Hawker Hits

Hawker Hits

In a land full of glorious hawker nosh, it's hard to find the best of them. This is a list of my best finds.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

Traditional Joo Chiat Prawn Mee certainly isn’t as famous as its prawn mee competition further down the road, but it’s still a solid bowl of prawn noodles. Also, I can’t attest to how traditional it is, but I can vouch for it being a piquant prawn mee.⠀

Some things are best kept separate, noodles and prawn soup being a prime example of this. The noodles are poached perfectly, and tossed in a sapid sauce mix of violent chili, ketchup, soy sauce, and of course, the prawn soup. The prawn soup itself is a loud, flashy prawn star with its vivid reddish-brown hue. That hue is attained from frying the prawn heads and then boiling it all down, which produces a briny, deeply savoury stock that extracts all the umami goodness out of the prawn head. It might be a tad overpowering for some, but I absolutely love it.⠀

At six bucks for the largest portion, you get the stellar soup, noodles, de-shelled shrimp, sliced lean pork, pork ribs and a smattering of deep fried crispy shallots. While the portions and pricing are alluring, the main attraction is all the add ons they offer. You can choose from extra prawns, pork ribs, pig intestines, and even razor clams at the low, low price of two bucks each. That’s right, you can add more stuff onto this luscious bowl of prawn noods and still pay only ten bucks! On the day I went, they were only left with prawns, so I got more prawns and more satisfaction for two dollars.⠀

Traditional Joo Chiat Prawn Mee is yet another reason in the lengthy list of reasons why Singapore’s hawker culture is undefeated. Go early, ‘cause this prawn mee merchant closes shop by one thirty in the afternoon.

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Thanks to @rainraineeataway & @the_xw, I discovered @finerykitchen, yet another new-generation hawker stall selling Western food, and most excitingly of all, paella. Normally only found in European or Spanish restaurants, now you get to enjoy an individual serving of seafood paella for ten bucks flat in a coffeeshop.

As if the bargain price wasn’t enticing enough, the flavours are stellar. Sure, the solitary shrimp is slightly past its freshest, but its still quite acceptable. The grilled fish fillet, on the other hand, was positively divine. It’s herbed & seasoned spectacularly, and grilled flawlessly. The marvellously moist & firm fillet is topped with a creamy, herby & tangy sauce that just amplifies its lusciousness. The grilled squid were fantastically fresh and stunningly savoury, and these bouncy squid bits were an absolute pleasure to eat.⠀

I think that this might just be the first time where I’m complaining about having more seafood than carbs. That’s right, the piquant paella was supremely sapid, having absorbed the essence of the tomato-y seafood stock that it was simmered in. The rice is texturally great, albeit done a bit past al dente. However, the flavours are decidedly outstanding, and there simply isn’t quite enough of this exquisite rice to satisfy my need for heavenly flavours.⠀

Still, a paella this fab for ten bucks is an absolute steal of a deal. Finery Kitchen serves up some of the finest fare you’ll find round town, and you don’t even have to get into your Sunday finest to enjoy their fantastic food.

The last time I sampled @mincedpork.bros bak chor mee, I was suitably impressed by the fantastic flavours of the Teochew Modern Pork Noodles, but was distinctly unimpressed by the puny portion. However, I am very pleased to announce that Minced Pork Bros take feedback seriously, and they upped their portion size to a truly respectable level.⠀

That’s right, this six dollar bowl of noodles now comes in super satisfying size, while retaining the same levels of sapidity that first won me over. The vivaciously vinegary sauce flavoured everything in the bowl, from the al dente meepok (thin flat noodles), to the minced pork, to the abalone. Tack on some crunchy lard cubes to this bad boy, and we’ve got a winner.⠀

Even though prices and inflation are going through the bloody roof, Minced Pork Bros have not cut quality or portion satisfaction. I respect that, bro. Respect.

While @original_botak_jones gumbo didn’t move me, their cyclopean Cajun Chicken Set ($8 before GST) proves that Botak Jones knows a thing or two about supremely satisfying sustenance. I regret not setting down my fork & knife next to the chicken chop for scale, because that was a gargantuan chicken fillet. Seriously, where do they find these behemoth birds? Grazing in a field next to a pharmaceutical factory?⠀

The larger the chicken, the more challenging it is to cook, but Botak Jones has cooked this colossal chicken with absolute aplomb. The internals are enticingly juicy while the externals sport a congenial char. The flavours are also well taken care of, as the cajun marinade has permeated every last fibre of chicken and transformed this piece of poultry into a spicy, savoury & sumptuous piece of protein. The spices used in the cajun seasoning produce a subtle but persistent itch in the back of your throat instead of on your tongue, almost like pepper instead of chili. Quite delightful, and definitely tolerable even by those with minimal spice tolerances.⠀

The spices are smoothed and snuffed out by the melted cheese carpeting the top of the chicken. The cheese was lovely, adding a creamy richness to the juicy & spicy chicken, adding just that much more fattiness & weight to complete a satisfying mouthfeel. The heap of coleslaw on the side ain’t bad either, with its tanginess cleaning your palate of the dominant cajun spices.⠀

At just under ten bucks, Botak Jones’ Cajun Chicken set is unrivalled pure protein bulking power at its best.

