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Hawker Centres, Singapore Overview

What makes a place worthy of being visited again and again? Sure, the topography, the historically significant spots, the rich cultural heritage, and the places of interest are important factors. However, one thing that surpasses all these points is food. The local cuisine of a place is one of the most significant factors when it comes to deciding if the place in question deserves a second visit. In this respect, Singapore has never disappointed its guests, or locals, for that matter. Be it the spicy Chilli Crab that makes your eyes water or the delicious Kuih for your sweet tooth, Singaporean cuisine is a storehouse of scrumptious food. From Indian to Chinese, from Malay to American, the bustling city-state is ideal for the foodie in you.

So, where should you head out to try all the delectable dishes that Singapore has to offer? The Hawker Centres, of course! Varieties of mouth-watering dishes at dirt-cheap prices are what characterise these food courts. The Singaporean community spirit, a melting-pot of different cultures from around the world, is reflected in these hawker centres. Moreover, this is where you can taste all that Singapore boasts of, in one sitting. The delicious scent of food wafting into your nostrils as you are surrounded by the energetic crowd, engaging in endless conversations over food and life is what sets these centres apart from ordinary restaurants, making for experiences that are unmatchable by any other in Singapore!

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Maxwell Food Centre

Sitting amidst pre-war shophouses in Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre houses over a hundred stalls, each serving delicious Chinese food of all kinds at affordable prices. Teeming with locals and tourists alike, this place has a lively aura encompassing it. The people crowding this place have steadily increased along with the length of the queues after The Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice Stall was given a Michelin Star by The Michelin Guide. Needless to say, it is the most popular stall of this centre. However, if the place has a really long queue, you can also try out the steamed chicken rice at Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice just a few stalls down the line.
Timings: 8:00 AM - 2:00 AM,
How To Reach: You can take the bus 145, 80 or NR5 and alight at the Maxwell Road FC bus interchange. It is a one-minute walk from there. Alternatively, the Tanjong Pagar MRT is the nearest station and if you take the Exit G, you shall reach Maxwell Food Centre within 6 minutes on foot.

Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre

With over two-hundred stalls of various Singaporean dishes, Lau Pa Sat is situated at the heart of Singapore, in Raffles Quay, with towering buildings surrounding it. What sets it apart from other Hawker Centres is its romantic setting, particularly at night when the satay stalls are set up outside. The place has the appearance of a Victorian town. An embellished terracotta roof is held up by highly ornate pillars made of cast iron. The roof houses a beautiful clock tower, a feature that distinguishes it from the skyscrapers enveloping it. Every night, at the centre of this food market which can accommodate around 2000 people, a band plays melodious music to accompany you while you eat. The Kaya Toast is a popular dish here, served for breakfast. Different stalls are open throughout the day so you can walk around and decide what to eat.
Timings: All Day,
How to Reach: Raffles Place MRT is the nearest station. It is a three-minute walk from Exit F to the Lau Pa Sat Hawker Centre. Alternatively, you can alight at One Raffles Quay bus stop by taking bus 541, 700, 850E, 75, or 167. From there, it will take you two minutes to reach this place.

Old Airport Road Food Centre

168 stalls. Endless food options, all at one place. The Old Airport Road Food Centre, located at Old Airport Road in Geylang, is often considered to be the best hawker centre by its locals, both in terms of quality and price. Most of the vendors who work here have relocated to this area after having had stalls at someplace else. This happened after the government banned hawkers from streets in the 1970s, causing the hawkers to move into hawker centres and continued serving scrumptious food to one and all. Being a Government Hawker Centre, you can get large quantities of food at low prices. This centre has an endless list of must-try-dishes, including the noodle dish, Char Kway Teow, and the Lao Ban Soya Beancurd.
Timings:  9:00 AM - 8:00 PM,
How to Reach: Those choosing to arrive through MRT may take the Circle Line to the Dakota MRT, which is a three-minute walk away from the  Old Airport Road food centre. You may also take bus 10, 16, 30, 30e, 31, 32 or 33 and alight at the Blk 39 bus stop. It is a two-minute walk from there to the Old Airport Road Food Centre.

