Where you can find cheap hawker food amidst the highest price hike in 15 years

Does the phrase ‘cheap food’ exist in the Singaporean vocabulary anymore? I mean, it does; the definition simply changes with every price hike. Well, it’s about to do just that again. A study by the Singapore Department of Statistics has revealed that the price of hawker food increased by 6.1% in 2023, the highest in 15 years.

kebun baru hawker listicle - hawker centre scene

According to a SingStat  newsletter, the 6.1% price hike in 2023 comes after a 5.7% increase in 2022. The statistic also exceeded the average increase of 2.2% per annum from 2012-2022.

SingStat also explained that these price increases can be attributed to factors such as costlier raw food ingredients due to supply chain disruptions triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, further amplified by external circumstances such as the Russia-Ukraine war.

Nonetheless, things aren’t looking too bleak. Hawker inflation has reportedly been eased significantly, from 8.3% in Feb 2023 to 4.1% in Dec 2023. Moreover, SingStat has also noted that it’ll ease further if conditions remain favourable.

chin kee 77 - overview
This photo is for illustration purposes only

I’m not here to bore you with more numbers, though; let’s put a more interesting spin on it! Going back to what I said at the start, the definition of ‘cheap’ is ever-changing. So, with all these numbers, how cheap is cheap?

SingStat assessed the average price changes across more than 100 hawker food items from 1,700 stalls in hawker centres, coffeeshops and food courts. They then analysed a total of 16 commonly sold food items and beverages.

I bet you’re eager to know the average prices of your favourite hawker dishes. Perhaps you’re wondering if you’re paying more than you should or getting bang for your buck? Join me as I break down the numbers and let you in on the best spots to get several popular food items below their average price point — or rather, for ‘cheap’.

Char Kway Teow

outram park fried kway teow mee - char kway teow

If you ask me, nothing quite encapsulates the essence of our hawker scene like some wokkissed char kway teow. This local favourite, consisting of noodles and kway teow stir-fried with plenty of ingredients in a sweet dark sauce, averages at S$4.52 a plate.

Here are some spots where you can get your fix for as low as S$3:
Chuan Kee Fried Kway Teow
Tian Tian Fa
Cuppage Fried Guo Tiao
Day Night Fried Kway Teow

Mee Rebus

dapur hassan - mee rebus

Mee rebus is easily one of the most underrated Malay dishes of all time.  This hearty dish of yellow noodles in a sweet viscous brown gravy is one that’s easily enjoyed by anyone of any age. The average bowl of mee rebus is priced at an average of S$3.79.

Here are some spots that you should check out for mee rebus priced as low as S$3:
Warong H.J. Sukarjo
Hj Waliti Hj Mazuki
Afandi Hawa & Family Mee Rebus

Sliced Fish Bee Hoon

Hua Ji Sliced Fish Soup - sliced fish soup sliced fish

Sliced fish bee hoon has earned its reputation as just about every office worker’s go-to lunch, and rightfully so. While this comforting pick-me-up is indeed delicious, it also happens to be the most costly on this list. Fret not, though; it’s priced at a still-affordable average of S$5.35 a bowl.

Here are some spots you should check out for sliced fish bee hoon as affordable as S$5:
Cai Ji Fried Fish Soup
Bai Jia Yuan Ban Mian

Wanton Noodles

best wanton noodles - chef kang noodles closeup

You can never go wrong with a good ol’ plate of wanton mee. This simple yet delectable dish features springy thin egg noodles, char siew slices, choy sum and, of course, wantons. They go for S$4.12 a plate on average.

Here are some spots where you can slurp up some delicious yet affordable wanton mee priced as low as S$3.50:
Hai Kee Noodle
51 Jin Fa Wanton Egg Noodle
Yew Teck Food Stall
Swee Kee Wanton Noodle

Chicken Rice

Ming Kee Chicken Rice - Overall Shot

Ah, chicken rice — none other than the ‘poster child’ of our hawker scene. With tender chicken doused in tasty sauce served alongside fragrant rice, it’s hard not to love this dish. There are stalls aplenty islandwide, many of which offer affordably-priced options. The average plate of chicken rice costs a modest S$4.15 on average.

Here are some stalls where you can get your chicken rice fix for as low as S$3.50:
Traditional Rui Ji Chicken Rice
Hup Hong Chicken Rice
Pin Sheng Chicken Rice
Zi Jin Cheng Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice

Duck Rice

ming fa duck rice - duck rice

Last but not least, we have duck rice. Although it is admittedly overshadowed by the ever-popular chicken rice, let’s not forget to show it some love! This dish typically features rice doused generously in sauce and served with deboned slices of delicious braised duck and other fixings like tau kwa and braised egg. The average plate is priced at S$4.55 a plate.

Here are some spots that serve up duck rice priced as low as S$3.50:
Ming Fa Duck Rice
Tai Dong Teochew Duck Rice
Wei Ji Braised Duck

A round-up of 2023’s best hawker food spots found in Singapore