Malay, Chinese, Indian and Peranakan Mee Siam - A favourite hawker food among Singaporeans. I have eaten all of them since childhood. Coconut is commonly used in Peranakan food as in the thick Mee Siam gravy and curry dishes. The Indian Mee Siam at Farrer Park Food Centre along Northumberland Road was my favourite which had made way for the construction of the North East MRT Line in the late 1990s - The Mee Siam with sweet light brownish milky gravy seems to have varnished from the food scene.
Not every Mee Siam dish in the market place comes with the basic key must-have toppings - good amount of Kucai (Chinese Chives), crunchy Tau-gay (bean sprouts), Tau-pok (bean puff cubes), lime and chilli sauce.
I have tried the Chinese Mee Siam at Whampoa Food Centre and Tekka Food Centre but the Mee Siam sold by the all $2.80 menu stall at Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre is good value for money (image - Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre Mee Siam).
Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang Appetizing Nasi Lemak. Chicken wings, Selar fish, fried eggs (medium or well done) usually fried when ordered. Lemongrass flavored rice, good chilli. Ala-Carte or choose from wide range of set menu A to O. Outstanding clean kitchen. Ci Yuan Hawker Centre. 51 Hougang Avenue 9. #01-40
Known to have started in Siglap in the 1970s, the 132 Teochew Mee Pok Kway Teow Mee located at 59 Marine Terrace, #01-105 is by far the most delicious I have ever tasted among even the Mee Pok pioneer hawkers who started as street hawkers in Tiong Bahru (still available at the Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre) since the 1960s. I started patronising this stall at a coffeeshop in Kembangan, behind Astoria Park Condominium, in the 1990s. Back then, the lady boss who took turn with her husband ("master chef") to prepare the dish, usually advised patrons in advance of the 30 minutes minimum waiting time. The tender meats and small fishballs, the traditional Teochew light orange chilli sauce, soup, garnishing green, beansprouts, crispy lard bits and red cut chilli (normal size, not chilli padi) and the right texture of the noodle, tender but firm to the bite (Italian term in short "al dente" for Pasta) make the difference. Prawns are new ingredients to the original recipe adding value and varieties to the basic menu. In 1960s/70s it was commonly fishball noodle soup served with yellow noodle, Kway Teow, Kway Teow Mee, Bee Hoon or Bee Hoon Mee with fish ball and bean sprout. Gradually variety of ingredients were added over the decades and other versions such as Bak Chor Mee emerged in the market.
The stall holder moved out of Marine Parade Market and Food Centre (which was under upgrading) to Lee Soon Coffeeshop at Blk 80 Marine Parade Central. It sells Prawn noodle as well.
源记 Yuan Ji Fishball Noodle Pioneer generation legendary fishball noodle master chef cooking his 63 years recipe since 10. Tiong Bahru Market 30 Seng Poh Road, #02-72
Kim Fa Fishball Minced Meat Noodle. Tiong Bahru Market 30 Seng Poh Road, #02-65
The stall at Hougang 1 Kopitiam food court offers a wide menu. This $5 (before Kopitiam card discount) fish meal comes with generous ingredients.
德记熟食 Sheng Mian sells sheng mian, mee pok etc at $3 a bowl. This is a $4 meal, with generous ingredients. A 40-year old business run by pioneer generation and relatives. Blk 226H Kebun Bahu Food Centre
Sin Min 23 Fish Ball Noodle has been operating at the coffeeshop for about 40 years. The first time I ate the Mee Pok was about 20 years ago, thereafter occasionally.
Mr Leong of Leong Hua Wanton Noodles took over the business from his father operating out of a coffee shop at 427 Changi Road among a row of shop houses and he continued to operate the stall with his wife. It was the "anchor" stall serving regular customers, working professionals and families from Frankel Avenue, Kembangan, Siglap and places around the East, including workers arriving in lorries. I was a regular customer for more than 10 years savouring his traditional recipe that I missed eating at a Farrer Park and Alexandra coffee shop after these shops were demolished for redevelopment. After operating for more than 40 years in Changi they have to move out and they settled in Keng Wah Sung Coffee Shop at 781 Geylang Road serving a different market.