Chinatown Complex Food Centre

Specialising in dishes from all over Asia, Chinatown Food Street is a whole world of mouth-watering food. Situated in the heart of Chinatown, this food centre at 29 Smith Street offers an extremely authentic experience to the tourists as well as the locals. Its al-fresco dining style, complete with high roofs and an internal cooling system, makes sure that you relish your meal, be it during periods of rain or shine. To taste the must-have dish of vegetables stuffed with fish paste on noodles, visit the Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Young Tau Fu stall. If you visit this place once, you are sure to visit it again.
Timings: 11:00 AM - 11:00 PM,
How to Reach: Take the Exit A from Chinatown MRT Station, a two-minute walk from the Chinatown Complex Food Centre. The bus stop Opposite Sri Mariamman Temple is the nearest bus stop, located right at the entrance of Smith Street. You can take either bus 61, 166 or 197 to arrive here.

Newton Food Centre

Get ready for gorging on some food that will tantalize your taste buds. Newton Food Centre, located at 500 Clemenceau Avenue, is a little food paradise in itself. With eighty stalls specialising in multicultural cuisines as well as local dishes, you will have a plethora of options to choose from. However, Newton Food Centre's seafood is the most renowned of all. Its Chilli Crab, Oyster Omelette and Sambal Stingray are dishes that you must absolutely try! The refreshing, sweet coconut juice is also worth a try. Although Newton Food Centre has been operating since 1971, it was temporarily closed due to renovations. At present, it boasts of a posher appearance, new sets of chairs and tables, more capacity and an occasional increase in some prices. The centre receives regular crowds buzzing in from workplaces nearby. It is a popular hub among the tourists as well since the Singapore Tourism Board has been promoting it for decades.
Timings: 12:00 PM - 2:00 AM,
How to Reach: If you are taking the MRT, get down at Newton MRT Station and take the Exit A. You will reach Newton Food Centre in a minute on foot. You can also take bus 67, 170, 48, 66, 170A or 960 and get down at the bus stop on Bukit Timah Road.

Chomp Chomp Food Centre

Unlike most hawker centres in Singapore which open at the early hours of the day, the Chomp Chomp Food Centre operates mainly in the evening. Also known as Serangoon Gardens Food Centre, this place is found in a residential compound. However, the fact remains that it is a repository of a variety of affordable, appetizing dishes. Lying in close proximity to the Seletar Aerospace Park and Coney Island, this place is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. The Hokkien Mee and the Satay Bee Hoon are two of the dishes you absolutely must try while you are here. A large glass of sweet, sugarcane juice is a great complement to your sumptuous meal.
Timings:  4:00 PM - 12:30 AM,
How to Reach: Take buses 73, 136, 315 or 317 and alight at the Serangoon Garden Circus Bus Stop, a one-minute walk from the Chomp Chomp Food Centre.  Those choosing to arrive by MRT may take the Circle Line upto the Lorong Chuan MRT station, located about 2 km from the Food Centre.

Tekka Food Centre

Tekka Food Centre, in the epicentre of Singapore’s Little India, mostly teems with Indians who miss the familiar taste of Indian food. Even though it has lesser number of stalls as compared to the other food centres in Singapore, the quality of the delicious, spicy food in Tekka Market is not compromised. Formerly known as "Kandang Kerbau" owing to the buffalo pens nearby, this place is now referred to as Tekka, after the name of the bamboo that used to grow here. Its special Alauddin's Biryani and Indian Rojak are considered to be the best in Singapore.
Timings: 6:30 AM - 9:00 PM,
How to Reach: Since the Tekka Food Centre is located at the gateway of Little India, it will hardly take any time to reach from Little India MRT Station, accessible through the Downtown Line and the North-East Line. You can also take bus NR6, 23, 64, 65, 66, 67, 131, 139, 147 or 857 which all arrive right at the Tekka Centre Bus Stop.

Food at the Hawker Centres

Hainanese Chicken Rice: Considered to be the national dish of Singapore, the much-adored Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of the most delicious food items among the hawker centres of Singapore. It has secured the 45th rank among 50 most delicious foods around the world which was compiled by CNN Go in 2011. Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice Stall in Maxwell Hawker Centre sells the best rice accompanied with soft, tender chicken. This authentic and mouth-watering dish is complete with chilli and soy sauce. What's even better? You receive a sizable portion of chicken, rice, as well as a bowl full of chicken broth, all for only SGD 3.50.

