Singapore is an absolute gem of a city when it come to dining. There are so many amazing food options in this city that anyone visiting will not know how to spend their time. If you’re planning to visit Singapore for three days, you won’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the food options available.
One of my favorite things to eat in Singapore are the hawker markets. This is Singapore street food at its finest and is one of the most special dining styles in the world. Now only are they cheap which helps keep the cost of living in Singapore down, but you also get some of the best food in the city. There are dozens of hawker markets in Singapore but as a tourist, you’ll likely only have time to visit a few. Maxwell hawker market is one of my favorites and I live down the street from this place. I’ve been here countless times already in the short time I’ve lived in Singapore.
This guide will go through my favorite stalls so if you’re planning to eat at Maxwell, these options will more than suffice for your meal!
Note that all stalls have a stall number and they are usually organized numerically. I will list down all the stall numbers so you can easily find it when you’re at Maxwell.
History of Hawker centers in Singapore
Hawker centers in Singapore have a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s. During that time, street vendors known as hawkers operated their food stalls along the streets, selling a variety of local dishes to the public. These hawkers typically carried their wares in baskets and traveled from place to place, setting up makeshift stalls wherever they could find customers.
Over time, as the population increased and urbanization took hold, the government recognized the need for a more organized and hygienic dining environment. The first purpose-built hawker center, the Tiong Bahru Market, was established in 1951. This marked the beginning of a systematic approach to hawker food centers in Singapore.
The concept of hawker centers gained popularity, and more centers were built across the country in the following decades. They provided a convenient and affordable option for Singaporeans to enjoy a wide variety of local cuisines in a clean and regulated setting. The hawker centers became an integral part of Singapore’s culinary landscape, reflecting the multicultural diversity of the country through the range of food options available.
In recent years, hawker culture has gained global recognition, with Singapore’s hawker centers receiving UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity designation in 2020. The government has also introduced initiatives to preserve and promote hawker culture, such as the Hawker Centers 3.0 initiative, aimed at enhancing the hawker experience, sustainability, and food heritage.
Sisaket Thai – #01-85
Thai food is not uncommon at Singaporean hawker centers and you’re bound to find one or two especially in the centers that are closer to the CBD. Maxwell has one of my favorites in all of Singapore at Sisaket Thai Food. I come here all the time as I find the Basil chicken with rice , or Pad Krapow ($5.50) to be fantastic. The dish is so flavorful with a perfect blend of Holy Basil, oyster sauce, and chilis and is definitely one of the best I’ve had in Singapore.
Don’t sleep on their other dishes too. The Kang Kong is fantastic here as they cook it with chicken. The Tom Yum Soup is fantastic and it can be added to a main dish along with papaya salad for $2.50 extra. Pad Thai is a solid option for those looking for the classic.
Dishes to avoid here are the Pad See Ew which is not a Thai pad see ew but rather just regular kway tweo renamed to Pad see ew.
Tian Tian Chicken Rice
Chicken Rice is probably Singapore’s most famous and most well known food. There are hundreds maybe thousands of places in the city to find chicken rice. Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice is probably one of the most well known and famous places in the city.
You know they are good when they occupy not 1 but 2 stalls next to each other in order to produce enough of their famous product to satisfy the hordes of people that queue every day. Speaking of which, prepare to queue up for this place especially if you’re coming during peak times.
The chicken was cooked to perfection and had a juicy, tender texture. The rice was fragrant and went well with the savory soy sauce. The chilli sauce added a spicy kick to the dish and the garlic was a nice touch. The service was fast and efficient, and the staff were friendly.
Tian Tian is not my favorite chicken rice stall in Singapore but it is definitely one of the better ones and can highly recommend if you’re already in Maxwell. It’s more expensive than most chicken rice stalls just because they are so famous. In fact, they are a solid 20-30% more expensive than even the other chicken rice stalls in the same hawker center! Literally, you could walk 10 meters to Ah Tai chicken rice and get it for cheaper.
Ah Tai Chicken Rice – #01-07
Located nearby to Tian Tian chicken rice, Ah Tai chicken rice is my other go to stall when Tian Tian is too busy (which is almost always). The owner of Ah Tai was a chef at Tian Tian before setting up his own stall next door in 2012. The menu here is significantly smaller than Tian Tian but you only really need to the basic stuff when it comes to chicken rice.
Only the poached version is available here, but the chicken meat is fresh, tender and springy, with a thin gelatinous layer beneath the skin. Has lovely sweet savoury flavour, with the gravy lending a savoury salty nutty note.
The rice is fluffy but has a more firm bite than elsewhere, with grainy savoury flavour. Paired with dark sweet soy sauce for salty sweet notes, and vinegared chili with a tangy sour sweet spicy kick.
Taste of Jiang Nan – #01-62
Jiang Nan is another amazing stall that serves Taiwanese style pork chop. This is served over fried rice or noodles depending on what you’re in the mood for. They also serve delicious pork dumplings with chili oil.
I’ve been here a few times to order the XO Pork chop fried rice after reading so many good reviews. They use Japanese pearl rice which is fluffy, fragrant, and goes very well with egg and scallion. They also do a good job with the wok hei giving it that slightly smoky flavor. Paired with the juicy marinated pork chop, and you have a winning combination!
Rojak – Popiah & Cockle (#01-56)
Rojak and Popiah are Singaporean delicacies that are a must try when visiting the island nation. While they originate in Java and the Malay peninsula, they have become incredibly popular in Singaporean cuisine.
Rojak is a salad mix of vegetables and fruits , dough fritters, that’s covered in a palm sugar sauce and served with peanuts and ginger.
Popiah is a Teochew word for thin pancake that is stuffed with vegetables (sometimes meat), and a semi sweet & spicy sauce.
