About Singapore’s Traditional Foods
Even with the increasing variety of food choices, traditional food in Singapore remains an indelible part of our identity and childhood. Many of these traditional foods look deceptively simple, but they’re actually labour intensive – home-made using traditional techniques and the best ingredients.
To help preserve this part of our food culture, we’ve sussed out a list of the 22 best traditional foods you can find in Singapore – and where you can find them. Let the hunger games begin!
1. Kueh Tutu
Kueh Tutu is Singapore’s very own invention – created in the late 1930s, it was named after the ‘tu tu’ sounds which steamers used to make when water was boiling! Usually stuffed with peanut or coconut, they are served with pandan leaves to add to their fragrance.
Lau Tan Tutu Kueh
What I love about Kueh Tutu is the way it crumbles in your mouth, revealing the warm, sweet filling. After merely a few seconds, all I’m left with are pieces of pandan leaves. Underneath Kueh Tutu’s simple exterior, hours of work actually go into preparing the flour and filling. With only top quality rice flour used, combined with years of experience, this Kueh Tutu is a testament to the stall’s long legacy.
Address: ION Orchard , #B4-69, Ion Food Hall (and other outlets)
Opening Hours: 11am – 9pm
Tan’s Tutu Coconut Cakes
Made from an 80 year old recipe, these Kueh Tutu come in 2 types of fillings – peanut and coconut. The crushed peanuts are reminiscent of mee jian kueh, but the coconut filling is the one that stands out – instead of simply frying coconut shreds with sugar, the coconut is stir-fried with gula melaka!
Address: Block 449, #01-211, Clementi Avenue 3
Opening Hours: 3pm -9:30pm
2. Kaya Toast
Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between brown and green kaya? Hainanese kaya is made with brown sugar, which caramelises to give it its lovely brown colour. Nyonya kaya, however, uses white sugar and pandan juice, resulting in a greenish tinge.
Chin Mee Chin Confectionery
I first heard about Chin Mee Chin Confectionery back when I was in school. During one of our university application briefings, my career guidance counselor was describing an encounter with a student who had never heard of Chin Mee Chin. “Huh! You’ve never heard of Chin Mee Chin! Get in the taxi now and ask the uncle to drive us there!”
Such is the fame of Chin Mee Chin. Chin Mee Chin serves one of Singapore’s best kaya toasts – fluffy toasted bun, slathered with kaya and topped with a chunk of SCS butter. With the traditional chophouse frontage, mosaic blue/white tiles and marble top tables, you might forget that you’re in the 21st century.
Besides the usual toast, eggs and kopit, Chin Mee Chin also offers a range of traditional pastries, such as the Custard Cream Puff, Egg Tart, Chocolate Cupcake and Cream Horn. With the long queues of impatient people, be prepared to eat and go!
Address: 204 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428903
Telephone: 6345 0419
Opening Hours: Tue – Sun 8:30am – 4pm
Tong Ah Eating House
Tong Ah Eating House was previously Singapore’s most iconic kopitiam, and the place to be found eating toast and sipping kopi. Even though it has since relocated a few stalls away from its hot spot, its kaya toast is still as delicious.
Skip the normal kaya toast and order the ‘super crispy toast’ – its white bread is toasted thrice, with the black, charred bits scraped off using the lid of a condensed milk tin each time. Sandwiched with homemade kaya which is cooked for 10 hours, this toast is for those seeking that satisfying crunch!
If it’s lunchtime and you aren’t in the mood for all-day breakfast, Tong Ah also serves decent tsz char dishes, such as the Scallop Rolls and Coffee Ribs.
Address: Bukit Pasoh Extension Shop Houses, 36 Keong Siak Road, Singapore 089143
Telephone: 6223 5083
Opening Hours: 6:30am – 10pm
Good Morning Nanyang Coffee
A slice of kaya toast here is what’s needed to make your morning a good one (pun intended). Besides the usual kaya toast, Good Morning Nanyang Cafe has added an innovative twist with the use of ciabatta – such as the Orange Ciabatta Kaya Toast.
The ciabatta is lightly toasted, and caramelized orange peel is added to complement the fragrance of its butter and homemade kaya. Its kaya is noticeably different – more grainy than smooth – yet delectable. Besides, its kopi is still specially brewed by the boss himself, who ensures that his customers get only the best. Other options available include the Curry Chicken and Nasi Lemak.
Address: Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road, #02-23 Far East Plaza, Singapore, Singapore 228213 (and other locations)
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 8:30pm
Here’s something to be proud of: satay was listed as number 14 on CNNGo’s ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods’ in 2011! But with so many satay sellers here, what makes a good satay? A good satay should have tender and moist meat, a rich marinade, and tasty peanut gravy.
