Hawker food by restaurant chefs
When you think of enjoying excellent pasta, duck confit, and ramen, it’s rare to imagine yourself tucking into these dishes in a steamy open air hawker centre – after all, “fancy” food is usually only found at upmarket restaurants…or is it?
These days, high quality restaurant fare is making it’s way into some of our favourite hawker centres, helmed by chefs who’ve trained in popular restaurants – some of which even have Michelin awards to their names. The best part is that they’ve done their best to keep the prices affordable and hawker-like.
Next time you’re in the mood to treat yourself but don’t want to spend a bomb, make a beeline for these hawker stalls with restaurant-quality food:
1. A Noodle Story – by ex-chefs of Iggy’s, Jaan par Andre, and Saint Pierre
Image credit: @heyitzgab
Long before being awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand this unassuming hawker stall was drawing snaking queues for it’s single, signature dish – the chef owners’ Mod-Sin take on dry ramen.
The two chefs behind A Noodle Story, Gwern Khoo and Ben Tham earned their culinary chops working at fine dining institutions of the likes of Waku Ghin, Iggy’s, Jaan par Andre, and St Pierre. They’ve since ditched posh digs for a hot hawker stall where they regularly sell out before their lunch and dinner hours are over.
Available in $6 and $9 servings, their signature ramen comes served with thick slices of pork charshu, plump wantons, a soy-marinated egg, and springy noodles coated in a homemade sambal and dried shrimp sauce. The most eye-catching addition to the dish is their crispy potato-wrapped prawn – something we wish we could order on its own!
Address: #01-39, Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road, Singapore 069111
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 11.15AM-2.30PM, 5.30PM-7.30PM | Sat: 11.15AM-2.30PM (Closed on Sundays)
Telephone: 9027 6289
2. Saigon Food Street – by ex-NamNam Noodle Bar chef
Image credit: @lil.dragon88
Beef pho for $2.50 is reason enough to pay Saigon Food Street a visit, but it’s incredible pricing isn’t the only draw – the stall is also run by a chef from the popular NamNam Noodle Bar.
While the smallest portion of beef pho is a decent quantity for small eaters, if you want to go bigger and treat yourself a little, order the Regular Beef Pho ($5) or the Wagyu Beef Pho ($8) instead. Whichever dish you choose, you’ll find yourself slurping every last drop of the savoury sweet beef broth which is really what makes a good bowl of pho great.
If you’re after something more dabao friendly you can always grab a Chicken Banh Mi ($4.50) to go – a French-inspired baguette sandwich filled with shredded vegetables and fried chunks of chicken.
Address: 2 Bukit Panjang Ring Road, #01-17 Bukit Panjang Hawker Centre & Market, Singapore 679947
Opening hours: Daily: 8AM-9.30PM
3. Muffles – by Mandarin Orchard ex-pastry chef
Image credit: Eatbook
Follow the scent of freshly baked muffins wafting through Berseh Food Centre and you’ll find yourself at Muffles. Run by Chef May Chow, the hawker bakery is the culmination of her years of experience working in the kitchens of Mandarin Orchard and Marina Bay Sands.
Image credit: Eatbook
While Muffles offers quite the selection of baked treats, the Classic Chocolate Chip Muffin ($1.50) is one of the standout dishes. Despite its ordinary appearance, it’s really stuffed with chocolate chips, and comes with a nice, crusty top for added texture.
Address: #02-15, Berseh Food Centre, 166 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208877
Opening hours: Wed-Mon: 8.30AM-6PM (Closed on Tues)
Telephone: 8298 0298
4. Donya Japanese Cuisine – by founders of Tenryu
Image credit: @julovesmatcha
After the success of Tenryu, an affordable Japanese restaurant in the quiet Dairy Farm Estate, its founders Keat Hwee, Andrew, and John decided to open Donya – bringing their love for high quality Japanese food to the heartlands of Toa Payoh.
One of Donya’s must tries is definitely the Salmon Mentai Don ($8.80) which comes with deep-fried Norwegian Sashimi-grade salmon coated in torched mentai cream. If you’re super hungry, opt for the filling Unagi Tama Don ($8.80) with ample portions of unagi and a topping of gently cooked eggs.
Like Tenryu, one of Donya’s specialities is their makis – definitely an uncommon offering at most hawker centres! Definitely try the signature Special Donya Maki ($5.80) that comes with lashings of a sweet-savoury tama-miso sauce.
Address: 126 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, Singapore 310126
Opening hours: Daily: 11AM-2.30PM, 5PM-8.30PM
Telephone: 8866 2126
5. Master Tang Wanton Mee – by Crystal Jade ex-head chef
Image credit: @yogistoryteller
Restless in his retirement, Crystal Jade’s 82-year-old ex head chef has jumped right back into action and opened his own hawker stall at the Kopitown Coffeeshop at Sixth Avenue.
The veteran chef’s forte is undoubtedly his wanton mee ($3.50) with springy, chewy, noodles. The delicate wantons, amply filled with shrimp and pork are firm and mildly flavoured – the result of decades of experience.
Those who want more than just wanton mee can look forward to other Cantonese classics like the tender stewed beef brisket noodles with beef tendon ($6) and chicken feet ($3) that are on the menu as well.
Address: 233 Bukit Batok East Ave 5, #01-53, Singapore 650233
Opening hours: Thur – Tue 8AM – 3PM | Closed on Wed
6. Little Bowl – by Saveur ex-head chef
Image credit: @lebouillon_sg
After several years as the Head Chef of Saveur – and other fine dining establishments like L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – Chef Yew Tee struck out on his own with his French hawker stall at NTUC Foodfare at Clifford Centre.
Le Bouillon keeps a strong focus on rustic French dishes – something uncommon in most food courts. If you’re in the mood for a real lunch treat, opt for the Pan-seared Duck Confit ($15.90) – pierce through the crispy crust and you’ll find tender duck meat cooked just right so it practically falls off the bone.
Another dish well worth trying here is the perfectly tender signature Half Roasted Spring Chicken ($13.90), served with creamed potatoes and drizzled with a sauce of chicken jus, bacon, garlic, and capers. Make sure you grab a coffee to stave off the inevitable food coma.
Address: #B1-01/10, Clifford Centre, 24 Raffles Place, Singapore 048621
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 8AM-7PM | Sat: 8AM-3AM (Closed on Sundays)
Restaurant quality meals for less
There’s no denying our pride for Singapore’s hawker scene, but there’s always this unfortunate tendency to treat hawker food as less-than-restaurant standard. These six hawkers have their culinary know-how from restaurant kitchens across the island and made them undeniably affordable.
So the next time you’re out celebrating a special occasion, we hope you considering “chope-ing” a tissue paper instead of calling in for a reservation.