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Tastemakers Guide To Tiong Bahru Market

Tastemakers Guide To Tiong Bahru Market

This month, our Burpple Tastemakers hit up a tried-and-tested treasure trove of local eats — the recently renovated Tiong Bahru Market! This hawker stalwart boasts a staggering variety of favourites and in true Tastemaker fashion, our bona fide foodies steadily ate their way through them all. From super shiok char siew worth waiting for to award-winning chicken rice and soft, silky tau huay, there's plenty of inspiration packed into this guide to ready you for your next visit here.
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As Tastemaker Jonathan Wong rightly states, this is one version of Chwee Kueh ($2.50 for five pieces) he would gladly eat, "over and over again". This certainly justifies the perpetual queues snaking in front of Jian Bo, despite their sometimes gruff customer service. The kuehs have the right amout of bounce, and the preserved radish topping features a wonderfully savoury and spicy combination of flavours and umami textures — perfect for starting the weekend right! To ease your guilt, take Jonathan's advice to slurp up the rice cakes quickly, as they will very soon be encircled by a pool of oil.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Jonathan Wong

Min Nan is the stall to go to for stellar prawn noodles. According to both Tastemakers Vanessa Kou and Julius Lim, the broth here is on the lighter side and not quite packed with robust, punchy flavours as one might expect, so opt for the Pork Rib Prawn Noodle Dry (from $4.50), which sees the noodles tossed in pork lard and fried shallots — shiok! The noodles have Tastemaker Vanessa's vote of confidence. A mix of rice vermicelli and yellow noodles, they were cooked "just right – firm, not soggy or undercooked". The pork ribs are also spot-on tender and meaty, adding to a very humble but hearty bowl.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Vanessa Kou

The Tastemakers tasted a dozen dishes on their outing, but for many, the fishballs and fishcakes from this stall are one of their favourite finds. This is definitely not your run-of-the-mill, factory made fishballs. According to Tastemaker Casey Tan, the Teochew stall owners use fresh ikan parang (wolf herring) in their fish paste, resulting in a lovely "Q-ness" that Tastemaker Julius Lim loves. Prices range from 50 cents to $4 — do get the otah fishcake and tofu cheesecake! Everything is fried on the spot and served steaming hot with a piquant chili sauce on the side. The variety can be staggering, so it might be wise to take Tastemaker Julius' advice to have the stall-owners pick out a selection for you.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Casey Tan

"Meticulously grilled to crispy perfection and stuffed generously with crunchy bean sprouts and sliced cucumber, Tiong Bahru Market’s Tow Kwar Pop makes for the perfect snack in between meals," says Tastemaker Vanessa Kou. And she's right. At this stall, the beancurd puff is painstakingly grilled over charcoal. Choose to get a few pieces of the tow kwar pop tossed with some fresh fruit for $3, or go for the full rojak set for $4 or $5. Tastemaker Jean Kao loves that they use sweeter red apples in the mix, compared to the tart green apples most rojak stalls prefer, along with thin and crispy crackers that add a lovely crunch. While Tastemaker Jean wishes the owner had been more generous with the prawn paste sauce, Tastemaker Vanessa appreciates that it doesn't overpower the dish, so you can taste how all the ingredients come together.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Jean Kao

A recipient of the Michelin's Bib Gourmand this year and last, this Hainanese chicken rice stall is one of Tastemaker Julius Lim's favourites, and in his opinion, the star in the humble plate of Chicken Rice (from $3) is undeniably the rice. He deems it to be one of the most aromatic versions one can find in Singapore (and not overly oily); to him, the rice shines so brightly that it risks overshadowing the chicken, which itself is cooked beautifully, sliced into thick, moist and tender pieces. Apart from the usual condiments of dark soy sauce, chilli and ginger, the dish also comes with a small portion of preserved vegetables, so good for an extra shot of umami!
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Julius Lim