Chuan Kee Satay
Having been run by an elderly couple for almost half a century, Chuan Kee Satay serves authentic Hainanese pork satay – tender juicy meat, with peanut gravy that comes with a pineapple slush. Beware of the long queues – it’s really that good!
Address: Old Airport Road Food Centre, Stall #01-85, Block 51 Old Airport Road, Singapore 390051
Opening Hours: 6pm – 10pm, Sunday 1pm – 10pm, Closed on Mon & Thur
With a stall front plastered with newspaper cuttings and having been featured in Mediacorp’s ‘Yummy King’ program, Kwong’s Satay lives up to its fame. A must try is their signature Pork Belly Satay. Its marinade is made with a variety of spices such as cumin, fennel and coriander, while its Peranakan-style peanut sauce comes with pineapple. Kwong’s Satay also supplies satay for BBQ events and parties.
Address: 549 Geylang Lor 29, Sing Lian Eating House
Opening Hours: 5pm to 11pm, Closed on Alternate Wednesdays
Lau Pa Sat Satay
An entire street dedicated to satay! Definitely satay heaven, but here’s the tough part – which one’s the best? From what I’ve heard, stalls 7, 8 and 10 serve the best satay. However, many of these stalls are halal, so if you’re looking for pork satay, this isn’t satay heaven for you!
Address: 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582
Opening Hours: From 7pm till late
4. BBQ Chicken Wings
Everyone likes their chicken wings prepared differently, from the Korean Yangnum style (double layer of chili), Cantonese Tsz char style (Prawn Paste) to the Buffalo Style (hot and sour sauce). In Singapore, BBQ chicken wings are coated with deep red hot sauce, and they are stinging hot – beware of getting a sore throat!
Teddy Bear BBQ Chicken Wing
Just like how Lau Pa Sat’s satay street is satay heaven, East Coast Lagoon Food Village is BBQ chicken wing heaven. Once you’re there, just head straight to Teddy Bear BBQ Chicken Wing. More lethal than cuddly, these chicken wings are finger-licking good. With a crispy skin, and succulent on the inside, they are even better with a squirt of lime and a dip in chilli sauce. Forget KFC – these wings are worth the calories!
Address: #01-44, East Coast Lagoon Food Village, 1220 East Coast Parkway, Singapore 468960
Opening Hours: Lunch on weekends and PH; runs out by 8:30pm in the evening
Chong Pang Huat BBQ Chicken Wing
BBQ chicken wings are the kinds of food you won’t look glam eating. Be prepared to get your fingers oily, and be rewarded with a piece of juicy and perfectly crisp BBQ Chicken Wing from Chong Pang Huat.
Address: Fengshan Food Centre, Block 85A, Bedok North Street 4, #01-60. Singapore 460085
Opening Hours: 5pm – 12 midnight
Ah Hwee BBQ Chicken Wing
If the queue at Teddy Bear BBQ Chicken Wing is too long, Ah Hwee BBQ Chicken Wing is an alternative, although we’ve heard queues can get long here too. At least having two stalls here will split the queues up!
Address: East Coast Parkway, Stall 14 East Coast Lagoon Food Village
Telephone: 9660 1690
Opening Hours: 5pm – 11pm
5. Popiah & Keuh Pie Tee
Popiah and Kueh Pie Tee are like close cousins – they have almost identical fillings, and are almost always sold together. Popiah can be further classified into nyonya and hokkien popiah, where the former has a thicker skin with more lettuce and sauce, while the latter is more commonly found.
Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah Skin & Kueh Pie Tee
Founded in 1938, this is one of the oldest popiah stalls in Singapore, and one of the remaining few where the popiah skin is freshly made by hand – with the traditional mixing method of using a wooden pole. The dying trade of making popiah skin is tough and time-consuming, with many resorting to the aid of machines.
The popiah is delicious – its paper-thin popiah skin is translucent, and it’s able to hold the filling and sauce without breaking. Besides popiah, kueh pie tee is available as well. If you intend to organise a family gathering at home, you can get popiah sets here for takeaway.
Address: 95 Joo Chiat Road (S)427389, 427389
Opening Hours: 9 am – 2 pm daily
Popiah Skin Making Demonstrations: 8.30 am to 11 am
Yue Yi Tai Shan Clementi Popiah
Despite the slow-moving queue, these popiahs are one of the best – thin and soft skin, bursting with turnips, lettuce, bean sprouts, eggs and peanuts. The addition of garlic gives the flavours a boost, while the chilli rounds the whole experience up.
