[Singapore] Hawker Food Tour with Wok 'n' Stroll
While I usually seek out fine dining restaurants in cities that I visit, there really is no better way to experience a city's culture than through its local food so what better way to understand Singapore than through its vibrant hawker food culture! With over 100 hawker centers in the city, the myriad and diversity of food stalls can be overwhelming so having a local guide you through is a great idea. We went on a hawker food tour with Wok 'n' Stroll - a company that runs many different types of food tours in Singapore such as ones focused on vegetarian food, the wet market in Little India and even behind the scenes of the "Crazy Rich Asian" movie. Our tour guide Lionel Chee was very friendly and knowledgeable - not only is he a licensed food tour guide, he is also a chef specializing in Peranakan cuisine. We met up in Chinatown and managed to hit up 4 different hawker centers around the area in the span of a few hours! Lionel was flexible and tailored the tour to our interests along the way plus he took care of everything from lining up to buying the food - all we had to do was eat! While we were not new to hawker centers in general, we still learned a lot from the tour - I highly recommend this experience when visiting Singapore.
Our first stop was at the famous Hong Lim Market & Food Center. Since we started in the morning, one of the first things Lionel got us was Nanyang coffee (kopi) from Tong Seng Coffee Shop.
While we were drinking our coffee, Lionel started gathering different dishes for us to try - one of which was this curry chicken noodle. This turned out to be my favorite dish on the tour. I loved everything here - the well balanced curry flavors, the smooth and flavorful chicken, and the soft fried beancurds which had soaked up all the flavors from the broth.
Then we had a plate of Wu Xiang Xia Bing (5 Spice Roll) with a variety of deep-fried fritters such as prawn cracker, sausage, fish balls, pumpkin, etc.
The last thing we tried at Hong Lim was the Ma Bo Lor Mee with fish cakes, braised pork belly, braised egg and yellow noodles in a thick black gravy.
Our next stop was the People's Park Food Center where Lionel took us to try Koo Kee Yong Tow Foo Mee which is well known for its fresh handmade bean curd!
The signature set included a bowl with 5 different types of bean curd with fish paste plus a bowl of egg noodles with minced chicken on top. Indeed the bean curd tasted very fresh with a nice clean taste to them.
Then we walked into the heart of Chinatown to check out Chinatown Complex Food Center which is the largest hawker center in Singapore with over 260 food stalls. Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (the first hawker stall to be awarded 1 Michelin Star) is located here. As we were talking to Lionel about his experience cooking Peranakan cuisine, he decided to get us a kueh pie tee from one of the nearby stalls to try. Kueh Pie Tee is a popular Peranakan dish with a crispy thin pastry cup filled with shredded turnips, grated peanuts, egg bits and garlic chili.
When Lionel asked us if we liked desserts, of course I said yes and off he went to get us this delicious bowl of chendol with shaved ice, gula melaka, coconut milk and Japanese azuki beans!
Then finally we navigated to the last stop on our tour - Maxwell Food Center which is home to some of the most famous hawker stalls in Singapore! This of course includes Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice which has make its way over to Hong Kong. But Lionel wanted us to try Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice instead as that is his favorite out of the two. Since I had already tried Tian Tian before, I was up for trying Ah Tai who actually used to be the head chef at Tian Tian.
And the verdict is...we also prefer Ah Tai over Tian Tian! The chicken flavor was just stronger and very tender. But honestly I think Hong Kong's Hainanese chicken is actually much better because of the variety of chicken we use.
And even though we were already pretty full at this point, Lionel managed to sneak in one more bite - a very traditional Fuzhou fried oyster cake stuffed with minced meat, fresh prawns and oysters! It is apparently pretty hard to make and rare to find in Singapore nowadays.
Thank you Wok 'n' Stroll and our tour guide Lionel for the fun and informative hawker food tour!
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