Hawker stalls by ex-hotel chefs in Singapore
Being a foodie means that a vast amount of my expenditure goes to feeding myself good food. Given that my 2018 resolution is to splurge less when eating out, I figured one of the ways to satisfy my high-SES way of living when it comes to food is to eat at hawker stalls owned by ex-hotel chefs. Given the vast difference in prices for a similar standard of food, I would be more than glad to trade the service and ambience at a hotel for a much lower cost at a kopitiam.
Modestly tucked in a corner of a kopitiam in Tiong Bahru, Nicher is a bakery opened by an ex-Marina Bay Sands pastry chef. It offers a simple menu comprising an array of pound cakes and muffins. You can either dapao and enjoy the pastries at home, or eat there and complement their cakes with a cup of teh-o. Our favourite cake would be Earl Grey Berries ($8 for half, $16 for a whole loaf), which boasts a delicate floral scent, with a hit of tartness from blueberries that are imported from France.
2. Once Upon A Thyme
Image credit: @wonderfoolyouth
Once Upon A Thyme first opened as a hawker stall at Golden Mile Food Centre, but has now expanded to a takeaway at Square 2 and a small eatery at Clarke Quay Central. It is owned by Filipino chef JoJo, who used to work at places such as PS. Cafe and Swissotel. Dishing out delicious pasta dishes at less than $12, this eatery is well-known for their signature Battered Fish Aglio Olio ($9.80). It comprises three crispy fish fillets served with spaghetti mushroom aglio olio and a coriander dip. Another stellar dish to get would be Seafood Aglio Olio ($9.50), which has a generous portion of sauteed squid, fish and prawns, all tossed with spaghetti.
3. Warung K
Brainchild of Chef Ken, an ex-chef of The Fullerton Bay Hotel and Pan Pacific Singapore, Warung K serves up traditional Indonesian charcoal-grilled meat. All plates come with turmeric, lemongrass and coconut milk-infused yellow rice, keropok, lawar salad, and house-made sambal chilli. One of the most popular dish is Ayam Bakar ($6), and that is no surprise given the chicken’s slightly burnt, crispy skin which comes apart to reveal fall-off-the-bone meat. If it happens to be #meatlessmonday, opt for Mushroom Raja ($6), which has plump oyster mushrooms grilled to a smoky tenderness.
Address: 5 Soon Lee Street, Pioneer Point, Singapore 627607
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 11am to 7pm
Tel: 9270 0770
4. Mr Chicken Rice
Image credit: @jxuann_
Mr Chicken Rice is started by an ex-Mandarin Orchard hotel chef who knows all the secrets behind a plate of Chatterbox’s delicious chicken rice. While Mr Chicken Rice is not a hawker stall per se, its simple and frills-free eatery at Downtown East offers prices as low as a hawker stall’s. Compared to Chatterbox’s chicken rice set that costs $27++, the Signature Tofu Set ($5.90) at Mr Chicken Rice gives you a bang for your buck. It comes with a plate of fragrant chicken rice, deep-fried tofu with sweet Thai chilli, cabbage soup and silky smooth steamed Hainanese chicken breast. Do note that an additional $0.50 will be charged if you want to upgrade the chicken breast to thigh meat.
Address: 1 Pasir Ris Close, #02-120, E!Hub @ Downtown East, Singapore 519599
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 9pm
Tel: 6582 1302
5. Meet 4 Meat
Wooloomooloo Steakhouse at Swissotel The Stamford is famous for being one of the best steak restaurants in Singapore, but it is not the most wallet-friendly place for me to satisfy my cravings. Former Wooloomooloo chef, Jimmy Teo, co-owns Meet 4 Meat at Katong and serves up quality grilled steaks sans the hefty price tag. Their 100% Aussie Ribeye ($16) is poached with butter and grilled to your favoured doneness; the meat comes with the fragrance of rosemary and thyme, and boasts a meaty, juicy tenderness. For those who cannot survive a carb-less meal, Jimmy’s Carbonara ($9) comes with either fettuccine or cheese ravioli. We opted for the latter and were blown away by the pockets of ricotta and parmesan cheese coated in creamy gravy.
Address: 228 East Coast Road, Brunners Coffeeshop, Singapore 428925
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:30am to 9:30pm, Sat-Sun 8:30am to 9:30pm
Tel: 8290 3605
Hotel-worthy food need not be expensive
With these five hawker stalls serving up quality dishes at low prices, you need not worry about over-ordering and bursting your budget. If you know of other hawker stalls owned by former hotel chefs, do drop us a comment!