Old-time hawker stalls with sedap food
From the high-tech Yishun Park Hawker Centre to new-generation hawkers dishing up IG-worthy hawker desserts, Singapore’s food landscape is constantly changing. And while I am grateful for our dynamic dining scene and having all these kicky new places to eat at, I still prefer patronising hawkers my parents and grandparents grew up with at the end of the day. Places that are soaked in history and have never faltered in dishing out gastronomic delights from the beginning. If you’re just as sentimental towards food as I am, then visit these old-time hawker stalls dating back to long before Singapore became independent.
1. Beach Road Scissor Cut Rice
Why does Beach Road Scissor Cut Rice use scissors and not a cleaver to chop their meat? Well, some say it is because there were many gang fights in the past, and their chopper kept being snatched away to be used as a weapon. The other version is not as exciting: it’s to keep up with the snaking lines, as cutting with a scissors was much more efficient. Believe what you want, but we can all agree that this messy, gooey rice is totally delicious. Top sides to order are braised pork, chap chye and pork cutlet, and a plate piled high with these three ingredients will only cost you $3.40.
Check out our full review of Beach Road Scissor Cut Curry Rice!
Address: 229 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208905
Opening hours: Daily 11am to 3:30am
Tel: 9826 1464
2. An Ji
Image credit: @haaoyi
Pushing out Cantonese favourites like hor fun and sang meen to the good people of Chinatown since 1950s, An Ji stays true to their menu from yesteryear, with the addition of a few new zi char dishes. They are best known for their crispy beef noodles ($4) featuring a heap of tender slices of beef.
Address: 335 Smith Street, #02-193/194, Chinatown Food Centre, Singapore 050335
Opening hours: Thur-Tue 10:30am to 2:30pm, 4:30pm to 10:30pm
Tel: 8307 8162
3. Tong Ah Eating House
Image credit: @yingpimt
Serving up kaya toast since 1939, Tong Ah used to be located at the junction of Teck Lim Road and Keong Siak Road, where Potato Head Folk now resides. Although they’ve moved to another unit further down on Keong Siak Road, you can rest assured the taste remains the same. Be sure to request for their signature crispy kaya toast ($4.90 with soft boiled eggs and a hot drink). Ah Wee, the owner, will toast the bread three times, scraping off the charred bits while he’s at it, to obtain a biscuity texture.
Address: 35 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089142
Opening hours: Daily 7am to 10pm
Tel: 6223 5083
4. Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow
Image credit: @cherling71
One bite of Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow and you can understand how they’ve managed to withstand the test of time. Founded by Tan Chin Sia in 1921, Mr Tan used to ply his traditional Teochew beef noodles along Hock Lam Street, where Funan Centre now stands. The recipe was eventually passed down to his sons, Anthony and Francis, who went on opening their own stores at Far East Square and Purvis Street respectively. At Francis’, order the Supreme Mix ($9.50/$10.50) which boasts a strong herby soup that brings comfort on a rainy day. Anthony is said to have created the dry version ($9.50), which features a thick gravy that goes well with the silky bee hoon and succulent pieces of hand-sliced beef.
Authentic Hock Lam Street Popular Beef Kway Teow (Francis’)
Address: 6 North Canal Road, Singapore
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 11am to 8:30pm, Sat 11am to 4pm
Tel: 6535 0084
Hock Lan Beef Kway Teow (Anthony’s)
Address: 2460 Alexandra Road, #02-24, Alexandra Retail Centre, Singapore 119963
Opening hours: Daily 10am to 9pm
Tel: 6272 9945
5. Warung Nasi Pariaman
Image credit: @madam_key
Founded by Mr Isrin in 1948, Warong Nasi Pariaman has been situated at the same spot, on a corner of Kandahar Street since its inauguration. The business is now being managed by his children, who have steadfastly kept to the original recipe and consistency in taste. Signature dishes include their Ayam Bakar ($5.50), where barbecued chicken sits in a pool of ambrosial coconut-milk gravy, as well as their succulent Beef Rendang ($3.50).
