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Tastemakers Guide to Best Hawkers in Chinatown

Tastemakers Guide to Best Hawkers in Chinatown

From utterly satisfying curry chicken cutlet noodles made for cheat day breakfasts to the tenderest of soy sauce chicken and a ma la xiang guo stall that delivers flavours sans queues, this guide is packed with a treasure trove of foodie finds. Dress down, and go hungry!
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A long-term favourite among the Burpple community for its soy sauce chicken, Fatty Ox also turns out some amazing char siew. According to Burpple Tastemaker Peter Wong, all the meats here are roasted in a traditional charcoal oven, thus explaining the spot-on texture and flavour. The much raved about soy sauce chicken is tender and juicy, with a hint of Chinese herbs. What really impressed though was the char siew, which Peter describes to be "out of this world", thanks to the perfect 1:2 fat to meat ratio. The caramelised bits, as well as hits of ginger, make for off the charts deliciousness. The noodles, too, are something to rave about. Springy, with no distinct alkaline flavour, these make the perfect canvas to showcase the stellar meats. Order the Soy Sauce Chicken and Char Siew Mee ($5) to taste the best of everything.
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Peter Wong

The humble Mr Fish at Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre certainly lives up to its title of serving the best fish soup in Singapore. The menu is more extensive than most fish soup stalls, but the stellar cooking means that whatever you end up ordering will turn out to be delicious anyway. Keep it safe and classic with the Sliced Fish Soup ($4), which sees generous portions of fresh sliced fish swimming in a super umami, almost creamy broth. Burpple Tastemaker Zhihui Lim explains that this is made by painstakingly boiling fried fish bones, not by adding milk! Also good is the Black Bean Sliced Fish Hor Fun (from $5 for small), which boasts good wok hei, slippery noodles and a silky blanket of robust black bean sauce.
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Zhihui Lim


Tucked away at one end of Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, this nondescript stall dishes up really quality Japanese rice bowls at a fraction of the price you'll pay in restaurants — we heard it's a favourite among office executives in the area. Burpple Tastemaker Jason Wong ordered the Katsudon ($5), which sees freshly fried crispy pork cutlets covered in still slightly runny scrambled egg, sweet katsu sauce, soft onion and nori strips, atop a mound of well-cooked short grain rice. While the cook may take awhile to get your dish ready, Jason assures us that it is worth the wait, for he could taste the care that goes into the food; the hospitable service from the friendly auntie was a nice bonus! Other dishes you may wish to try include the Ebi Don Set ($5.50) and the Unagi Set ($8).
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Jason Wong


The Peranakan dishes at this cai fan stall makes Nonya food affordable, and our Burpple Tastemakers are loving both the prices as well as the variety. Burpple Tastemaker Sheryl Lyx topped her plate of rice with fried chicken, chap chye (Nonya stewed veggies) and stir-fried long beans, all for $4! Soft and sweet, the chap chye is proof of its long stewing hours, while the chicken is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, like a good fried chicken should be. What really sets it apart though is the turmeric-laced marinade, which adds a whole level of flavour and complexity to the meat. Ask for a heaping spoonful of the amazing sambal belachan on the side.
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Sheryl Lyx


A favourite on Burpple's Hot 100 list last year, this is also a go-to among Burpple Tastemakers for soy sauce chicken. Order the Signature Soya Sauce Chicken ($10 for half chicken, $20 for whole), which Burpple Tastemaker Russell Wong declares to be the "tastiest and most savoury birds on the block". He describes the chicken to have soaked up the legendary gravy, resulting in bites full of slightly herbal, savoury flavours, and slightly sweetened bouncy skin, thanks to the coating of honey that's slicked on post-boil. While you're here, order the Signature Braised Beancurd ($1.40 per piece), which is smooth yet firm, and a dream for the palate when drenched in the soy sauce gravy.
Avg price: $10
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Russell Wong


A stalwart at Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre, this stall draws crowds of all ages who gather for the freshly handmade yong tau foo ingredients, all of which sport an abundant use of fresh fish paste. Prices start from $3 for six pieces with bee hoon or noodle; pay an additional 50 cents each for extras like crispy ikan bilis, which you should order without question — the deep-fried anchovies add both flavour and crunch, and are what transform a good yong tau foo dish into a great one. Burpple Tastemaker Peiwen T. recommends going for the dry option, which sees your choice of noodles tossed in generous amounts of fragrant sesame oil.

Pro tip: The stallowner is taking a break until 4 January, so come after!
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Peiwen T.