Address: Blk 449 Clementi Avenue 3, Singapore 120449
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9pm
Long House Popiah & Kueh Pie Tee
Every popiah fan will definitely know Long House Popiah, with its thick yet chewy homemade skin, fresh fillings and delectable crunch. Best of all, there’s no MSG, preservatives, pork or lard added! Popiah sets are also available for your dream popiah party.
Address: Kim Keat Palm Market & Food Centre, Blk 22 Lor 7 Toa Payoh #01-03
Opening Hours: 6am to 3pm daily, closed Mondays & Tuesdays
6. Muah Chee
Even though I love mochi, Singapore’s traditional muah chee is still the winner in my heart. Sadly, there aren’t many stalls dedicated to muah chee alone – most are either pop up stalls at carnivals, or sold with snacks like waffles or cup corn.
Hougang 6 Mile Muah Chee
It is called Hougang 6 Mile Muah Chee for a reason: the muah chee is so elastic that it can virtually stretch for 6 miles! It has been said that should you have a fishbone stuck in your throat, an effective solution is to swallow muah chee (don’t try it!).
While muah chee is typically cut into small balls using a scissors, this uncle pinches his handmade dough by hand, ensuring that they’re of equal sizes, before dabbing them in shallot oil and rolling them in either ground peanuts of black sesame. This is because muah chee apparently loses its ‘spring’ if you cut them with scissors! These artisanal muah chee are fragrant, tender, and they don’t stick together, sliding down your throat instead.
Address: 480 Toa Payoh Lor 6, HDB HUB B1-01 (Stall 21), Singapore 310480
Opening Hours: 12pm – 9:30pm
7. You Tiao
Having been called ‘Chinese doughnut’, or the ‘cheaper cousin’ of churros, You Tiao is usually eaten with (or dunked in) a cup of kopi or soya bean, or snipped into pieces and stirred into porridge. However, have you tried dipping You Tiao into kaya? It might be better than eating churros with chocolate!
Yong Soon You Tiao
You usually can’t go wrong with You Tiao – most are freshly made – but you definitely have to eat it on the spot. At Yong Soon You Tiao, the You Tiao is freshly fried, with a crispy crust and fluffy, soft interior. Besides You Tiao, the stall sells Butterfly Fritters and Xian Jian Bing, which comes in an exciting array of flavours like coffee, pandan, red bean and green bean. What’s better is that this stall is Halal certified!
Address: Food Republic, I12 Katong Mall, 112 East Coast Road, #04-01, Singapore 428802
Opening Hours: Sun-Thurs & PH: 10am – 10pm / Fri-Sat & Eve of PH: 10am – 11pm
You Tiao Man
Currently run by the third generation, You Tiao Man’s recipe hails all the way from Putian City in Fujian, China. The You Tiao is crispy and not too oily; furthermore, an anonymous source exclaimed that it remains crispy after one hour! Besides you tiao, the usual range of sweet and savoury fried fritters are available.
Address: Blk 127 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh #02-05 Singapore 310127
Opening Hours: 6am – 2pm
Just like a good You Tiao, Dough Culture’s version is crispy and puffy on the outside, yet soft on the inside. Besides eating you tiao on its own, try eating it with their famous Tau Suan, which I’ve heard is delicious and just right. This stall is halal certified too! You can find a list of their outlets here.
8. Curry Puff
Here’s a question that divides curry puff fans: plain, shortcrust pastry shell (i.e. Old Chang Kee) or flaky, spiral shell? I personally grew up eating Old Chang Kee curry puffs, and I can’t believe it used to be just $1. Besides potato, today’s puffs contain fillings varying from sardine to nonya chicken rendang and durian.
Wang Wang Crispy Curry Puff
Beneath the curry puff’s crisp and flaky shell lies moist and juicy potato curry – the delightful contrast of textures and the savoury flavours are the marks of a good curry puff. The curry puffs are fried in a large wok and lifted up using a large, flat wire mesh – somewhat similar to a fisherman’s net.
The four flavours available are Curry, Sardine, Black Pepper Chicken and Yam, though if you could only buy one, go for the curry.
Address: 51 Old Airport Road, #01-126, Old Airport Road Food Centre
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm
1A Crispy Curry Puffs
Most Singaporeans know about the franchised 1A curry puffs found in shopping centres, but many are unaware that this 1A Crispy Curry Puffs, run by a lively grandma, actually came first! The inventor of the flaky, crispy, shell-like casing, she supposedly created it while making popiah and soon kueh. A crispy and thin shell coupled with a moist filling, limited quantities are available everyday.
