Singapore's best street food

As the culinary meeting point of China, India and Malaysia, Singapore offers a wide-ranging food scene that is one of the most vibrant in Southeast Asia. And the city’s hawker centres and markets are some of the best places to dine out. Here is our guide to Singapore street food.
Rice noodles with seafood and chicken
Rice noodles with seafood and chicken. Photo: AS Food studio/Shutterstock
Hawker centres, markets, and street-side shacks are scattered all over Singapore. Scores of Malay, Chinese and Indian stalls offer a wide range of traditional fare at affordable prices. Whatever your taste, you're sure to find delicious and intriguing street food on offer...

Singapore signature dishes

Your culinary journey in Singapore will be incomplete if you don't try these mouthwatering signature dishes. The tastiest versions can usually be found in hawker centres.


Chilli crabs

Singaporeans will tell you this dish is best made with meaty Sri Lankan crabs. The thick, tangy and spicy sauce is mopped up with fried or steamed buns.


Singapore chili mud crab. Photo: hin255/ShutterstockSingapore chilli crab. Photo: Shutterstock


Fish-head curry

This speciality is mostly favoured by the Singaporean Indian community, although many Chinese eateries are also drawing crowds for their versions. Large heads of fish are stewed in a spicy sauce with vegetables such as aubergines and okra.


Fish head curry. Photo: bonhan/ShutterstockFish head curry. Photo: Bonham/ Shutterstock


Hainanese chicken rice

Chicken is poached in hot stock and then blanched in cold water to render it succulent and juicy. The chicken pieces are then served with rice that has been steamed with ginger, garlic and chicken stock, and vinegary chilli sauce.


Hainanese chicken rice. Photo: Piyato/ShutterstockHainanese chicken and rice. Photo: Shutterstock


Laksa

Rice noodles are bathed in coconut curry sauce that is spiced with herbs and laced with fish cake, cockles, prawns and bean sprouts. The much-loved Katong laksa can now be found at street food outlets all over the island.


Singapore curry laksa noodle. Photo: wong yu liang/ShutterstockSingapore laksa noodle. Photo: Shutterstock


 5. Sambal stingray

Thin slabs of stingray (skate) are grilled and served on a banana leaf with a rich layer of chilli jam (sambal) prepared with fresh chillies and garlic.


Sambal stingray. Photo: JPL Designs/ShutterstockSambal stingray. Photo: JPL Designs/ Shutterstock


Drinks and Desserts  

Teh halia (or ginger tea) is a staple of Indian drink vendors and a preferred choice over the standard lattes from Starbucks. Kopi tarik and teh tarik ('pulled coffee' and 'pulled tea'), which are poured from cup to pitcher and back again to ensure the ingredients are well mixed, are also hugely popular.

In hawker centres and food courts, try freshly squeezed fruit juice, cold soya bean milk or sugar-cane juice served with a wedge of lemon. Singapore's local beer is Tiger, a refreshing pilsner-style brew.

Local desserts to try include cendol, which is shaved ice and green jelly strips in coconut milk, and ice kacang (or ais kacang), shaved ice with red beans, jelly cubes, evaporated milk and coloured syrups.

Cendol. Photo: MAHATHIR MOHD YASIN/ShutterstockCendol. Photo: Mahathir Mohd Yasin/ Shutterstock


Singapore hawker centres

The hawker centre offers multi-ethnic Singaporean food at its best. Whether you choose a simple noodle dish or a three-course meal of barbecued fish, chilli prawns and stir-fried vegetables with rice, the cost is a fraction of what you would pay for a similar meal in a restaurant. Low prices aside, the experience is unique, and an integral part of the way of life in this food-crazy city.  

To order food at a hawker centre, if there’s a group of you, have one of your party sit at a table to reserve the seats. The others, having noted the table number, should order their food and tell the vendors where they are going to be sitting, unless the hawker stall is a self-service operation. If you are on your own or in a couple, you may well have to share a table with strangers if the hawker centre is crowded. 


 Street foods in Singapore. Photo: T.Dallas/ShutterstockSingapore street food. Photo: Shutterstock


1. Changi Village Food Centre

Where: Block 2 Changi Village Road
When: Daily 6am–late

It’s most famous for nasi lemak, a coconut-milk-based rice dish with fried chicken, ikan bilis (whitebait) and egg.


2. Chinatown Complex Food Centre

Where: 335 Smith Street, Chinatown Complex
When: Daily 7am–10pm

The stalls here offer a mind-boggling array of Chinese favourites, from wonton noodles to roast meats. The basement fresh-produce market offering live fish, poultry, flowers and all manner of Asian vegetables is also worth exploring. 


3. East Coast Lagoon Food Village

Where: 1220 East Coast Parkway
When: Daily 5pm–midnight (closed Mondays)

Where else can you have some of the best local food in a lovely Indonesian-style structure and just a stone’s throw from the sea? Specialities here include curry puffs, barbecued pork noodles and vermicelli with satay sauce.


Street food in Singapore. Photo: joyfull/Shutterstock Street food vendors. Photo: Shutterstock


4. Lau Pa Sat Festival Market

Where: Corner of Boon Tat Street and Robinson Road
When: Open 24 hours

This Victorian octagonal-shaped structure, was built in Glasgow and shipped to Singapore in 1894 to be reassembled near the waterfront. Formerly a fresh-produce market, it now houses around 60 food stalls selling a variety of hawker fare. 

Lau Pa Sat Festival Market. Photo: DoublePHOTO studio/Shutterstock Lau Pa Sat Festival Market. Photo: Shutterstock


5. Makansutra Gluttons Bay

Where: 01-15 Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue
When: Daily 5pm–late

The people behind Singapore’s hawker-food bible Makansutra have collected around a dozen top class hawker stalls together in this unbeatable waterfront location.


6. Newton Food Centre

Where: Newton Circus, 500 Clemenceau Avenue
When: Daily noon–2am

The prices at this bustling hawker centre are a little higher than at others, but it is still a great place to order barbecued seafood and Hokkien fried noodles.


7. Tekka Centre

Where: 665 Buffalo Road
When: Daily 6.30am–9pm

Stalls selling Malay, Chinese and Indian food draw sizeable crowds here for breakfast. Tekka also has a fresh produce market with an incredible array on offer. Upstairs are clothing, brassware and antiques shops. 


Ready to experience the culinary delights of Singapore street food?

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Updated 28 February, 2019