Another Hot 100 list favourite, this Chinese noodle stall in Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre is a respected spot for Xiao Long Bao ($6 for 10), Hong You Chao Shou (dumplings in chilli oil and vinegar, $4.50 for 10) and Zha Jiang Mian ($3.50). The xiao long baos are plump and juicy, and are said to rival those at Din Tai Fung. The hong you chao shou on the other hand sees minced meat dumplings drenched in a bath of vinegar, chilli oil and Sichuan spices. The dumplings are prepared fresh upon order, but Burpple Tastemaker Julius Lim assures us that it is well worth the waiting time. The zha jiang mian is a steal at $3.50, and makes a good bed to soak up dripping sauces from the dumplings.
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Wei Zhi Chiang

Don’t let the queues at Ri Ri Hong Ma La Xiang Guo put you off satisfying your ma la cravings, not when our Tastemakers have discovered a worthy competitor sans crazy crowds. Located right in front of Ri Ri Hong’s second stall (facing Chinatown MRT exit C), this kiosk outside of People’s Park Complex offers similar prices ($1 for veggies, $2 for meat, $3 for seafood). Old Chengdu’s signature is their ma la soup, which packs a numbingly spicy punch thanks to the generous amount of fresh and dried chillies with a tinge of sourness. Their rendition may see a heavier hand on oil, but Burpple Tastemaker Wei Zhi Chiang was impressed by how well the ingredients soaked up all the flavours. Pairing their bowl with heaps of conjac, luncheon meat and oyster mushrooms, Burpple Tastemaker Irene Arieputri declared this one of the best ma la soups around!
Avg price: $10
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Irene Arieputri

"Freshly fried cutlet atop springy egg noodles, drenched in lemak Chinese-style curry," shares Burpple Tastemaker Jason Wong, who we say is spot-on with his description of this stall's winning dish of Curry Chicken Cutlet Noodles (from $4). The flavourful curry gravy, which reminds Burpple Tastemaker Felicia Sim of her grandmother's cooking, is thin enough to drench the noodles yet thick enough to be utterly satisfying, while the crisp golden and tender chicken cutlet is always freshly fried, thanks to the never-ending queues. Approach the pork lard at your own risk — it's free-flow.

Pro tip: The stall opens from 8:30am and closes around 3pm, so file this away for cheat day brunches. They're also taking a break from now until 7 January, so visit after!
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Xing Wei Chua


In our opinion, the best hawker meal on cold, rainy days has got to be Teochew porridge, preferably with tons of side dishes, shared among our favourite makan kakis. When the weather calls for it, gather your foodie friends for a meal to remember at Teo Heng Teochew Porridge. In all honesty, every dish here hits the spot, so it's bound to be a good meal, whether you keep it simple with salted vegetables and stuffed taupok, or if you go all out and pile the table with boiled squid, oozy braised eggs and the like. Be sure to order the fish cake, which is springy yet soft, and super fresh tasting. Our Tastemakers also liked the rabbit fish, whole squid and well-braised innards. Expect to spend an average of $5 to $7 a person.

Pro tip: The stall is closed until 31 December, so come by in the new year!
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Wei Zhi Chiang

According to Burpple Tastemaker Marc T., the Malaysian-style Char Siew Wanton Noodles (from $4) here has been consistently good since he started patronising the stall six years ago. In fact, Ji Ji is so good that business now spans across three stalls! Marc usually orders the $5 bowl, which comes loaded with char siew, braised mushrooms, fried and steamed wantons, and leafy chye sim, atop a bed of egg noodles. What really stands out for him is the dark soy sauce that the noodles are tossed in, which he describes to be "savoury with a tinge of sweetness", with added fragrance from fried shallots and shallot oil. Burpple Tastemaker Casey Tan warns that the chilli here is pretty fiery, so pace yourself.
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Marc T.

This dish of Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee ($4.50) is, quite simply put, the ultimate comfort in a bowl. Just ask Burpple Tastemaker Wei Zhi Chiang, whose dad is a diehard fan of these noodles. She's tasted the dish at both outlets (the other one's in Bugis), and declares them to taste the same, although she noticed that the cook seems to be more generous with the toppings here. The curry gravy is no doubt the star — flavourful, yet light enough to be drinkable. Take Wei Zhi's lead and order extra Tau Pok ($1) to soak up all that aromatic gravy. On top of your choice of noodles (thick beehoon, thin beehoon or yellow noodles), you'll get chunks of poached chicken, fishcake and sliced potato — filling and delicious! The chilli here is tasty, but the dish is great as it is.
Avg price: $5
Photo by Burpple Tastemaker Ice Blossom


The top picks, popular finds and newly opened places in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, curated by Burpple editors!

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