Singapore has been a centre for commerce and trade for centuries. Today, it remains a much-loved destination, not only for its colourful thoroughfares and cultural markets, but also for its many fun-filled attractions.
But what really makes people crave a trip to Singapore, is the food. Once you have a taste of this vibrant destination, you’ll be coming back for more.
Developing over centuries, Singapore is a fusion of flavours originating from neighbouring countries like China, Malaysia, and India. With that kind of international essence, you know the cuisine will be deliciously memorable.
Satay, chilli crab, and perhaps the most famous dish of all, Hainanese Chicken Rice, are all staples found in the culinary world of Singapore.
To eat like a true local though, head to one of the many hawker centres that Singaporeans’ visit daily.
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Singapore Hawker Centres
1 Kadayanallur St
One of the country’s oldest hawker centres, Maxwell Road is in the heart of Chinatown. Attracting tourists and locals alike, the colourful atmosphere begs to be explored. And if it’s Hainanese Chicken Rice you are craving, be sure to try the Tian Tian Chicken Rice stall. There may be long lines, but the food is worth the wait.
Lau Pa Sat
18 Raffles Quay
Housed in a bustling heritage-listed building, Lau Pa Sat caters to the local office worker crowd. This popular hawker centre hosts over 50 different stalls, with fast and fresh food cooked-to-order, and served directly to your table.
335 Smith St
If looking for an evening street food experience, then join the crowds next to the Chinatown Food Complex on Smith Street for a throw-back to the original Singapore hawkers’ days. Come nightfall, the streets are closed to traffic, where vendors set up make-shift stalls where they prepare delicious dishes of traditional cuisine.
30 Seng Poh Road
Housed in one of Singapore’s oldest and busiest hawker centres, Tiong Bahru Market, offers a range of options, from noodle soup dishes to succulent duck and pork dishes, all cooked to perfection.
20 Kensington Park Rd
Known by the locals as Serangoon Gardens Food Centre, Chomp Chomp is a slightly higher-end hawker style destination, specialising in the unique local delicacy of grilled stingray. Located outside the city, but well worth the hike, you will find diners from all parts of Singapore feasting in this popular late-night eatery.
How to order food at a hawker centre
Follow these four easy steps when ordering food at hawker centres. Expect to pay between $2-3 per plate, and note cash is king. Generally, credit cards are not accepted at many of the hawker centres.
1 – Find your table
Hawker centres are informal and unpretentious dining venues where you can relax and simply enjoy the food. Often, small communal tables are the seating arrangement of choice. Take your table number to the food vendor, and wait for it to be delivered directly to your table.
2 – Pick your food stall
The number of stalls may be overwhelming at first, but as the locals often do, simply join the one with the longest queue (a good sign of quality). Vendors are competitively priced (expect to pay between $2-3 per plate). Chances are, you’ll find a wide variety of delicacies to choose from. Just search out the taste you’re looking for.
3 – Join the queue
Join the queue and wait for the cook’s assistant to call you up to order. Sometimes you have to wait a few minutes to give the cook time to catch up on orders, but simply provide your table number when ordering (hawker centres are mostly cash only).
4 – Look for a self-service sign
Most hawker stalls will deliver your food to your table once prepared. Always check for the self-service sign first, indicating you need to wait and take your own plate of food with you.