Lau Pa Sat is our kind of food paradise! From chicken rice to char kway teow, it’s easy to forget about its history… but we won’t let you!
Way before we knew this place as the food paradise it is today (serving up all our favourite local dishes, praise be), Lau Pa Sat used to be known as Telok Ayer Market – one of Singapore’s oldest markets – it was built in built in the 19th century! Cool fact: Lau Pa Sat actually translates to “Old Market” in Hokkien and has been gazetted as a national monument since 1972.
During its last $4 million revamp in 2014, Lau Pa Sat was renovated with new and improved seating to accommodate the crazy lunch crowds, more ceiling fans to keep the place cool and well-ventilated and new stalls to feed the CBD masses. Some things that stayed the same? The centre’s historical elements including the clock tower, with a clock face on every side, and bells that chime every 15 minutes. The building’s unusual octagonal structure and wrought iron filigree were also preserved.
What to eat at Lau Pa Sat?
If you didn’t already know, this place is absolutely teeming with really, really local food. From good ol’ prata and curry to the sinful char kway teow, classic chicken rice to the hearty beef noodles in thick gravy, there really is something for everyone here.
Each night something magical happens. The Boon Tat Street side of Lau Pa Sat is blocked and transformed into outdoor quarters specially dedicated to satay. How to do it right? Respond to a pushy auntie/uncle throwing menus at you, order a few rounds of beef, chicken or mutton satay (with rice cakes of course!), a tall jug of Tiger beer – and there you go, you’re partying like a regular after-hours Singapore worker.
A Costa Rican food stall in the middle of a heritage Singapore hawker centre? Why not. If you know nothing about the cuisine of Costa Rica, here’s a good introduction. Top sellers include the mega chicken/beef burrito, crunchy chalupas (fried cornmeal dough bowls) filled with beef or spicy chicken and our personal favourite, the arroz con mariscos or pollo (seafood/chicken fried rice). Bonus points for keeping everything on the menu below $10.
Seng Kee Local Delights
Sure Lau Pa Sat may be located in some prime real estate in the CBD but a plate of char kway teow here only costs you $4, and it has bits of Taiwan sausage and cockles in it. Change it up with a fried carrot cake, Hokkien mee or laksa. Queues get long here, so if you have some time and patience, you will be greatly rewarded.
You won’t fail to see long lines outside of Chicky Fun at lunch time. The halal chicken rice stall does a mean rendition of the signature local dish, but also serves authentic chicken char siew wanton noodles for Muslim eaters. Always have yours spicy, and with extra lashings of garlic sauce.
The Beef House
One of the best feelings you’ll have is watching them ladle the thick, gooey beef broth on to your noodles. Topped up with tender beef chunks and fresh scallions, this is one amazing bowl of feel-good vibes. Super hearty and filling, a bowl of beef noodles comes at $5 – ace!
Lau Pa Sat is packed to the rafters with Indian food stalls, but Shree Ganga deserves its name in the limelight for its vegetarian set meals, served with chappati and rice. Swing by in the afternoon for freshly fried samosas and pakora, or a freshly brewed cup of masala tea.
Thunder Tea Rice
Almost a novelty, thunder tea rice is requires you to pour over a bowl of green tea soup over brown rice, veggies and a meat option. You mix it up and let the different flavours happen as you eat. A choice for the health-conscious sorts, you can cheat with a greasy fried stuffed beancurd as well…
Lau Pa Sat, 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582