Dining in Singapore can get really expensive, really quick. A modest dinner for two on Club Street could easily run you a hundred bucks. And after doing that for a couple of nights, you will be beyond grateful to discover the Hawker Centers, food markets that house a variety of food stalls featuring inexpensive Southeast Asian food. It is one of the quickest and cheapest places to eat in an otherwise very expensive area, plus a unique food experience. I’m all in.
For this Singapore bucket list venture, I wanted to have a progressive dining experience at one of these centers, sampling dishes from a few different stalls until my belly was about to burst.
Luckily, the Tiong Bahru Hawker Center was located a few blocks from our hotel, Wangz.
We took the escalator to the second floor of the Tiong Bahru Hawker Center and were immediately hit with a little bit of intimidation and a lot of excitment. There was a line of colorful stalls and and enticing aromas wafting through the air.
With a couple dozen eateries to choose from, I made my progressive dining choices by what shops had the longest lines. Smart, right?
The first place we went, which had the longest line of them all, was Zhong Yu Yuan Wei Wanton Noodles (#02-30). There was a favorable news article posted in the window and a line ten people deep. As, I waited in queue I watched what each person ahead of me was ordering. It was basically all the same, a plate of noodles topped with sliced meat. I later learned that this was “bu jian tian char siew” (不见天叉烧), which translates to the part of the pig which does not see the sky, the pig’s armpit.
When it was my turn, I just pointed to the dish that the guy had in front of me and said I’ll have one of those, which was this bu jian tian char siew for 4.00 SGD (3.20 USD). Not knowing that a small bowl of wanton soup was included, I also ordered an extra bowl (3.00 SGD, 2.40 USD). Though the broth was fishy, the wantons were delicious.
Stall number two was Tiong Bahru Lee Hong Kee Cantonese Roasted (#02-60). This eatery was serving roasted duck rice, using the glossy cooked ducks hanging in the window for 3.00 SGD (2.40 USD). While standing in line, all I could hear coming from this shop was a cleaver chopping on a cutting board.
The chef was chopping duck to order, bones and all.
We ordered one duck rice to share between the both of us. I could see why there was a line for this dish, though you do have to be very careful about the bones.
Though the next shop, Hwa Yuen Porridge, didn’t have the longest line it had something else that caught my eye.
Pig Organ Porridge.
They were serving frog and fried intestine porridge (both tempting), but I just couldn’t pass up the pig organ porridge for 4.00 SGD (3.20 USD).
The cook scooped up the piping hot porridge with a large ladle, then topped it with spring onion, fried vermicelli and pepper. The silky, steaming porridge had some crispy and some chewy parts of the pig throughout. Maybe not the best food in the world, but not terrible.
It was dessert time and at the recommendation of the concierge at the hotel we went to Liang Liang Garden for an Ice Kachang. This dessert is typically made with palm seeds, sweet corn and red beans as it’s base, then topped with shaved ice. After, it can be topped with condensed milk and vibrantly colored syrups.
There were many choices of ice kachang as this shop, including avocado and peanut, but I opted for a blackberry for 2.00 SGD (1.60 USD). This was definitely tastier than my childhood snow cones, but not as yummy as the shave ice in Maui.
Lunch for two at Tiong Bahru Hawker Center ended up costing a whopping 16.00 SGD (12.80 USD) and we obviously ordered way too much food.
Tiong Bahru Hawker Center | 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore | Map