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Din Tai Fung style fried rice has dominated the fried rice hawker scene in recent years, and Chef Wang Fried Rice is yet another new entrant into the arena. As you might’ve guessed, the chef-owner is a former DTF chef, the egg fried rice is very distinctly DTF style, but there’s a twist here.⠀

Besides the standard egg fried rice, Chef Wang’s special is a lineup of sambal fried rice. While it may seem painfully pedestrian, Chef Wang’s rendition is rather redolent. At seven bucks flat for this plate of Sambal Shrimp Egg Fried Rice, you get a small-ish serving that’s big on flavour. The Japanese rice grains are fluffy, slick and well separated, and they’ve hoovered up all the spicy & salty goodness of the sambal added into the wok frying process.⠀

Each individual grain of rice is delightfully spicy and incredibly umami, as the savoury qualities of the sambal have fully transferred over to the rice. The scintillating rice is well streaked with eggy bits, and six bouncy & fresh shrimps are mixed into the rice for the essential protein portion. The wok hei is strong with this rice, and the smokiness elevates the salty & spicy rice and the subtly sweet shrimp with extra oomph.⠀

While the portion is a little diminutive, seven dollars for this delicious dish of fried rice is reasonable enough. Hell yeah I’m always DTF. Down To Feast, yeah.

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@maruhachi2020 has absolutely invaded & occupied my insta & Facebook timelines for more than a year now, so I simply HAD to try it to get it out of my head. Fortunately, they’ve got a stall conveniently located near Bedok Mall, and they’ve got their signature Black Pig Katsu Set ($15.80 nett).⠀

If social media is to believed, they’ve hired a tonkatsu specialist from Japan to create their recipe. It’s a noteworthy recipe, mind you, with passably moist & tender pork enveloped in a crunchy panko breadcrumb crust. As expected of the black pig, it’s fattier than a standard porker, giving you a juicier & tastier pork cutlet. However, it’s seasoned quite sparsely, instead overly reliant on the tonkatsu sauce for adequate salinity and a much needed tinge of sourness.⠀

The spicy mustard on the side was a great aid in combatting the fatty richness of the pork, and added a hearty heat to every bite. With a mountain of cabbage, a bowl of miso soup, and a bowl of rice to accompany the tonkatsu, it’s a simple meal that works well. While Maruhachi’s tonkatsu is far from memorable, there’s no denying the impressive value here. High quality, expertly executed tonkatsu for well under twenty bucks? Yep, that’s excellent value alright.


Initially I thought that @linjisg only had the one stall in Albert Centre, but they have one in Chai Chee too. Great news for the eastside gang, and for me too. They don’t just offer braised pig’s trotter rice, they have quite a few other things too. However, they are all created from the same base: Lin Ji’s stunningly sapid braising broth.⠀

The signature Pig Trotter Rice ($5.90 nett a bowl) was overflowing with pig trotters braised in that sapid broth and rice. The incredibly tender & tasty meat has assimilated the delicious umami of the soya sauce based broth into every last morsel of meat, and the jelly-like, fabulously fatty skin & fat is no less delicious. There’s also a slice of meat cake in every bowl, which looks like a slice of fishcake and is even texturally similar. Dip both the fish cake and the tasty trotters into the sour chili that Lin Ji has, and you have liftoff to food heaven.⠀

Sometimes it’s quite ok to be basic. Lots of meat, lots of rice, and a lot of skill used to prepare both, and you have a meal that’s hot to trot.

Joo Chiat has a bizarrely high number of wanton mee merchants. I count at least five different wanton mee hawkers off the top of my head, and now we’ve got @wenkangji.co joining the fray. Wen Kang Ji has established a new outpost in the same coffeeshop as the famous Da Dong Prawn Noodles, and these new age hawkers are looking to cut in on some of that wanton mee action.⠀

Wen Kang Ji are part of the new generation of wanton mee merchants, which means that every element of the wanton mee is paid due attention & care. The delightfully springy noodles are sauced up with more than enough soy sauce, chicken broth & chili sauce mix, which is feisty due to the chili within. Protip: ask for tomato ketchup in your noodles, it will heighten the salty & spicy notes from the sauce while injecting a moreish sweet & sour flavour profile.⠀

