A Quick Guide to Singapore’s Famous Hawker Centers

A visit to Singapore won’t be complete without enjoying a meal or two at their convenient, famous hawker centers. These hawker places are known to provide quality dining experience to satisfy guests without making them break the bank. With Singaporean cuisine’s rich infusion of cultural influences (Chinese, Indian, Malay and Indo), your meal at one of these stalls is surely something to look forward to!

But before you begin to browse through the popular and most positively-reviewed hawker centers in Singapore, it is important that you have enough background about the local hawker culture. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind:

1. Choping
Learning how to chope and how choping works in Singapore hawker centers is ideal especially if you’re planning a visit soon. Guests leave small packet tissues on tables purposely – indicating that this particular table has been reserved or “chopped”. Other items which are commonly used to chop a table are pens and even smartphones. So, don’t be surprised at the sight of these items on the tables especially on a busy night!

2. Check the hawker stall rating
In accordance with local laws, each hawker stall is obliged to prominently display a rating to let people know how safe the food they serve are. The ratings range from A, B, and C. You can eat in peace at hawker stalls with A and B ratings – but Cs are considered to be for the brave of heart! We’re not saying you shouldn’t try the food these C-rated stalls offer. It’s just best to eat with caution.

3. Be mindful of the queue
If there’s long lines for the latest iPhone release, there’s also long lines when it comes to hawker food! Singaporeans are known to vote using their feet. Meaning, there’s a good reason behind why there’s a long line in front of a particular hawker stall. If you want to try a meal that won’t disappoint, join in the queue and point at what the person before you ordered. Be adventurous during your visit at the Lion City.

4. Try things other than chicken rice
Chicken rice is known to be a staple Singaporean meal option, hence it’s not a surprise to know it is considered as one of the city-state’s national dishes. While trying chicken rice over your visit is ideal – don’t limit yourself to all-chicken rice meals throughout the duration of your stay. Try other local favorites: such as rich noodle soups, fish head curry, oyster omelet, and pig organ soup. That way, you’ll surely get a grasp of the island’s authentic local cuisine.

5. Age does matter!
Older hawker centers are considered to be a better dining option for tourists, since they have no air-conditioning. This allows you to enjoy your meal in a great ambiance with an authentic Singaporean dining feel. Modern and new hawker centers tend to be located within temperature-controlled settings, so you are most likely to pay more and even miss out on some classic, signature local specialties tested through time.

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