Singapore’s Hawker Gems

Written by: Lian Zhi Qi (21-I1), Tricia Loh Qiuxuan (21-U1), Katelyn Joshy (21-U1), Carissa Aletha Liem (21-I1), Eliora Tan Yuxuan (21-E6), Liew Yi Xuan (21-E1)

Designed by: Katelyn Joshy (21-U1)


Hawker centres are a core part of Singapore’s culture as it contributes greatly to our local food scene with the wide array of dishes offered. If you find yourself always buying the same few dishes, this is the article for you! In this article, we introduce hawkers preparing dishes both traditionally and with a modern twist. Read on to see how you can spice up your next visit to a hawker centre! 

MIN CHIANG KUEH 

What’s better than pancakes for breakfast? No, not the ones from McDonald’s Big Breakfast but the Eastern version, better known as min chiang kueh. These traditional Chinese pancakes are thick and chewy, usually filled with a combination of crushed peanuts and sugar. Most hawker centres sell them and it is definitely a comfort food for all Singaporeans. 

Located in Tanglin Halt Market is the famous Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake run by an elderly couple. This stall has been around since 1965 and for good reason. Every ingredient used is handmade by the owner who even used to roast his own peanuts, hence ensuring all aspects of the pancake are made with care. Such efforts definitely reap great rewards, evident in how their pancakes are sold out by 10AM and how customers are willing to wait before 3.30AM to buy them! Besides the traditional peanut flavour, there are other unique tastes available like black sesame and yam which are both highly raved about within the food community. 

Photo Credits: Team Tam Chiak

All their pancakes are affordably priced with nothing above $1.20, enticing many customers to buy them in batches. With Tanglin Halt Market’s imminent closure, why not head down and try it out? Fastest person first!

The stall providing a modern twist to min chiang kueh and a familiar name on Instagram – Munchi Delights. With a wide array of choices of pancake skin, fillings, shape and size, this stall definitely has something for everybody! 

Photo credits: Munchi Delights

Besides traditional flavours like peanut and red bean, they also provide modern flavours popular among the younger generations like Matcha, Thai Milk Tea and Belgian Chocolate. The different colours of the pancake skin (brown, black, green) coupled with the vivid, bursting colours of the fillings (e.g. orange, green, white) create an Instagram-worthy shot. 

Photo credits: Lian Zhi Qi

For the small eaters, consider getting the Mini Munchi which is just as tasty and looks even cuter. 

Even though it is located in Singapore’s north at Yishun Hawker Centre, it is so raved about that people from across the country travel just to try some of their pancakes.

Having tried them before, we can confidently say that the fillings are generous and pleasantly overflowing! Some flavours are a hit or miss but definitely worth a try. Overall, Munchi Delights is a unique place selling one-of-a-kind pancakes that are affordable and mouth-watering! 

CHINESE ZI CHAR 

Zi char is an important part of our local cuisine and this warm and hearty meal never fails to bring back good memories of sitting around the dinner table, feasting together with our families. The best part? It is highly affordable, making it ideal for all groups of people from all walks of life to have a taste. With family and friends enjoying quality time over delicious cuisine, zi char adds vitality to the humdrum of hawker fare. 

Keng Eng Kee Seafood first started in the 1960s, along Old Havelock Road. Upon the demolition of the former Havelock Road Hawker Centre, the stall moved its operations to Bukit Merah and is now located at Alexandra Village Food Centre. This stall has become a household name for a reason; its mouthwatering dishes have kept the same recipe for decades and their signature dish, the aromatic Coffee Pork Ribs, even landed itself in the 2016 MICHELIN Guide Singapore! It offers a range of dishes at different portions, with prices starting from as low as $5 per plate. One of their must-try dishes is definitely the fried hor fun, which has been part of their menu since the 1960s. 

The hor fun is charred to perfection, with many people raving about the unique and smoky flavour, paired with the umami-ness from the raw egg-yolks the finished dish is topped with. Most of their dishes are delicious, filling and full of strong flavours! 

Is your mouth watering yet? Head down to Alexandra Village Food Centre and call ahead to reserve as it can be tough to get a table during peak dining hours, even with its relatively huge location! 

A stall that has given zi char a modern, yet welcomed twist is Tang Kay Kee Fish Head Bee Hoon, which first opened in 1946 but has been recently rejuvenated in 2018 to give it a modern concept. Fourth-generation hawkers, Debbie, 27; and Kamen, 21, are the brains behind this new concept, serving up modern wok-hei dishes inspired by poke bowls. 

Some of their unique creations include spicy braised pork belly rice and hor fun with sous vide egg, with prices starting from $5. Unsurprisingly, their Asian poke bowls concept has hit it off with the younger crowd, filling a lunch vacuum the business had for decades. 

