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Tastemakers Guide To Best Young Hawkers in Singapore

Tastemakers Guide To Best Young Hawkers in Singapore

A hawker's life is far from glamorous, but the long hours of hard work certainly hasn't stopped new generation hawkers from doing their part in preserving family legacies and introducing new iterations of hawker food. For this guide, our Tastemakers trawled the island in search of stalls run and fronted by these young hawkers, all of which serve up some laud-worthy, delicious food. As you trace our Tastemakers' culinary journey, bring an appetite but also a smile and perhaps a kind word or two — these passionate hawkers who buck the norm of cushy office jobs certainly deserve our support!
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Located in Ayer Rajah Food Centre, this is one of two Indian rojak stalls amidst an entire row of Malay food joints. Second-generation hawker Habib Mohamed has been helping out at his father's stall since his teenage years, and has since taken over the operations — a heartening decision, since his father named the stall after him. His dedication sees him waking up in the wee hours of the morning to begin food prep. The hard work shines through in the food, which Tastemaker Julius Lim declares to be "damn good". He shares that the flour-based items like the prawn fritters ($2) and coconut fritters (tepong kelapa, $0.70) are excellent, and that you'll also find a selection of lesser-found rojak items like cow lungs ($2), cow liver ($3) and marinated squid (from $4). All the crisp-fried items are delicious when dipped in spicy and nutty sauce. Prices vary based on what you order, but expect to pay around $10 for a plate for two that Tastemaker Julius assures us will be wiped clean very quickly.
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Julius Lim

Ryan and Clare, the young couple behind this burger stall in Beauty World Food Centre, are motivated by their goal to serve unique and quality burgers at affordable prices. The fact that neither has had formal culinary training comes as a surprise, for the burgers here are creative and seriously yummy. Their speciality is without a doubt their localised burgers like Crispy Pork Belly Burger ($5.50) and Ayam Buah Keluak Burger ($5). According to Tastemaker Wei Zhi Chiang, the former sees thick chunks of crackling fatty pork belly and crunchy Japanese cucumbers sandwiched between well-toasted fluffy buns, and slicked with sweet and tangy hoisin sauce and English mustard. As for the Ayam Buah Keluak Burger, the patty is made with minced chicken and buah keluak, with a lovely bitterness buah keluak fans will love, while the topping of chap chye (Nonya braised vegetables) is extremely inspired! Top up $1.50 for their Fairy Fries, essentially well-seasoned, hand-cut potato fries. After all, like Tastemaker Wei Zhi so rightly says, what's a burger without fries? And at such affordable prices, you might be tempted to have a second burger. Pro tip: Weekend queues can get ridiculous; visit on a weekday of burger sans mobs.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Wei Zhi Chiang

Run by proprietors Chong Chee Siang and Eric Lim, this stall in Bukit Merah Central's Dong Fong Fatt Coffeeshop is the place to go for soul-warming double-boiled soups. Chee Siang, who runs the show, got the recipes from a Hong Kong chef he used to work with. We applaud their commitment to not adding MSG or using pre-made stocks — you'll be slurping down only the tasty, wholesome and nutritious. There is a good range of familiar favourites like lotus root soup and ABC soup, but it is the Double Boiled Old Coconut Chicken Soup ($8) that is worth making the trip for. Tastemaker Vanessa Kou describes it to be a "clear, refreshing and subtly sweet broth" that is steamed and served in a whole old coconut. It's even won over Tastemaker Xing Wei Chua, who admits he's not much of a soup drinker. He likes the refreshing sweetness that comes from the herbs, but also appreciates that it is not overly herbal. The chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender, and he was particular impressed by crispy dried whitebait that tops the accompanying white rice ($0.50). Three-colour organic (brown, red and black) or minced mushroom shrimp rice options are also available (both $1). Pro tip: Soups sell out pretty quickly in the evenings, so consider calling to reserve the soups you want a day or two ahead.
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Vanessa Kou

