Anthony Bourdain made the bold statement that Singapore has the greatest hawker food in the world. We decided on our 4 days in Singapore to make it our mission to try food from as many of the hawker locations as possible to test his theory.

Inside Lau Pa Sat

Inside Lau Pa Sat

Our first port of call was Lau Pa Sat or ‘old market’ in the Hokkien dialect. It dates back 150 years and was the first wet market in Singapore. Upon entering you are hit by the huge number of vendors and it became immediately apparent that we would need to have a strategic peruse around the place rather than diving in to order from the first vendor we reached. This was harder than we imagined and as I followed Maddie and listened to her ooohing and aaahing at every single eating option I knew it was going to be problematic deciding where to buy food. We decided that to maximise the tastes with different hawkers we would order one dish from an outlet, share it and then order a second from a different outlet and do the same.

 

Our first choice of Korean bbq chicken with chillis for S$5 did not disappoint. A sizzling platter that even came with a small bowl of broth (it could have been hand wash, but if it was it was the best tasting hand wash I have come across!) This was indeed a superb start and the thing that amazed us both was the size of the portion. We genuinely could have left satisfied at this point having shared one dish, but unfortunately we had committed to sampling as much as we could. So in the interests of research we got up and wandered across the food court to the opposite side and decided that a bit of Indian food was in order.

Korean bbq chicken with chills

Korean bbq chicken with chills

This is where things went to the next level in portion size. We love Indian cuisine and are very lucky to live in an area in England where you can get fantastic Indian meals, but they do come with a price tag that means they can be an expensive food choice. I was intrigued as to what we would get for a meagre S$5.50, a small tapas style taster plate I thought. Oh no, when we walked away with our “small meal for one” the tray was piled high with Tandoori chicken, Bombay potatoes, chickpeas, spicy butter chicken, pilau rice, poppadom and for good measure a sizeable naan! Every element to this meal was superb and I couldn’t fault it.

Indian banquet

Indian banquet

This was an impressive introduction to the hawker food of Singapore and as we left, unable to fit in anything sweet for dessert, we agreed we might revisit La Pa Sat to try the banana split we saw at one establishment which also looked rather delicious. As you can see below we kept true to our word and did manage to squeeze one in at a later date, it was worth all of the S$4.50 which we handed over in exchange.

Banana split

Banana split

The next venue on the hit list was Maxwell Food Centre the home of the famous Hawker stall Tian Tian, recommended by Anthony Bourdin and selling chicken rice to die for. We thought we should give it a go! chicken and rice may not sound that exciting and I must admit I was a bit sceptical, how much can you do with some boiled chicken and rice? I was wrong.

The queue for Tian Tian chicken rice

The queue for Tian Tian chicken rice

It was a beautiful meal with a huge slab of moist chicken that melted in the mouth. Throw on a bit of soy sauce and chilli sauce and the taste was complete. The fact that there was a queue for this particular stall that stretched halfway down the food court should have given us a clue that this place was a little bit special (you could walk up and order immediately at every other establishment). At S$3.50 I don’t think I can remember ever having such a good quality, value for money meal as this and there was a free bowl of broth thrown in, definitely not hand wash this time!

Tian Tian's famous chicken rice

Tian Tian’s famous chicken rice

We were now in full swing and next on the agenda was Hokkien prawn noodles for S$5. Once more the portion was more than ample, as well as prawns there was octopus and squid hidden in ample quantity under a heap of noodles. I must admit I had to step up and take one for the team to help finish this one off as Maddie put her chop sticks down and submitted defeat halfway through, unable to eat another mouthful for fear of bursting!

Hokkien prawn noodles

Hokkien prawn noodles

All of this delicious food was washed down with a freshly squeezed lime juice (unbelievably refreshing) and a lycee juice (unbelievably sweet – and disconcerting with the fruit looking like pickled eyeballs or something even worse floating around in the cup!) These drinks were S$1.50 each.