Somerset Wanton Noodles (named after its former location) at Hua Hua Eating House Blk 81 Marine Parade Central #01-654 (15 years). Old style chilli sauce and char siew at $3, with no charge for takeaway plastic container. Husband and wife humble beginning as street hawker at Gay World Park, Geylang.
The 顺顺顺 Wanton Noodle chain operating an air-conditioned outlet at E-Hub Down Town East in Pasir Ris serves a bowl of Wanton noodles at $4; A $5 bowl comes with choices of green bean or red soup or chestnut drink. The $5 plate prawn roll is as good as those sold at Zhi-char stall.
The subtle flavour of the watery brown sauce makes the difference. For $5 minimum order, the noodle is slightly more than 2 mouthful, a few vegetable stalks but no leaves and small razor thin char siew. A prominent signage: "Without Green Chilli" for those who love green cut chilli to note. Jumbo Seafood acquired 75% of the business at $2.1M-ST 6 Dec 20. Located at Foch Rd, Hotel 81 coffeeshop
The Kampong Carrot Cake hawker at Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre is among the few remaining decades old hawkers in Singapore selling the original black carrot cake ("Chye Tow Kueh"), at the NEA government agency manage hawker centres, that are usually inexpensive. It takes skill to prepare a flavoursome dish that does not taste plainly sweet like many others, but the sweet black sauce got absorbed into the carrot cake pieces stir fried with the mixture of the light sauce, garlic, chye por, egg and chilli. In the past, spring onion was never part of the garnishing. Once upon a time, you bring your own egg to the mobile hawker for your packet of carrot cake. When the market closed in the afternoon, sometimes the eggs dropped off and rolled out of the secured chicken coop fence for your serving of carrot cake. The white version carrot cake is relatively new. "Joseph Schooling ( 2016 Olympic gold medallist ), who likes his chye tow kueh black - the darker, the better ..." Straits Times 20 August 2016
Hock Soon Carrot Cake The pioneer hawker has been frying the traditional recipe carrot cake since 1970s at Ghim Moh Market and Food Centre, Blk 20 Ghim Moh Rd #01-29
老陈 Carrot Cake now run by the second and third generation of an early hawker. The adult grand daughter said "Ah Gong" started the business since 1960s from old Tiong Bahru Market and food centre to the new. Unit 02-83.
Heng Heng Carrot Cake Sells the old generation carrot cake. The stall at Beo Crescent is run by a lady owner for more than 10 years. It closes before 1 pm when the food are sold out. Beo Crescent Market, 38A Beo Crescent #01-72
How to order the right old recipe to get a tasty plate of Char Kway and when you eat it the right way you would want to enjoy the taste in your mouth longer before "washing" the residual "taste" down the throat with your cup of coffee. The old tasty Char Kway Teow recipe is less black sweet sauce with a good amount of light orange colour chilli sauce, garlic, crunchy Tau Gay (green sprouts) and more water. Stirring the noodle before eating will make it sticky (it has already been well stirred fry in the wok), instead just pick the noodle with your pair of chopsticks to keep the noodle smooth throughout. Photo : 美食全Char Kway Teow Traditional taste, slight barbecue flavour, not too dark sweet sauce, cockles, sausage slices, green veggie, good amount of garlic, chilli and beansprout. "Lup Cheong" Chinese sausage is additional ingredient to the old version. Cockles on the plate are getting smaller these days but it is still flavoursome and delicious. Location: Ci Yuan Hawker Centre 51 Hougang Ave 9 #01-04: According to the signboard, the Char Kway Teow was originated from street hawker at the former Orchard Road carpark.