Address: 127 Kim Tian Road, 160127
Telephone: 6841 5618
Opening Hours: Tues to Sun 8am – 5pm (or till sold out)
AMK Curry Puffs
AMK Curry Puff shares some history with Tip Top Puff Factory, which has spawned outlets across the island. As such, AMK Curry Puff’s curry puffs taste like the original Tip Top curry puffs during their heyday. Everything, from dough to filling, is handmade from scratch. With crispy crusts and generous fillings of chicken, potato and egg, these curry puffs are large and delicious.
Address: Blk 184 Toa Payoh Central #01-372, Inside Super 28 Coffeeshop, Singapore 310184
Telephone: 9672 6621
Opening Hours: 10am – 9pm
9. Tau Huay
There are two types of tau huay in Singapore – the chilled, firmer tau huay which Lao Ban is famous for, or the traditional, chunky, served with sugar syrup version which Rochor is famous for. Tau huay comes in so many flavours today – there’s even a savoury version – but I’m sure everyone will agree that the original is still the best!
Selegie Soya Bean
The Tau Huay here scores for its smooth, silky texture and unconventional use of honey instead of sugar syrup, adding to the fragrance of the soya bean. The Soya Milk is also praiseworthy – thick, fragrant, and not overpoweringly sweet. Besides tau huay and soya milk, Tang Yuan is also available in 4 flavours here: yam, red bean, sesame and peanut.
Address: 247, Jalan Kayu, S799471
Telephone: 6281 0933
Opening Hours: Mon – Thur 10am – 12 midnight, Fri & Sat 9am – 1am
Rochor Beancurd House
Rochor Beancurd House is a household name, famous for its soft and silky traditional Tau Huay which can be served both hot and cold. More than just plain old tau huay alone, feel free to add toppings, such as pearls, red bean and tangyuan. An array of Butterfly Buns, Dough Fritters and Portuguese Egg Tarts are also available. If you’re craving for supper, you’ll be glad to know that the Geylang outlet is open 24 hours.
Address: Rochor Beancurd House (Balestier), 432 Balestier Road, #01-436, S329813 (and other outlets)
Opening Hours: 12pm – 1.30am
10. Tau Sar Piah
It’s amazing how versatile tau sar piah can be – besides the usual question of sweet vs salty, there is now a mind boggling range of flavours such as green tea, coffee, and even durian. While these flavours do look tempting when I’m standing at the shop counter, somehow I’ll still end up getting either sweet or salty.
Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah
Located along Balestier Road – Singapore’s famous tau sar piah street – nothing much has changed since 1948. Tau sar piah is still handmade daily in a large, open kitchen, where rows and rows of dough are lined up, waiting to be shaped by skilled hands.
Good quality butter is used in the dough, making it crisp and fragrant, while a generous amount of smooth filling is packed inside. Unlike the usual powdery filling in salty tau sar piah, their salty version contains pasteurized green bean. As both salty and sweet versions taste similar, go for the sweet ones, which contrasts nicely with the saltiness of the butter.
Address: 639 Balestier Rd, Singapore 329922
Telephone: 6253 4584
Opening Hours: 8am – 4:30pm, Closed on Sun
603 Tau Sar Piah
With a mere 3 shops separating Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah and 603 Tau Sar Piah, both are close contenders vying for top spot. At 603 Tau Sar Piah. their salty version is the winner – packed full of powdery bean paste, with crispy layers that are still flaky the next day. Many other flavours (yam, black sesame, coffee etc) are available as well – it boils down to personal preference.
Address: 603 Balestier Road
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm
11. Egg Tarts
Flaky or shortcrust-like, Portuguese or Chinese, the egg tart-lover in me does not discriminate. Even though new flavours have emerged, like Fancy Delight’s chocolate and strawberry egg tarts, I’m a traditionalist.
Tong Heng Confectionery
Having been in the business for many years now, Tong Heng Confectionery is the place everyone points to if you’re craving for an egg tart. With its nostalgic diamond shape which makes it easier to hold, flaky crust and wobbly egg custard, it is a winner. Tong Heng Confectionery also sells other Chinese pastries, such as the Curry Puff, Char Siew Sou and Lao Po Bing.
Address: Tong Heng Confectionery, 285 South Bridge Road
Telephone: 6223 039
Opening Hours 9am – 10pm
Leung San Hong Kong Pastries
If you do prefer one type of egg tart over the other, Leung San Hong Kong Pastries caters to everyone – it sells both the traditional flaky egg tarts and the shortcrust-like, buttery kind. The smooth, thick layer of egg custard is rich and flavourful, and when eaten fresh from the oven, melts in your mouth. Besides egg tarts, other Chinese pastries like the Po Lo Bao (in assorted flavours), Walnut Cookies, Lotus Paste Pastries and Chicken Pie are available too.