Both items are on the sweeter side but I wouldn’t stray as far to call them deserts. They are a great accompaniment to other more savory dishes like chicken rice, oyster omelet, and more.
Alimama is one of my favorite stalls in Maxwell for their Nasi Ayam Panggang. This Indonesian stall is famous for their grilled chicken over charcoal. We all know charcoal grills provide the best flavor and this is becoming increasingly difficult to find. I think their chicken served over a banana leaf filled with rice and veggies ($7.00) is probably one of the best deals in all of Singapore. Not only immensely flavorful, but is very filling at the same time with their enormous portions.
They are also located next to Tian Tian chicken rice which is one of the reasons I discovered it. The lines were just too long at Tian Tian that I ventured over to the smoky grilled smells emanating from this stall.
They have two homemade chili sauce options, one is an orange/red and the other is green. Both sambals are incredibly flavorful with an incredible amount of spice.
Danlao Egg Rice – #01-73
Danlao, which translates to “egg boss” in Cantonese is a relatively new hawker stall specializing in Hong Kong style egg rice. The guys working here are half the age of all the other vendors but don’t let that fool you. They know how to make incredible food and it shows with the demand that they receive.
Come here for an amazing silhouette of silky fluffy eggs smothered over rice and topped with various condiments. The most popular is with crispy chicken ($6.00) which makes for one of the most incredible combinations I’ve had. Top it off with their home made chili sauce and it is a flavor bomb.
For the veggies, the straight up tomato and egg option ($4.50) is not only delicious but surprisingly filling.
Tong Xin Ju Special Shanghai Tim Sum – #01-92
If you’re craving dumplings, I don’t blame you. Dumplings are among the best food invented by man and spread from China all the way to even the likes of places like Georgia famous for its khinkali and Poland famous for its pierogies.
There are countless places to eat dumplings in Singapore but the only place that does them properly in Maxwell hawker center is at Shanghai Tim Sum. They serve a delicious order of 8 fried dumplings for $4 SGD.
The dumplings are very crispy, non-oily, and thin skin wrapped with juicy meat filling. They are incredibly flavorful and go great with any meal. The stall also serves classics like hor fun and Shanghai rice cake but I’ve only tried the dumplings. Note that these are not Shanghai style soup dumplings (xiao long bao). You’ll have to go across the street to the Chinatown food complex to find those!
Szechuan Cuisine – #01-87
For something a little different than the rest of the Singaporean food, visit the “Sichuan Cuisine” stall at #01-87. This stall is popular but never overly busy. They cook all the Sichuan classics like Mapo Tofu, cumin beef, fish slices in chili broth, and much more. The food here is super spicy as you would expect it so be prepared to sweat.
This stall even makes one of my childhood favorites which is eggs with tomatoes. It might not sound like much, but the combination will surely not disappoint!
Satays in Maxwell
The satay stand is one of the only stands in the Maxwell food court that serves charcoal grilled satay skewers. It’s similar to the stands in Lau Pa Sat but the chicken and peanut sauce are superior in my opinion.
They have the standard chicken, beef, and mutton skewers accompanied by a Malay style peanut sauce. The grill flavor is strong on these satays and they actually taste more like meat than the ones at Lau Pa Sat. I’m not sure what it is about the skewers in Lau Pa Sat but they just taste a little off. This stall grills the meat beautifully so you have that nice char to your satays. My only complaint is the skewers are a bit small and overall there’s not much meat.
You must order 10 skewers at a minimum.
Fu Shun Shao La Mian Jia – #01-71
If you’re looking for solid Cantonese style roasted meats, this is the place to be. Estalished in 2008, Fu Shun has the best roasted meats in Maxwell with the typical char siew, crispy pork belly, and roasted duck. Enjoy these roasted delights from an array of dishes like Wanton Noodles, Dumpling Noodles, Mixed Meat Noodles, Duck Noodles, Roast Duck Rice, and Mixed Meat Rice!
This place opens up at noon and there is always a line which is always a good sign. If you’re in a big group, get the roasted meats by themselves without the rice which makes sharing an easier prospect.
Old Nyonya Laksa – #01-04
For all laksa lovers, make sure to visit Old Nyonya for this clasic Malaysian savory seafood soup dish. Laksa is probably one of my favorite things to eat in Singapore. I’m not sure if it is healthy but my goodness is it delicious. While I find the best laksa to be in the Geylang area in Singapore’s east, Old Nyonya always hits the spot for me in Maxwell.
The soup is hearty but not as thick as others that I’ve tried. The soup base is flavorful but I always add more chili as I like it spicy. The portions here are not that big but perhaps that’s just the Maxwell price premium. Nevertheless, it’s always good to see a Laksa option in the CBD!
Fried Kway Teow Stall #01-53
This stall literally has no name to it. The signs just read the items they have on their menu which is traditional kway teow, Hokkien Prawn Mee, Fried Oyster, and Carrot cakes. There are a few stalls in Maxwell that serve these items but I consistently return to this place. The lines are always long on a weekday night so it must be good.
I’ve had the kway teow here which is tasty with plenty of wok flavor. The Prawn Mee is great although I have to admit I’m not an expert on this item. I love their carrot cake however as it has plenty of sweet char flavor. Items are well priced.
Somerset Delicacies – #01-60
Somserset Delicacies is the spot to go for fried rice and noodles. They specialize in various styles of fried rice at one of the best prices you’ll find in this area. For $3.50, you can get a small portion of their Belachan fried rice which has eggs, veggies, and shrimp along with sambal spices. For $5, you can get a large portion that will satisfy the most hungry of us.
The fried rice here is done particularly well as the flavor seems to soak in to the rice through and through. The wok hei is strong and fragrant, and the sambal belichan on the side brings everything together. I haven’t tried their noodles yet but the also looked appealing.
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