What are your favourite hawker dishes? Many friends who come over to Singapore always ask for top recommendations. To my foreign friends reading this, hawker food is a must-try in Singapore! Many argue that our country is the most expensive city in the world, but these are some of my favourite dishes you can easily get for under $5:
- Chicken Rice
Seriously. Nothing beats a good plate of Chicken Rice. A must-try if you’re in SG!
Barometers: Tender, juicy chicken flesh; fragrant rice (a glorious balance of chicken, garlic, shallots); soup that’s slightly sweet from vegetables and chicken stock; chilli. I don’t take this, but to many Singaporeans, it makes or breaks the dish; ginger sauce – I like the one that Tong Fong Fatt has because it’s mixed with chicken oil. Very tasty.
Choice cuts: chicken thigh ftw!
Hawker of choice: Tong Fong Fatt @ Ghim Moh Hawker Centre
- Duck Rice
Another poultry + rice dish, but super different from Chicken Rice, for the clueless.
Barometers: Tender, juicy duck flesh (many places tend to overcook it, making it dry); the gravy – has to be thick, herbal, infused with the taste of duck but not overwhelmingly so; rice – some serve white rice, some yam rice, I love rice that has been cooked in the braising sauce. Soup should be herbal and slightly sweet.
Choice cuts: I don’t really subscribe to one.
Hawker of choice: Soon Kee Boneless Lor Duck Rice (used to be at Longhouse, moved to Jalan Besar, current status… unknown :c)
- Economic Rice
This you can get anywhere! I love it because you can have a taste of anything and everything. The best solution for someone as fickle as I am.
Barometers: Variety of food, how well each dish is cooked
Choice dishes: steamed egg (usually has minced pork in it), stir-fried long beans / eggplants, sweet & sour chicken, fried bitter-gourd if I’m in the mood for it. My barometer for a well-cooked bitter-gourd dish is that they’ve cooked the bitterness out of it!
Hawker of choice: most hawker centres have this right.
- Pig Organ Soup
This isn’t a dish for everyone, but one I really enjoy because of the balance of taste if done right – porky, sour, savoury goodness in a bowl.
Barometers: Balance of flavours – they’re all very strong.
Choice cuts: tummy meat, stomach, intestines (no liver for me!)
Hawker of choice: not exactly a hawker but Cheng Mun Chee Kee, at Foch Road.
- Bak Chor Mee
Again, if done right, this dish should be wonderful balance of flavours with ingredients that make consuming it slightly more exciting 😉
Barometers: texture of noodles, wetness of noodles, quality of meatballs used, balance of vinegar (some don’t have this at all, some are too heavy handed on the vinegar)… and if they have a fried wonton in it or not.
Hawker of choice: Meng Kitchen at Upper Thomson Road
If you love hawker fare as much as I do, Tiger Beer has taken on the mantle of ensuring our street food remains vibrant and authentic for generations to come with a series of videos that bring to life the stories behind Singapore’s iconic street food and the hard work that goes into sustaining this integral part of our culture.
To jolt Singaporeans into realising the importance of preserving our street food culture, Tiger Beer has produced three short films, featuring three of our very own hawker stalwarts. Released earlier in April, the films aim to remind Singaporeans that Singapore may one day lose its rich hawker heritage if the next generation of hawkers do not step up to continue the trade. The behind-the-scenes look at their lives, not only elaborates hawker fare, but also immediately raises awareness to the issue of succession.
From an ad perspective, I’ve taken a liking to these “ads” (read: I don’t mind watching their pre-rolls) because it’s really rare we find a brand that’s willing to tell these authentic stories – they’re real, they show us the struggle between generations, and the sheer amount of effort that goes into making a dish the old-fashioned way instead of relying on mass production — only to sell it at a fraction of the price you get at more atas cafes / restaurants.
Check them out –
- Hokkien Mee
- Char Kway Teow
Psst – to help Singaporean hawkers who are striving to keep their craft alive and thrive in our evolving society, Tiger Beer will invest 20 cents for every 6-can pack (6 x 323ml) purchase to its street food movement from 1st April to 31st May 2016. The 6-can take-home packs will retail at all leading supermarkets and hypermarkets, whilst stocks last.