Popiah, a simple sort of wrapped up spring roll, is a popular dish amongst the locals in Singapore. Just what exactly is contained within this comfort food that originates from Fujian, China?
Popiah is usually made up of julienned vegetables such as stir fried turnip, carrots and beansprouts along with the occasional egg, lup cheong (Chinese sausage) and even prawn – it is then wrapped with a thin popiah skin made from wheat flour lathered with sweet bean sauce within.
But there’s really no hard and fast rule, other than the turnip and skin, on what must go into a popiah and that means vendors can get creative.
Other creative ingredients include shrimp paste sauce, dried shrimps, chopped peanuts or slices of tao pok (fried tofu) which are pressed firmly and wrapped up within the fine paper crepe.
So there we go, here are my top picks for popiah all around Singapore.
1. Tang Leng Chay Tar Kia Mee
Located at Blk 79A which is just a short walk from Macpherson MRT station, this would definitely become your go-to hawker centre if you live in the area. The food centre is separated into 2 blocks, one serving vegetarian food of all sorts, and the other serving your usual hawkerfare. The wide range of food available will surely leave you spoilt for choice.
The best thing about this $1.50 popiah was its juicy-ness and how well-seasoned its ingredients were. It somehow had a really homely feel to it and chewing on this popiah just makes one nostalgic. The only thing I didn’t like about this popiah was its lack of texture.
The crisp came from the vegetable alone and I thought the popiah skin could do with a bit more crunch. Even though the ends look really empty, this popiah was quite filled but could surely do with a little more packing.
Address: 79 Circuit Rd #01-98, Singapore 370079 | Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 5am – 9pm
2. Qin Carrot Cake & Popiah
Old Airport Road Food Centre is one of the most famous hawker centres in Singapore and home to many local delights. Located in between Dakota and Mountbatten station on the Circle Line, the food scene here is definitely worth travelling for. The good thing about grabbing food here is that you get to eat many other famous hawker foods at the same time, from noodles to rice and even desserts.
The $1.50 popiah is worth every cent, packed with perfectly seasoned stuffing and a light crunch to the thin popiah skin, you really can’t find fault with this popiah. As fully packed as this popiah was, it didn’t fall apart at all so don’t worry about making a mess. While you’re in the area, be sure to try the Soon Kueh (#01-157) and Hei Zou (#01-113). End of your meal with a local dessert or even froyo at Jogurtz (#01-129), which I personally would describe as Sogurt served Llao Llao style.
Address: 51 Old Airport Rd, 390051 | Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 10am – 10pm
Having many branches all over Singapore, Qiji is really convenient for a quick light bite (they do serve proper meals too). As it is located in shopping malls with the comfort of an air conditioned environment, the popiah can be a little pricey at $2.30. Qiji also offers non-vegetarian options like chicken or prawn popiah, at an additional cost of course.
I really love how fresh this popiah tasted and how so many different layers of crunch were packed into this tiny roll. Not only did the crunch come from the vegetables, but the skin and the fried bits as well. This complemented the textures of the prawn and egg, giving a good balance. The ingredients differ slightly from your usual popiah and sure does give a refreshing alternative, almost like a updated version of your good ol’ popiah.
Address: Qiji has a few outlets, do visit their site to find out more | Website | Opening hours: varies
4. My Cosy Corner
Hidden somewhere in a corner in Coronation Plaza, I would definitely consider this lil’ store a hidden gem. As the name suggests, this quiet little corner sure is cozy! Definitely a nice change from the usual bustling hawker centres. Located within close proximity to Botanic Gardens and Tan Kah Kee station, this popiah is super accessible and definitely underrated for its quality.
Slightly smaller than your usual popiah, I have to admit I was quite put off by the price. Popiahs usually cost under $2, but this one was $2.50! But boy, one mouthful and I instantly take back all of my complaints. This popiah was so fragrant, so packed, and so well-seasoned, I almost went for a second serving. They usually sell out their popiahs at about 7pm so be sure to head there early to avoid a disappointment.
Address: 587 Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 269707 | Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 10am – 7:30pm ; Sun and PH: 11am – 4pm
5. Old Long House Popiah
Popped by at about 10am and there was a really long queue, a sure sign that the popiah must be quite spectacular. Seems like a popular breakfast spot for residents around the area! The speed at which the aunty was making the popiah rolls was pretty impressive, definitely shows the years of experience behind the skilful technique.
The one thing that stood out about this $1.50 popiah was how juicy the turnips were, and even with all that gravy, the popiah skin remained rather dry and crispy. It was seasoned nicely, its flavours blending with the sweet bean paste nicely with a slight punch from the special chilli sauce. Old Long House boasts to have hand-made their popiah skin, I guess that explains the quality of the popiah!
