One of the main activities in Singapore is eating. I learned this on our first day when we arrived at our first Hawker Centre, completely bemused by the sheer amount of stalls serving up all kinds of dishes I wanted to try. A family sitting near by sensed my curiosity and asked us to sit down with them and try their breakfast. A sort of crispy pancake that you dip into sugar and coconut. Delicious. The old grandma in the corner started motioning with her walking stick for her daughter to go and buy us a plate, she willingly obliged and a lovely brunch ensued. We were quite taken aback by their hospitality, and ever so grateful for it. I’d like to pay it forward and tell you about the most wonderful eating experiences I had in Singapore so you may enjoy it as much as we did.
First, a little context…
Singapore is where our Asian odyssey of 2016 began, and it’s a great place to break you into Asian culture gently if you haven’t been before. Here, the modern world and ancient cultures mix together seamlessly, in a way that made me realise London has no idea what diversity really means. Malaysians, Indians, Chinese and westerners all live together in harmony, speaking their own language, English and often one or more of the other main languages too. I can’t imagine any Londoner attempting to learn Arabic, which would certainly be the equivalent, and will probably never happen. But that’s a whole other conversation for another day. It was a pleasure to take a couple of days to get to know this city, mainly though my favourite medium of… Food!
Where to eat
- Make sure you’re hungry
- Don’t commit to anything before you’ve wondered around a bit
- If in doubt choose the place with the long queues (it’s usually long for a reason)
- Always take a small portion so you can try two or three dishes!
Maxwell Road Hawker Centre
Hong Lim Food Centre
This is the place to come for curry noodles (bee hoon mee), if you’re brave enough to have it for breakfast I salute you. It’s really best at this time as you’ll have all day to work off the calories, there are plenty in this dish! It’s spicy, flavourful and creamy and definitely worth the queue. The two best spots to go are Heng Kee downstairs, or Ah Heng on level 2, stall number 58.
Ji Ji Wanton Noodle Specialist (level 2, stall 48/49 open 8-7pm Monday – Friday, or until 3pm on Saturday) also do a delicious wanton noodle soup. They also won best hawker centre of the year a while back, and they’ve been in business since 1965!
The Chinatown Complex, Smith Street
This is one of the biggest we visited and the sheer volume of stalls and choice is quite overwhelming. Take your time and enjoy the electric atmosphere and glorious smells. Here we tried everything out hearts desired; roast hoisin duck, chicken wings, dim sum, japanese noodles and more. Many people rave about the claypot rice here, but unfortunately I was too full by the time I found it! For more information on it check out this blog.
Albert Centre, Queen Street
This hawker centre has a great location if you’re shopping or have just arrived from the bus station on Queen Street. We headed over here with our giant backpacks on our backs, ravenous from our long journey. I had a huge craving for congee (a sort of savoury rice porridge), something I’d known about for a long time but had never appealed to me. I tried it first in Vietnam and was well and truly addicted by the time I arrived in Singapore. By chance I found what I believe to be THE BEST congee stand in Singapore, Li Fang Porridge, don’t miss it! And ask for extra onions 🙂
Boon Tat Street
At night, this street is pedestrianised and comes alive with satay stalls as far as the eye can see! The atmosphere is wonderful, full of groups of friends chatting, drinking beer and ordering more and more satay until they are full. “Best Satay” at stall numbers 7 & 8 really are the best, I tried them all 😀 There is also a decent hawker centre on this street if you fancy something else afterwards!