Tips from the expert.
Recently we had the chance to pose some questions to Singapore’s most famous critic of hawker food – KF Seetoh of the Makansutra guide. Instead of asking where to get the spiciest chili crab or the most savoury char kway teow, we kept it simple and asked just one question:
If you had just one day to experience the best of Singapore’s hawker food, where would you go and what would you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Between the yearly guidebook, official website, TV appearances and Makansutra Gluttons Bay hawker centre KF Seetoh is a pretty busy guy, but he took the time to answer my question. The picks are all his but the descriptions that follow are mine.
Breakfast: kway chap at Serangoon Garden Food Centre
Pig intestines may not spring to mind as breakfast food, but this soup of Teowchew Chinese origins is a local favourite. The dish actually contains a lot more than just offal and you’ll find rice noodles, tofu, hard-boiled egg, and salted veggies mixed into the soya sauce-based broth. If you can work up the guts (pun intended) to try it you may be pleasantly surprised at the silky smooth texture. The “Garden Street Kway Chap” stall at Serangoon Garden Food Centre is considered one of the best and worth the trip out to northeast Singapore.
Lunch: Hainanese beef kway teow at Maude Road Ye Coffeeshop, Toa Payoh
Humble noodles are elevated to a “die die must try!” dish with the addition of robust beef, thick gravy, and a dash of homemade shrimp-chili sauce from the “Hwa Heng Beef Noodle” stall. KF Seetoh recommends the dry version, but the beef noodles are also available as soup and you can pay a more to add more meat in the form of beef balls or tendons. This hawker dish must be enjoyed for lunch because they usually sell out by 15:00.
Dinner: cze cha at Siang Hee Restaurant, Zion Road
Cze cha (also spelled zhi char) isn’t one dish but a style of cooking that literally means “cook and fry”. Cze char restaurants have a casual, open-air ambiance and serve big portions of home-style Chinese food meant to be shared. Highlights from KF Seetoh's favourite cze cha joint are battered prawns in pumpkin cream, homemade tofu, and sinfully fatty deep-fried pork knuckle with chili sauce. The restaurant is open 11:00–22:30 and dishes cost around S$10 with some exceptions for the seafood.
For more food reviews and recommendations check out the new Makansutra iPhone app – completely free and with maps to lead you right to Singapore’s best hawker food.
Tanya Procyshyn is a freelance writer and photographer. With a passion for unusual destinations, she has camped alongside Komodo dragons and shook hands with soldiers in North Korea.
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