The wantons are larger than average, due to a shrimp being stuffed whole into the dumpling. The minced meat is ground up quite finely, resulting in a smooth & nearly paste-like texture, and is wrapped up in a delicately thin wanton skin. The wanton is almost flawless, it’s tasty, poached perfectly, and has an enjoyable snap from the fresh shrimp. The only thing missing is a crunchy element that only diced water chestnuts can supply.⠀

The char siew is definitely what makes Wen Kang Ji’s wanton mee incredible. The felicitously fatty cut of pork from the ‘armpit’ of the pig is roasted until a barely burnt crust forms around the fatty char siew. The meat itself is appetisingly salty & subtly sweet from the char siew marinade, which just heightens the pleasure the fatty pork provides your palate. The char siew is supremely stellar, and it will easily go toe to toe with the best char siews in Singapore.⠀

At just $8 for this jumbo bowl of orgasmic noods, Wen Kang Ji is a must have for all nood connoisseurs.


One good thing about living in Singapore is that we’ll always have (relatively) affordable hawker food that’s also reasonably delicious. Yi Fa Kway Chap won’t win any awards for being the best in Singapore, but they will still quell your hunger and satisfy your tastebuds as well.⠀

In addition to the bowl of flat noodles & plate of pickled mustard greens, I ordered a quartet of my personal kway chap must-haves: big & small pig’s intestines, braised pork belly, and pig skin. The broth that all the pig parts are braised in is quite light, and you taste a lot more of the five spice mix used that the soya sauce. This imparts less savouriness to all the braised products, instead more focused around the aroma of the spices.⠀

The pork belly was braised to tender perfection, with a gloriously gelatinous layer of skin and fat atop the maddeningly tender meat. The intestines were remarkably well cleaned of any plaque & debris that’s normally stuck in there. I usually prefer the delightful springiness of the big intestine, but Yi Fa’s large intestines lacked that desired springiness. Instead, the small intestines were the clear winner here. As for the pig skin, it was braised perfectly, losing all of its inedible chewiness and turning into a soft, collagen rich delight.⠀

The 咸菜 was astonishingly ambrosial. It was subtly sweet, just the right amount of sour to maximise saliva production, and just salty enough for flavour. It’s also incredibly light and garlicky, making for the perfect palate cleanser. The kway (rice noodle sheets) was alright, nothing to shout about, but served its purpose excellently.⠀

Hawkers like Yi Fa Kway Chap is what keeps Singaporeans, and by extension Singapore, running at peak performance. If you ever wanted to ruin Singapore, just take out the hawkers. Singapore would collapse rapidly. Hawkers are Singapore’s MVP, I’m not even kidding.

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Fried yam balls have never been a must order when having dimsum for me, but @1.30dimsumsg rendition is spectacular enough to demand that you get an order or three of it. For the uninitiated, yam balls are balls of yam paste encapsulating a sauce minced meat mix (probably chicken or pork) that have been deep fried.⠀

While these balls were thrown onto my plate lukewarm, they more than compensated for the lack of heat with the stunning savouriness of it all. The mince was fabulously flavourful, possessing a sublime savouriness laced with an just a smidge of sweetness, reminiscent of char siew. The yam balls passed the airiness check with flying colours, as the cavity containing the meat wasn’t too densely packed.⠀

The yam was texturally perfect, with a dense softness to each bite, and the yam layer wasn’t too thick. The exterior was flaky in the extreme, and every bite would cause a cascade of crumbs to fall everywhere. The best part? It’s stunningly light on the oil. I don’t know where the oil used to deep fry these balls went to, but I sure am glad it ain’t there to make this greasy.⠀

These beautiful balls are quite perfect, and everyone should definitely appreciate them.

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Good things come in pairs, like bacon & burgers, alcohol & me, and boo-uh yeah, you get the point. @1.30dimsumsg char siew baos come in pairs, and they’re remarkably delish for the low proce of admission.⠀

While the interior cavity of the steamed bun isn’t packed with char siew, there’s enough of the sweet & savoury barbecued pork bits in there to satisfy. Of course, there are a couple of fatty bits in there, hidden away and ready to explode on your tongue like the flavour bombs that they are.⠀

A common issue, especially with factory mass produced baos, is the dough being way too thick & bready. This bao suffered from no such problem, being of sufficient thickness to induce satisfaction while not being off putting. It’s also pillow soft and stunningly supple, and requires next to no chewing.⠀

Inflation & the cost of living is going absolutely mad, but Kuai San Dian Xin still has you covered with cheap yet reliable eats.⠀

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As for the lor mai kai (glutinous rice with chicken), the rice was kinda bland and there wasn’t much chicken. But hey, it’s only $1.30 which makes it the one of cheapest lor mai kai in Singapore, and you can flavour it to your heart’s content with the fried chili paste. Plus, it’s a pretty hefty serving.

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Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol.

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