This hawker stall at Amoy Street Food Centre has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2013, working its way to being awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand in both 2016 and 2017. Run by Shatec graduates and fine-dining-trained chefs Gwern Khoo and Ben Tham, A Noodle Story puts a premium spin on local wanton noodles, and their service is top-notch too! Brave the queues for their lauded Singapore Style Ramen ($7). Unlike what its name suggests, the base features thin, springy wanton noodles laced in an umami-rich sauce, topped with painstakingly prepared ingredients — juicy prawn-filled dumplings, a crisp-golden potato prawn, an oozy lava egg and, in Tastemaker Kelly Wong's words, "melt-in-your-mouth chashu bathed in a sweet and savoury gravy". Be prepared to wait an average of 30 minutes for a bowl of this deliciousness, although the Burpple community seems to have had luck with 15-minute waits when they visit at the magic hour of 6:15pm. Our advice? Better early and wait than late, for they close the stall the moment noodles run out, more or less around 7pm.
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Kelly Wong

Labelled by many to be one of the best prawn noodles in Singapore, Da Dong Prawn Noodles draws the crowds with their flavour-packed, orange-hued broth. While the elderly proprietor recovers from a fall, his son Watson, who has been helping out at the stall since he was young, took over the business. We are pleased to report that the quality remains high and consistent, and the broth tastes just as good. Tastemaker Justin Teo describes the broth to be fresh and sweet without being overly salty, and the sea-caught prawns firm and sweet. We also enjoyed the dry version with their lip-smacking chilli sauce, which comes with a side of an extra concentrated bowl of the prawn and pork bone broth. If it's your first time here, play it safe with the soupy, slurpilicious version or bring a friend so you can try both renditions. Prices start from $5, but we recommend going all out with the large $10 bowl — the prawns come conveniently peeled, and the pork ribs are melt-in-the-mouth tender.
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Justin Teo

Young hawkers Randall and Kai spent four months in Malaysia learning how to prepare KL-style roasted meat, before setting up shop at Old Airport Road Food Centre (Kai's uncle owns Famous Seremban Favourites, a widely acclaimed roast meat shop). Starting their day as early as 5am, so the first batch of meats can be ready by 11am, these hawkerpreneurs are extremely dedicated to their craft, and that shows in the quality of the meat. The Char Siew (200g, $8.50) here is a Burpple community favourite. Tastemaker Justin Teo describes it to have a beautifully charred exterior, with the flavours reminding him of bak kwa. On the other hand, Tastemaker Peter Wong likes the sweet char siew sauce, and that the loin meat is nicely trimmed. While the char siew can sometimes be on the leaner side, it still has a pleasant layer of fat that melts in your mouth. Yum!
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Peter Wong

Young hawker Douglas Ng first opened Fishball Story at Golden Mile Food Centre to much aplomb in 2014. Three years on, with the affirmation of a Michelin Bib Gourmand under his belt, Douglas continues to dole out yummy fishball noodles, using his grandmother's recipe for fishballs — these are made entirely from fish meat, sans flour and fillers! According to Tastemaker Julius Lim, you can really taste the natural goodness from the handmade fishballs as they have a certain texture and bounciness that's absent in mass-produced versions. There are two outlets — one at Timbre+ and another at a new coffeeshop in Geylang called Hungry Bee. Take Tastemaker Acamas Teo's advice and go for the Premium Handmade Fishball Noodles set meal ($6.50), which comes with a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice. The bowl of noodles comes packed with goodies such as handmade fishballs, scallion and chilli fish cakes, tofu dumpling and deep-fried fish skin. Delicious!
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Acamas Teo

Having worked in various cafes and commercial kitchens, female hawker Gwen Teng gave that all up to be the successor of her father's popular char kway teow stall, which he has run for over 30 years. He's certainly left large shoes to fill, but the verdict so far is that her cooking is of the same high standards as her father's! Tastemaker Xing Wei Chua likes that the Char Kway Teow (from $3) here uses only flat rice noodles (no yellow noodles added), and that the taste is not overwhelmed by copious amounts of sauce. He finds the version here lighter, absorbing the flavours of fresh seafood like cockles and huge prawns, and it has a lovely wok hei to round up the flavours. On top of that, it comes generously loaded with bean sprouts, eggs, fish cake, lup cheong, chives and pork lard.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Xing Wei Chua