Address: 18 Jalan Membina #01-06 s164018 (Tiong Bahru)
Telephone: 6271 6056
Opening Hours: 7:30 am – 9pm
Madeleine’s Original Portuguese Egg Tart & Puff
Almost like a creme brulee, Madeleine’s portuguese egg tarts are beautiful – charred caramelised egg custard wrapped in layers of buttery, crisp, flaky pastry. Though it still falls slightly short of the famous portuguese egg tarts in Macau, it’s definitely cheaper than a plane ride there.
Address: 198 Tanjong Katong Road
Opening Hours: 8am – 8pm
12. Chee Cheong Fun
Chee cheong fun is literally translated as ‘pig intestine noodles’ – though thankfully, that’s not what it’s made of. There are two kinds of chee cheong fun in Singapore: thick rolls of chee cheong fun dolloped with sweet sauce are common at hawker centres, while at dim sum restaurants, you’ll find the Hong Kong-style of chee cheong fun, with char siew or shrimp wrapped within.
Ipoh Anson Road Chee Cheong Fun
Hailing from Ipoh, the chee cheong fun sold here are unconventional and creative – think chee cheong fun stuffed with turnip, dried prawns, minced meat, and eaten with pickled green chillies!
If you’re still feeling adventurous, there’s always chee cheong fun wrapped with mushroom minced meat, or curry with either chicken or pig skin.
It is substantial enough as a meal, but if you’re still hungry (or in need of something more familiar), other main dishes like Ipoh Hor Fun and Century Egg Porridge are available.
Address: 324P Changi Road, Singapore 419799
Telephone: +65 6345 9689
Opening Hours: Mon, Wed to Sun: 7am – 6pm
Freshly Made Chee Cheong Fun
Located in a hawker stall but with food as good as any dim sum’s restaurant’s, this Cantonese-style chee cheong fun comes in the four varieties (prawn, chicken, mushroom and char siew), with a liberal amount of soy and sesame oil poured over it. Extremely smooth – it will glide down your throat – the chee cheong fun is freshly steamed on the spot. Do remember to grab some Prawn Rolls and Steamed Dumpling while you’re here.
Address: Old Airport Road Food Centre, #01-155
Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm
Teng Yu Chee Cheong Fun Porridge
The chee cheong fun here is restaurant-quality. Though slightly thick, the translucent skin hints at the fillings wrapped within. A variety of fillings are available – prawn, char siew, vegetables etc – and you’ll have the option of adding fillings or ordering a mixed plate. The prawn filling, with its fresh and crisp prawns, is highly recommended.
Address: Alexandra Village Food Centre ,120 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-77, S150120
Opening Hours: 7am – 11pm
13. Nonya Kueh
Even though nonya kueh is not my personal favourite, I’ve always admired their rainbow colours. These traditional snacks are usually made from rice, glutinous rice or tapioca, before they are steamed. Many of us have only been exposed to well known Bengawan Solo, but there are other confectioneries in Singapore with a long history of making nonya kueh.
Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery
Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery has been selling homemade nonya keuh since 1968, and both sweet and savoury kuehs are outstanding. The Kueh Dardar has large amounts of aromatic coconut filling wrapped in thin, pandan crepe, while the Ku Chai Kueh has a smooth skin and its fillings are fried nicely. Many other varieties of nonya kueh are available, as well as Curry Puffs and Yam Cakes. Best of all, there are no eggs or meat used in their kueh, and they are halal-certified and suitable for vegans.
Address: Block 84 Bedok North Street 4, #01-21, Singapore 460084
Telephone: +65 6449-0815
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 5pm (Monday to Saturday), 7:30am – 1pm (Sunday)
Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry
A traditional-looking shop located under a HDB block, Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry will evoke feelings of nostalgia. Selling a dizzying array of kuehs and cakes like Ondeh-ondeh (a bestseller) and Tapioca Cakes, their chewy textures and generous amounts of coconut draw crowds from near and far.
Its kueh dardar is distinctly unique – instead of a brown coconut filling, there is no gula melaka used, hence the coconut is snow-white, fresh, juicy and crunchy. One bite into their ondeh-ondeh and you’ll find a lava explosion of gula melaka, complete with tiny toasted sesame seeds. A little messy, but worth it!
Address: 55 Tiong Bahru Rd, #01-39, Singapore 160055
Telephone: +65 63241686
Opening Hours: 9am – 9pm, Closed on Monday
Ji Xiang Confectionery
Ji Xiang Confectionery is famous for its Ang Ku Kueh, or ‘red ninja turtle cakes’. With an assortment of colours and flavours such as peanut, sweet/salty bean, yam and durian etc, not only are they a treat for your stomach, they’re a treat for your eyes too! While the usual ang ku kueh may have thick skin which sticks to your teeth, Ji Xiang Confectionery’s ang ku kueh has a thin skin makes the kueh melt in your mouth.