Pioneer street hawker Mr Tay started frying Kway Teow in push cart in the 1960s and later moved to the old Tiong Bahru Market and food centre. He has passed on the recipe and skills to his next generation. Tiong Bahru Fried Kway Teow at #02-11 Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre.
Tiong Bahru Lee Hong Kee Roasted started selling Char Siew Rice in 1960 ( according to the stall signboard ). The delicious thick roast meat (some burnt surface and blackened edges) rice with the hot thick black sauce are getting more popular than the traditional Char Siew rice recipe. This value meal with all lean meat, couple more crunchy fresh cucumber and lavish black sauce cost just $3. Location - Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre 30 Seng Poh Road #02-60
Aljunied (Soon Kee) Roasted Meat New Upper Changi Road Hawker Centre Blk 58 #01-195. This dish is closer to the traditional red surface medium roast meat Char Siew Rice. But the char siew is smaller and slightly thicker than the thin longer slices char siew sold by traditional char siew hawker like the corner stall at Blk 628 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 where the humble man in his 70s has been selling his old recipe dish for more than 20 years, facing fierce competition from the next door stall selling roast meat, duck and sausage dishes.
Ah Khoon Authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice - simply delectable, the chicken is tender and the rice flavoursome that you wouldn't mind the calories eating an extra bowl of rice with the plateful of half chicken serving for just 2. The stall at Ci Yuan Hawker Centre (51 Hougang Avenue 9 #01-05) is own and run by local varsity graduate who was inducted into the Fei Siong “Entrepreneurship Programme among a group of enterprising-minded young aspiring to be their own boss after having worked for others. This programme matched them with retired old generation hawkers who provided the know-how and skills as well as the recipes for the startups. In the past, the original plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice included cucumber with cuts of pineapple as well which I ate quite regularly at a coffee shop along Pasir Panjang Road
Since opening in September 2015, hawkers at Ci Yuan selling good food have been doing sustainable business. Hawkers in prime down town locations with larger customer catchment areas however, such as Tian Tian Chicken Rice at historic Maxwell Hawker Centre, are more easily getting the popularity, raking in the revenue and earning the Michelin Star.
Tian Tian Chicken Rice and Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice were selling at the low profile Bukit Merah View Hawker Centre then in 1970s/1980s drawing lunch time customers who were production workers from manufacturing companies operating at the nearby JTC Flatted factory along Jalan Bukit Merah. Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice then relocated to the adjacent coffeeshop.
Indian Rojak is a major part of Singapore Hawker Culture food, sold by street hawkers of old times. Those were days in the 1970s in the evenings, Indian Rojak were among about 10 push cart stalls selling Fishball Noodles, Char Kway Teow, Mee Rebus, Satay ... and a drink stall selling assorted colour, Soursop, Pineapple and Rose Syrup with Sabja seed drinks. The cart stalls were parked along a 10 feet curve footpath at the junction of Alexandra Road /Jalan Bukit Merah (outside Alexandra Village) opposite Queensway Shopping Centre.
At the hawker centres, coffee shops and rarely at air-conditioned food courts, Indian Rojak food items of different shapes and colour of slightly fried vegetable and prawn fritters, potato, tofu, tempeh, egg, fish cake ... are displayed on glass shelves. What a delicious meal dipping your deep hot fried food into the red sauce with peanuts and eat with accompaniments of fresh cuts green chilli, cucumber and red onion ! It has to be old recipe red onion, not white that some stalls serve.
Photo: Indian Rojak at Loyang Point “Our Family Foodcourt”
While there are popular Hokkien Mee stalls usually at hawker centres and coffeeshops such as East Coast Road 'Geylang Lor 29 Hokkien Mee', Eunos Kim Hokkien Mee, Changi Road Lim Hokkien Mee, Beo Crescent Yang Zhou Hokkien Mee and Ci Yuan Hawker Centre Fatty Fried Hokkien Mee, good ones are hard to find at food courts. I visited Kopitiam Food Court at Tampines One a few times but was sceptical of the taste and hesitant to try the Hokkien Mee as the dish is not prepared by Hokkien Mee specialist but stall assistants who have to cook various other dishes. I decided to give it a try - yummy ! Update 2021/06/21 - Stall has moved out.
