Growing up in Singapore, friends who know me long enough remember that I don’t really eat hawker food. Some called me “atas” (in Singlish, it means high class), but others know that I always had delicious homecooked meals every single day. I didn’t have to eat out. So it was natural that I didn’t long for local food until the recent years when I got to travel a lot more than usual.
Now whenever I’m back in Singapore, these are the go-to food that I really enjoy and crave for as a local. (Disclaimer: This may not represent every Singaporean’s taste but my own entirely).
WHAT TO EAT IN SINGAPORE
(Wok hei stir-fried thick flat noodles with gravy – cooked “black”)
Hands up if you love Hor Fun too! I’d usually have seafood hor fun in the largest portion possible. Hor fun makes me happy because it’s one of my top favourite comfort food. I’d spam lots of sliced green chilli to go with it. They go perfectly together. This is also the first dish that I missed when I’m in Hong Kong. Nobody could do Hor Fun like how it is in Singapore.
So where can we enjoy a good plate of hor fun? Easily any hawker stall that sell wok-hei style food in Singapore. It’s a staple wok-hei dish.
Char Kuay Teow
(Stir-fried flat rice noodles with cockles)
Have you ever eaten the same lunch over and over again? This is the very dish that I used to eat every single workday when my office was near Amoy Street Food Centre. I was obsessed with it! Originally invented for labourers to fuel up their energy at the lowest price back in the days, this is an absolutely sinful dish that is high in saturated fats. But who could resist this delicious stir-fried noodles cooked over high heat with pork lard, light and dark soy sauce, chilli, some belachan (I skipped the chilli because it gives me stomachaches/allergy sometimes), prawns, deshelled blood cockles, bean sprouts, eggs and chopped Chinese chives?
Char Kuay Teow at Amoy Street Food Centre
Char Kuay Teow at Chomp Chomp Food Centre
I always go for the “white” chicken even though you may tell me that the roasted one tastes better. Did you know that some shops re-roast their roasted chicken if it wasn’t sold out the day before? Well, that’s what I heard. And they don’t do that to the “white” chicken – plus it’s usually sold out quicker. Can anyone confirm this?
I simply love the taste of steamed chicken rice with some dark sauce and tons of garlic chilli sauce. I also add an egg to my dish just because it’s not enough. I’m not fussy about chicken rice but if it’s your first time visiting Singapore, you might wanna try Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at the flagship stall in Maxwell Food Centre. Be sure to go there before you get hungry cos you need to queue for hours apparently. They’re also opening a branch in Hong Kong.
Hokkien Mee (Hokkien Noodles)
I don’t usually order Hokkien Mee because it’s easy to get a crappy one that doesn’t hit the spot for me. But recently, I enjoyed the Hokkien Mee from Ah Hock Hokkien Mee at Chomp Chomp Food Centre. Their Hokkien Mee is not as wet as the usual standard but their wok-hei taste makes it tastes pretty incredible!I managed to get the last 2 dishes before the shop closed for the day. Eat ’em while it’s hot.
Fishball Mee Pok (Fishball with Chinese Flat Egg Noodles)
This is part of my childhood food as my grandaunt used to run a fishball noodles stall when I was little. I love my fishball mee pok dry and mixed with ketchup – that’s how I have it all this time even when I’m an adult. Most Singaporeans like their fishball mee pok with chilli. Unfortunately, it upsets my stomach easily if I eat like that. Plus, ketchup doesn’t mask the taste of the noodles unlike chilli. So I’d prefer to stay nostalgic for this dish.
Most fishball noodles stalls have good and chewy fishballs and the noodles are pretty standard throughout the board. You usually can’t find faults in this dish unless you’re a fishball noodles connoisseur (email me).
Ba Chor Mee (Minced Pork with Chinese Flat Egg Noodles)
Minced pork meat, pig liver, pork balls, stewed mushrooms, and slices of lean pork tossed with Mee Pok (flat egg noodles) or Mee Kia (thin egg noodles) in vinegar sauce and pork flavour broth. Describing this makes my mouth wet already.
Like the above fishball noodles, most Singaporeans like this with chilli sauce. If it’s not up your alley, do it with ketchup just like me!
Mee Robus (Noodles with Egg)
Mee Robus is also one of my childhood food. It was a dish that I frequently ordered and ate when I was in primary school. This is also the only Malay dish that made it to the list because I grew up eating more Chinese food than anything else.
Mee Robus doesn’t upset my stomach like other spicy dishes do. Its gravy is usually cooked with curry, potatoes, soya bean, peanuts and dried shrimps which has a hint of sweetness to it. If you like something spicy without getting a punch in the stomach, try a plate of Mee Robus!
Bak Kut Teh (Pork Ribs Herbal Soup)
Everyone goes for the pork ribs option but I always go for the pig kidneys and livers for my mains. My go-to places for Bak Kut Teh are Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh, Song Fa Bak Kut Teh, and Founder Bak Kut Teh. I won’t have my Bak Kut Teh anywhere else.
Ya Hua is great for pig kidneys and livers while Song Fa and Founder are great for pig kidneys. All their pork ribs and peppery/herbal soup bases taste somewhat different so if you’re not a diehard fan or a first-timer, you probably can’t taste the difference.
If you enjoy the soup, you can always ask for the soup refills without paying additional fees. I always ask for at least 3 refills and I’m in food heaven.
Zai Mee Fen (Vegetarian Noodles & Assorted Toppings)
Wanna make my day? Meet me with an upsized packet of Zai Mee Fen from Meow Xiang Vegetarian Food. This stall is located at Fengshan Market and Food Centre (locally known as Bedok 85 because of its block number).
I usually choose white mee hoon and mee for my choice of noodles and all their assorted toppings like deep fried beancurd skin (my fav!), stir-fried cabbage, mock char siew and mock duck meat. At only S$2+, they serve the best vegetarian noodles for what you pay for. In fact, I would pay $3 for it.
This is a breakfast/lunch food and gets sold out fast, so please go early!
Chwee Kuey (Steamed Rice Cake)
The other breakfast food that made it to this list! I could easily eat 8-10 Chwee Kuey at one go when I’m at Tiong Bahru Food Centre. They serve the best Chwee Kuey in Singapore. These rice cakes are freshly steamed and topped with preserved radish and an optional dash of chilli. Simple yet delicious.
Bonus: Chilli Crabs & Pepper Crabs
S$50 and above
I enjoy eating seafood especially crustaceans. In Singapore, I particularly love our Chilli Crabs and Pepper Crabs. Uncle Leong at Punggol, Kelly Jie (previously known as Mellben – Their Claypot Crab Vermicelli Soup is a must-order!) and Jumbo at East Coast Park are my to-go for these. They’ve got the fattest Sri Lankan crabs that are cooked the way I like and the satisfaction level is extremely high for me. Another popular variation is the Salted Egg Crabs. But I’m not a fan of salted egg. I’m a creature of habit in this case.
Don’t forget to order deep fried crispy mini buns to go with your chilli crab sauce. Those are da bomb.
Eat Local in Singapore
Compared to other cities, it doesn’t cost a lot to enjoy local food in Singapore as long as you don’t eat at touristy places. If you wanna try a variety of local food at one sitting, then you must check out at least one of these 7 Best Hawker Centres in Singapore that I recommend.
If you’re a Singaporean living overseas, what are your go-to food when you’re back in Singapore? I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comment below!