Makan Time

, Makan TimeDisappointing food—don’t bother waiting
, Makan Time, Makan TimeMediocre food—wouldn’t wait more than a few minutes
, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan TimeGood food—wait if you have to
, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan TimeLong wait and excellent food—wait as long as it takes!
The latest old hawker center to be renovated, Taman Serasi is looking modern with light stone walls, slick furniture and seating spread out over an outdoor terraced dining area and an indoor air conditioned space. Although this hawker center is in the Botanic Gardens, it unfortunately doesn’t have a view. The cooking is all indoors which makes it stuffy in spite of the air conditioning, while only some of the outdoor tables have fans. Nevertheless, a spacious layout and large umbrellas help keep things cool. Because this place is so new only a few stalls are operating to a less than capacity crowd. But more stalls are set to open very soon.
, Makan TimeMost popular stalls:
Jia Le H.K. Roast Delicacies. Choose from chicken, duck and char siew served with noodles, rice or in soup. Our char siew rice ($5.50) came with thick slices of char siew, a serving of vegetables and soup with chunks of meat. , Makan Time, Makan Time
• Thohirah Restaurant in Jalan Kayu. Yes that’s the stall’s real name. Occupying two stall spaces, this stall sells roti prata, thosai, roti john, murtabak as well as briyani. Interesting fillings include crab murtabak (for $6) and banana with milk prata. Our paper thosai ($3) came with four lovely dips: Chick pea curry, dhal, coconut chutney and a chili-onion mix., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Yummy Crab. It’s crab with everything at this stall. Crab with black pepper, crab with bee hoon, crab with sambal chili and even (the dubious sounding) crab with cream cheese. Expect to pay at least $18 for a plate. , Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
Looking spruced up after its revamp, Newton now boasts newly planted trees, neatly trimmed hedges and paved floors. It is still attracting both locals and tourists, with perhaps more of the latter A strategically positioned busker was playing the erhu in a corner the night we were there, and there was a good buzz in the air. Unlike the old Newton, where stalls and tables were laid out in pockets, the new one has stalls that encircle an alfresco eating area. Tables in the middle enjoyed a breeze, but those closer to the stalls were stuffy from the cooking nearby. Some stalls have a “self-service” sign (so you know what to do), others will gladly take down your order and bring you your food (just remember your table number).
, Makan TimeMost popular stalls:
• Stall #26 Joy Yorokobi. This stall sells seafood done in a variety of ways. With table service there is no queue per se, but you wait at your table for up to 10 minutes. Our grilled sambal stingray ($10) was nicely done and tasty, and generous for a small portion. This stall also offers steamed red snapper (which a father and son pair were gobbling up), black pepper crabs which sell by the gram and squid., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #72 Laksa Yong Tau Fu. Surprise surprise, this stall sells laksa, yong tau fu and a combination of the two. With fast service there is no wait and our laksa ($3) was very nice. It had good soup with a tinge of coconut which was not overpowering, with generous servings of dried beancurd. , Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #7 Siti Khalijah Seafood. It’s a good 20-minute wait for your food at this stall that sells satay as well as seafood. We had a mix of chicken, beef and mutton satay ($0.50 a piece) which was tender, lean and well done. Those who like their seafood can also ask for fried squid, grilled fish and sambal prawns., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #73 Hup Kee. This stall does one thing—fried oyster omelet—and does it well. Our omelet ($5) took 15 minutes to arrive and was delicious with a generous amount of oyster., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
Every weekday at lunchtime, this two-story hawker centre is hot and full of hungry people from the offices and business nearby. At its busiest, the cleaners have a hard time keeping up, and tables take a while to be cleared and dustbins fill up to the brim. Tables are also pretty close together, which means you have to gingerly worm your way through the crowd to avoid spilling your food on someone, or getting dumped on yourself. Nevertheless, the food is pretty good and many loyal customers feel that the heat, sweat and grime are a small price to pay. Despite being just renovated, it’s definitely due for another renovation.
