Last Updated: August 28, 2021
Hainanese curry rice is perhaps one of our local comfort foods. Curry rice was started in the British colonial era by Hainanese living in Singapore, who were often employed by the British as well as the wealthy Peranakans as chefs in their homes.
The classic Hainanese curry rice stall usually offers: curry chicken, braised or fried pork, stewed cabbage and of course, loads of curry gravy drizzled over the rice. This style of curry does not have the usual spice aromatics or coconut creaminess. Instead, they are usually light, sweeter and only a wee-bit spicy despite their resemblance.
For delicious curry rice, many of us are willing to travel far and wide because well… it’s distinctively different from an economic rice stall and has significant heritage. Many of the stalls featured here are more than 50 years old! As fewer and fewer Singaporeans are continuing the curry rice trade, let’s celebrate and appreciate this beautiful mess before it disappears.
Hong Seng Curry Rice (鴻森咖喱飯) has been around for a long time. They started the business in 1995 and are currently handled by second-generation owners.
Relative to other curry rice stalls, Hong Seng Curry Rice serves up a starchier curry sauce. Furthermore, the curry had a tolerable level of spice. There was a very nice balance of sweetness and spiciness, which we enjoyed thoroughly.
One odd recommendation by other foodies was the Char Siew 叉烧. I wasn’t sure how different it was going to be, but the succulent pork soon proved me wrong.
There used to be another great curry rice in the same food centre called Redhill Hainanese Curry Rice at #01-95, but as of writing, I’m unable to verify if it is still operational since the last time I was there. Let us know if it’s still around?
85 Redhill Lane, Redhill Market and Food Centre, #01-74, Singapore 150085
Fri to Wed: 10am – 11pm
It’s hard to find an authentic Hainanese curry rice stall nowadays, not to mention one that only uses fresh ingredients and is generous with its toppings. Old Hainan Curry Rice is just that—traditionally authentic and absolutely delicious.
Old Hainan Curry Rice was started by grandpa Ah Min in 1995. He was previously an insurance agent but had a massive passion for cooking, and learnt how to cook Hainanese curry rice from his father.
The braised pork belly, special egg floss and pork chop are must-gets. The curry is smoky, sweet and savoury all at the same time. I could taste the fragrant curry spices, as well as other herbs, powders and ingredients (which is a trade secret, and rightfully so).
There’s just something so simple and indulgent about a good ol’ plate of curry rice, especially if it’s done well. And I’ve got to say, the family behind Old Hainan Curry Rice does a darn good job.
49 Sims Place, Sims Vista Market & Food Centre, #01-70, Singapore 380049
Sat to Thu: 10am – 7pm
Closed on Fri
Scissors Cut/剪刀剪 is probably the most famous curry rice on this list (in my opinion). It was also the one that made me fall deeply in love with this delicious mess. I know there will be many dissenters of this for its place on this list but hey, we’re entitled to our own opinions.
The reason why many curry rice stalls are called ‘scissors cut’ is probably because many stallholders traditionally cut the meats with sharp scissors, creating a distinct snipping sound—this is all the more evident at Beach Road Scissors cut, where the staff behind the glass expertly cuts orders with a pair of scissors with an audible, consistent ‘shick’ and unwavering focus. I never realised someone holding scissors with such determination could be more enthralling than scary.
While the entire plate of Scissors Cut Curry Rice ($3.50) being flooded by goopy curry sauce and braised gravies might not appear appetising, it is still undeniably delicious. Almost every inch of your plate will be covered by three different sauces yet the curry does not overwhelm or clash. The cabbage here is done to optimum suppleness and crunch factor.
And, the pork chop has enough bite to it with a crisp batter. The curry smells richly spiced and flavoured but contrary to its smell and appearance, it is pretty light. And pairs fantastic with the braised pork sauce.
229 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208905
+65 9826 1464
Daily: 11am – 3.30am
Although the signboard doesn’t explicitly state it’s a curry rice stall, the classic Hainanese curry rice selections are a dead giveaway. This is one of the low-key gems you have to trust me on. Seeing that my office is in Toa Payoh, my team and I have walked all the way here many times to satisfy my curry rice cravings. I’m almost torn to share this with my readers, but you guys deserve the best.
Wang Chun closes pretty early though, and by 2pm many of the ingredients will be finished as they don’t prepare that many ingredients. The curry is moderately thick, not overly spicy and the stall auntie and uncle are all too happy to add enough curry to flood your rice; just the way I like it.
