Very little gets Singaporeans riled up, but engage them in a discussion on hawker food and watch a debate wage on.
And who can blame them? With a mind-boggling array of hawker food available, how does one decide who has the best char kway teow? Or which laksa is the most lemak? And if a plate of nasi lemak warrants a 20 minute wait?
To help trim down the gorging process, we’ve scoured the island to bring you inSing.com’s compilation, our 10 favourite hawker dishes, and our personal recommendations.
Cockles and lard, what’s not to like? A plate of char kway teow may be a nutritionist’s worst nightmare but a well-fried dish of cholesterol-filled flat rice noodles-and-cockles (optional for some) in sweet black soy sauce, is the stuff that drives us across the island just for a whiff of its “wok hei.”
Recommended:Hill Street Fried Kway Teow, Blk 16 Bedok South Road, #01-187 Bedok South Market and Food Centre.
Westerners eat their carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting, Singaporeans prefer ours fried with garlic, fish sauce, chai poh (preserved turnip), egg fried ala minute, a sprinkling of spring onions, and with a choice of white or black (doused in a thick dark soy sauce).
Recommended:Chey Sua Carrot Cake, 127 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #02-30 Toa Payoh West Market and Food Court.
Early Teochew immigrants to the island created the dish and locals have loved it so much, there’s even a podcast about it. Noodles tossed in a piquant mix of chilli-vinegar sauce with slow-cooked mushrooms and a liberal dash of lard oil. The sign of an unforgettable bowl often lies in its chilli-vinegar sauce.
Recommended:High Street Tai Wah Pork Noodle, 12 Prince Edward Road, #01-16 Bestway Building.
Whether you prefer the original Malay style or Chinese version, the taste of fluffy rice made richer by coconut cream, spicy homemade sambal and crispy ikan bilis/sausage/fried chicken, is one yummy way to start the day.
Recommended:Ponggol Nasi Lemak Centre, 965 Upper Serangoon Road.
The trademark yellow-orange basmati rice is hard to miss: saffron and spices tease your tastebuds while the marinated meat (chicken or mutton, depending on your preference) provides the “bite” of the dish.
Recommended:Abak Briyani Dam, 10 Jalan Pisang.
Whether you’re into the famous Katong version, or laksa in a thick coconut-y broth, or the tangy Penang version, there is no doubting laksa is a true blue Singapore dish. Scissor-cut noodles in a soupy gravy made with dried shrimp, a bowl is never incomplete unless topped by freshly-chopped laksa leaves.
Recommended:Sungei Road Laksa (Jalan Berseh), 27 Jalan Berseh, #01-100 Jin Shui Kopitiam.
Literally translated to mean “meat bone tea”, this Chinese delicacy consists of peppery pork rib soup, rice and a variety of side dishes. Who serves the best bowl of bak kut teh remains a hotly debated topic among foodies.
Recommended:Rong Cheng, 22 Sin Ming Road.
It never ceases to amaze us how versatile the humble prata can be. There’s the standard kosong (plain) or telur (egg) version, but it also comes with cheese, onions, chocolate sauce – not altogether - and even ice-cream wrapped up in its dough-y goodness.
Recommended:Sin Ming Roti Prata, Blk 24, #01-51 Sin Ming Road.
Ah, satay! Marinated strips of spiced beef, mutton and chicken dipped in chunky peanut sauce, this is one hawker delight you won’t mind arriving a little ‘burnt’.
Recommended:Best Satay, Stall #07/08, Boon Tat Street, Lau Pa Sat.
A humble addition to the list, but much cherished nonetheless. Raw fish flesh finely minced and beaten into a circular bouncy form mixed in with sambal-infused noodles and a variety of condiments.
Recommended:Li Xin Chao Zhou Fishball Noodle, 2 Orchard Turn, Food Opera, B4 of ION Orchard.