Most popular stalls:
• #01-08 Jian Mei Win seafood. This stall sells seafood in clear broth or with your choice of noodles such as bee hoon, ee mian, ban mian, and mee sua. An average of eight people stand in line at any one time, and the wait is about 10 minutes. We waited 15 minutes for our seafood ban mian ($3) which came in a huge serving with prawns, ground pork, fish and vegetables in a tasty broth., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• #01-35 Seng Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice. Because service is quick, the wait here is not long at all, even though the stall is popular. Our chicken rice ($3) was tender and tasty, and the rice was nice and fragrant. Our portion could have been bigger though., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• #01-70 Sedaap Nasi Bryani Special. There are few stalls in Singapore where a plate of food still costs only $2 but this is one of them. We suspect that this is why this stall is popular because, unfortunately, it cannot be for the quality of the food. Our $2 nasi lemak was boring, with only ikan bilis and a fish patty for toppings. You can also try their nasi bryani, mee goreng and roti john—hope you have better luck with those., Makan Time
• #01-20 Lian He Shao La Fun. This stall sells roasted pork, duck and chicken, with rice or noodles. We were not terribly impressed with the duck rice ($3), but, judging by the queue of eight people, others obviously find the food here just fine., Makan Time, Makan Time
• #02-100 Piao Ji Fish Porridge. Winner of food awards, this stall’s selling point is that they cook the porridge over a charcoal fire. Their fish is also very fresh and served in generous amounts, while the clear broth is better than what you usually get at hawker stalls. For this privilege you have to stand in line with 10 other people, wait about 20 minutes, and pay $5.20 for a bowl of porridge. , Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
Another popular weekday lunchtime hawker centre is Maxwell Road. Because this old hawker center is spacious and well ventilated, thanks to a renovation in recent years, eating here is quite comfortable. The people who run the hawker center appear to have got their cleaning operation down pat—you don’t see stacks of dirty plates and bowls lying around, even during the very busy lunch hour, and the washing station is located nicely out of sight.
Most popular stalls:
• Stall #68 Hainanese Curry Rice. Run by two brothers, this popular stall easily sees a line of 10 people at peak hour, who queue for the spread of pork chops, pork belly, fish, squid, tofu, stir fried vegetables and other toppings for rice. If you want to check out this stall, make sure it is number 68 as there is another stall with the same name.
, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #66 Yi Jia Chao Zhou Yu Chou Yu Tang. This mouthful of a name roughly translates as “Teochew fish porridge and fish soup.” Pomfret is what people queue for here, and you can choose to have it with bee hoon, mee sua or rice ($5 a bowl). The wait is long—about 25 minutes—so this stall is not an option if you’re in a hurry. But if you’re not, the delicious fish is worth the wait., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #12 Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. It’s a good half an hour wait here at the height of the lunch hour for what we thought was very ordinary chicken rice ($3). Portions are generous though, and the chili sauce is way, way hot., Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #31 Xing Xing. This cute little stall sells an assortment of kueh, such as ondeh ondeh and tapioca cake (roughly $0.40 a piece or three for $1). Try and time your purchase for when the kuehs come fresh out of the steamer—the dozen or so people standing in line are. We liked the kueh, and can see why this stall recently won a food award., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #54 Zhen Zhen Porridge. Despite its humble appearance there were 14 people standing in a slow moving line when we ate there, waiting for their choice of fish, chicken or century egg congee., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
This evergreen hawker center, also upgraded within the last few years, draws a mix of locals and expats who come with their local buddies. It’s often crowded at dinner time but not so packed that you can’t get a table. Because the hawker center is circular with stalls on the circumference and tables in the middle, it can feel a little hemmed in and stuffy with the only ventilation coming from above.
, Makan TimeMost popular stalls:
• Stall #2 Selera Rasa Adam Road No 1 Nasi Lemak. The owner must like playing poker because he named his dishes after the card game. A Fullhouse gets you a chicken wing, otah, egg and ikan bilis, while a Royal Flush is all that plus a potato patty. We waited 20 minutes before we were served our meal (fish, egg and ikan bilis for $3), and were satisfied with what we got but not thrilled., Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #27 Noo Cheng Adam Road Prawn Noodle. Although this stall is popular, there is almost no wait because service is quick. As its name suggests it sells prawn noodles, with the option to add pork ribs and whole prawns. Our dry noodles with soup on the side ($4) were yummy, with generous bits of prawn, pork, fish cake and pork crackling., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #10 Bahrakath Mutton Soup. Like the prawn noodle stall, this one has fast service and no wait. In your mutton soup you can choose to add rib, leg, or one of the more adventurous options of brain or tongue. Our regular version ($3) was very nice, and considerately skimmed of grease., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #31 Teck Kee Hot and Cold Dessert. All the local faves are here: Ice kachang, cheng teng, ice jelly, pulot hitam and more. For only $1.20 our cold cheng teng was lovely and refreshing., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
Squish in with the thousand other people from the CBD that have lunch here during the week. Although there is air conditioning, it is stuffy because the tables are bunched up close together. But tables are cleared very quickly and all cutlery is disposable.
