As Singapore pursues her never-ending quest for constant economic growth, old buildings get the inevitable facelift. You know what they say: out with the old and in with the new.
Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre was one of the hawker centres to undergo the government-slated makeover.
If you used to frequent the Marine Parade/Parkway locale, you’ll remember Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre to be a little dark, maybe slightly dingy but still charmingly old-school that was full of little hidden gems. When Marine Parade Central and Food Centre was slated to undergo major renovations in May of 2018, undoubtedly, everyone was on tenterhooks.
Will our ever-dependable hawker stalls still be around after the dust cleared and neon lights flicker on again? After all, change is always a little uncomfortable.
Well, after several delays Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre finally opened its doors. The hawker centre was brighter, cleaner and decked out with intelligent tray return systems.
Not to mention, most of our treasured hawker stalls made their way back to Marine Parade Central to which many people heaved a hearty relief. Without further ado, here are 10 Stalls you have can’t miss at the newly revamped Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre.
I’ll begin with the crowning glory of Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre, Apollo Fresh Cockle Fried Kway Teow.
Having been around since the launch of space shuttle Apollo 11 (I’ll let you do the math on this one)— which was also the inspiration for the name of their stall—Apollo Fresh Cockle Fried Kway Teow is practically an institution in Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre.
Apollo’s Char Kway Teow (S$4) is decidedly different from the usual char kway teow you can get at your neighbourhood hawker centre. They specialise in ‘wet’ Char Kway Teow, so everything was a little moist and covered in the same brown sauce.
A sort of sloppy-joe version of char kway teow if you will.
While it’s certainly not winning in the looks department, you can be sure this Char Kway Teow delivers fully on taste.
Anyone can make char kway teow but what truly makes a plate stand out lies in the skill of the cook and how he wields that temperamental wok hei. For Apollo, you can expect a plate that is chock-full of wok hei with an intense and addictive pepperiness.
Robust and garlicky, with a dollop of fiery chilli, you can expect to ask for seconds with this plate of Char Kway Teow. While this plate of Char Kway Teow is undoubtedly polarising, I was all for Apollo’s plate of Char Kway Teow.
Apollo Fried Char Kway Teow: #01-18 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 9.30pm (Wed to Mon), Closed on Tues | Facebook
2. Tip Top Western Food
Hawker Western food is both nostalgic and immensely satisfying, how can one possibly say no to crispy fried chicken cutlets with a side of crinkle-cut fries? Not me, that’s for sure.
Tip Top Western Food has been around for three generations and here is where you can find old-school Western delights that hearken back to those good ol’ days.
With classics such as Fish & Chips (S$6.50) and Chicken Chop (S$6.50), that’s your weekday meal or cheat meal settled.
Fish & Chips is a deceptively simple dish to prepare but one that is hard to get right. What you want to look out for is a crispy but flaky fish that breaks apart easily, well-breaded, and doesn’t feel greasy.
Suffice to say, Tip Top Western checked all the boxes for me. Their fish had a fine and crispy coating that helped keep the fish moist and succulent. You won’t find dry leathery fish here; hit it with a zing of lemon and you’ve got a perfect mouthful.
Another quintessential Western dish has to be the Chicken Chop. This one came as a rather sizeable cutlet smothered in gravy and served with a side of coleslaw.
I was pretty wary, having bit into one too many tough and sinewy chicken chops in my time.
Nothing brings you down more than a lacklustre and overcooked bird. Tip Top’s bird was succulent and well-seasoned, with a caramelised edge and a savoury lip-smackin’ sauce to boot. A tip-top combination!
Tip Top Western Food: #01-22 | Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm (Daily) | Facebook
3. Neptune Hong Kong Dim Sum
Neptune Hong Kong Dim Sum is a special one; having been around for over 23 years, many were heartened to find Neptune Hong Kong Dim Sum still serving steamed goodies in bamboo baskets.
I have to say I’m always a little sceptical of hawker centre dim sum, as a lot can go wrong with a simple siew mai. I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way.
That being said, 23 years of slinging out dim sum has to mean something. I went for the archetypal Siew Mai (S$3.60) which came freshly steamed in a basket of four.
To my surprise, the prawn in the siew mai was bouncy and fresh, whereas the pork was well-seasoned and tender. A pretty stellar siew mai if you ask me.
Other favourites include the har gau or Steamed Shrimps Dumpling (S$3.60), a delicate translucent crystal parcel encasing a pink and plump prawn. Everything hinges on those prawns and they were fresh and tasty, not to mention the skin was of the right thickness too—no complaints here.
