Our first trip to Singapore and we were very excited. We met up with an old highschool friend of Floyd’s who has lived in Hong Kong since Uni and spends a lot of time in Singapore for work. With a ‘local’ to show us around we where hoping to get some insights into some of the more out of the way spots.
On the first day we were eased into the culinary delights of Singapore at the Diandin Leluk Thai Restaurant. Found in the Golden Mile Complex in Little Bangkok it is more a restaurant than a hawker shop. When we arrived there were a number of tables available but it quickly filled up. Braised Pork Leg ($12), Dou Meow stir fried with garlic ($10) and Nam Tok Pork ($10) were quickly devoured with a number of Tiger beers to wash it all down. Dou Meow is very delicate in flavour and is essentially stirfried pea shoots. On the menu it came with oyster sauce but the staff were happy to change it to garlic instead. The Nam Tok Pork is grilled with fish sauce, lime juice, shallots and mint it was so fresh.I can’t include any photos as it was all gone way too quickly.
After the big thumbs up for our first meal we were quickly initiated into the frantic chaos of the hawker centre on Old Airport Rd but before we go there we might take a diversion….
If you haven’t been to any Asian countries before or you are feeling a bit of trepidation at eating Singaporean style a good choice to ease you in would be Lau Pa Sat, a five minute walk from Raffles Place MRT station it can be found at 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore. Lau Pa Sat was built in the 1880’s and is a octagonal building made of cast iron. It is quite beautiful to look at and the romance really comes alive when it is lit up at night. It is quite the tourist mecca and the hawkers can be a little bit pushy but it is a lot cleaner and shinier than some of the more local centres. Black Fried Carrot Cake is a must when you eat here. Not made of carrot, and not a cake, it is a mixture of garlic, scallions, turnip, chilli, egg and soy sauce. Fried Kway Teow is a dish of fried flat noodles with spices and meat. Lots of reviews online recommend the satay sticks from stall 7 and 8 outside. They do taste good and are a little bit smoky but this is where you might run into some of those more pushy hawkers. Don’t feel you need to order their sets of 20 or 30 sticks. You can order a few and you can sit inside, you don’t have to sit at their tables. BBQ duck and Kwey Chap rounded out an amazing meal. No meal was over A$6.50 for the larger portion size.
Left to right: kway teow and black fried carrot cake
Ok. We’ve done ‘westernised/ touristy’ now to the real thing- Old Airport Road. Old Airport Rd is a two minute walk from Dakota MRT in Geylang at 51 Old Airport Rd, Singapore. To start off you are going to need a few survival tactics. Firstly chopeing, chopeing is the Singaporean way of reserving a seat while you order your food. Basically you leave an item on the table, often a pack of tissues, and this space then becomes a no-go zone for others looking for a seat. One of the amazing things about this habit is that we often saw mobiles, keys, laptops and wallets left to reserve a person’s place and it was all there when they came back. We gamely reserved tables with the obligatory tissue packet but were never quite brave enough to leave any other personal items. It is also quite common to share tables so don’t worry if someone sits down near you.
Old Airport Road delighted us with Fried Pig Intestines (Yum), Braised Intestines (not so high on my list), Oyster Omelette, Boiled Peanuts (great for snacking with beer), Soya Curd Pudding and Rojak. Rojak needs a special mention. It is a mix of fruit, vegetables, fried tofu, crushed peanuts covered in a sweet and spicy sauce. It is almost dessert fruit and veg and it is good. On another visit (we just couldn’t get enough!) we had Stingray Sambol, Satay, Squid, and a cool sugar cane juice.
left to right: bolied peanuts and rojak
Maxwell’s is another must in your happy hawker hunting. Located a few minutes walk from Chinatown MRT( 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore) the first time here we could not get a seat even after several walk throughs so we left disappointed. Coming back the next day we were glad we had perservered. BBQ pork and noodles was tasty having both barbeque pork and roasted pork belly in the same portion but the Oyster Cake was a clear winner. Fried and crispy on the outside, this round morsel is full of minced pork and oyster. Yum! And only A$2 each. Look out for the Popia as well and watch them being made.
left to right: poia being made and oyster cake
Tanjong Pagar Plaza was our stop when we couldn’t find a seat in Maxwell’s. Found at 1 Wallich Street, Singapore, the hawker centre is found on level two and it is a quick five minute walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT station. Char Sui Pork, Chicken Feet with mushroom and noodles served with mushroom soup, and Kway Teow Malaysian fried noodles were all on the menu here.
left to right: chicken feet with mushroom and char sui pork
Last but not least the hawker centre in the Albert Centre at 270 Queen St, Bugis is another must do. We went here for a bit of breakfast when we thought we would branch out from kaya toast and eggs at the local Toast Box. A stumble from our hotel we only found it on our last few days in Singapore when we went to look at the celebrations getting started for the new year festival. Now I do like kaya toast but breakfast here was a treat. Nonya dumplings made with glutinous rice and stuffed with a spicy pork filling was up first. You could get them take-away wrapped up in a bamboo leaf or cut into pieces and topped with a spicy sauce. More glutinous goodness was on the way. After a bit of sign language and pointing I managed to get some Chwee Kueh or Chinese steamed rice cake with diced preserved radish and chilli on top. This was my almost ordering fail, I think the young lady in charge of the stall was way to busy in the morning rush to put up with my flimsy attempts to make myself understood. I finally succeeded and walked away with four wrapped up in a piece of brown paper. They were worth the effort. Lastly, but definitely not least was a serving of Chee Cheong Fan a rice noodle roll covered in a sweet sauce. All in all it was a very satisfying breakfast downed with some Kopi c- coffee with evaporated milk.
top: nonya dumplings, bottom: chwee kueh and chee cheong fan
I can’t wait to get back to Singapore and tuck into the delicious food again. It was the highlight of our whole trip. A foodies paradise.
What is a hawker centre? At first I thought it must be the name of a shopping mall….
A hawker centre is a bit like a huge stand alone food court. Each stall has only about a 3 metre frontage and they are only about 4 metres deep. The food they manage to prepare in such a small space is amazing. There is a much smaller version downstairs in Sydney’s Chinatown in Dixon St.
The food looks great except for the chicken feet and intestines!🤢 C & R Trivia .
The fried intestine was nice, it tasted a bit like crackling without the crunchy texture. The braised intestines tasted ok but the texture was a bit slimy. But when you are travelling you have to give everything a try!