Hawker Food off the Beaten Path

As we charge headlong into the season of excess, a season mainly focussed on western food culture; turkey with all the trimmings, fresh seafood, Brussels sprouts, Christmas pudding with brandy cream and more, I thought you may like to see some good alternatives for the meals in between. It’s also a time when many of us have visitors from overseas, keen to explore the fabulous food culture in Singapore. So here are a few of my favourite types of hawker food that are off the beaten path and that offer visitors and locals great food options over the festive season.

Chicken Chop with Curry Noodles at Hong Lim Market & Food Centre

A recent discovery that was perfectly timed for our rainy season where one is more partial to a bit of comforting hawker food. Having lived in Singapore for over three years now I still feel great excitement when I find food options that have existed forever unbeknownst to me. Hong Lim can be found just behind the Parkroyal on Pickering Hotel, right in the middle of town and yet hidden in the shadows of its neighbour. My visit found me wandering around a maze of stalls, many of which had snaking queues, making it difficult to decide which stall to choose. As I spotted a guy walk past with a plate of noodles and crispy chicken I knew that was what I needed to find. A queue of patient customers that led around two corners eventually revealed the prize. The Cantonese Delights stall offer a range of dishes, I went for the Chicken Chop with Curry Noodles and will be going back for more. The freshly fried chicken, although very naughty, was crispy and lightly fragrant, making it completely irresistible. The combination of the laksa flavoured curry noodles make it a comforting and wonderfully flavoursome dish.

My friend went for the Char Siew Pork with noodles and veg, it was also a great dish, with succulent pork and the right amount of sticky sweet marinade. But the chicken won it for me. At $4 this is one of the best hawker meals I’ve had this year.
Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
Upper Hokkien Street (directly behind Parkroyal on Pickering, alternatively enter from 521 Upper Cross Street)
Cantonese Delights #02-03 (back left corner from Upper Hokkien Street)

Braised Pork Belly at Bukit Merah Lane 1

I’ve written before about Immanuel Kitchen and I’ve visited here several times. Not only do I love the unique concept of a French hawker stall, but I’m a fan of the chef, Immanuel, who has created a unique and quality offering in an unusual location. Bukit Merah Lane 1 has a whole array of hawker stalls, but block 119 stands out for the unique mix of French, British (fish and chips) and German (beer) stalls that inhabit the small block. My recommendation was recently featured in Flipit and you can also read a full review here. The food is very well priced for French cuisine but its is a notch above usual hawker food pricing.
Bukit Merah Lane 1
Block 119, #01-40, Singapore
phone +65 9297 3285
Immanuel French Kitchen (open for lunch and dinner)

Fish Soup at Zion Riverside Food Centre

With the temporary closure of Amoy Street Food Centre for renovations I’ve been on a mission to find a new fish soup venue. On my first visit to Riverside I immediately noticed the long line at Fresh Food Corner. The stall serves a range of soups and I immediately joined to see if the fish soup could rival Han Kee at Amoy Street. I was pleasantly surprised to find a very comparable dish, perhaps a teeny bit smaller than the bowl at Han Kee, but great value with lovely fresh fish and herbal soup, all for less than $4. Another good stall is the wonton soup stall. I don’t recall the stall number but when you enter from Zion Road, walk straight towards the end of the centre and it’s on the right hand side. There’s usually a queue 😉 .
Zion Riverside Food Centre
70 Zion Road, Singapore, 247792
Fresh Food Corner

Nasi Lemak at Adam Road

Although not particularly off the beaten path Adam Road is a little out of the way and the Nasi Lemak warrants a mention on this list. The Nasi Lemak from Selera Rasa has an almost universally good reputation. I was a virgin eater of Nasi Lemak when I tried the Selera Rasa version and it was certainly a good introduction. I was late on my first visit so instead of the fish option I went for chicken. I do like the portion arrangement of a Nasi Lemak, nice little stacks of different foods that you can then take and mix as you please. The inclusions at Selera Rasa are fried chicken (fish or otak are also served), served with rice that’s been soaked in coconut cream and then cooked, crispy fried anchovies, peanuts, sambal, cucumber and an egg. If you’re into fried chicken you would definitely like it. The crispy anchovies are the highlight for me. $5 will buy you a decent serve of Nasi Lemak.
Adam Road Food Centre
2 Adam Road, #01-01, 289876 (closed Monday lunch)
Selera Rasa

Bak Chor Mee at Hill Street

Hill Street is a small hawker stall in a row of only about half a dozen other similar hawker food stalls. The shop is legendary for its Bak Chor Mee, a uniquely Singaporean dish of minced pork, noodles, crispy pork scratchings, pork balls and crispy anchovies in a dry or wet broth. The combination is very rich, very comforting mouthfuls that will leave you feeling full and satisfied (and possibly in need of a gym session). The first time I tried this dish was one of the first moments when I realised my “I don’t eat pork” mantra wasn’t going to work in Singapore. When it’s so damn tasty it’s hard to resist 😉 and the additions of thick noodles, crispy anchovies and a rich broth make it perfect hawker food for the rainy season. Be warned though, queues at Tai Hwa Pork Noodle can be prohibitive, either get there before 11am or don’t bother. This one is so good that I listed it as my favourite for Hotel Club on their Secret Singapore Foodie Edition (click this link to see).
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
466 Crawford Lane, #01-02, Singapore, 190466 (closed first Monday of every month)
Between Lavender and Bugis MRT stations

Where have you had hawker food off the beaten path in Singapore? Share your finds below! 

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