With their unusual yet classic take on zi char, this stall is surely worthy of multiple visits. Head down to Hong Lim Food Centre to give it a try and with their extensive menu, you will definitely find something to suit your taste buds! 

FOOD ANATOMY @TIMBRE+

As the name suggests, ‘Food Anatomy’ is a hawker stall that’s obsessed with food’s layout! It’s here that design meets culinary, every dish is intricately made, with aesthetics developed more as a graphic design project. It specialises in selling layered blocks of food where customers will choose 3 types of dishes, salads and desserts to mix-and-match and form the ultimate food block combination. Choices range from Cold Soba all the way to Organic Lasagna. 

Photo credits: Team Tam Chiak

This peculiar stall is the brainchild of former employees of the Deli and Daint at Maxwell Food Centre, who believe that; ‘our customers should feast with both their eyes and mouth!’ They sell salads, grains and pastas all day from Monday to Friday and their food block specialty after 5 P.M. The signature dish is also available all day Saturday, priced $16 each.

This one-of-a-kind stall is just one of many in the sprawling Timbre+, a hipster-style urban food park nestled in Ayer Rajah Crescent. 

Photo credits: Seah Kwang Peng

BRAISED DUCK 

All Eunoians seem to know that when strolling into the canteen at 12 P.M, you are bound to be greeted by the trail of students eagerly queuing at our Duck Rice store. We just can’t seem to pinpoint what exactly it is in Braised Duck Rice that makes it so irresistible, but have you ever considered the amount of work that goes into serving the perfect plate of Duck Rice? 

While the world rouses sleepily from slumber at 7 a.m, rows of glistening braised ducks are lined up at Yu Kee’s stalls, awaiting hungry customers (like me and you). As soon as the lights in the stall come on, a queue forms, and by 2pm, the first batch of braised ducks are sold out. The intriguing secret behind their 33 year old recipe lies in their hand-picked herbs, braising liquid and catch this: a mysterious soft drink used to wash the duck’s innards. The Yukee Group takes special care to braise each duck uniquely  according to their weight and size, to achieve the perfect bouncy skin texture. 

But nothing good comes easy, and the story behind this popular store dates back to 1954, where the Yu Kee Group started as a hawker pushcart stall in Nee Soon selling braised duck rice. Third generation owner Eunice Seah recalls the many milestones they have reached, from the shift to air-conditioned food courts in the 90s to surviving the outbreak of the bird flu scare. Perhaps, knowing the Yu Kee Group’s history and the thought that goes behind every bite of the tender duck meat makes Yu Kee’s Duck Rice taste just a tiny bit richer.

Photo Credit: Crisp of Life

Now think Braised Duck Rice, but with a japanese twist. Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap has always been serving classic teochew braised duck for over 30 years. It was only till Melvin, the second-generation hawker, came along, that the brand decided to put a fresh look on classics by coming up with Duck Rice Bento in an attempt to attract youths. 

Photo Credit: Time Out Singapore

I mean, don’t the Duck Rice balls completely change things? The recipe remains the same, and for just $8 a platter, you’re in for a generous portion of yam rice balls, tender braised duck, beancurd, pickled vegetables and the ultimate selling point: Japanese-style runny yolk lava eggs. That’s really worth the price if you ask us.

Whether you prefer having your braised duck the classic way, or are completely sold by Jin Ji Teochew’s Braised Duck Bento, you are bound to find something that suits your taste buds!

WANTON MEE

Wanton Mee [Mandarin: Yun-tun mian, 云吞面] is a Singaporean favourite. To break it down, “wanton” is a Cantonese word for dumpling while noodles in Hokkien is “mee” or in Cantonese, “min”, so “wanton mee” literally means dumpling noodles. Noodles are either served in hot broth, or tossed in delectable savoury sauce, flavourful garlic oil, and served with succulent wantons and slices of pan-cooked Chinese BBQ pork. The dish is found in almost every hawker centre around the island. One such stall is Cho Kee Noodle, which has been serving traditional wanton noodles at Old Airport Road since 1965. It boasts of noodles cooked with premium ingredients, cooked al dente with a nice QQ bite. 

Photo credits: Cho Kee Noodle
Photo credits: Medium

Another mind-blowing modern take on the traditional noodle dish is created by A Noodle Story serving this Singapore-style ramen that incorporates both local ingredients (prawn mee and wanton mee) and Japanese influences using modern European techniques, innovating this wonderful fusion of local and foreign flavours.

Located a walking distance away from Telok Ayer MRT at Amoy Street Food Centre, the stall is nestled in the corner of the hawker centre. 

Photo credits: Liew Yi Xuan

Posted by

With great power comes great responsibility.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s