When you want to taste the best food in Singapore, then you have to visit Chinatown. I did a food trail in Chinatown and exploring local food and snacks here. Besides the local food, you can also get a whole lot of varieties of souvenirs or little trinkets here at very cheap price.
Let’s talk about food first. This time I am exploring cheap local food in hawkers center and some snacks and biscuits from the local pastries shop here.
You will find over two hundred food stalls located on the second floor of Chinatown complex. The first floor is the wet market where you can buy fresh food such as fish, meat, and vegetables and bring back to cook.
Let’s go up to level 2 to look for local food to try.
Located at: Block 335 Smith Street
Hong Kong Mongkok Tim Sum
Hong Kong Mongkok Tim Sum only starts operating from 11 am but the good news is you can go get the queuing ticket first when you arrive in the food court. I have to warn you the queue is very long before the shop starting at 11 am.
They don’t have very much to choose from but only 6 items from the menu. All selling at $2.50 each set.
3 pcs of siew mai in a set. I like the fact that their siew mai does not contain too much fat and very dense and solid. After one bite, you will feel the strong smell of sesame fragrance burst into your mouth. You can eat it like that or dip it with their homemade chili sauce.
Char Siew Pao
This is another star item in Hong Kong Mongkok Tim Sum, also three in a set. Their bun is bigger than the one we have other places. The filling is generously given and also tasted as yummy. You can tell they are freshly made after one bite. Really worth it for such a price tag.
Prawn Rice noodle roll or Chee Cheong Fun with Prawn
Wow, I can’t believe with this price tag we get to have the chee cheong fun with so many pieces of prawn. I find the rice noodles roll can be even softer as I prefer the softer version. The sauce taste average, don’t have the wow factor but worth to get it as it is cheap. They also have the char siew rice noodle roll.
I also ordered the chicken feet and I think it is another must eat, the sauce is just nice for me. Not too sweet and not too salty. The chicken feet are well stew with their homemade sauce.
The last item is the har gao. I did not order so I leave it to you to explore the taste.
I waited about 1.5 hours to get my turn to order the food. Since I was too full so I ordered take away to bring home. After
Bedok Chew Kueh
Bedok Chwee Kueh is popular with few branches in Singapore. Once I saw the queue is so long, I said to myself, I need to find out it is really worth it to get this. I wanted to know if the Bedok Chwee Kueh tasted better? Ok. Chwee kueh is a type of steamed rice cake and served with preserved radish. I first tasted Chwee Kueh in Singapore and never had that in Malaysia.
It is about $0.50 each and 2 for a dollar. It was served in a brown paper wrapper and a small plastic fork. When it was my turn, I had a proper look at the white steam chwee kueh. I found that it was slightly bigger than the one I had elsewhere.
I had a small bite and found out it was very smooth and soft, the aromatic radish is the key to these snacks. Without the radish, it would be tasteless. Of course, best to go with the chili too.
The 1950’s Coffee
This is Michelin recommended coffee and Kaya toast. Well, I don’t find it super special. The half-boiled eggs aren’t as big as Ya Kun and the kaya toast is just normal. The coffee does not taste any different too. Not sure why there is a line?
Located at: Stall #02-048, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre
Old Amoy Chendol
I have to say this is my favorite hunt so far, the chendol store is located in the yellow zone. A handsome young man greeted me immediately when I stand in front of the store. I ordered one bowl of chendol and a lady made in front of me. First, the white coconut milk was poured generously over the shave ice. Then added in their red bean and green chendol. The final touch was the soul of this dessert, the gula Melaka. Love to see how she poured over the top of the shave ice, look super yummy for a hot afternoon.
The ice was finely shaved, not too rough but not as fine as those snow cones. Just to my liking. The first spoon in my mouth, I knew their coconut is fresh and the same goes with the gula Melaka. I heard Old Amoy are very particular with their ingredients and ordered their gula Melaka from Sarawak. As for the green chendol, you can still taste the fragrance of pandan. I like how the chendol is not too artificial green and not too long and thick. As for the red bean, they braised it so well. I have nothing to complain about this dessert, everything is perfect and the taste is what I use to have when I was little. Glad to have found this taste again here.
Childhood Snacks, SaK Kei Ma
I was surprised that this uncle made Sak Kei Ma in the hawker stall here. Sak Kei Ma is the pastry we enjoyed during our childhood. I remembered every time we visited Ipoh, my parents will get some of the Sak Kei Ma. I bought some pastries from Panji cooked food and found out their pasty indeed so fresh. It is really hard to find such a stall these days. The Stall owner is the guy that you see frying the dough, he is the stall owner. Many of the stalls here were moved from the street of Kreta Ayer to Chinatown Complex a few decades ago, and Pan Ji Cooked Food stall is also one of those stalls from Kreta Ayer.
