In 2019, Singapore submitted a nomination to have its hawker culture included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. UNESCO then announced the inscription on 16 December 2020 and described the hawker centre as ‘community dining rooms’ where people from many backgrounds come together to share the experience of dining over breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Amidst the emergence of hipster stalls and inventive fusion dishes in the local gastronomic scene, it is essential to recognise the long-standing traditional hawker cuisine dishes that have long been synonymous with Singapore’s identity. Hawker centres typify Singapore’s cosmopolitan lifestyle and offer distinctive cuisines from various communities.
Even though this list of hawker fare is by no means comprehensive, let’s take a moment to recognise the top 6 popular hawker food options in Singapore:
1. Chicken rice
Chicken rice is the true national cuisine of Singapore, aside from chilli crab. No hawker centre does not offer chicken rice. Our passion and pride for chicken rice, a daily favourite of the majority of Singaporeans, is undeniable. Simply excellent is the flavorful rice served with the juicy, delicate chicken meat – either steamed or roasted. For a mouthwatering and enticing chicken rice experience, drizzle some thick, sweet black sauce and some pungent chilli!
2. Roti prata
Everyone enjoys some good ol’ roti prata for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or supper! There are always prata options for everyone, from piping hot and crispy tissue pratas to mouthwatering ice cream pratas coated with chocolate sauce. If you are hungry in the middle of the night, roti prata will satisfy your desire since it is a favourite alternative for supper foodies. You can dip your prata in dhal curry or sweetened milk if you don’t exactly enjoy a spicy fish curry.
3. Nasi lemak
We all enjoy nasi lemak, no matter the time of day or night. Your taste buds will definitely be thwacked by nasi lemak. In addition to being flavorful and aromatic, nasi lemak is cooked with coconut cream and pandan leaves. The original nasi lemak consists of fried anchovies, egg, cucumber slices, ikan selar (yellowstripe scad), and sambal. There are many other ingredients you may add (spicy sauce).
4. Nasi briyani
Nasi briyani is a hawker dish that is perfect to keep you satisfied and pleased since it is seasoned with robust spices and covered with large chunks of beef. Tempt your palate with the combination of savoury pork, long-grain aromatic rice, and acar (vegetable pickles).
5. Ayam penyet
Ayam penyet is a fried chicken dish from East Javan in Indonesia that features fried chicken that has been smashed with a pestle and mortar to make it softer. It is also served with white rice, sambal, cucumber slices, fried tofu, and tempeh. Ayam penyet can be found in many hawker centres and Indonesian restaurants all around Singapore. However, if you would like to try one of the best ayam penyet dishes on the island – specifically in Tampines – please visit our restaurant or order online here.
Without Indian rojak, what is a hawker centre? Everyone likes a little mixing and matching, and rojak provides that. You can pick from a range of ingredients, including tempeh, boiled potatoes, cuttlefish, hard-boiled eggs, and fried dough fritters (fermented soybean cake). The mix of flavours is just enticing, and the excellent dipping sauce only makes it better!