Hawker Centres are one of the best things Singapore has to offer to its visitors, and passing through the city without eating at one of them (or more) is as unthinkable as visiting Paris without dining in a "Bistro", or visiting Istanbul without having a Döner Kebab in a small bazaar stall...
These 'institutions' came to the world a few decades ago, when spanking clean Singapore decided to move its food hawkers from the streets and regulate them a bit… The concept here is fairly simple : A group of different food stalls under one roof, and with a common seating area, which works out great for a group, as each one can fetch his food from a different stall and share it with the others...
So... What are Singapore's best hawker centres ?
Chinatown Complex Food Centre on Smith Street (off New Bridge), a short walking distance from MRT-Chinatown, was renovated just a few years ago... Together with the street-side eateries on Smith Street (Which is commonly known as Chinatown's food street), it boasts an excellent selection of Chinese food-stalls and eateries.
Maxwell Road Food Centre is another extremely popular Hawker centre in Chinatown. Located along Maxwell Road, between URA building and South Bridge Street (a short walk from Tanjong Pagar, as well as from MRT-Chinatown). This centre is particularly famous for its wide choice of traditional snacks and finger foods (although there are more than a few 'serious dishes' to choose from).
Makansutra Gluttons Bay is an initiative of Makansutra, Singapore's most reputable publisher of street-food guidebooks, where the city's 12 most highly-rated hawkers have been given an exclusive space, just by the Esplanade Theatres (the "Durian") in Marina Bay. Open daily, 6 pm till 3 am
Lau pa sat Festival Market: Originally built in 1894 as a fish market, Telok Ayer Market (as it is better known) is one of the best and most popular Hawker/Food centres around this side of Chinatown.
The imposing cast-iron structure of the market was prefabbed in Glasgow, Scotland, more than a century ago and shipped to Singapore in pieces, before being erected on site.
Open daily: from 12 noon till the wee hours of the night. (Some stalls, like the Kopi-Tiams, are open from morning...)
During the evening, neighboring Boon Tat Street is closed to give way for an open air hawkers, who set their BBQ Satay stalls…
Chomp Chomp Food Centre has been around since 1972 and although it was renovated, it still maintains its old days charm… The food here is great, and so is the ambience, and you are likely to be one of the only tourists (although there are more than a few expats who come here for dinner…).
Golden Mile Food Centre on 505 Beach Road, near Arab Street and Kampong Glam (just a few steps away from Hajjah Fatimah Mosque), is where you can find many stalls that specialize in fabulous Muslim foods, both Malay and Indian, alongside a decent variety of other southeast Asian delicacies.
Tekka Centre: The relatively large complex of Tekka Centre houses a wet market, a food centre and some authentic shops.
The huge wet market, on the ground floor, specializes mainly in fresh seafood and vegetables, while the hawker centre boasts a good selection of vegetarian food stalls serving different Indian cuisines, as well as vegetarian Malay and Chinese delicacies.
In the shops, you can find a wide range of stuff, from Indian fashion and inexpensive casual clothes to Taoist and Buddhist paraphernalia, and from tailor shops to henna salons...
A great place to learn about Singapore's most recommended street-foods and Hawker-centres is the Singapore Hawker Centres Guide, which is a free PDF guide that you can view or download.
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