Address: 1 Everton Park, #01-33, S08100
Opening Hours:9am – 5pm, Closed on Sundays
14. Teochew Kueh
Distinctly different from nyonya kueh, teochew kueh, such as png kueh, soon kueh and chwee kueh, comes with savoury fillings. Be it preserved radish, yam rice or turnips, teochew kueh is filling enough to pass off as breakfast alone.
Yong’s Teochew Kueh
Reminiscent of our grandmothers’ teochew kueh, Yong’s Teochew Kueh sells the usual array of kueh, which is hearty and filling. The kueh skin is smooth, and even though it’s slightly thick, that’s an added advantage when pan-frying as the skin wouldn’t break as easily. If you’ve been looking high and low for Cabbage Kueh, it’s sold here, and the cabbage stuffing is generous.
Address: 150 East Coast Road, Singapore 428837
Telephone: 6345 6798
Opening Hours: 7am till sold out (best to go before 5pm, or call to order)
Jian Bo Shui Kueh
Literally translated as ‘water cake’, the kueh itself is soft and smooth, complementing the large amounts of savoury chye poh (preserved radish) which is sprinkled fried with sesame seeds. The chye poh is so good that customers are always requesting more, and the friendly store owners will gladly accommodate their cravings. What’s astounding is that the stall still mills its own rice to make rice flour, which is used for making shui kueh!
Address: Tiong Bahru Market #02-05,Tiong Bahru Market, Singapore 161084
Opening Hours: 6:30am – 11pm
15. Mee Chiang Kueh
Mee chiang kueh, or traditional peanut pancake, is usually cooked as a large, round pancake, before it is cut into smaller pieces. Besides peanut, common flavours like red bean and coconut are available. To me, a good mee chiang kueh is messy to eat – it should have a generous amount of peanut-sugar filling, sandwiched between the thick, chewy pancake.
Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake
This stall’s mee chiang kueh hasn’t changed much over the years – instead of using baking soda which most stalls use today, the owners still use a mother dough made with yeast, which gives a nice, savoury and fragrant flavour. Furthermore, instead of using ready-made ground peanuts, they still roast and grind their own peanuts. That’s how homemade everything is!
Address: Block 48 Tanglin Halt Road Tanglin Halt Market Stall 16
Opening Hours: 4.30am-11am (Tuesday-Thursday) 4.30am-1pm (Weekends)
Belinda’s Traditional Crispy Pancake
Even though mee chiang kueh is traditionally sold as thick fluffy pancakes, the crispy version is also equally good, if not better. Stuffed full of peanuts and guaranteed to cause a peanut sandstorm should you eat it under a fan, these crispy peanuts are still crispy even after one hour. Other flavours include chocolate, red bean and cheese.
Address: Blk 341 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, #01-27 Teck Ghee Court, Singapore 560341
Telephone:+65 9684 6155
Opening Hours: 6.30am – 12pm (Tue – Fri), 6.30am – 2pm (Sat – Sun)
16. Pisang Goreng
People usually refer to fried bananas as goreng pisang, but did you know that to be grammatically correct, it’s actually pisang goreng? “Goreng pisang” literally means to cook a banana! Stall owners have to wait for the perfect time to cook the banana – too soft and overripe, and it’ll turn mushy instead of crispy.
Boon Goreng Pisang
Formerly located at Long House @ Upper Thomson Road, Boon Goreng Pisang has since relocated to Balestier Market. Its pisang goreng is one of the best around, with a battered skin that is crisp, light and not too oily, while the banana is nicely ripe. Other fried delights include the Fried Sweet Potato, Cempedak (deep fried jackfruit), and a duo of Yam and Nian Gao (nian gao with a layer of yam).
Address: Balestier Market, 411 Balestier Road, Stall 18
Opening Hours: 11am to 8.30pm daily (or until sold out)
Geylang Lor 20 Banana Fritters
With many bananas hanging around, this stall definitely specialises in pisang goreng. The batter doesn’t absorb much oil – it’s thin and crispy, acting as a fine contrast with the creamy texture of the banana. The stall doesn’t have a fixed rest day as it’s dependent on their supply of bananas – which also means that they only choose the best bananas available!
