01: Heng Carrot Cake, Stall 28, Newton Food Centre
WHO: Elim Chew, founder of streetwear brand 77th Street, youth ambassador and advocate of social entrepreneurship
ALL-TIME FAVOURITE: Chye tau kway with extra dark soya sauce. Discovered by her and a group of friends while going around Singapore to find the best version, it was unanimously voted as the best by all of them.“It is not too oily, with a fragrant and strong taste. The portion is generous and the price, reasonable,” says Chew.
Another favourite from this stall: oyster omelette. “It is fragrant and crispy with the fragrance of wok hei. The oysters are fresh too. The dish never fails to give me a sense of satisfaction every time I have it.”
02: Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles, Crawford Lane
WHO: Yenn Wong, CEO, JIA Group
The Hong Kong-based foodie might have access to all the cult noodle shops there, but it is this local shop that has her heart. Wong visits this stall with her closest Singaporean friends whenever she is back in town. “I go at 4pm, when the queue is not so long. It’s just a divine dish: the balance of salty, sour, spicy flavours, and the sweetness of the pork soup,” says Wong.
HOW SHE LIKES IT: “Always the $10 portion. I do not fancy the wonton in the noodles, so he will always give me extra minced pork.”
03: Noo Cheng Adam Prawn Mee, Stall 4, Zion Riverside Food Centre
WHO: Arrif Ziaudeen, CEO and co-founder, CHOPE
Ask Ziaudeen why he loves the prawn noodles at this particular stall, and he will tell you it’s because the hawker uncle pays you more attention if you’re “someone handsome”.
Another tip from the 34-year-old: Eat the noodles there while it’s piping hot, don’t ta pow (take-away).
HOW HE LIKES IT: “I get the biggest prawns and mixed noodles, dry.”
04: Hock Lam Street Beef Noodles, Chulia Street
WHO: Jonathan Shen, co-founder of heritage snacks company The Golden Duck
Having spent a considerable part of his career in the Clarke Quay area, Shen’s habit of straying from the beaten path of regular hotspots led him to the Hock Lam Street Beef Noodles stall on Chulia Street.
HOW HE LIKES IT: “Kway Teow, Dry, with beef balls and brisket. Add in ample amounts of their signature chilli sauce, and a dash of chinchalok. Their soup broth is a killer must-have, free refills on that.”
05: China Street Fritters, Stall 64, Maxwell Road Food Centre
WHO: Violet Oon, chef-owner of National Kitchen by Violet Oon at National Gallery
Oon first discovered this stall (then in former China Square) when she was a budding food writer in the mid 1970s. Today, Oon still visits for her favourite snacks like pate wrapped in beancurd skin and kwan chiang (Hokkien fresh pork sausage), which take her back to an era and time that does not exist anymore.
“Thankfully the flavours and taste of the favourite China Street Fritters of the Ng family is still of the here and now – brothers Kok Eng and Kok Hua carry on the exact culinary tradition and methods and dishes served by their father of one of my all time favourite hawker dishes,” says Oon.
HER MUST-HAVES: Hokkien fresh pork sausage called Kwan Chiang, Ngoh Hiang, Liver Rolls, Deep-fried Fish Balls.
06: Jin Wee Coffee Shop, East Coast Road
WHO: Soon Ong, CEO, Clarity Group
When Ong was six, his mother asked if he wanted to have zi char. She explained that a zi char stall is a place where the chef would cook whatever you asked for – and the boy naively thought that meant he could request hamburgers. But the truth – that he could order home- style Chinese dishes – proved better than what he imagined, and a visit to his favourite zi char eatery is now among the first things he must do upon returning from frequent business trips.
“How many dishes can I possibly order if I go to a restaurant, instead? One rice dish and a vegetable dish is probably all I can manage. But, here, I can come with seven to 10 people, order all sorts of dishes, and everyone will help to finish it,” says Ong.
HIS MUST-HAVES: Bee Hoon and Fish Head Curry
07: Punggol Nasi Lemak, Upper Serangoon Road
WHO: Gerald Teo, CEO, Spa Club, Dermacare Clinics, and Citispa
Teo first discovered this late night haunt during his army days, where he would hang out at with his friends until 4am in the morning. He has been frequenting this stall for nearly 20 years.
“I’ve tried everything here and the flavours here are just different. You can’t quite get them anywhere else. It’s also more Chinese-style, rather than the more commonplace Muslim-style. This is my favourite hawker food, and it’s good value for money,” says Teo.
HIS MUST-HAVES: Deep-fried chicken wings, otah, lady’s fingers, long beans, ikan bilis, eggs, lots of cucumber and lots of chilli.
(RELATED: If you’re wondering why we compiled this list, the Michelin Guide 2016 announced Bib Gourmands for just 17 hawker stalls in Singapore – which feels a little on the thin side.)