I know what foodies visiting our island want. They are here for two or three days, and they just want a short list of the best hawker food that our island can offer. I know because when I visit other countries, that is the kind of article I need. It’s too much work to look through hundreds of blog posts to plan a food trail. Just tell me 10 of the best places to eat so that I can get an overview of Singapore food. Alright, after scouring the island for the last 8 years and having published two guide books on Singapore food, viz The End of Char Kway Teow and Only The Best, here are the 10 places which I would bring visitors to when they visit the island.
Why these 10 dishes in particular? Unlike my last Top Ten Hawker Food article where I selected what I thought were the 10 most iconic dishes, these 10 dishes were voted by 9479 of our local foodies as their all time most favourite hawker dishes. So if you want to discover the heart (more like stomach) of the Singaporean foodie, this is it!
I know you don’t have time to waste so let’s go! Chop Chop kalipop! (That’s local slang for stop blabbering and get going already!)
1. Chicken Rice
Singapore had one legendary chicken rice shop which made it the culinary icon that it is today — Swee Kee. If it were still around, I would have brought you there. But they closed in 1997 after 50 years of serving the world’s best chicken rice and no one has been able to take their place at the top. Truth be told, most of the major chicken rice chains in Singapore serve pretty decent chicken rice and you won’t go wrong with familiar brands like like Boon Tong Kee, Wee Nam Kee, Tong Fong Fatt and Five Stars. The stall that was voted most popular in our polls was Tian Tian Chicken Rice and that would be the stall I would bring my guests to. There is always a long queue at their stall at Maxwell Food Centre (But it’s central and convenient) so I always like to bring my guests to their air conditioned restaurant at either Bedok or Joo Chiat.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Maxwell Food Centre
1 Kadayanallur St, Singapore 069184
11am to 8pm
2. Hokkien Mee
Hokkien Mee is very straightforward, I bring all my guests to Geylang Lor 29 Hokkien Mee. Over the years I have brought them to some of the other stalls in my Famous Five list, but the responses have been mixed. However, I have never gone wrong with Geylang Lor 29 Hokkien Mee. Of the Famous Five, they are the only ones who is still using a charcoal fire and the coffeeshop has been recently renovated so it is a comfortable place to eat. Best to head there early if you are going for dinner as they do sell out early.
Geylang Lor 29 Hokkien Mee
396 East Coast Road
11.30am to 9.30pm
3. Char Kway Teow
My personal favourite Char Kway Teow is Hillstreet Char Kway Teow, but this is a little far from town, so I would usually end up bringing them to Outram Park Char Kway Teow instead. This stall has been voted the the best in some polls and they are a slightly different style from Hillstreet but still has that long heritage like Hillstreet. Located at Hong Lim Food Centre, they are more central and there’s plenty of other stalls that you can also check out at the same time!
Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee
Hong Lim Market and Food Centre
Blk 531A, Stall 02-17
Mon – Sat: 6am to 4.30pm
Closed Sun and PH
4. Carrot Cake
For Carrot Cake I would head to Zion Road Food Centre for Lau Goh Teochew Chye Thow Kway. This stall has a rich heritage and Peter Goh’s dad is widely regarded as the pioneer of the white version of the dish. Zion Road Food Centre is quite central and also has other famous food stalls, notably Zion Road Char Kway Teow which is also one of the famous five Char Kway Teows. Peter is hearing impaired, so there is a special way to order the carrot cake which you can read about in my post.
Lau Goh Teochew Chye Tow Koey
Zion Riverside Food Centre
Stall 26, Singapore 247780
12pm to 2.30pm
6pm to 11pm
96745483 (SMS only)
For Laksa I like to bring my guests to Sungei Road Laksa because its quite central, the laksa has a long history and its really darn tasty without being too jelak (rich). My personal favourite is Janggut Laksa because it was there that I first had by laksa epiphany but it’s location at Roxy Square and Queensway shopping centre which just isn’t as nice as Sungei Road. Another stall that I might pick is Roxy Laksa which is located at East Coast Lagoon Food Centre which is our only food centre by the sea which also has lots of good eats!
Sungei Road Laksa
Blk 27 Jalan Berseh,
#01-100 Top 33 coffeeshop
9am – 6pm
(Closed: First and 3rd Wed each month)
6. Bak Chor Mee
Without a doubt, the most popular Bak Chor Mee in Singapore is Tai Hua Bak Chor Mee at Crawford Lane. But I have to warn you that the queues can be really long. Another one that has a long history is Ah Kow Bak Chor Mee which is more centrally located at Hong Lim Food Centre where there are a lot of other stalls worth checking out.