Char Kway Teow: Literally meaning "stir-fried rice-cake strips", Char Kway Teow is another local dish which is finger-licking good. The appetizing combination of fried rice-noodles, Chinese pork sausages, chives, prawns, eggs and soy sauce undoubtedly makes this dish one of the most favoured dishes amongst Singaporeans. The Char Kway Teow served at No.18 Zion Road Fried Kway Teow is the very best in the city-state, available for an average of only SGD 3.

Fried Oyster Omelette: Found at almost every local eatery, the thick, fried oyster omelette has become almost a staple dish among the people residing in Singapore. Made with eggs, flour, sweet potatoes and fried oysters, this delicious omelette is sure to tickle your tastebuds! If you want to taste the best oyster omelette, head out to Katong Keah Kee Fried Oysters Stall at Chinatown Food Street and satisfy your appetite for just SGD 8. Here, instead of coupling the omelette with oysters, they stir-fry the two together, thus forming a crisp, fried egg paired with soft, chewy oysters.

Chee Cheong Fun: Generally eaten for breakfast, the scrumptious Chee Cheong Fun is a silky, slippery rice-noodle roll, and is one of the most popular local cuisines. For tasting the best version of this delicious dish that melts in your mouth, try the Chee Cheong Fun at Fresh Chee Cheong Fun in Chinatown Food Street for less than SGD 5. Unlike the other stalls where this dish is pre-made, the Fresh Chee Cheong Fun is reputed for preparing this dish on the spot.

Satay: The scrumptious satay, prepared with seasoned, skewered, grilled meat is a must-have-dish in Singapore. Every night, a portion of the Boon Tat Street is closed to traffic so that the satay vendors of Lau Pa Sat may set up their stalls outside and fill the air with the scent of grilled meat combined with soy sauce. Needless to say, Lau Pa Sat is the ideal place to be if you are looking for the best satay in Singapore. Even though the price of each stick is about 60 cents, it is still pretty affordable.

Laksa: Laksa is considered to be the hallmark of Peranakan cuisine and for good reason. A delicious fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisines, this creamy coconut sauce with a filling of bean curd and noodles is usually accompanied with shrimp, fish and cockles. To taste the best Laksa on the steets of Singapore, try out the fresh satay served at Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa for only SGD 5 - SGD 8.

Chendol: Singapore is home to some of the sweetest desserts and the Chendol is the best of them all. The most palatable version of this iced dessert, topped with jelly, palm sugar syrup and coconut milk is served at Nyonga Chendol Stall in Bukit Timah Food Centre for only SGD 3. Here you can choose what to have among four different varieties of Chendol - Original Chendol, Sweet Corn Chendol, Red Bean Chendol, and the XO Durian Chendol.

Barbequed Stingray: Delicious stingray generously slathered with layers of sambal before being wrapped in a banana leaf, proceeding to be fried and steamed at the same time. Is there anything better? At Chomp Chomp Food Centre, you get to taste the most delicious version of barbequed sambal stingray for just SGD 15.

Bak Kut Teh: One of the favourite dishes for Singaporeans since its era as a developing country, Bak Kut Teh is a divine pork delicacy. Even though tea is not used in the recipe, Bak Kut Teh literally translates to pork bone tea. This simple, delicious soup, infused with Chinese spices and herbs, is generally consumed with a bowl of steaming rice. Singapore has several hawker centres which specialise in Bak Kut Teh. However, to taste the best, head out to Morning Bak Kut Teh at Hong Lim Food Centre, and have a bellyful of pork ribs simmered in the complex soup for only SGD  5. You can also add SGD 1.50 for a bowl of rice and a plate of dough fritters to go along with this gastronomic delight.

Hokkien Mee: Originating in the Hokkien Province of China, this delectable noodle dish is paired with pork, squid and prawn. Sambal sauce, lard and vegetables are mostly used for garnishing. The Singapore Fried Hokkien Mee in Whampoa Hawkers Centre serves delicious, piping hot Hokkien Mee for less than SGD 5.

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