If you call yourself a foodie and Singapore isn’t on your list of places to eat before you die, you’re definitely doing life wrong. Because it’s such a cultural melting pot — a beautiful blend of Malay, Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Turkish influence— street food in Singapore is the best around.
Where to find street food in Singapore:
Typically confined to the hawker halls, open buildings filled with rows of tiny shops serving anything your hungry little heart can dream up, street food is Singapore plentiful, regardless if you’re in the mood for sweet, savory, or super strange.
You can find hawker halls all around the city, and each one will have its own distinct flair and flavors. You’ll see hawkers selling steaming plates of mee goreng next to booths with roast ducks hanging in a row along the window, or maybe beside a stall hawking dreamy chicken satay or chili crabs ready to fall apart in your mouth.
You may even find durian, that famous southeast Asian fruit, which is the national fruit of Singapore. If you’ve never had durian, it tastes sort of like the demon child of a mango and a chestnut and smells like a dumpster. For real, you’ll get yourself a $1000 fine if you try bringing some durian on any public transport in Singapore, national fruit or no.
Cost of street food in Singapore
Potential for durian fines aside, the flavor mecca of the hawker hall would be enough to send me scurrying to Singapore even without the prices, which are low enough to encourage you to try one of everything. You’ll only pay more than $8 for a specialty meat dish, otherwise there are plenty of noodle dishes to be found for around $4 and a whole sea bass, egg soup, rice, and watermelon will cost you just $5.
If you’re not sure what to eat, just look at which stalls have the longest line. Singapore is a country full of foodies and the locals know what’s good. Hop in one of those long lines and know that the wait will be worth it. Who knows, you might have just ended up at one of the Michelin starred hawker stalls.
Street food with Michelin stars? Yep, you heard us.
Oh yeah. I’m not the only one who’s hot for the hawker centers. Of the 39 restaurants awarded Michelin stars in Singapore, two of them were awarded to hawker stalls, making history in 2016 as the first Michelin stars awarded to street food vendors in the world.
Walking past the humble stall of Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, you’d never know it had won such an honorable distinction except for a small sign on the wall and the long line winding out of the building as people queue up for some of the best street eats in town. People come from all over to try their delicious pork noodle soup.
Liao Fan Hawker Chan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice (the name itself is a mouthful), makes the cheapest Michelin starred meal you can get. It costs around $2 and, you guessed it, is a chicken rice dish. They’re really proud of their low prices and even their plastic water bottle labels remind you, if the many large posters weren’t enough, that you’re getting the cheapest Michelin meal on the market.
You’ll probably see some elderly folks selling packets of tissues, which may seem like a strange addition to the hawker center, but they don’t cost much. Apart from being useful because napkins seem to be in short supply (or maybe I arrived during a napkin shortage, who knows), you can also use them to mark your territory. Once you’ve picked out your seat, leave your tissue packet there to keep it safe while you prowl the halls for your favorite foods. Don’t be intimidated by the hustle and bustle, it’s all part of the Singapore street food experience and the people are incredibly friendly.