s famous crispy curry puffs on the next lane. Chomp Chomp Food Centre, 20 Kensington Park Road
3. Breakfast staple
There’s nothing more Singaporean than breakfast with a hot cup of kopi, super-sweet coffee and condensed milk served with thinly sliced toast slathered with butter and kaya, thick coconut jam. Do as the locals do and dip your toast into a mixture of soft-boiled eggs dressed with soy sauce – seriously addictive once you get the hang of it. Ya Kun Kaya – nowadays an international chain – has been serving kaya and kopi since the ’40s. It’s always busy and frequented by locals and tourist alike. Ya Kun Kaya Toast, 18 China Street
4. Superlative soup
The names of hawker stalls can be confusing, as in the case of Hill Street Thai Wha Pork Noodle, another Michelin-starred hawker stand. The name refers to its original location on Hill Street although its current location is Crawford Lane’s hawker centre. Founded in the ’30s, the stall is still owned and run by the same family, and specialises in bak chor mee, spicy, aromatic noodle soup laced with melt-in-the-mouth meat, black vinegar and chili paste. For the best bowl of soup in Singapore, you’ll have to queue, sometimes as long as two hours. Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, 466 Crawford Lane
5. Michelin meal for a fiver
Is there such a thing as a Michelin-starred meal under five euros? It’s official: According to the Michelin guide Singapore 2016, the cheapest starred restaurant in the world is Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. As the name suggests, it’s all about chicken, served on the bone with deliciously crispy skin and fluffy rice or noodles. The place itself is spartan, with wiggly tables and uncomfortable stools. Prepare to queue for ages or arrive way ahead of opening time, which is 10 am. The chef and owner Chan Hong Men recently announced plans to go global in the future. Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, 78 Smith Street
Text by Mikko Takala Photos by Tommi Anttonen
This article is published in the March 2017 issue of Blue Wings.