Address: Old Airport Road Food Centre, Stall #01-57, 51 Old Airport Road
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9pm (or till sold out)
Bigger isn’t necessarily better – smaller bananas are actually sweeter than big ones! Expect the usual trademarks of a good pisang goreng: crisp light batter and a rich, caramelized banana. While you’re there, try their Sweet Potato Balls as well – deep fried mashed sweet potatoes with gula melaka and coconut encased within.
Address: #01-07, Bedok Interchange Food Centre
Opening Hours: 10am – 11pm
Did you know that ‘otak’ means brains in Malay, and that the dish was named ‘otak-otak’ as it resembles brains? You’ll never look at otah the same way again. I’d like to think of otah as ‘brain food’, but otah is actually made of ground fish meat mixed with starch and spices.
Lee Wee & Bro
Lee Wee & Bro is probably the most well-known otah brand in Singapore, and the one with the most variety too! Even though Lee Wee & Bro is so commonly found, the standard hasn’t dropped – everything is still handmade at the factory, from peeling onions to mixing the rempah into the fish meat. The brothers are the only ones mixing the rempah, to protect their recipe, and they’ll still slice the lemongrass themselves to get the desirable parts.
The selection of otah includes Fish, Fish Head, Prawn, Squid and Crab otah etc, while lunchboxes of Nasi Lemak and Assam Seafood are also sold. Not to forget, Lee Wee & Bro does catering too!
Address: 23 Serangoon Central, #03-K11, NEX Serangoon, Singapore 556083
Opening Hours:10:30am – 10:30pm
The Banana Leaf Mackerel Otah sold here wins the hearts of its customers with its spices, while the rempah used has an aromatic flavour which gives the whole otah its fragrance. Besides that, its Non-spicy Otah is surprisingly good too – given that no one eats non-spicy otahs unless they can’t take the heat. It’s just like a traditional otah – full of spices and flavour – but without the fiery heat in your mouth.
Address: 267 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427521
Opening Hours: Open 24h
I love the never-ending varieties of pau – lotus pau, red bean pau, char siew pau, chicken bau etc! Besides the usual sized paus, I love the mini paus as they’re the perfect size for popping them into my mouth. One bite, and the warm feeling oozes out. Shiok!
Tanjong Rhu Pau & Confectionery
No matter which pau you buy, it’ll definitely be good. The paus have a light and fluffy skin – the Lotus Paste Pau comes with a salted egg, the Meat Pau is juicy, firm and tender with generous portions, and the Char Siew Pau is not overly sweet with a rich marinade.Source
For some reason, the base of the bao is thicker than the sides – perhaps to prevent the fillings from leaking out at the bottom. Their red bean pau is reminiscent of a lava cake, with the smooth red bean filling oozing out as you tear open the pau. Even though their paus are slightly small, the generous fillings make up for it, and you can’t help but reach for seconds.
Address: Blk 72, Thomson Road, #01-113, Novena, 307589
Telephone: 6253 6942
Opening Hours: 12:30pm – 8pm
D’bun is the bun in Singapore (pun intended) well-known for its juicy Tau Pau. The pau itself is soft, and encased within it is tender, juicy, and moist chicken thigh meat, complete with a hard boiled egg. Having been plying the roads of Joo Chiat for two decades, D’bun’s variety of pau looks absolutely mouthwatering – besides the usual pau, there is even an Abalone Chicken Pau.
With the pau handmade at the shop itself, D’bun sticks to tradition using a mother starter, which is the traditional, and still the best, way of making the dough.
Address: 358 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427603
Opening Hours: 8am – 10pm
19. Cheng Tng
Cheng tng is one of Singapore’s traditional desserts. Served either hot or cold, it makes for a refreshing end to a heavy meal. Even though it looks simple, hours of labour and hard work are put into cooking it, and the ingredients can be sourced all the way from China.
No Name Cheng Tng
Their cheng tng is light, refreshing, and even somewhat healthy given the ingredients that go in there – dried longan, white fungus, ginkgo nuts, dried persimmon, winter melon etc. Instead of using shaved ice which dilutes the dessert when it melts, ice cubes are used, keeping the cheng tng cold yet retaining its taste. The longans are sourced from Thailand and sorted by hand before cooking, ensuring that the soup remains crystal clear with the longan taste present.
Address: Springleaf Eating House, Blk 69, Bedok South Avenue 3, #01-468, Singapore 460069
Opening Hours: Daily 12pm – 9pm
Ye Lai Xiang Hot & Cold Cheng Tng
Having existed for 3 generations, Ye Lai Xiang’s cheng tng uses a whooping 11 ingredients, just for a humble bowl of dessert. The soup is made in 2 troughs, each containing different ingredients, before they are combined to form a bowl of clear cheng tng. Besides the usual rock sugar and longan, a ‘secret ingredient’ is placed in it – whatever it is, it makes the cheng tng delicious.
