Granted, I'm not one of those who would travel to exotic places in Malaysia to get the most wonderful Penang Laksa or Ipoh Hor Fun, but the wonderful thing of Singapore is simply the ubiqutuous hawker centres, where you can get all sorts of varied assorted local dishes in one comfortable setting, complete with dessert, sugar cane, yum.
Anyway I used to travel across Singapore looking for good hawker food, and a few outstanding food centres stem to mind:
1. Maxwell Food Centre; i wish i still had the photos which i took of the best chicken rice in singapore, the anthony bourdain-certified Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice of Maxwell Road Food Centre. The rice was done to a delightful texture, each grain pristinely cooked in chicken stock. The chicken was tender and moist, showcasing the delicate, natural taste of the chicken; the chilli was to die for, nicely tangy and sour just the way I like it; plus the gizzards were smooth and chikenish. tian tian hainanese chicken rice, just the way i like it.
But maxwell also has other stalls; the porridge is particularly famous. there are two stalls, both are not too bad; also the ham chin peng is also reputedly quite famous since they allow you to fry yourselves the ham chin peng. i confess though that everytime i go to maxwell i eat chicken rice, so i'm not a very good judge! but it's worth it just for the chicken rice alone!
2. Ghim Moh Food Centre. Being a former Rafflesian studying in RJC (when it was still at ghim moh before relocating to Bishan) Ghim Moh brings back many memories of after-class outings to the veritable food centre. smelly, dirty, but still chock-ablock with great food.
Fried Kway Teow: my friend from rj swears by this; it's probably the most greasy char kway teow one can find, the uncle tosses in the pre-cooked kway teow, lots of nice hum, lapcheong, and alot alot of fried lard into a gooey mess with black sauce and chilli; cholestrol-inducing but so so delicious.
Beef / Fish Sliced Hor Fun: the purple plate stall sells good stuff, the sauce has the requisite amount of wok hei which lifts the common ingredients.
Jiu Jiang Shao La: my friend's (another friend's) favourite roasted duck stall; the roast duck skin is crispy and the meat succulent; get the drumstick, which promises little fat but with nice crisp skin; the roasted pork is salty enough and fatty enough for me and melts in your mouth; i don't really dig the char siew but it's still good.
Hock Soon Carrot Cake: not bad as well; order the black version which is really good. honestly.
Hainanese boneless chicken rice: by the corner, it features relatively smooth chicken drizzled with a sweetish sauce that makes all the difference; the rice still needs improvement though, sometimes the grains stick together, but the smoothness of the chicken makes this quite a good choice for chicken rice whenever you're at ghim moh.
Dessert stall: great; RJCians will still reemember the mango milk plus the usual ice-kachang and all the other traditional desserts.
Fish soup: i like fish soup and this one is nice and cheng.
3. Bukit Timah Food Centre
Bukit Timah Food Centre serves the neighbouring residents in bukit timah area, being the biggest food centre there;and it has a couple of great stalls which can compete with the stalls in other more famous markets.
a. Mien; this uncle really whips up a storm of pasta for you; he shakes the frying wok so hard and tosses the pasta up and across in order to seal in the flavour, and all for an affordable $3.50 (i think), for aglio olio, or caborana, or anything to your fancy. great stuff.
b. satay bee hoon; the sauce is chunky and tasty and there's always a long queue for satay beehoon aplete with cockles and cuttlefish.
c. fish porridge; very cheng (and gives you very fresh fish; you can choose the different typees of fish)
d. carrot cake; the name is called seng kee carrot cake if my memory serves me well; it's good, with enough chye poh and crispy on the outside whilst remaining soft inside.
4. Chomp Chomp.
Being a westerner i haven't really often had the chance to go to chomp chomp, but the satay beehoon is indeed classic; so are the carrot cake (corner shop), fried hokkien mee, sigh.
Everytime I go to newton i only eat 2 things. the fried hokkien mee and the oyster omelette. i'm sure everyone else has their favourite stingray stalls, but for me these 2 will do nicely. thye hong serves great hokkien mee which has the necessary noodles stir-fried in the prawn stock with the right hint of seafood flavour. the wisma branch is also great. with the chives adding a nice touch.
hup kee oyster omelette with another branch at glutton square also does the oyster omelette the way i like it, with the batter being nice and fresh, leaving a very nice texture that allows one to taste the texture of the tapioca flour, (it's not just eggs), and goes well with the fried oysters in the middle.
OKay enough of food!
but there are other gems, such as adam road hawker centre for the prawn noodles (noo cheng) which features a tasty but light stock served with the customary big prawns and pork ribs, as well as the nasi lemak which is indeed, admittedly, very fragrant (the rice) and the chicken wings are crispy and delicious.
or mei chin road which features the famous margaret drive chicken rice (sin kee) which moved over there, on the second floor. the ginger sauce is to die for, as well as the chilli. the chicken is nice and smooth and succulent.
hard to compare which you;d rather go for, tian tian or mei chin's version; i like tian tian's innards and chilli sauce and chicken, while mei chin's rice is nicely oily (i don't like it too individual, the rice) and the chicken is smooth as well;....wee nam kee is probably a distant third!