The 'lad' the stall's name refers to is none other than owner Keith Koh, who studied in London. Together with his dad, the duo serves up British comfort food. Since their move from Serangoon Gardens to the more centrally located Maxwell Market, the menu has also expanded from their initial offering of stews to include more iconic English eats like Bangers and Mash ($8) and a most indulgent Bacon and Chip Butty ($4). As Tastemaker Wei Zhi Chiang says, how can anybody not love the combination of toasted buttered buns, bacon, fried hash brown and a fried oozy egg? There's also the option to add a savoury layer of melted mozzarella cheese — this is certainly not for the faint-hearted. Tastemaker Jean Kao loves the English Fry-Up Platter ($12), which left her gobsmacked with its generous portions and spot-on preparation. In addition to the usual baked beans and sausages, it also includes grilled cherry tomatoes, mushroom and sweet onion relish, and homemade potato hash. As Tastemaker Jean aptly puts it, "this plate would've cost almost twice as much in cafes, and some will not be able to even achieve the same level of awesome". If you're here for lunch, don't miss their Beef Stew ($10) that comes with their much acclaimed, dreamy Yorkshire pudding. You can also enjoy the Yorkshire pudding with vanilla ice-cream for only $3.
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Jean Kao

Run by brothers and third-generation hawkers Almalic Faisal and Mohamed Dufail, this nondescript stall garners consistent queues for its prata despite its out-of-the-way location in Sin Ming, not too far from the Land Transport Authority office. First started by their grandfather who began selling prata by the streets, the stall was later run by their father, who trained both his sons to take over the family business. The dough is made by hand daily and cooked with skill, resulting in prata that's crisp and flaky on the outside yet supremely soft within, and most of all, not greasy. The kosong is good, but even better is their Coin Prata (six pieces for $4) — thicker, crispier, chewier and fluffier. Tastemaker Amanda Liu was also very taken by the Mushroom Cheese Prata ($2), and she likes that the ingredients are spread evenly throughout the thin layer of dough. Paired with the spicier-than-normal curries, which also boast a lovely hint of tanginess, this is one weekend breakfast worth queuing for. Pro tip: Come with friends or family who can 'chope' seats while you queue. If your tummy rumbles, take Tastemaker Amanda's advice to grab a Nonya curry puff or two from the shop two doors down to tide you over!
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Fabian Poon

According to Tastemaker Felicia Sim, the young hawker at this Serangoon stall first started out helping his friends at their hawker stall, and then moved on to fry Hokkien mee at a few places, including Yong Heng Hokkien Mee. Under the tutelage of several hawkers, coupled with trial and error recipes and cooking techniques picked up on the internet, he finally gained the confidence to start out on his own. And how lucky we are that he did! The Hokkien Mee ($4 or $5) is wonderfully wet, and Tastemaker Felicia says that the robust and sweet broth base is prepared using prawns from Thailand, which have more roe for extra flavour. There is abundant garlic and the unmissable pork lard is freshly fried till airy and extremely crispy. The icing on the cake is the spicy and sour chilli, which complements the noodles perfectly. Servings are on the small side, so don't hesitate asking for the larger plate.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Felicia Sim

Proprietor Derwin, who holds a diploma in animation, apprenticed under a chicken rice master for a month to pick up the basics. He improved on what he learned to create the chicken that's got our Tastemakers ooh-ing and aah-ing over today. Tastemaker Zhihui Lim likes that the Chicken ($16 for half, $32 for whole) is silky smooth, very tender and succulent — this applies to the steamed and roasted versions, both of which she says are delicious. If you have to pick one though, take her advice and go with the roasted — according to Tastemaker Xing Wei Chua, the lightly crisped skin "crackles with a bite". Don't miss out on stellar side dishes like the smooth tofu drenched in Thai chili sauce and crunchy kai lan slicked in flavoursome oyster sauce. You can choose to pair the chicken with fluffy rice or noodles tossed in what Tastemaker Zhihui describes to be potent but shiok chilli. Here's an added bonus: the eatery is currently awaiting Halal certification; all its ingredients used are already Halal-certified!
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Zhihui Lim

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