Address: Stall #31, Bedok Corner Food Centre, 1 Bedok Road
Opening Hours: 12pm – 8pm
20. Ice Kachang
I love digging for the red beans, sweet corn and attap chee at the bottom of the bowl – it’s like digging for treasure. Besides these traditional ingredients, today’s novel ice kachangs include toppings like mango, durian and fruit cocktails. To spot a good ice kachang, the ice should be cleanly shaven to small bits such that it melts in your mouth. And for the ingredients, the more the merrier.
Annie’s Peanut Ice Kachang
Annie’s peanut ice kachang is a spiced up version of the traditional ice kachang, with red bean coating the outer layers of ice and given a generous shower of ground peanuts. The peanuts are freshly roasted and grounded at the shop itself, giving the dessert a nutty fragrance and texture. The red beans are soft, mushy, and not overly sweet. Overall, this dessert is perfect for beating the heat.
Address: Taman Jurong Market and Food Centre #01-01, 3 Yung Sheng Rd, Singapore 618499
Opening Hours: 7.30am to 7.30pm
Mei Heong Yuen Dessert
Ice kachang is traditionally made of shaved ice, but at Mei Heong Yuen Dessert, their rendition of ice kachang is made of shaved ice – almost like layers and layers of pencil shavings. The shaved ice melts in your mouth, and if you want some extra gula melaka, you can grab a bottle and pour as much as you like on your ice kachang.
Mei Heong Yuen also serves a variety of hot and cold desserts, from puddings, pastes, cakes and dumplings, to numerous flavours of shaved ice. Best of all, their outlets are located in shopping malls, so there’s no need to suffer the heat in search of a cold dessert.
Address: #B4-34, ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn
Telephone: +65 65093301
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm
21. Old School Cakes
My mother loves to reminisce about the cakes she used to eat as a child – ‘traffic light’ sponge cakes with a layer of jam, or simple butter cakes. These days, as birthday cakes become more elaborate – covered in layers and layers of fondant – and expensive, old school cakes have been greatly overlooked. Still, these cakes are simple yet nostalgic – an iconic comfort food of the older generations.
These nostalgic cakes from Sembawang Confectionery probably still taste the same as when it was set up in 1962. With layers of soft, fluffy sponge covered in creamy icing, these were the simple cakes which our parents grew up on. Besides the usual rectangular shape, oval shape ones are also available, with a coating of sugared-peanuts at the sides.
Other than cakes, Sembawang Confectionery sells traditional, no-frills bread, such as the Luncheon and Egg. I hear that their Pandan Chiffon Cake is pretty good too!
Address: Blk 6, Beach Road #01-4869 Singapore 190006 (near Beach Road Army Market)
Telephone: +65 6295 3965
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 7:00pm
These traditional bakeries deserve a major throwback into the past. Set up in 1965, Balmoral Bakery offers all sorts of old-school treats: buns, tarts, and cakes. Their signatures include the Cream Horn, which is jelly wrapped in cream in pastry, as well as Egg Tarts and Cream Puffs. Savoury treats are also available, such as the Chicken Pies and Samosas.
Address: #01-06, 105 Clementi Street 12
Opening Hours: 9am – 8pm
Rich & Good Cake Shop
Some of the best swiss rolls in Singapore, they come in an eclectic array of flavours, from the best-selling Pandan to Durian. The fillings are creamy and moist, yet not too sweet, while the durian filling comes with actual chunks of durian within.
Address: 24 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198887
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 5pm (Mon – Fri), 8:30am – 4pm (Sat)
22. Traditional Biscuits
Simple and unpretentious, these traditional biscuits existed long before globalisation washed up waves of biscuit brands onto our shores. My childhood favourite has always been the ais gems – I’d bite the icing off first – and I still love going to the market to buy them. Usually sold by weight, these biscuits aren’t expensive.
Biscuit King stocks all the traditional biscuits you can name, from the usual Chocolate Wafers and Marie Biscuits and to my favourite Ais Gem and Pineapple Jam. If you’re a huge fan, you can even get them in tubs. Best of all, Biscuit King offers delivery right to your doorstep!
Address: 130 Casuarina Road, Singapore 579518
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 10pm
A Taste of Tradition
What I love about Singapore’s traditional food is that it’s rarely found anywhere else in the world – these stalls are one of a kind! These traditional foods are part of our heritage, and it’s definitely worth travelling across the island just for the best of the best. As the saying goes, old is gold.
With Singapore turning 50 this year, let’s help preserve this part of our food culture for future generations to enjoy. Happy #SG50 Singapore!
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