Ever heard raving recommendations from your friends about certain stalls which sell heavenly delights, only to be surprised with not only an über long queue, but intimidating and grouchy hawker owners? These stall owners may leave you cowering to finish your food, with their deathly gaze and nonchalant attitudes, but only to have you come crawling back for more of their delectable cuisine.
After all, Singaporeans all fall prey to good food right? Even with the longest queues possible (which is probably the reason behind their “don’t-give-a-sh*t” attitude), will you brave the odds to try these badass attitude local fare?
Below is a compiled list of great Singapore eateries that never seem to run out of customers, even if it just might seem like they don’t want any…
1. Yet Con Hainanese Chicken Rice
With an infamous big boss at the helm, Yet Con’s Chicken Rice is definitely worth the trip. Already in its 75th year of business, it is no wonder that Yet Con have perfected the art of making one of the best chicken rice in town.
Even though most of their staff appear quite grumpy and service is clearly almost non-existent even trying to get a glass of water, if you try to stay out of their hair and talk to them politely, it’ll still guarantee you a pleasant experience. Coupled with the tasty and succulent chicken meat paired with their flavourful, fragrant grains, there’s plenty of reason not to stay away from this restaurant even with the lack of service.
Yet Con: 25 Purvis Street, Singapore 188602
2. Whampoa Food Street (Keng) Fish Head Steamboat
Hailed for their wondrous, tasty stock and fresh ingredients in their steamboat, as well as an above average zi char fare, Whampoa Keng’s bad service does not deter their huge flock of returning regulars.
It is known that their service staff may be needed to be called upon umpteen times before any form of acknowledgement is given, what more carrying with them a horrible attitude to match when they do decide to grace you with their presence. Geez.
Whampoa Food Street (Keng) Fish Head Steamboat (main outlet): 556 Balestier Road, Singapore 329872
Branch: 116/118 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218396
3. Hong Kong Jin Tian 香港锦田
Reopening at Zion Road is the famous Hong Kong Jin Tian. They are well known by locals for their superbly tender and slightly charred char siew, with well-marinated soya sauce chicken (both $3.50) coupled with a layer of fatty skin on top (slurps).
Their service staff, on the other hand, are pretty impolite, giving an air of nonchalance as if customers owe them a certain something. However, with such quality yet cheap food, I can say its ALMOST justified for their service to be subpar.
Hong Kong Jin Tian: 55 Zion Road, Singapore 247780
4. Shun Li Niang Dou Fu 顺利釀豆腐
A night haunt best suited for late night supper meals, Shun Li is infamous for its long snaking queue, extending for around a 2 hour long wait during peak hours. Opening through the wee hours in the morning, it is no wonder that the shop aunty is usually very grumpy, and would chide her customers for no apparent reason.
But the never-ceasing queue continues to surprise me, even with certain regulars developing a “queuing strategy” so as to not lose out. Their Yong Tau Foo has a generous amount of ikan bilis and green chilli padi, and I’m sure the queue is an accurate enough representation of how good their YTF is.
Shun Li Niang Dou Fu: 01-397, Bukit Merah View Market and Food Centre, Blk 115 Bukit Merah View, Singapore 150115
5. Eng Seng Restaurant
One of the best black pepper crabs you can find here in Singapore, this small eatery is packed full of eager customers, especially on late weekend nights. Coveted for its creamy and just plain delicious black pepper sauce, paired with fresh crab meat, Eng Seng’s service is world’s apart from its first class cuisine.
The service staff are known to be unfriendly and obnoxious, only receptive to orders for their signature Black Pepper Crab ($50/kg) otherwise treating you like a 2nd class citizen. They would also start forcefully chasing out customers after a certain timing by turning off all lights, fans and whatnot, regardless of the state of your unfinished dinner. How appetizing. Nonetheless, the crowd is testament to just how good the pepper crab is and how much abuse Singaporeans are willing to tolerate for good food.
Eng Seng Restaurant: 241 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427932
6. Yong Kee Famous Fishball Noodle
24 years in the running, Yong Kee’s fishball noodles ($3/$4) are clearly a grade above the rest as their fishballs are made with fresh fish daily by hand. With their above average food at average prices, Yong Kee never fails to garner a steady stream of customers eager for their famous fish ball noodles. Perhaps a little arrogant, the owner might be slightly rude sometimes, snapping at customers frequently. I’d be grumpy too if I had to hand make hundreds of fishballs daily.
Yong Kee Famous Fishball Noodle: ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre, 6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-121, Singapore 150006
7. Poh Cheu Handmade Ang Ku Kueh and Soon Kuehs
In modern-day Singapore, the tedious process of making such kuehs are often haphazardly replaced with their substandard, mass-produced, factory-made counterparts, compromising on taste and quality.
However, Poh Cheu, on the other hand, takes the time and effort to make these delectable soon kuehs (turnip dumplings) and peng kuehs (rice dunplings) from scratch by hand, making it all the more authentic and fresh. They even offer a wide variety of soon chess, with different fillings.
Working on a tight schedule, the workers are often erratic and pretty impatient, rushing at you with any chance they got. At least, these delicacies are only available for takeaway, that way, we have a smaller chance of stepping on their toes.
Poh Cheu Handmade Ang Ku Kueh and Soon Kuehs: Blk 127 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-230. Singapore 150127
8. Tiong Bahru Lien Fa Shui Jing Bao
Famous for their Crystal dumplings ($0.60 per piece), available in either yam paste sweet bean or vegetables, Tiong Bahru Lien Fa Shui Jing Bao has such a brisk business that advanced orders are needed at least an hour before collection.
As such, the stall owner might quite blunt if orders are made last minute, or if one decides to change his order resulting in a stringful of complaints on his side. However, their delicious crystal dumplings seem to make up for his constant annoyance towards the loyal-est of customers, with their crunchy and fragrant vegetable filling, topped off with a tasty chili paste.
Tiong Bahru Lien Fa Shui Jing Bao: Alexandra Village Food Centre, 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-10, Singapore 150120
Do understand that F&B people work multiple long hours constantly standing and working, so it’s understandable they are not always in the best of moods.
Good experience is pretty subjective, and ‘bad’ service might differ from individual to individual, and of course, depending on different days as well with some days just being worst than others. With all these in mind, I do sincerely hope that these stall owners actually improve their service for the better, and we all can have a stellar overall experience at their respective stalls per se.
Personally, I feel a great dining experience may still be justified with a less-than-pleasant stall owner breathing down your neck. After all to Singaporeans, it is the food that matters most eventually right? Evidently many of us go to great lengths to try good food.
Have you ever experienced any other rude/ arrogant hawkers or stall owners that sell such awesome food? Let us know in the comments below!