Compared to hawker centres like Maxwell and Newton Circus, Chinatown Complex Food Centre isn’t as popular a tourist attraction … until Liao Fan Hawker Chan received a Michelin star. When we heard that this humble hub was going to undergo renovation from 1 March to 31 May this year, we had to visit, partially in fear that some of the beloved old hawkers will choose to retire instead of coming back. Here’s our list of 12 stalls you should try when you visit:
Jia Ji Mei Shi (#02-166)
Over at Jia Ji Mei Shi is a local crowd of elderly uncles, and when even uncles would go over to queue for food, that’s when you know a dish as old school as Yam Cake with Chee Chong Fan ($2) tastes authentic. The texture of the Yam Cake is dense and packed with flavor, perfectly complementing the more fragile and light chee chong fan. Also not to miss is their Nonya Rice Dumpling ($2).
Jia Ji Mei Shi is located at Stall #02-166, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily 5.30am – 8pm.
Ann Chin Popiah (#02-112)
What makes Ann Chin’s Popiah ($1.60/pc) great is how packed it is with flavorful ingredients – bits of turnip can’t help but fall away from the tenderly wrapped dish. Their sweet soy sauce ties everything together, enhancing otherwise bland ingredients like the hard-boiled egg, the taste of which is often missed out completely.
Ann Chin is located at Stall #02-112, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily from 8am – 7pm.
Old Amoy Chendol (#02-008)
Old school desserts are so hard to come by these days. Thank goodness for Old Amoy’s Chendol ($2). It’s basically nostalgia in a bowl, which of course contains the signature wormy green rice flour jelly, a refreshingly sweet portion of coconut milk, and a sinful layer of palm sugar syrup at the bottom.
Old Amoy Chendol is located at Stall #02-008, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily from 10.30am – 9pm.
Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap (#02-156)
Was Instagram-worthy duck rice ever a thing? Not until the innovative people at Jin Ji came up with the Duck Rice Bento ($8) a whopping plateful of tender Teochew-style braised duck meat, tofu, pork belly, yam rice balls, eggs with a soft centre, and pickled mustard greens. Oh, and an aromatic herbal soup and superb sambal chilli too. Their kway chap with assorted pig innards is something to try too.
Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap is located at Stall #02-156, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open Mon-Thu 10.30am – 6.30pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am – 6.30pm.
Terry Katong Laksa (#02-094)
You don’t need to travel all the way to Katong to get your hands on a bowl of the area’s famously rich laksa. Terry’s Laksa ($3.50) offers the same thick, creamy, and spicy broth, fresh plump shrimp, brought together by its noodles. You can order additional ingredients, such as cockles or prawns at just $1, while additional fishcakes cost $0.50. Additional noodles and gravy are also available.
Terry Katong Laksa is located at Stall #02-094, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily (except on Wednesdays and Thursdays) 7am – 10pm.
Xin Xuan Pancakes (#02-099)
Xin Xuan Pancakes was a delightful surprise. Each piece is served warm and freshly made, promising a soft and fluffy centre that ends in a satisfyingly crisp crust. Available in three fillings – red bean, coconut, and peanut – at just $0.80/pc, Xin Xuan Pancakes make for great snacks for those afternoon hunger pangs. Pro tip: they also make for great snacks to eat while queuing for other stalls.
Xin Xuan Pancakes is located at Stall #02-099, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily from 10.30am – 9pm.
Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Fu (#02-088)
Getting your fill of Yong Tau Foo at Xiu Ji Ikan Billis Yong Tau Foo can be as affordable as $3 for six pieces of ingredients. Select from the regular yong tau foo staples of fried tofu skin, fishcake, taupok, pak choi, noodles or bee hoon, and more – with the stall’s added touch of their signature salty and crisp Ikan Billis. Their clear broth completes the entire dish, creating the ultimate comfort food for the soul.
Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Fu is located at Stall #02-088, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily 6am – 3pm.
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice (#02-198)
If you’re a believer in rice as the ultimate carb, Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice is the place to go. The result of a minimum 25-minute wait is a bowl of incredibly fragrant, fluffy bowl of fresh steaming, long grained rice, topped with generous portions of ingredients – such as chicken, duck liver sausages, pork belly, salted fish and Chinese sausage. Don’t forget to dig to the bottom of the bowl to scrape off those bits of charcoal charred rice. Prices start at $5, while larger portions can go up to $20.
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot is located at Stall #02-198, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily (except on Thursdays) 4.30pm – 11pm.
Smith Street Taps (#02-062)
Smith Street Taps is the epitome of unpretentious, where lip-smacking beer can be enjoyed with hearty local fare. Equipped with an international selection of specially imported beer from Japan to the United States and with prices that start from an affordable $9 a pint, it’s not surprising they’re doing a roaring trade here most nights. Read our review here.
Smith Street Taps is located at Stall #02-062, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open Tue-Thu 6.30pm – 10.30pm, Fri 5pm – 11pm, Sat 2pm– 10.30pm. Closed on Mondays and Sundays.
Super Mummy Oyster Omelette (#02-103)
Super Mummy is the place to get your fixed of fried delights. Selling classics such as Fried Oyster Omelette ($6/ $8/ $10), a dish of fresh oysters and fluffy batter mixed with egg and a side of tangy chilli sauce, as well as Fried Black or White Carrot Cake ($3 /$4/ $5). A hidden gem amidst the more spotlighted stalls, making for a short queue and a quick tasty meal for the hungry.
Super Mummy is located at Stall #02-103, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily from 8am – 10pm.
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao (#02-135)
At just $0.60 per piece, you really can’t go wrong with Zhong Guo La Mian’s Xiao Long Baos ($6/10pcs).
You can taste the painstaking work put into making these handmade gems in every explosive bite, making the wait more than worth it.
Open at odd hours with extremely limited stock make these gems hard to get hold of, it’s no wonder queues start to form even before the stall is open.
Other must-try dishes from this stall include Szechuan Spicy Wanton ($4.50/10pcs) – for that spicy, vinegary kick, and their La Mian with Fried Bean Sauce ($3.50), a hefty portion of firm noodles for an incredibly affordable price.
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao is located at Stall #02-135, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily from 11.30am – 3pm and 5pm – 8.30pm
Hawker Chan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodles (#02-127)
Of course, the cheapest Michelin starred dish will be on our list. The famed Soya Sauce Chicken Rice ($2) offers up a portion of incredibly tender and fragrant herbal roasted chicken. Though the rice itself was disappointingly not chicken rice. Thus I suggest opting for their Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle ($2.50) instead – which also happens to be lower in calories.
The stall also offers other roasted dishes, including Roasted Pork Rice ($2.50) Char Siew Rice ($2.50) and Pork Rib Rice ($3). You can also buy the famed Soya Sauce Chicken on its own at $7 for half a chicken and $14 for a whole chicken.
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodles is located at Stall #02-127, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, 335 Smith Street, Singapore 050335. Open daily (except on Wednesdays) from 10am – 8pm.