Chinatown food gems to curb your hunger pangs
Since young, a trip down to Chinatown would mean shopping for Chinese New Year goodies and decorations. However, with more and more food gems appearing in Chinatown, heading there for Chinese New Year shopping is no longer my only purpose. Here are some Chinatown food gems that are worth a visit the next time you’re in the area.
Steamov is one supper spot you can check out for its unique conveyor belt concept. Some of the soup bases offered include Tomato Pot, Herbal Duck Pot, and Sour Vegetable Fish Pot, and they set you back $5 each. Each skewer or clipped item is priced at $1, whereas bites on sticks with a flat end are priced at $3. Also, meat lovers would be elated to know that there are Beef Rolls ($10) and Pork Bellies ($8) available. To enjoy your hot pot session even more, pair your food with some of your own sauce concoctions at the sauce counter.
Check out our Steamov review!
Address: 325 New Bridge Road, Singapore 088760
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 6am
Tel: 9380 3883
2. DM Chicken
Over at DM Chicken, a 100cm DM Chicken + DM Prawn ($110+) platter awaits! Their platters come in 50cm and 75cm as well to accommodate smaller groups. Other than chicken, which is tossed in a savoury brown sauce, and spicy prawns, the platter also comes with a basket of Korean fried chicken and fries, two sets of lamb chops, a plate of squid ink balls, and a bowl of fruit salad. As an alternative, customers can also go for their a la carte Hotpot and BBQ buffet ($23.90+ for lunch, $28.90+ for dinner).
Check out our DM Chicken review!
Address: 191B New Bridge Road, Singapore 059423
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am to 12am
Tel: 6909 2758
3. Kok Sen Restaurant
Kok Sen Restaurant is known to have many signature dishes such as Big Prawns Bee Hoon Soup ($18), Big Prawns Horfun ($18), and Kung Pao Frogs Stir-Fried With Dried Chilli ($22). Out of these few listed, the one dish that really captured my heart was the bee hoon. Its orange-red broth holds a strong prawn flavour while bearing some spicy notes, which is what makes it addictive and fragrant. This dish comes with thick bee hoon, chye sim, and of course, big prawns. Another must-try here is the hor fun, which is brimming with silky rice noodles soaked in a wok hei-filled gravy.
Check out our Kok Sen Restaurant review!
Address: 30 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089137
Opening hours: Daily 12pm to 2.15pm, 5pm to 10pm
Tel: 6223 2005
Fans of cream puffs, this one is for you! Kazo has a variety of items on their menu, including cheese tarts, cream puffs, and Danish polo bun ice-cream sandwich. One of their best-selling puffs is the Golden Lava Danish Polo ($3)—a flaky and soft croissant containing oozy salted egg custard. If not, try snacking on their Dacquoise ($2.80), which comes in various flavours like Sea Salt Caramel, Oreo, and Melon among others or indulge in their signature cakes like Lemon Cheese Cake ($5.50 for a slice).
Check out our Kazo review!
Address: 531 Upper Cross Street, #02-57A, Hong Lim Complex, Singapore 059413
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 7:15pm
Tel: 6970 4900
5. Yum Cha
Indulge in dim sum with Yum Cha’s Weekday High Tea Dim Sum Buffet ($26.80++), which is available from 3pm to 6pm. The buffet offers over 50 types of dim sum dishes, enough for you to skip a meal for. You can expect classics such as Steamed Custard Bun With Salted Egg Yolk, Xiao Long Bao, Baked Mini Egg Tarts, and more! A little more to the special side would be their Squid Ink Dumpling and Truffle Mushroom Bun, which might really pique the interest of some.
Check out our Yum Cha review!
Address: 20 Trengganu Street, #02-01, Singapore 058479
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 11am to 9pm, Sat-Sun 9am to 9pm
Tel: 6372 1717
6. Hao Lai Wu
Hao Lai Wu is what helps you get the best of both worlds—steamboat and BBQ. Their Steamboat And BBQ Buffet costs $19.80+ for weekday lunch, while dinner goes at $24.80+. On weekends, it’s $25.80+ for the entire day. Besides sliced meat, fresh seafood, and frozen food, you can also expect cooked food at Hao Lai Wu! Dishes they serve include mantou and pork dumplings.
Check out ou Hao Lai Wu review!
Address: 8 Sago Street, Singapore 059012
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 3am
Tel: 6221 0065
7. Tang Kay Kee Fish Head Bee Hoon
Image credit: @tangkaykee
Coming up with a new concept, hawker stall Tang Kay Kee serves up affordable lunch bowls! The Mixed ($6), which consists of stir-fried hor fun, pork slices, fish slices, vegetables, battered enoki mushrooms, and sous-vide egg, is known to carry a strong wok hei. Another all-time-favourite is their Deep Fried Chicken With Prawn Paste ($12 for eight pieces). Unlike the usual har cheong gai that uses chicken wings, the ones at Tang Kay Kee come boneless and are served with their house-made mustard mayonnaise, which adds a sharp tangy note to the overall flavour.
Check out more good eats at Hong Lim Food Centre!