The caramelized snacks were then cut and packed in different sizes. Big and small in the plastic bag. Small size consists of 2 huge pieces in a block and you can tear them away from each other easily. I have to repeat, the taste is awesome as it is freshly made. You really can’t compare those from the supermarket with fancy packaging.
Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Fu
Didn’t plan to have yong tau fu at all but saw the long queue and got me curious so I join in the queue as well. I have to say this stall has the longest queue in Chinatown Complex Market Hawker stall. First, the price is attractive, only $3 for 6pcs. The stall next door is also owned by Xiu Ji Yong Tau Fu, you can see they handmade the fish paste and filling in the tau fo and tau pok.
When I have gotten my bowl of Yong Tau Fu, I notice there are Ikan Bilis or anchovy on the noodles. I think this is another signature of their stall. One bite and you can tell their Ikan Bilis is so crunchy and freshly fried.
In Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Fu, don’t expect to get the sweet sauce. I tell you why, because you don’t need it for their Yong Tau Fu. Their version tasted super fresh and you can just eat it like that.
Lim Chee Guan Bak Kwa
Every Chinese New Year you will super long queue for Lim Chee Guan Bak Kwa. The line is long and the waiting time can be more than an hour to get your bak Kwa, the sweetmeat that traditionally eaten during the Chinese New year. It is the Chinese version of beef jerky except this is sweet.
Luckily there weren’t any lines at all so I just to get some. They also offered me a slice to taste and indeed their Bak Kwa is soft and tender with a balance of sweetness.
All Balling Dessert
It’s time to recharge and some dessert again. All Balling dessert sell different type of glutinous rice balls, traditionally eaten during the Lantern Festival or “dong Zhi” on the last few days of the year.
Some of the choices you can choose from are peanut, sesame, yam, red bean and matcha balling. I choose sesame balling as it is always my number 1 favorite. You can also choose the soup base from peanut, ginger, almond milk and longan red dates soup. My choice is the ginger soup as it was raining heavily outside so I needed to get some ginger soup to warm up my body.
Tong Heng Delicacies
The pastry shop is located about 2 mins walk from the Chinatown food complex. They a huge variety of pastries but their signature would have to be egg tart. I was shocked to find out that the price tag on their egg tart is about $2 each, usually price elsewhere is only $1.20-1.40. I noticed there is a queue despite the location isn’t so ideal. Every customer has to order their egg tart even their egg tart is a lot more expensive. I too ordered a few egg tart to check out why. One bite you can tell the difference and I have to say this is one of the best in Singapore. I hardly find a good egg tart in Singapore so far. The egg tart pasty is really good, feel buttery and the egg tart is just melting in your mouth like silk. They also have coconut egg tart which I find it quite unique, one bite you can taste the fresh shredded coconut which adds in a different texture and fragrance.
Besides egg tart, Tong Heng also has a lot more to offer. If you order 6 items, they will put it into a beautiful yellow box for you. I find it very presentable especially if you are bringing as a gift. It not, it would be a waste of the environment.
285 South Bridge Road Singapore 058833
What is next?
After the food trail, you can go check out the colorful old shop housing here. I just love the vibrant color of these housing which makes a great backdrop for your photos.
The murals is another good way to discover Singapore’s past and present. Simply stroll around and you will fill beautiful art everywhere.
On the ground floor of the Chinatown complex are the retail shops that have a mix of options, both the traditional and innovative stuff.
You will find many of the shops here owned by seniors and their regular customers are also elderly folk. The things sold here are cheap, a great place for the tourists to get their souvenirs back home.
Traditional wedding & gift shop
Indian temple nearby
Chinese temple – Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Chinatown MRT Station
The nearest MRT station to get to Chinatown is the Chinatown MRT station. There are several exits so do check before you come out of the station. Go to exit A to visit the Chinatown Complex food court.
Doing a food trail is fun and if wanted to do a food trail, here are some tips for you. Don’t come with a totally empty stomach as some good food stall always have a line to queue. The queuing part may not be fun but when you tasted your food, it may very well worth it but sometimes it may not be the case. Anyway, at least you can still solve your curiosity about the food stall, find out why so many people queuing, and the reason behind it. Well, it also depends on your own liking as well.