Most popular stalls:
• #01-14 New Hong Kong Congee. Even though the queue here was nine deep, it moved fast. Our liver and fish congee ($5) was absolutely delicious, and was one of a wide variety of congees available that included other adventurous options such as pig’s giblets and regular stuff like fish and prawn., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• #01-31 Thunder Tea Rice. Go healthy at this hawker stall—it is one of the very few in existence to give a brown rice option alongside normal white rice. You only pay $0.50 more for the healthy version and both options come with vegetables and a pungent green tea sauce on the side. It’s served up in five to 10 minutes time., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• #01-09 Tomikuwa Japanese Restaurant. Japanese stalls in food courts are commonplace these days, and often offer standard Japanese fare at good prices. After a fast queue of four people, we tried the chicken teriyaki ($5.50), which was great., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• #01-10 Blanco Court Fried Fish. Offering fish soup with noodles or rice and other seafood dishes like sambal prawns, this stall has a good lunch crowd and charges about $3 a serving. The fish was fresh, and fried crispy on the outside yet soft and tasty on the inside., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
One of the more “upscale” food courts around, Food Republic at the top of Wisma Atria has little luxuries like benches where you can wait for a table to free up, push carts selling drinks and snacks, and a newsstand. It is well staffed so tables are almost always clean. Old fashioned Chinese tables are also comfortably spaced and the air is well ventilated. You could linger for a while here and not feel that you have to leave immediately after your meal due to the lack of comfort.
, Makan TimeMost popular stalls:
• Stall #22 Thye Hong. Over 20 people—yes, you heard us right—were waiting in line for the fried hokkien mee, char kuay teow and oyster omelet that this stall fries up in giant woks. As you can imagine the wait is long, but to speed things up the stall prepares big batches of food at a time. We waited 10 minutes for our hokkien mee, paid $4, and loved every drop., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #14 Formosa Delight. Quite an assortment of stuff is available here, such as ban mee, fried dumplings, and black pepper chicken with noodles, making it a popular but fast-moving stall. You pay about $4-5 a bowl., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #07 What You Do Prata. Get decent prata with various fillings, as well as nasi biryani, murtabak and teh halia., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Fruit juice stall. In addition to the usual fresh fruit and juices, this stall also offers interesting variations such as smoothies, milkshakes and even chocolate fondue for $10!, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
This food court is massive—it’s easily one of the biggest around. With so many offices in the vicinity it gets crowded, so in spite of its size it is sometime hard to get a table. One stall (#3) cleverly managed to cordon off an area for itself so its patrons are practically guaranteed a table, while the others share general seating. The stalls we checked out were popular but quick-serving.
, Makan TimeMost popular stalls:
• Stall #3 Chutney Café Express. Come here for briyani, prata, samosa, naans and lassis­—we recommend the mango lassi at $2.60.
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• Stall #11 Fishball Noodles. However you like your noodles, this stall can do it. Fishball noodles, Teochew dumpling noodles, meatball noodles, mini-wok noodles, laksa, and even abalone noodles are all available here. Our fishball noodles ($3) were yummy, with chili so strong that it numbed our taste buds!, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #22 Chinese Mixed Rice. Popular at lunch time, this stall dishes up the usual rice and variety of dishes. Its specialty is claypot fish head curry (from $15)., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
• Stall #6 Mini Wok and Steamboat. A variety of rice and noodles with seafood or meat is cooked in small woks (the size of a single serving) or served as dippers for steamboat. We liked our beef hor fun for $4, with tender beef, smooth noodles and tasty gravy., Makan Time, Makan Time, Makan Time
Well it seems some queues do know a thing or two. Some of the best food is at the end of a line worth waiting for, but in many instances you don’t have to wait for great grub. Our advice is, if you really want to try that famous hawker stall just be kiasu and get there early. Otherwise it’s get in line.