Address: #01-03, 22 Lor 7 Toa Payoh, Singapore 310022 | Opening hours: Tue – Sun: 6am – 2pm
6. Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah & Kueh Pie Tie
Kway Guan Huat is almost like a Popiah Specialty Store, you can literally find everything you need to make a good popiah here. From popiah skin to peanut crunch, they sell everything in bulk and seems to be the go-to spot for popiah makers. I was the only one in the queue ordering a to-eat popiah while everyone else bought popiah skin in bulk. It was interesting to watch how popiah skins are made and the fresh hot stacks were certainly in high demand that day.
Kway Guan Huat serves their popiah, basic at $2, premium (comes with prawn and eggs) at $3.50, a little differently – uncut and in a plastic bag. This popiah had the most chewy popiah skin out of all the popiahs I’ve tasted and the quality of the skin is no surprise considering the fact that they basically manufacture popiah skins. Needless to say, the turnip was well seasoned and had just the right amount of crunch. The only thing was that the ends tend to get soggy, so don’t leave your popiah in the bag for too long lest it loses all the crunch.
Address: 95 Joo Chiat Rd, 427389 | Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 9am – 2pm
7. ABC Popiah
Heard so much about this popiah, literally every single person we asked mentioned ABC Popiah as one of the best popiah spots so we had to give this a try. Located in Blk 93 food centre just a short walk away from Toa Payoh MRT, we were really excited about this popiah.
ABC’s $1.50 popiah was really different from the rest of the popiah we’ve tried. The sweetness of the bean paste is so mild, that it can almost be masked by the other flavours. This one is for those who dislike the sweet component of popiahs but can come across as bland for those who prefer more flavour-packed popiah. Love the generous serving of egg bits but I thought it could do with a little more turnips.
The one thing I didn’t like about this popiah was how it fell apart the minute I tried to pick it up (slightly evident from the photo).
Address: #01-34, 93 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 Hawker Centre, 310093 | Opening hours: Tue – Sun: 9am – 10pm
8. Jit It Thai Sun Popiah
Took me a while to find this place because it’s facing the side alley and really easy to miss. All I can say is, just rely on Google maps and you’ll eventually find your way there. While you’re at it, the Tutu Kueh store right next to it is worth a try as well. The unusually long queue was caught my eye and we finally found this little store after walking for almost 30mins. The aunty manning the store is also quite grumpy but it’s okay because she makes really good popiahs. She really doesn’t like it when people pay in notes so it’d be good if you have exact.
The queue was really long even at 8pm and I can sure see why. The $1.80 popiah was awesome, with a super chewy skin wrapped around fragrant stuffing. This one also had a overpowering sweet taste from the soya sauce but somehow blended perfectly with the savoury vegetables and fiery chilli sauce. Do note that the spicy one is about a million times spicier than your usual spicy popiah so don’t say never warn ah!
Address: 449 Clementi Ave 3, Singapore 120449 | Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 12pm – 9pm
If you’ve diligently checked out all of the popiahs on this list and you’re starting to get sick of the plain ol’ popiah, fret not. Pop by East Point Mall right beside Simei MRT for popiah with a twist. The concept is more like a wrap but still pretty much modelled after the traditional popiah. They do serve the traditional popiah as well but I would definitely recommend the more interesting and intriguing ‘modern’ popiah for a change.
We got ourselves the Sweet Thai Chicken Popiah ($3.80) and the Traditional Popiah ($2.50) which were both really really good! The traditional popiah is HUGE for its price and really just stuffed with turnips. Taste-wise, the usual hawkerfare still comes up superior but this one’s the real value-for-money deal. Slightly bland, this popiah could do with a little more spice and an additional pinch of salt. The Thai Chicken one was really refreshing, a tad too heavy on the sauce, this one’s a flavour party that is perfect for a quick light bite.
Address: 3 Simei Street 6, 528833 | Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 10am – 9:30pm
10. Yi Ping Xiang Popiah
So this very unsuspecting popiah store…. turned out to serve one of the BEST popiahs ever! Located in a quiet corner of a really small hawker centre, you wouldn’t even notice this dimly lit store. Hop on a bus at Bishan MRT and get off at Bishan North Mall for a taste of this popiah that will surely exceed your expectations.
This piping hot popiah was stuffed with oozy goodness; turnips perfectly seasoned: checked, blend of textures: checked, good amount of spice: checked, super friendly uncle: checked. In other words, this is one popiah you have to try! $1.50 for a bite of heaven, need I say more?
Address: 280 Bishan Street 24, Singapore 570280 | Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 6am – 9:30pm