Have you heard about hawker food before? Chances are, if you’ve never been to the bustling streets of Singapore, you may never have come across the concept of hawker food. So, what is this popular Asian food and where can you go to try it out?
In Singapore, when it comes to finding something tasty to eat, every travel guide will point you in the direction of one of the hundred or more hawker centres in this city-state. That’s because, contained within these Singapore hawker centres you will find locals and tourists alike, all dining on the delicious food sold from the many stalls contained within these food halls.
Yet, it’s not just Singapore that is home to hawker centres. You’ll find these food emporiums in every major Asian country, including the likes of Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong, all housing numerous street food stalls, where you can try the best in local cuisine.
So, what makes a hawker centre different from a street food stall or even a Singaporean restaurant. Well, generally, a hawker centre is an open-air commercial property – many are over two or more floors – where people cook on a permanent stall. These stalls may have their own seats but, usually, there is a large communal seating area. This allows everyone in your party to try different foods from various stalls.
In Singapore, these centres were created in 1965 to move vendors off the streets and into more organised housing – which become known as hawker centres.
Perhaps the most wonderful thing about the idea of hawker food is the sheer range on offer. Walk into any hawker centre in Asia and you’ll find stalls selling Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Peranakan dishes to name a few. Which means you can try lots of different styles and Asian food – all under one roof!
Even better, as hawker food is generally sold in small plate sizes, you have the opportunity to sample two or three different dishes at once. Which is perfect for those of us that find it difficult to choose just one option for our lunch or dinner.
While on holiday with friends or family, you could even make your very own banquet. Just get everyone to nip off to a few different stalls and bring it all back to share. You’ll get to sample some of the best authentic Asian cuisine, with many of these recipes having been passed down the generations. Indeed, once you try a hawker centre, you’ll never want to east elsewhere.
Enter a hawker centre for the first time and, chances are, you’re going to feel a little overwhelmed with the sheer amount of choice on sale. So, how do you decide on what to eat? Well, one of the best ways is to keep returning and trying new foods every day.
If you don’t have the time, or you’re looking to try the most famous hawker foods available, these dishes should be at the top of your hawker wish list:
Singapore’s claim to culinary fame goes to the delicious chilli crab. This messy and addictive dish was created way back in the 1950s and has since become iconic, with many tourists travelling to Singapore just to get their fix of chilli crab.
So, what makes this dish so special? Well, it’s that addictive spicy and sweet sauce that soaks into the gorgeous flaky crab. Now, although the name can be off-putting to those afraid of very hot food, the chilli crab sauce is actually very well balanced. Make sure to get yourself some sticky rice, as you’re going to want to soak up every last drop of the gorgeous sauce.
There is nothing quite like a plate of authentic Thai fish cakes. In fact, give anyone a plate of this popular hawker finger food and it won’t be long before only crumbs remain. That’s because, when made with fresh fish and Thai spices, these little cakes will taste like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.
Best served with some sticky rice or a crisp salad, your only regret with this dish will be letting others at your table try your dish leaving less for yourself!
A popular hawker food in Malaysia, this dish means ‘fried rice’ when translated. Which is basically what Nasi Goreng is – a big bowl of delicious fried rice with vegetables and usually chicken and a fried egg added.
Thought of as a type of Asian comfort food – just like an Irish stew or a Sunday roast here in the UK – there is nothing better than a bowl of this tasty rice and spices to cheer you up. Especially when served with prawn crackers and other delicious hawker delights.
Of course, for the most of us, jetting off to Singapore every few months to indulge in hawker food is far from realistic. Yet that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get to enjoy the delicious hawker food in Liverpool.
Here at Tiger Rock you can taste all the wonderful foods of Asia – all without the expensive airline ticket! Our authentic dishes are available in small plates and bowls too, meaning you can come along with friends or family and share some of the favourites on our menu.
Plus, our Singaporean restaurants have the same laidback atmosphere as hawker centres themselves. Which means you’ll almost feel like you’re on holiday while dining out. The only difference is, we provide the table service, so all the tasty food will come to you.
With vegan and gluten free options as well as tasty treats for the kids, everyone will find something delicious to eat on our menu – including the must-try hawker foods mentioned above! So, before you book that flight to Asia, book a table with us and try dining hawker-style at Tiger Rock.