There’s not a huge variety of dishes, but those that they serve are all great. The curry chicken wing pretty much falls off the bone, while the pork chop is simplicity at its best. The cabbage just melts in your mouth like butter. And being in a mature neighbourhood with many elderlies, the price is ridiculously affordable. You can get two types of meat and two vegetables for roughly S$4. Support this hawker couple and check this one out.
93 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh, #01-52, Singapore 310093
Daily: 6am to 3pm
At the extreme end of Singapore lies a pretty well-voted top Hainanese curry rice called Singtaste. No, although it is at Jurong West, you don’t have to bring a parang to slash greenery to access this place.
Like the usual kind of Hainanese curry rice, you can expect the curry to be slightly sweet and not exactly tasting like curry. Another brown goopy sauce is added together with the curry as well. The curry is slightly less starchy than most of the usual Hainanese Curry Rice places.
They aren’t the kind to drown your entire plate in curry, so your vegetables, pork chop and some parts of your rice are still left untouched. if you are one of those who dislike your entire plate drenched with curry, perhaps this place would be up your alley.
Potatoes had a satisfying texture while the pork chop was juicy yet crispy on the outside, with a substantial amount of tender meat. Generally, a decent place to get your curry rice fix.
505 Jurong West Street 52, Jurong West 505 Market & Food Centre, #01-17, Singapore 640505
Daily: 9am – 7.15pm
Populated with the lunchtime crowd, you can identify Eu Kee from its snaking queue so you might want to avoid it during peak hours.
It’s a decent place to get your curry rice fix; they’ll generously rain three different types of sauces for their perfect curry gravy combination that is thick, dark and rich. The selection of ingredients are pretty basic: fried egg, fried pork chop, chap chye, egg, curry chicken, braised meat/tao pok. I highly recommend the curry chicken wings.
All the items come together as one beautiful mess, having all the basic elements of good curry rice.
Block 269B Queen Street, Rong Liang Ge Eating House, #01-235, Singapore 180269
Sat to Thu: 11am – 6.30pm
Fri: 11am – 2pm
Toa Payoh‘s curry rice deviates from the traditional kind as it offers a much wider variety of dishes. One can find hash browns, steamed eggs and minced meatballs in the selection, which is usually very sparse in variety in the case of more traditional Hainanese curry rice stores.
It is also wet and goopy with ample curry gravy just the way I like it. Their curry belongs to the saltier variety, with a little grainy aftertaste and tasted just a bit like prata curry. I recommend this if you like your curry slightly saltier with a wider variety of dishes to select.
210 Lorong 8 Toa Payoh, Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Market & Food Centre, #01-28, Singapore 310210
Daily: 11am – 3pm
Oh, the pork chop sat so gloriously under the spotlight, glowing golden brown, looking crisp as hell. And Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice‘s appearance did not deceive at all. The pork chop batter was light and crispy, close to that of a croquette’s; not a bad thing because croquettes are really pretty looking. Despite being soaked in curry for a bit, it still maintained some of its crispiness. Taste-wise, it was fragrant and well-seasoned.
Their lean, thin strips of Hainanese char siew is worth ordering too. Soaked with the honey-sweet sauce, the meat was nicely chewy without the usual fats from char siew. But it does not have that roasted charred taste though. The cabbage was soft and sweet, the kind you wouldn’t mind feeding your toothless grandmother who forgot her dentures.
Interestingly, there was this dish called ‘shark meat with salted vegetables’ which I didn’t order because I found out too late. However, probably one of the most essential parts of curry rice—the curry—was not as fantastic as the others so there’s that.
116 Bukit Merah View, Singapore 151116
Daily: 9am – 9pm
It was a tad interesting to see that a place so highly recommended looks so simple and unassuming; even the colour of their signboard has faded. And when you peer into the food display, it looks really bare and almost to the point of unappetising. However, after the first mouthful, I understood how Zhong Guo Jie Hainanese Curry Rice 中国街咖喱饭 has such a following.
Their Hainanese Curry Rice (S$3.30) is a messy, sloppy plate of goodness. The drenched rice makes you want to gobble everything up in a jiffy. The pork chop is evidently of the thin, pork crisp/chips kind more than it is a pork chop. Maxwell Hainanese’s pork chop has a detectable layer of sweet aromatic batter.
