You see, hawkers and hawker centers play a very important part in Singapore's heritage. I can still remember my first hawker meal was back in the late 90s, I was about 8 years old then and my parents brought me to Newton Circus for dinner. Back then, there weren't a lot of hawker centers, I can still remember visiting the ones in Newton as well as People's Park in Chinatown. Sanitation was still a big problem then as we would watch in horror whenever the "uncle" would just "wipe" our table with a piece of chopsticks, pushing all morsels of food down to the floor. The tables would be sticky, sometimes oily, the floor extremely dirty. I have a number of dirty hawker stories back then but it's pretty much not applicable anymore at present. Big thanks to the strict guidelines that the government as implemented to guard against unacceptable sanitation and cleanliness practices. After all, this is food we're talking about.
Now, here's one local specialty that brings back a lot of yummy childhood memories for me -- the Bah Kut Teh. We used to spend a lot of summer vacations here in Singapore and Mommy would make it a point to take us to a good Bah Kut Teh shop every single time we're here. Furthermore, we would also have it in the morning as this used to be a popular breakfast dish. Nowadays though, people would have their Bah Kut Teh for lunch or dinner as it comes with rice and/or fried dough fritters (bicho bicho / yeo tiao) thus it's best eaten during the mid-day as we normally would prefer to have something light and healthy for breakfast.
Moving on, we also checked out Ru Ji Kitchen. They specialized in Fishball Noodles Soup. For those visiting Singapore, aside from our very popular Hainanese Chicken Rice and Cereal Prawns, please make sure to also try a bowl of Fishball Noodle Soup. Singapore fish balls are really delicious as these are mostly handmade thus making it moist, springy and really delicious. On days when I'm feeling under the weather, I would get myself a bowl of fishball soup as it basically has a similar effect as what one would get from a chicken soup (you know...the one that's for the soul).
Just to share how much everyone in our side of the table loved Toast Hut's Kaya Toast, we all had an average of 2 full plates each of kaya toast despite feasting on all the other hawker dishes that evening. Yum yum yum! I have yet to make a trip to the Old Airport Road Food Centre to visit Toast Hut and have more delicious kaya toasts.
Our last stop was at Xiao Di Fried Prawn Noodle's corner. I've tried one of the best Fried Prawn Noodles during one of our Saturday Hawker Challenge so it's pretty hard to top that. Xiao Di's version was less oily though and they were pretty generous with the seafood toppings which I was happy about.
What a fun dinner! It really makes us realize that Singapore truly deserves to be called Asia's food haven and by just seeing the wide-array available in any hawker food centers will instantly make every meal a gastronomic experience.
Here's where you can find the 6 hawker stalls that I've mentioned above:
Habib's Rojak : Block 503 West Coast Drive, Ayer Rajah Food Centre, Stall 68
Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat : 95 Joo Chiat Road
Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh : 26 Sin Ming Lane, #01-114/117 Midview City
Ru Ji Kitchen : Block 51 #01-37 Old Airport Road Food Centre
Toast Hut : Block 51 #01-52 Old Airport Road Food Centre
Xiao Di Fried Prawn Noodle : Block 153 Serangoon North Avenue 1, Guan Hock Tiong Eating House
*photo credit: Paul Ang
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