Hill Steet Tai Hua Pork Noodle
Blk 466 Crawford Lane
#01-12, Singapore 190466
9.30am to 9pm
Closed 1st and 3rd Monday
7. Wanton Mee
Wanton mee is a tricky one. It is a dish that is more of a comfort food for locals than one which I would bring visitors to eat since it is usually linked to Hong Kong cuisine. We do however have our own twist to the dish with the addition of chilli sauce and tomato ketchup. Eng’s at Tanjong Katong is my personal favourite as it is a standalone restaurant and I like the wantons there. Nam Seng is probably more convenient for most visitors. The stall has a long history and while you are there, you can check out other heritage stalls like Hock Lam Beef Noodles, Ya Kun Kaya Toast as well as a Tan Hock Seng which is a traditional pastry shop to try some cantonese pastries.
Here are the traditional stalls to checkout at Far East Square.
Nam Seng Wanton Mee
25 China Street #01-01
Far East Square, Singapore 049567
Open 8am to 8pm
Closed on Sundays
8. Prawn Mee
If I really wanted to impress someone, I would bring them to Wah Kee prawn mee for the jumbo prawn noodles. I once brought uber gourmand Peter Knipp there and he has not stopped talking about it since. BUT, it can be a little intimidating as the queues are usually very long and the place is a little out of the tourist trail. Another alternative would be Blanco Court Prawn Mee which has a rich and long history and the prawn mee is more typical of the Singaporean style prawn mee. You can also get to order the Ngor Hiang there which is quite good. It is located along beach road in the Kampung glam area which is quite a tourist attraction. While in the area, you can check out some of the Nasi Padang stalls like Rumah Makan Minang, Warung Nasi Pariaman. Do check out the Murtabak at Zam Zam and Victory which are some of the oldest eateries in Singapore which have been around in the same location for over a century! For drinks, Colonial Dong Po cafe and a hole in the wall Teh Tarik place are nearby.
Check out all the famous eateries at Kampung Glam here.
Blanco Court Prawn Noodles
243/245 Beach Road #01-01
7.15am to 4pm
9. Oyster Omelette
There are not many really good oyster omelette in Singapore thought it is certainly one of our most popular dishes. There are a few outstanding ones but they are all outside of the usual tourist areas. The most legendary one is Ah Chuan in Toa Payoh but I won’t advise you to go there because the stall is frequently closed as the uncle there loves to travel. A better bet would be Simon Road Oyster Omelette. There are also several other things to eat while you are there, notably Ponggol Nasi Lemak which is one of my favourite places to eat Nasi Lemak and Soon Soon Teochew Porridge where I go for my Teochew Porridge fix.
Simon Road Oyster Omelette
965 Upper Serangoon Road
Mee Sek Coffeeshop, Singapore 534721
4pm to 2am
90878457 Mr Lim
10. Roti Prata
My personal favourite place for Prata is Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s prata which is only opened in the mornings, so it is a good place to start a food trail around the Joo Chiat area. Joo Chiat is a great place for food and I will write a separate post in the future to highlight the famous places in the area. In the meantime you can checkout all my posts on Joo Chiat here.
Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata
7 Crane Road, Singapore 429356
Poh Ho Restaurant
6.30am – 1.30pm
Closed Tues/Wed 3rd week of the month
To learn more about Singapore’s Hawker Food Heritage, do pick up my book, “The End of Char Kway Teow” from the local bookstores. (Kinokuniya at Ngee Ann City should have it). My latest book Only The Best is in its second print run and has recently been revised and updated (2014) and lists all the best hawker food stalls which I have visited since I started blogging. It is now also available at all good bookstores!
I hope you enjoy your visit to Singapore and and please, for goodness sake (and your own health and well being) remember my motto every time you eat: “Never Waste Your Calories on Yucky Food!”
To get you even more excited about your visit to Singapore, do checkout 8 Days Eat, the TV series which I co-hosted with Belinda Lee. You will find tips on how to choose crabs and durians as well as other great food stalls around the island!
For the map of the Top Ten places to eat, click on the map link ieatUltimateFoodTrailmap
Click here for the Top Ten Iconic Singapore Foods!