Explore Singapore’s hawker food scene with our monthly guide to some of Singapore’s favourite hawker centres and food courts
Singapore’s countless hawker centres and food courts are a monument to our nation’s love for local food. Anywhere on the island, at any time of day, you’re bound to find a hawker centre with stalls peddling all manner of local delights on the cheap. But with so many hawker centres in Singapore, and even more stalls cooking up their own renditions of chicken rice, bak chor mee, nasi lemak, or laksa, how do you even know where to start?
That’s why we’re launching our new series titled Hawker Hunt, where we feature an iconic hawker centre each month and stalls you have to try. Kicking off our Hawker Hunt is Tanjong Pagar’s Maxwell Food Centre – home to the Gordon Ramsay-besting Tian Tian Chicken Rice.
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Connoisseurs will be no stranger to this grand doyenne of Hainanese chicken rice and its snaking lunchtime queues. If you’ve got time to kill, however, you’ll be trated to a plate of steaming hot, oily, flavourful rice and a generous portion of tender, moist chicken slathered in sauce. Tian Tian’s accompanying garlic and chilli sauce complement this dish spectacularly. “Overrated,” say detractors, but pay no heed to them!
Stall 10 and 11. Open Tue-Sun 11am-8pm. Closed on Mon.
Zhen Zhen Porridge
For me in particular, steaming hot bowls of chicken porridge bring back memories of childhood, and Zhen Zhen Porridge is my first class ticket to that nostalgia trip. The porridge here is criminally cheap – a small bowl (which isn’t) goes for $3 while a medium and large go for $4 and $5 respectively. Whether you opt for fish or chicken porridge, you’ll get a rich, smooth, hearty bowl with lots of meat and aromatic shreds of ginger. Upgrade it with a century egg for the ultimate breakfast.
Stall 54. Open Wed-Mon 5.30am-2.30pm. Closed Tue.
Hainanese Curry Rice
A favourite of our editor, this curry rice stall does a gloriously-messy plate of curry rice – crispy strips of scissor-cut pork cutlets, fried egg and stewed cabbage in a rich, gravy-like curry infused with soy sauce. You can add on lots of other bits and bobs, but that basic plate will cost you a mere $3.30. As you can see, it won’t win any points for artistic plating, but that first taste of this hot mess will have you singing praise to the holy trinity of rice, curry and fried pork cutlet.
Guan’s Mee Pok
Mee pok goes (slightly) upmarket at this Maxwell gem. The idea of posh-ing up such a proletarian dish is sure to rile some people up, but Guan’s execution hits all the right notes. While the base mee pok is a fine example of the dish on its own, the premium versions of the dish is one you should try – it includes yakitori chicken skewers, squid, fish maw and even abalone that amp up this already flavourful bowl of minced pork noodles.
Jin Hua Sliced Fish Bee Hoon
“I kinda feel like something light,” says everyone in the office at some point in the week, to which the resounding response to that is “fish bee hoon!”. So off we went to Maxwell’s Jin Hua Sliced Fish Bee Hoon for a steamy, milky bowl of fragrant fish soup, supple rice noodles and plenty of fresh sliced fish. Without a doubt, this is our favourite spot for sliced fish bee hoon near our office at Telok Ayer.
Stall 77. Open daily 12.30pm-10pm.
Weng Pan Cake
The stall’s name, like the pancakes it peddles, is simple and straight to the point. These spongy pancakes, filled with red bean paste, coconut or peanut, are a popular snack item that sadly seems to be getting harder and harder to come by. This stall’s pancakes come served warm, and are thick and fluffy – if you’re lucky, you’ll get a piece cut off from the edge with a thin, crispy portion as well. Best flavour? It’s a tough call, but I will definitely recommend the peanut-filled one!
Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore 069184.