Address: 531A Upper Cross Street, #01-70, Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, Singapore 051531
Opening hours: Mon 11am to 2.30pm, Tue-Fri 11am to 2.30pm, 5pm to 10pm, Sat-Sun 5pm to 10pm
Tel: 8157 2641
8. Ri Ri Hong Ma La Xiang Guo
When asked about their favourite ma la stall, the most common answer I get from my friends is Ri Ri Hong Ma La Xiang Guo. Instead of charging by weight, they price your ma la based on the type of ingredients you pick. Vegetables, meat, and seafood set you back $1, $2, and $3 respectively. After picking your level of spiciness and ingredients, you can then tell the stall owners if you want your ma la soaked in sauce or stir-fried till dry.
Check out our Ri Ri Hong Ma La Xiang Guo review!
Address: 32 New Market Road, #01-152, People’s Park Food Centre, Singapore 050032
Opening hours: Daily 10am to 9.30pm
9. China Street Rickshaw Noodles
If you are ever on a tight budget, China Street Rickshaw Noodles is the place for you! With just $1 in your pocket, you can get yourself a bowl of noodles out of the variety they offer – la che mian, mee sua, economy noodles, and bee hoon. While the last three names are pretty direct, la che mian is actually a dish that comprises thick yellow noodles and a broth made up of ikan bilis, and topped with a dash of fried onions to enhance the dish’s flavour.
Check out our China Street Rickshaw Noodles review!
Address: 1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-87, Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore 069184
Opening hours: Sat-Thurs 5:30am to 12pm
10. Tong Heng
Image credit: @_whatsuppunk
If you are a huge egg tart lover, you would have definitely heard of the famous Tong Heng Egg Tarts ($2/piece). What sets their egg tarts apart from the others is the use of pork lard, which makes the crust extra flaky. The egg in the middle is delicate and wobbly, and it droops out of the diamond-shaped flaky crust once the egg tart is bitten into half.
Address: 285 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058833
Opening hours: Sun-Thurs 9am to 7pm, Fri-Sat 9am to 8pm
Tel: 6223 3649
11. Heng Kee Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee
Tucked away in Hong Lim Food Centre, Heng Kee Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee has a three-generation old family recipe that’s been constantly refined until today, resulting in a loyal customer base that keeps coming back for more.
Their Curry Chicken Noodle ($5.50) is good comfort food, with their tasty broth accompanied by large pieces of chicken breast making for a hearty combination. For those craving a larger portion, their $8 version has a bigger serving, together with the option to choose your favourite chicken parts too.
Read our Heng Kee Curry Chicken review!
Address: 531A Upper Cross Street, #01-58, Hong Lim Food Centre, Singapore 510531
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10:30am to 2:30pm
12. Dong Fang Hong Sotong Ball Seafood Soup
Few fishball noodle stalls make their fish balls from scratch, unlike Dong Fang Hong Sotong Ball Seafood Soup in Hong Lim Food Centre. Despite having only a single item on their menu, they’ve steadily become a perennial favourite in the area, populated mostly by office workers.
The Large Sotong Ball Seafood Soup ($7) comes packed with ingredients like their handmade fish, meat, and sotong balls, with fish dumplings too, making for a scrumptious affair.
Check out our Dong Fang Hong Sotong Ball Seafood Soup review!
Do note that their opening hours are unpredictable.
Address: Blk 531A Upper Cross Street, #01-47, Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, Singapore 051531
Opening hours: Mon-Tue 11am to 2pm
Heavily influenced by French cooking methods, Fatbowls is a casual lunchtime concept focusing on whipping up fusion pastas, rice bowls, and loaded mashed potatoes among others.
We recommend the Supreme Wagyu Rice ($14.40), in which they showcase a house-made special butter pilaf rice. Apart from their succulent wagyu beef, the bowl comes decked with forest mushrooms, leek, an onsen egg, edamame beans, pickled radish with tobiko, and deep-fried potato strings too, all in one fat bowl.
Have a look at our Fatbowls review!
Address: 23 Bukit Pasoh Road, Restaurant Beurre, Singapore 089837
Opening hours: Mon 5pm to 9.30pm, Tues-Sat 12pm to 8.30pm
Tel: 9660 0597
14. Mian Zhuang
With a modern twist on a local hawker favourite in ban mian, Mian Zhuang is run by a young couple who gave up their corporate lives to preserve their extended family’s handmade noodles recipe and its legacy.
Seafood lovers will enjoy the Abalone Hand Made Noodle Soup ($13), with generous ingredients like abalone, fish maw, prawns, and their house-made meatballs to go along with. If not, opt for a spicier favourite like their Hand Made Ban Mian (Dry) With Prawns ($5) if it’s up your alley too.
Read our full Mian Zhuang review!
Address: 531A Upper Cross Street, #01-51, Hong Lim Food Centre, Singapore 051531
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9am to 3pm
Tel: 8488 7898
15. Heng Ji Chicken Rice
Amidst the whole discussion on the best chicken rice in Singapore, therein lies a hidden gem in Heng Ji Chicken Rice, located at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. This unassuming stall has been in operation for about 40 years and has attracted a steady stream of customers over time. One plate of their fragrant steamed chicken rice goes for a very reasonable $2.50. If you have a larger appetite, go for their Half Chicken ($10) to fill you up nicely.
Do check out our entire Heng Ji Chicken Rice review.
Address: 335 Smith Street, #02-131, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, Singapore 050335
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 3pm to 9pm
Tel: 6327 1654
Chinatown food for the win
Besides Clarke Quay, Chinatown is another stop along the NEL that offers awesome food. For more food places within Chinatown, check out our list of Chinatown Complex food stalls!
This article was originally written on 11 May 2018.