Discover more old-school nasi padang stores in Singapore.
Address: 738 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198706
Opening hours: Daily 10am to 8pm
Tel: 6292 2374
6. Ye Lai Xiang Hot & Cold Cheng Tng
Image credit: @tamkokseng
Founded in 1939, Ye Lai Xiang Hot & Cold Cheng Tng used to sell their famous Cheng Tng (from $2) and cuttlefish kangkong along the beach. Today, the stall is based in Bedok Corner Food Market and is widely patronised by army boys from Bedok Camp. From drying up the logans themselves to double-boiling the sago, the preparation to make this refreshing dessert soup is a painstaking task which takes days. A lesser-known fact: The cuttlefish stall next door is owned by the grandson of the founder!
Address: 1 Bedok Road, Stall #31, Bedok Corner Food Centre, Singapore 469572
Opening hours: Daily 12pm to 8pm
7. Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant
Image credit: Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant’s Facebook page
For over 10 decades, Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant has been dishing out murtabak and sumptuous Indian dishes to hungry Singaporeans. The oldest hawker in Singapore, this household name has been situated at the same spot for 109 years! What makes their murtabak (from $6) so special is that it is whipped up differently, and features crispy fried minced meat on top, along with a crispy layer of pre-fried prata kosong as their base.
Address: 697-699 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198675
Opening hours: Daily 7am to 11pm
Tel: 6298 6320
8. Hainan Chicken Rice Ball
Surprise, surprise: Hainan Chicken Rice Ball is one of the oldest chicken rice stalls in Singapore, second to Yet Con. The rice balls were first peddled at Sungei Road’s Thieves Market in 1947 by the current owner’s mom, before they found a permanent home at Dickson Road. Order their Chicken Rice Set Meal ($5) for a satisfying meal. The generous set comes with two chicken rice balls, Hainanese steamed chicken, braised pork belly and tau pok soup.
Check out our full review of Hainan Chicken Rice Ball!
Address: 3 Dickson Road, Shin Boon Hwa Food Centre, Singapore 209530
Opening hours: Daily 8:30am to 9:30pm (closed on alternate Wednesdays)
Tel: 8314 0228
9. Rolina Curry Puffs
Image credit: @dracdemon
The story behind these golden morsels is a sweet one. In 1958, founder Uncle Tham started selling his buttery chicken curry puffs outside Novena Church. Before long, he saved up enough money to get a motorbike with a sidecar, moving his business to Serangoon Garden to work together with his girlfriend at that point in time. Together, they untiringly rolled out their Hainanese Traditional Curry Puffs ($1.40) and eventually, after nine years, saved up enough money to get married! Joining Rolina Curry Puff now is their son, Bren, who assures us that everything will continue to be made by hand even in the future.
Address: 49A Serangoon Garden Way, #01-33, Serangoon Garden Market & Food Centre, Singapore 555945
Opening hours: Daily 8am to 3pm
Website | Full list of outlets
10. Nam Seng Wanton Mee
Image credit: @_bluexblue_
Madam Leong has been hard at work at Nam Seng Wanton Mee ($5) since 1959. At 88 years-old, the lively grandma can still be found behind the counter every day, serving plates after plates of noodles to the CBD crowd. Her version is unlike the black sauce and ketchup wanton mee we are so accustomed to. Instead, they are the cleaner, more delicate Cantonese-style of noodles that are cooked in a savoury, light sauce. The thinly sliced char siew and dumplings are sub-standard, but the noodles – oh the noodles – are so abundantly delicious. They are springy, with no alkaline taste, and before I knew it I was asking for seconds. FYI I’m not a big fan of yellow noodles.
Address: 25 China Street, #01-01, Singapore 049567
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am to 7pm, Sat 8am to 2pm
Tel: 6438 5669
Heritage hawkers for a taste of yesteryear
From pushcarts to permanent stalls in hawker centres, these old-time hawker stalls have certainly come a long way. Uncover the stories behind Singapore’s hawkers including the people behind old-school bakery Dona Manis as well as second-generation duck rice stall Jin Ji.