Lychee juice

Lychee juice

The final location on our whistle stop tour was Makansutra Gluttons Bay, an apt name by any standard. Unlike the previous two food courts this one is located outside, giving it a feel of a mass picnic where everyone had gathered to share and sample the delights on offer. Having completed the now customary walk around with the mandatory comments of “ooh look at that”, “what’s he eating?”, “that looks nice” and my personal favourite “it all looks so nice how do we pick what to get!” we settled on one of Maddie’s favourite dishes, Satay. This combination of chicken and beef set us back S$7 which is expensive in Hawker terms compared to some of our earlier choices. It was well worth it, the meat melted off the skewers and the sauce was delicious.

Delicious satay

Delicious satay

The final dish was Char Kway Teow for S$4 and although not as eye catching visually as many of the other dishes we tried it was certainly a tasty one. A combination of mutton, chicken, vegetables and noodles all blended together to give a superb taste.

Char Kway Teow

Char Kway Teow

So what conclusion did we come to? Well who are we to argue with Anthony Bourdain, he seems to have a pretty damn good idea what he is talking about.

Gluttons Bay food court

Gluttons Bay food court at around 10:30pm

The quality, quantity and value for money cannot be faulted, not to mention the unique atmosphere the food courts create. If you are a foodie then Singapore is somewhere you have to go to at least once. We sampled such a small selection of the food on offer, but I would say that if I had been served any of it in a restaurant I would have been very pleased and would have expected to pay considerably more for all of it.

 

If you now feel hungry, click the heart below to let me know you enjoyed reading!

 

19 Responses

    • Paul

      Thanks Kim. I am sure you and Brian are full on connoisseurs of Indian food now, so if you think it looks good, that’s good enough for me. I’m not sure you would have had too many banana splits the last couple of months though 🙂 It was all seriously good and it is making me hungry just thinking about it.

      Reply
    • Paul

      You will both have a great time in Singapore if you love food! If we were on “holiday” we could easily have spent a week or longer there. The accommodation is the expensive outlay in Singapore, so we tried to get as much packed in as we could in the 4 days without killing the budget. There is so much to see and do and you really must go to the Night Safari as that was a very unique experience and we are so glad we did it.

      Reply
    • Paul

      Claire, that is a very good motto to have in the food courts in Singapore and one I fully agree with! However, I am going to try a few things on sticks when we get to Bangkok (more along the lines of insects) – not sure if they will be as tasty!

      Reply
    • Paul

      Can you believe we actually shared one – me sharing a dessert – that’s unheard of!!! Definitely think one each is the way to go for future reference.

      Reply
    • Paul

      Thanks Angela. Have a great time and hopefully we have given you a head start when you begin the difficult decision of choosing what to eat!

      Reply
  1. Phil

    My eyes are watering from looking at that Indian food… yuk! My sphincter is twitching as we speak (am I allowed to say that!?)

    Glad you got to sample such a wide variety of food. Sharing is definitely the way to go in Asia… except sweet and sour sauce… that’s ALL mine!

    Reply
    • Maddie

      It was all absolutely amaaaazing! Luckily we have guts of steel now (touch wood)

      Reply
  2. Carmel

    It’s almost breakfast time and all I want is meat on a stick now. Or noodles. Or a banana split. We have a cart in Portland that does a very simple boiled chicken and rice….and it just about the thing I’ve ever tasted. Sometimes simplicity done well wins the day. Definitely trying these spots when we make it to Singapore…
    Carmel recently posted..Easter RisingMy Profile

    Reply
    • Paul

      Hi Carmel. I know, who would have thought boiled chicken and rice would be so good? Will be interesting for you to see how Singapore stacks up against Portland in the chicken and rice battle!

      Reply
      • Carmel

        This is the website. It’s a Thai dish, I guess. Looks a little different in execution, but same idea of really simple ingredients. If you ever make it to Portland, check it out! I’ll report back, too. 🙂
        http://khaomangai.com/about/

  3. Laura

    love how you write about food Maddie writes a bout getting thin!!!! Busy drooling as we speak, however just been on a bike ride that nearly killed me so feel that trip to the kitchen is ok!

    Reply
    • Paul

      Thanks Alissa. That’s the great thing about Singapore, you can save a fortune on food but eat like a king if you go to the right places. We were also surprised that overall it was a lot cheaper than we were expecting.

      Reply

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