Singapore Hawker Stop: Chinatown Hawker Centre

Following our Saturdate hawker challenge at Tiong Bahru Food Market, Paul and I ventured out again the next Saturday this time to Chinatown. We really enjoy being able to challenge ourselves to a try a different set of hawker specialties given a set budget of S$15. Will we be successful again this time?

Chinatown is such a fun place to be. There's this old world meets modern city feel that I really love. Growing up, our trips to Singapore would never be complete without visiting this area. Mommy totally loves this store called Yue Hwa which, believe it or not, still exists at present. The store must have been around for more than 20 years! Here, she would buy our super soft and fluffy comforters, beddings and all sorts of Chinese-style linens and products that you can think of. I think it was also here where I bought my chongsam blouse, once upon a time, when I was crazy enough to think I wanted to channel Mulan.

Anyway, so one Saturday night in Chinatown, Paul and I walked pass the Chinatown Street Market which is one of those tourist-y spots here in Singapore. It's a giant open-air bazaar quite similar to Hong Kong's Mongkok or Manila's tiangges. If you're looking for touristy souvenir items, then this is the place to go. Walk all the way to Smith Street and you'll find a tall building that somewhat looks like a parking building. Go up the second floor and you'll be greeted with hundreds (well, it seems to me that there are more than a hundred) food stalls ready to serve you.

I had to do a little research prior to our trip as we do not have the time to check each and every stall out. Following the suggestions given by some local food bloggers, here's what we had that evening:

chinatown hawker 1
Satay Bee Hoon (S$3) from Ann Chin. 
Imagine delicious rice noodles coated with slightly spicy and peanut-y satay sauce. It was really good! I initially had a hard time enjoying it due to the spiciness but it was just too good to give up halfway. So with my face turning bright pink and sweat beads forming on my forehead, I happily enjoyed the Satay Bee Hoon which was one of our best finds that evening. Paul loved the peanut-flavoured sauce which is similar to the dip you'd get when you order bbq satays. We think it's one and the same.

chinatown hawker 9
Popiah (S$1.60) from Ann Chin.
I love popiah as it's closely similar to the Amoy lumpia that I grew up loving. I love the filling that had a good balance of sweet and savory notes. There's no need for additional sauce as it's well-seasoned already.

chinatown hawker 6
The wrapper was thin and the way they served it was to have the Popiah sliced into bite-sized pieces making it mess-free and easier to enjoy. They say, Ann Chin not only sells Popiah but they also supply the skin to other stalls too. That said, they surely mean serious business when it comes to their popiah.

chinatown hawker 2
Roasted Pork Rice (S$3) from Emerald Soya Sauce Chicken.
For a while there, I was a bit confused. At first glance, the stall's name has the words "soya sauce chicken" in it making you think that this is their winning product. Then, your eyes wander towards the glass panel and you'll see a "King of Roasted Pork" signage as well. I guess one stall can have two winning products after all!

chinatown hawker 3
Anyway, I got a plate of Roasted Pork Rice which Paul really enjoyed. I can totally understand why. How can you not love the crunchy skin that crackles so loud in every bite? The sauce that covered the pork went perfectly well with rice and the meat was very tender too. We loved it! Now, to try their soya sauce chicken next time.

chinatown hawker 4
Black Carrot Cake (S$3) from Super Mummy.
When dining at hawker centres, there are just some things I can't do without -- carrot cake, Hokkien prawn mee and dessert! Seeing this stall, I was enticed to try their black carrot cake. Prior to this, the best that I've tried was at Maxwell Food Centre that's just a few blocks away also in the same district (Chinatown). I wonder if they'll be able to top that.

chinatown hawker 5
I must say that it was indeed a close match. The carrot cake was very chewy and the sweet soy sauce was just right. Just a trivia, there are no carrots used in cooking this dish but instead they had radish cake which, in Chinese, directly translates to "white carrots" hence the name. I liked it but I still think they come second vs. the one that I had at Maxwell. Paul, on the other hand, thinks this one was better. I guess, you'll have to try it yourself to break the tie, okay? Tell us your choice!

chinatown hawker 8
For dessert, we had Ice Cendol (S$1.50) which is Paul's favourite Singaporean dessert. It's similar to Manila's famous halo-halo minus the overly loaded fillings. This one is more straightforward with 4-5 ingredients only. Between this and the one at Tiong Bahru, I think I prefer the latter more.

So how did we fare?
Starting money: S$15
less: Popiah (S$1.60)
less: Satay Bee Hoon (S$3)
less: Roast Pork Rice (S$3)
less: Black Carrot Cake (S$3)
less: Ice Cendol (S$1.50)

Remaining balance: S$2.90 = ANOTHER SUCCESS!!!

Visit Chinatown Hawker Centre at the Chinatown Complex, 335 Smith Street, Singapore. From the Chinatown MRT go out Exit A and walk towards Smith Street. 

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