Roti Prata is a local favourite Indian hawker food love by people of all races, all walks of life and all ages. Enjoy your Roti Prata with a glass of Teh-Terik for breakfast or morning or afternoon tea break, or supper, even lunch or dinner. Traditionally, roti prata is served empty (Kosong) or with egg inside and various types of gravy. In the past the Indian roti prata maker cooked the curry gravy with medium size cuts of potatoes and Binjal in a big aluminium pot, scooped the curry with the potatoes and Binjal from the same pot into a small bowl to serve the customer, but these days few prata sellers provide potatoes and/or Binjal in the curry gravy. I prefer the plain prata and have it done crispy than egg filled prata which tends to be softer when mixed with the egg. Years ago, whenever I ordered roti prata from the famous Jalan Kaya coffee shop, Upper Thomson coffee shop and some other places, I always asked to have the crispy plain prata to be placed on top of the fried egg (sunny side egg) on the frying hot plate to enjoy the wholesome crispy prata and the whole fried egg (instead of mixing them), but it did take a few more explanations for the prata makers to understand as they have not done it before - nowadays it is more easily and commonly referred to as the "Plaster". Roti Prata used to be prepared on traditional round marble top wooden leg table instead of stainless cladded square or rectangular table. Roti Prata is a key part of Singapore Hawker Culture which is listed as UNECSO Intangible Cultural Heritage -https://www.nhb.gov.sg/what-we-do/our-work/sector-development/unesco/hawker-culture-in-singapore
Singapore's heritage coffee shop coffee culture is more than using the traditional "sock" netting, long nose container, can and hot water container to make cups, mugs or glasses of coffee replicated in modern twenty to thirty million dollars housing estate coffeeshops, foodcourts (Kopitiam, Koufu, Food Republic, NTUC Foodfare .. ) and coffee chains (ToastBox, Ah Khoon, Fun Toast.. ) while our museums and galleries displays and films may not have captured all of the essence of the coffee culture.
This traditional coffee shop way of making coffee is productive and faster than what modern coffee shops, foodcourts and local coffee chains can do. To prepare for peak hours crowd, especially in the morning, the shelves are lined up with glasses ( contents are visible), empty, with standard amount of sugar and condensed milk for making coffee “o” kosong (coffee black no sugar), coffee “o” (coffee black with sugar) and coffee respectively and for making tea beverages - teh “o” kosong (no sugar) and teh “o” (with sugar). Evaporated milk is added on separately for Coffee "c"and Teh "c" .
The coffee shop assistants, 1 to 3, depending on the size of coffee shop and time, soliciting for orders from the customers at the tables shout the orders out aloud. The lone coffee maker listens to the orders from all directions as he lines up on the table various glasses as many as 10, taken from the shelves, according to the orders that he heard: the empty ones, those with sugar, condensed milk, evaporated milk in each glass and he picks up the long nose coffee “kettle” on one hand, the can with hot water on the other and dispense the coffee and then the hot water into each glass and making different tea beverages in the same way. The coffee assistants pick up the beverages and serve the customers at the tables. For the coffee maker, it is daunting multitasking , "play by ear" listening, remembering the actual orders each assistant verbalized and making the coffee and tea beverages, including toasting and steaming bread and preparing half boil eggs on the spot as he hears. Such skilled coffee maker is hard to find and coffee culture is diminishing if not lost.
Milo drink or Tat-qui, Hokkien dialect for kicking ball referring to the picture on the Milo, Diao-hi (Chinese tea bag with a string attached), “Clementi” ( lemon tea ), Coffee, Tea or Milo ping are relatively new common beverage terms used in coffee shops, food courts and coffee chains.
CG Ang Updated 2021-06-21