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Hawker Gems

Hawker Gems

Go local! This list highlights the best of hawker fare, both well-known and unfamiliar, across the island. Eat cheap, but more importantly, eat well!
Jason Wong
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Owner Joseph is bringing his family business into the future with a pretty sweet new logo and contemporary rebranding along with an active social media presence, yet still retaining time-honoured recipes that more than prove their worth in the quality of his food.

The roast chicken is supple and full of flavour from the umami-rich soya sauce, whilst elsewhere the other crucial component is equally good; each grain of rice is fairly glistening from chicken fat and bursting with aromatics. The rice is now served the traditional way in a bowl as they believe it makes for more flavourful eating.

I topped up with a braised egg and a helping of crispy-skinned roast pork and my whole meal came up to only $5.60!

Hai Kee Soy Sauce Chicken (Changi Road branch)
324T Changi Road, Singapore

Taste: 3.5/5

Smooth, bittersweet and robust is how I like my coffee ice cream, and Sng Gor is on point with all the above qualities. Take advantage of the fact that eat-in ice cream is served in an oversized cup and order a shot of espresso to create an impromptu affogato.

Taste: 3.5/5

When I'm in the hood and feel like eating something clean yet tasty, I get this. The QQ noodles tossed in black sauce then topped with a sprinkling of minced pork are simple yet enjoyable, but it's their unique handmade fine cut yong tau foo I'm really here for.

Steeped in a robust soy bean broth, each delicate looking piece is flavourful unlike the generic, bland tasting mass-produced versions sold at run-of-the-mill yong tau foo stalls. The Eight Treasures set includes the emerald green spinach tako, tau kee(fish paste stuffed beancurd skins), stuffed tofu, fishball and springy shrimp cake. They go great with the stall's specialty chilli sauce

Marine Parade Promenade
Unit 01-180
84 Marine Parade Central

Taste: 3.5/5

I can't recall having a better lor mai gai in recent memory. Made in-house, the fragrant glutinous rice is steamed in a metal bowl with tender pieces of chicken and a blend of shaoxing wine and soy sauce until each grain has fully absorbed all the flavours, so much so that some parts of it become deliciously melty and close to disintegration.

Taste: 3.5/5

I don't think there has been a time I was this perilously close to enthusiasm about fishball noodles, but these are the shizzle. QQ noodles tossed in the perfect ratio of lard, vinegar, sambal chilli and buah keluak sauce that's imperceptible but adds a touch of umami. The $6 version gets you 2 springy fishballs, 1 fish and pork ball, 1 fish paste-stuffed tau pok and 2 of those amazing ker keow dumplings.

Made from Malaysian yellowtail, the balls are large and bouncy, and though some might find them lacking in seasoning, I for one enjoy its clean and unadulterated taste.

what we are all really here for though are the her keow dumplings. Marinated pork and flat fish — which gives it that salty, fishy tang I love — wrapped in a slippery, gooey skin made from tapioca flour and Malaysian yellowtail.

Taste: 4/5

There's always a perpetual queue at this popular lor mee stall near Eunos MRT, but it's still shorter than Xin Mei Xiang, and my preference is for this stall's version over the latter's.

The magic is in the thick but not starchy braising sauce that already has the perfect balance of sweet, salty and sour without the need for additional vinegar, but that condiment, along with minced garlic, cut chilli, coriander and a sourish sambal is provided for you to add to your own taste.

For its price, there's an ample amount of ingredients, including thin slices of five spice seasoned pork belly, two crispy pork nuggets, half a braised egg, and what I deem a cut above the rather boring fish flakes used by their more famous counterparts - two golden fried fish fritters that were crispy yet moist and tender, with ample flaky fish within.

Fu Chun Laksa Lor Mee, Unit 01-25
Eunos Crescent Market & Food Center
Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays

Taste: 4/5

The concentrated crustacean-y goodness of the broth is the main draw of Da Dong's prawn noodles - a thick, oily, orange stock, full of sweetness and robust shellfish flavour, imbued with the essence of countless prawn heads and pork bones. Savour each sip of the ambrosial liquid, because requests for extra soup will not normally be entertained.

The wild prawns used are succulent, but there's only 3 half-slices, and the pork ribs are tender and fall off the bone easily. I felt the price was slightly steep relative to the serving, though the quality definitely warrants return visits.

Taste: 4/5

I love the smell of fried chicken in the morning. Freshly fried cutlet atop springy egg noodles, drenched in lemak Chinese-style curry, where have you been my entire life? The free flow pork lard makes the whole affair even more glorious.

Taste: 4/5

Oh mee rebus, we meet again. My annual pilgrimage to Bedok Camp for IPPT may be an arduous experience, but the reward at the end is made all the more sweeter knowing that a piping hot plate of noodles in gravy awaits me like a pot of saucy gold at the other side of the 2.4km rainbow.

The slurp-worthy sauce is not overly gloopy or starchy, and has a runnier consistency than most, which is just the way I like it. Subtly sweet and spicy, brimming with flavour and hiding the occasional soft peanut, the gravy clings well to the yellow noodles, but you'll find yourself drinking it straight from the spoon more often than not.

Pro-tip: add on a begedil for 60 cents. It may not be homemade, but they coat the patty in egg before deep-frying it. The result is a paper-thin crispy egg batter encasing a fabulously fluffy potato cake within.

Satay Solo
Unit 01-09
Blk 1 Bedok Road
Bedok Food Centre

Taste: 3.5/5

You could eat at Chinatown Complex everyday for a year and still not have fully plumbed the depths of the sprawling food labyrinth that is the largest hawker centre in Singapore. Case in point - this innocuous stall selling Japanese food nestled at the far end(or start, depending on where you enter from) of the hawker centre, where a small queue of office worker types wait patiently for their orders of high quality yet affordable donburi sets.

My katsudon came with 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. It may take a while, but you can taste the care that goes into the food, and service was hospitable from the friendly auntie too! Every order also comes with a bowl of miso soup and Japanese pickles.

#02-003 Chinatown Food Complex, 335 Smith Street, 050335

Taste: 3.5/5

It's a mistake I'm more than happy to make everytime I underestimate how generous the portions are and over order. The best way to eat this is to drizzle black sauce and oil over the invitingly aromatic smoky rice before mixing in the tender chunks of marinated chicken, salted fish, lup cheong and green vegetables. My favourite part is the super charred crust adhering to the bottom of the pot that I ease out with the addition of more black sauce and oil acting as lubrication. $12 feeds 2 big appetites(or 3 normal eaters). Be prepared to wait up till 45 minutes in the evenings as they get pretty popular during dinner time.

Zhao Ji Claypot Rice
Unit 02-053, Chinatown Complex Market

Taste: 4/5

I don't care if it's not the best in town, or even if the noodles are clumpy in places, because Yong Huat is comfort food in my hood. The magic is in the liberal use of lard oil which imbues each strand of vermicelli with deep umami, and the crunchy pieces of deep-fried lard that you know you shouldn't eat but do so anyway.

On top of the smoky noodles, portions are generous with lots of fish cake slices, fatty pork belly and prawns. A squeeze of lime to cut through the heaviness and an oily, slightly sweet sambal belacan brings everything together.

Alibabar, 125/127 East Coast Road

Taste: 3.5/5

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