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Guide: Street food in Singapore

Singaporeans are passionate about their street food. Everyone has an opinion on which food stall in which hawker centre makes the best laksa, the best prawn noodles, the best chicken rice. They may even break it down into each component of a dish - who has the best rice, who has the best chicken, and who has the best chilli sauce. There is a lot of love for food that costs on average $3 to $5 a plate. For the two years that I lived in Singapore, I loved roaming the island trying out new dishes in remote hawker centres. I always look forward to trips back to the island to revisit my favourite places, but I don't usually have time on short trips to travel to remote hawker centres. So here are the must try street food dishes and my guide to where you can find the best of them in central Singapore.

Chicken Rice

You can’t visit Singapore without trying its national dish, chicken rice. It sounds simple; poached chicken served with rice cooked in chicken fat. But the result is beautifully fragrant and flavourful. The cherry on top is zingy, gingery chilli sauce that cuts through the richness and adds layers of spicy heat to the dish. The most famous chicken rice on the island is from Tian Tian in Maxwell Food Centre.
View full details and photos in guide

Laksa Noodle Soup

The ultimate comfort food. Laksa is a spicy coconut-based soup with rice noodles and seafood. There are two main types of laksa in Singapore; Nonya with long noodles and Katong with noodles cut into smaller pieces. The Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa serves a very tasty Nonya laksa. If you have time and want to try Katong laksa, 328 Katong on East Coast Road is famous for this dish.
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Sambal Stingray

If you love spicy food, you’ll love sambal stingray. Sambal is a serious chilli sauce made with garlic, lime and shrimp paste, which gives it umami by the bucket load. The stingray is covered in sambal, then wrapped in banana leaf and grilled over charcoal. Absolutely delicious and perfect with a beer! You can try sambal stingray at Boon Tat Street BBQ Seafood in the historic Lau Pa Sat.
View full details and photos in guide

Prawn Noodle Soup

Noodles in an intense, bisque-like soup made from prawn shells, pork bone, and occasionally crab. Accompaniments can include whole prawns, pork ribs and crackling. Adam Rd Prawn Mee in Zion Riverside food centre offers jumbo prawns the size of your hands! Ask for the “dry” version, which means the noodles are tossed in chilli oil and served on the side of the delicious soup.
View full details and photos in guide

Pork Rib Soup

The local name for this dish “Bak kut teh” translates to meat bone tea. Pork ribs are simmered in a herbal broth until the meat is almost falling off the bone. The dish is traditionally served with Chinese tea, hence the name. Ng Ah Sio has been serving this dish since the 50s and has a few stalls around the island, including in the Marina Bay Sands food court, great for a hearty meal after shopping.
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Carrot Cake

Carrot cake isn’t really what it sounds like - it’s not made of carrots and it’s not sweet. Shredded daikon is mixed with starch and steamed to form a “cake”, which is then chopped into little pieces and stir fried with eggs. Lau Goh Teochew Chye Thow Kway in Zion Riverside food centre serves a “ying yang” version of the dish. White carrot cake with sweet dark soy sauce.
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BBQ Satay

Every country in the world has their own variation on BBQ. In South East Asian countries Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, it’s satay. Pieces of chicken, beef or lamb on a skewer, grilled over charcoal, and served with a spicy peanut sauce. Perfect food to pair with a jug of Tiger beer. You can try satay at one of the many stalls that take over Boon Tat Street after 5pm next to the historic Lau Pa Sat.
View full details and photos in guide

Char Kway Teow

Not a dish if you’re on a diet. Flat rice noodles stir fried in pork lard with Chinese sausage, cockles and egg. The key to a good char kway teow is “wok hei”, the wok’s essence imparted onto the dish to give it a smoky flavour. Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee in Hong Lim food centre and No:18 Fried Kway Teow in Zion Riverside food centre have both mastered this.

View more street food in our Singapore guide

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