At this wanton noodle store (you'll recognise it by its insanely long queue), it's the char siew that the crowds will gladly wait an average of 30 minutes for. The Wanton Noodles (from $4) are springy and decent, but pale in comparison to the barbecued pork on top — beautifully charred, sliced into thick slices and just delicious. To make the queuing worth your while, take the advice from Tastemakers Casey Tan and Amanda Liu to go for the Premium Cha Shao Noodles (from $6), which is made from the armpit of the pork (bu jian tian in Mandarin). According to Tastemaker Amanda, this prized cut results in char siew that sports the perfect ratio of meat to fat, so it's tender without being overwhelmingly fatty. Pro tip: The char siew sells out early, so make this a breakfast outing.
Avg Price: $10 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Amanda Liu

A hidden gem in Tiong Bahru, this stall is your best bet if you like your char kway teow dry and packed with lots and lots of wok hei. Tastemakers Justin Teo and Russell Leong aptly put things into perspective: "The wok hei is obscene". The Char Kway Teow ($3) is redolent with the coveted smoky aroma that sets this stall apart from its competition (our Tastemakers all preferred this to the sweeter version at popular Tiong Bahru Fried Kway Teow), but there's plenty more to set it up for the win. This includes noodles slicked in a sweet, savoury and mildly spicy sauce, along with generous portions of lup cheong, fish cake, cockles and vegetables that Tastemaker Justin said gave crunch and helped to cut through the greasiness.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Justin Teo

It's getting increasingly difficult to find good tau huay, which explains why Tastemaker Victoria Hii was thoroughly won over by this silky smooth Beancurd (from 80 cents for a small bowl). Although it looks firm on the outside, the beancurd actually has an incredibly soft mouthfeel, and is both light and refreshing. Tastemaker Victoria describes the syrup to boast "a subtle sweetness that is not overpowering, bringing out the rich soy flavor of the pudding". This makes a perfect dessert to round off what is possibly a rich and oily hawker meal; or come early and have this for breakfast! Pro tip: This stall sells out early, so make sure you arrive well before noon for the best chance of snagging a bowl.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Victoria Hii

Tastemaker Emily S loves the Bak Chor Mee ($3) here, and it's easy to see why. Let's start with the basics. The stall owner is generous with the vinegar, and the chilli packs just the right amount of heat. This provides the perfect canvas for the generous amount of ingredients, which includes sliced and minced pork, mushrooms and greens. Their claim to fame however are the homemade meatballs ($1 for a pair); make sure to add these on! Tastemaker Emily describes the meatballs to explode with flavours once you sink your teeth in, thanks to the filling of juicy minced pork. We're sold!
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Emily S

The area may be known for the lauded 178 Lor Mee that comes with fried shark meat, but most of the Tastemakers actually prefer the Lor Mee ($3) from this stall. Tastemaker Justin Teo likes that the ingredients are more flavourful here in comparison, especially the pork belly, which he describes to be sweet and well marinated. Add on extra for $1! The gravy too is a winner — flavourful and not just full of corn starch. Tastemaker Justin heard that the chilli at the stall is great, and plans to return soon to try. We would love to, too!
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Justin Teo

The other Michelin Bib Gourmand winner (2016 and 2017) on this list, Hong Heng certainly deserves the accolade, our Tastemakers declare. The wok hei may be conspicuously lacking in this plate of wet Fried Hokkien Mee (from $3), but listen to Tastemaker Russell Leong when he explains that it's only because the rich, luscious prawn broth used is more than savoury enough. Tastemaker Julius Lim later found out that the stock was painstaking made by boiling prawn heads for many hours. As for the noodles, Tastemaker Julius describes that they are first fried till charred, before the broth is ladled over for them to soak in all the goodness. The result is a super umami flavour that penetrates each spoonful. The chilli on the side is "mild tempered in terms of spice, but is brash and bold in terms of flavour", says Tastemaker Russell. Pile it on, with a good squeeze of lime for zing.
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Julius Lim

This stall is well known for their Dinosaur Ice Kachang ($2.30), where Milo powder and red beans take the place of sugar syrup and evaporated milk, but most of the Tastemakers found it way too sweet. Instead, they highly recommend the Cheng Tng ($2). Most stalls load the cheng tng with sugar syrup and cheaper fillers like agar agar, which is why Tastemaker Jonathan Wong really appreciates that this bowl comes chock full of traditional ingredients like dried persimmons and candied winter melon. This means that you can easily slurp up a whole bowl of refreshing sweet soup without it becoming a sugar overload. We'll have two, please!
Avg Price: $5 per person
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Jonathan Wong

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