The broiled cabbage with tang hoon is really soft and silky but the gravy is kinda sour. The curry here is not starchy, instead, it is more watery and slightly more Assam-ish than the traditionally sweeter Hainanese curry. It also carries a mild spicy kick.
It may not be my favourite but this is still really good, I gobbled it up easily.
1 Kadayanallur Street, Maxwell Food Centre, #01-68, Singapore 069184
Sat to Thu: 11am – 7.30pm
Closed on Fri
Havelock Hainanese Curry Rice is run by a lovely couple for over 50 years. Unlike other Hainanese Curry Rice stalls, the dishes you can pick here are quite unique and different. This stall’s curry is special in the sense it’s not the typical curry consistency and tends to be quite thin.
This hawker stall has been around since forever and they are very generous with their dishes. The food is great and there are many dishes to choose from such as sotong, curry chicken, lor bak, char siew and much more—the crispy thin pork chop is definitely a must-order, resembling pork chips.
I recommend this stall to anyone who has a hankering for curry rice that is swimming in curry that is not super thick. However, when you mix the curry with their out of this world chilli, it tastes like an interesting blend of ‘curry(?)’. It simply seemed like a thick yellow sauce that neither tastes nor smells like curry. But it’s curry; I’m out of words to describe it.
49 Sims Place, Sims Vista Market & Food Centre, #01-70, Singapore 380049
Mon to Sat: 7am – 2pm
Closed on Sun
No, really, this stall has neither a name nor a signboard at all. Most people just call it Beo Crescent Curry Rice.
Set in this old dingy kopitiam behind/beside the popular and bigger food centre, this discrete stall might raise some eyebrows. But before you’re put off by this place, you’ll want to hear how much hype and love No Name Bro Crescent curry rice gets for their food.
A very raved-about curry rice haunt, Beo Crescent is known for their crispy thin pork chop which I know some people really love (I, however, like a thicker kind of pork chop where I can feel the meat if it hasn’t been mentioned enough above). Their curry is of the mildly starchy variety, with a little bit of spice to it. A fan favourite and another curry rice to try.
Blk 40 Beo Crescent, Singapore 160040
Thu to Tue: 6.30am to 3pm
Closed on Wed
Previously known as Cheng’s Delicacies also selling Hainanese Curry rice, Cheng’s 27 is now the newer hipper version of it at the hipster vibes populated Yong Siak. Still, that’s the charm of Tiong Bahru—the old and new.
Cheng’s 27 is a clean modern zi char shop that sells the usual suspects with a Hainanese twist. They even have desserts like eclairs and homemade cookies.
Their curry rice is really simple, just a piece of juicy pork chop, with a pool of curry beside a heap of rice. The pork chop’s exterior is executed nicely with superb crispness.
27 Yong Siak Street, Singapore
Wed to Mon: 10am – 3.30pm & 5.30pm – 9.30pm
Closed on Tue
Probably one of most curry rice lovers’ ultimate favourites, Loo’s Hainanese curry rice can be considered the poster child for Hainanese curry rice. In the industry for more than 50 years, and situated at such a prime location, it is no doubt many people know of them. Loo’s Hainanese has a legion of fans, a snaking queue during lunchtime a spectacular taste to back it all up.
The pork chop has a layer of meat inside unlike the ones at Beo Crescent and Maxwell and Havelock—coated with a crispy fragrant batter. The curry is of a thicker consistency and it’s predictably sweet but carries a slight zest.
The curry isn’t the type to flood the whole plate so it looks less messy. Instead, it is just drizzled on top of the ingredients. It would be better with more curry sauce which you can probably request or. Also, the extra Assam Fish alone costs S$3.50… ouch.
71 Seng Poh Road, #01-49, Singapore 160071
+65 6225 3762
Daily: 8am – 2.45pm (Closed alternate Thu)
Situated along upper Serangoon with the popular Heng Long Teochew porridge just beside it, Sin Chie Toke Huan can be quite contentious especially with its mildly flavoured curry gravy which many people find pretty bland. But the home-cooked style dishes are still worth a try which gives a comforting, nostalgic sense.
With a light-flavoured thin curry that coats the rice well, there always seems to be a snaking queue, especially during dinner time. It’s a great supper spot as well, opening till late for many supper goers who have a weird curry craving at midnight. Its selling point is probably an affordable price point unless you ordered fish like a baller.
1018 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534756
Wed to Sun: 5am – 3pm
Closed on alternate Tues
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