Perhaps one of Singapore's more famous hawker centres, Newton Food Centre is as popular with tourists as it is with locals. Home to seafood eateries and iconic hawkers like Kwee Heng and Hup Kee fried oyster omelette, the centre's rich hawker history stretches back as far as the 1950s. While some may find the occasional food tout off-putting, it’s probably the only food centre where you can call ahead to reserve a table with your regular go-to seafood stall and have them attend to you.
For beginners, don’t feel obligated to order from the hawker who got you a table, simply decline politely. If you are ordering seafood, watch them weigh it in front of you to avoid a surprise bill.
More than just a hawker centre, the variety of good food and unique atmosphere makes any meal at Newton an experience to remember.
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Kwee Heng | With over 50 years of history, Kwee Heng needs no touting. They have an extensive menu of fowl and roast meat dishes, but it is the dried duck noodle ($4-$5) that won us over. Our plate of kway tiao is well-coated with the herby and savoury duck braised sauce. The addition of black vinegar and sambal gives the tang and kick that remind us of bak chor mee. The generous amount of crunchy bean sprouts is a nice contrast to the silky noodle, and a small piece of duck liver in our plate adds creaminess to every bite. The side of soup is a star -- it is intensely herbous and naturally sweet from star anise spice. Stall #01-13 | Opening hours: 9am-midnight)
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Bee Heng Popiah | One of the very few Newton stalls that insists on self-service. Their Hokkien style popiah ($2, minimum order of 2) comes with flavourful shredded turnip filling that has been cooked (and soaked) in prawn stock, yet still retains its crunch. Other ingredients includes eggs, prawns, bean sprouts, lettuce and pork lard, which makes it an excellent side dish to your seafood feast. They also sell satay ($0.60 each, minimum order of 10) with a choice of chicken, mutton or pork. (Stall #01-12 | Opening hours: 12pm-12am, closed on Thursdays)
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Hup Kee Fried Oyster Omelette | Hup Kee is considered an icon who’s been at it since the 1960s at the old Glutton Square on Orchard Road. Their fried oyster omelette ($5/$6/$8) is the ultimate guilty pleasure. Generous portions of oysters, plump and fragrant with a splash of Shaoxing wine, are wrapped in a crispy omelette with pockets of soft gummy starch. The chilli sauce is packed with garlic that compliments the dish, and has tanginess that helps to cut through the greasiness of the fried omelette. (Stall #01-73 | Opening hours: 6pm-1am (closed on Wednesdays)
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Newton Grill | The specialty here is charcoal grilled food, and the proof is in their grilled squid ($12). The squid, if undercooked or overcooked will turn chewy, but when cooked just right is soft to the bite. The marinate is flavourful with a hint of sweetness, it also has a smokiness from the lightly-charred edges. Each order comes with three types of condiments -- sambal, wasabi and sweet plum sauce. We love the potent sambal, but the squid is delicious on its own. They also have a menu of non-grilled dishes, such as Singapore sambal wings ($8/$10/$12) and orange chicken ($12). (Stall #01-58 | Opening hours: 5pm-1am)
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Takara Grilled Seafood | This stall attracted us with their bright orange sign and left us intrigued by its tagline “you will never walk alone.” One of the few stalls that is Halal-certified, it is popular with Muslim and non-Muslim diners. Expect classic seafood dishes here, we went with the chilli crab ($5 per 100g, $35 for medium sized crab). Sweet crab meat served in a slightly spicier sauce than most of the other stalls, not heavy with tomato but rather accented with curry-like flavours. The addition of egg gave the sauce a certain thick consistency that remains until the last drop. (Stall#01-74 | Opening hours: 5pm-5am)
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Guan Kee Grilled Seafood | This stall has a great variety of dishes, from claypot curry fish head ($25/$40) to sambal stingray ($12/$15/$20). We had the latter, perfectly grilled stingray still moist and tender and brushed generously with the sambal that is packed with shallots and dried shrimp; giving it an unmistakable fragrance and rough texture. They also do a decent version of crab fried bee hoon ($40) in which the rice noodle is soaked in umami goodness, Opt for the the claypot crab bee hoon ($40) for extra sweetness of crab in the broth.(Stall#01-53 | Opening hours: 5pm-2am (closed on alternate Tuesdays)
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Sheng Da BBQ Seafood| Located at a quiet, less smokey corner of the food centre, they are one of the few seafood stalls that opens for lunch. Their lala (clams, $12/$15/$18) and crayfish ($5 per 100g) are cooked in a tomato-based sauce that is similar in flavor to chilli crab ($20 for a small size crab). The savoury sauce is mildly spicy with a hint of sweetness from the seafood cooked in it, the consistency is thick and smooth and laced with egg. For something lighter, they also do a hearty steamed pomfret ($6 per 100g) and stir-fried vegetables ($6/$8/$10). (Stall #01-02 | Opening hours: Daily 11am-4am)
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Siti Khadijah Seafood | This stall has an extensive menu on seafood and fried rice done in any way you could ever imagine, but it’s their satay that keeps us coming back. They have chicken ($0.60 each), mutton ($0.60 each) and beef ($0.80 each). satay done to succulent juciness served with a peanut sauce that has a rough gritty texture that's not overly sweet with just a hint of spice. The rempah (spices) on the marinate for chicken satay is subtle, its presence is the strongest in the mutton satay, perhaps to tame the gamey-ness of the meat and it worked well. (Stall #01-07 | Opening hours: daily 11am-11pm)
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Heng Homemade Carrot Cake | These folks have been around since the food centre opened in 1971, and the best part is they still make their own white radish (the ‘carrot’) cake in house. Their white carrot cake ($4/$5/$6) comes with smaller chunks of the white radish cake wrapped around thin layers of scrambled eggs, salty cai po (pickled radish) and sweet fresh prawns. The outer layer of egg is crispy on the edges and spongy in the middle while the white radish cake is soft and wobbly. The cai po and fresh prawns add a nice crunch to the dish. (Stall #01-28 | Opening hours: 6pm-2am (closed on Tuesdays)
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Shan Ren Cold & Hot Dessert| Shan Ren is not the only dessert stall in the food centre, but their wide array of hot and cold desserts make them a top choice. For a hot and humid afternoon, opt for their ice kachang ($2.50) - refreshing shaved ice concoction doused with sweet rose and pandan syrup on top of a mixture of red beans, grass jelly and attap seed. You can also choose to top it up with chocolate sauce, durian, strawberry or mango puree. For late night cravings, warm up with their red bean, green bean or sweet potato soup ($1.70), which are light and not overly sweet, the perfect solution to a feast of hot, spicy food. (Stall #01-05 | Opening hours: 11.30am-11.30pm)