It ain’t dim sum with a serving of Xiao Long Bao (S$3.80). These soup dumplings weren’t the best I’ve ever tried but at their affordable price point, I’m not complaining.
With a plethora of dim sum to choose from, that promises good quality baskets, forget brunch; Sunday dim sum is where it’s at.
Neptune Hong Kong Dim Sum: #01-26 | Tel:+65 9005 4894 | Opening Hours: 24 Hrs | Facebook
4. Xin Long Cooked Food (Chap Chye Png)
Another stall that garners long queues is in Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre is Xing Long Cooked Food. With a huge variety of dishes and a seemingly never-ending queue, you can bet Xin Long Cooked Food has good cai fan.
With a smorgasbord of items, the fun, customisable part of cai fan is taken up a notch with Xing Long Cooked Food.
When it comes to cai fan the possibilities are endless, as it’s completely customisable, so you can go as healthy as you like or really indulge. I went for the Sambal Long Beans (S$1), Beef Rendang (S$3), and Potatoes Fried In Tomato (S$1).
Each item was simple and prepared with a homely and comforting hand that comes with years of experience. It was a hearty and sumptuous affair, and clearly, those queues don’t lie. Cai fan stalls are aplenty in hawker centres but only a few rise above the sea of run-of-the-mill cai fan stalls to deliver a truly delicious plate.
Xin Long Cooked Food: #01-20 | Opening Hours: 11am – 8.30pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun
Another stall, another queue. It seems that Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre is never lacking delicious hawker fare to sink our teeth into. Kun Ji Duck Rice is a pit-stop you have to make during your romp around the newly-furbished hawker centre.
I ordered their Braised Duck Rice (S$3.50), which came with a portion of their signature braised duck and doused in a liberal amount of their dark sauce.
As a self-appointed braised duck connoisseur, you can trust that I have eaten many plates of braised duck. What tends to happen sometimes, whether due to the cut or method of braising duck, I’ve found that most of the time, duck tends to lean on the dry side.
For my fellow duck lovers out there, you’d be pleased to know that Kun Ji serves a tender braised duck accompanied with a dark, sticky sauce.
Another must-try item from Kun Ji Duck Rice has to be their Duck Porridge (S$3.50). Again, a liberal amount of that winning sauce with a generous portion of neatly sliced duck.
Yes, eating porridge in the middle of a hot afternoon is a little odd but every bead of sweat is well-worth it for such a flavoursome bowl. One can never go wrong with braised duck and especially one that is as famous as Kun Ji Duck Rice.
Kun Ji Duck Rice: #01-25 | Opening Hours: 9.30am – 10pm (Daily)
6. D’Authentic Nasi Lemak
There are no imposters when it comes to D’Authentic Nasi Lemak, boasting snaking queues during lunch. Hence, my suggestion is to get there before the lunch crowd.
I can’t tell you how much I adore a plate of their Nasi Lemak. From the fragrant and fluffy rice to the sweet and addictive chilli, even talking about it has got me salivating. With a sprinkle of salty ikan bilis, that’s an end-of-days meal right there.
A basic set comes with a crispy chicken wing, fried fish, ikan bilis and an egg, which will set you back S$3.50. But with their smorgasbord of dishes you can properly zhng up your Nasi Lemak. My advice is to try your hand at all that D’Authentic has to offer, and it will surely be an excellent lunch.
D’ Authentic Nasi Lemak: #01-36 | Opening Hours: 8am – 4pm (Sat to Thurs), Closed on Fri
7. Yok Mari Yok
Another long-time resident at Marine Parade Central Market and Food Centre is Yok Mari Yok.
This is where you can find a selection of dishes to add to your Nasi Padang and other Malay dishes such as Mee Siam (S$3.50), Mee Soto (S$3.50) and Lontong (S$3.50) to name a few.
However, the dish I’m interested in is their Mee Rebus (S$3.50).
Yok Mari Yok’s Mee Rebus was voted as having one of the best mee rebus in Singapore back in 2018. With an accolade like that, one has to see if it is indeed worth the hype.
Their Mee Rebus arrived on the table with a healthy serving of gravy with the usual round-up of garnishes.
The gravy was nice and thick and had that trademark peanutty quality. Not to mention, the gravy coated each strand of noodle entirely which made for a more toothsome mouthful.
While their Mee Rebus was better than most, it certainly wasn’t life-changing. However, if I’m in the area, I definitely wouldn’t mind a bowl from Yok Mari Yok.
Yok Mari Yok: #01-03 | Opening Hours: 7am – 10pm (Daily)
8. Aziza Putu Piring
Putu piring has got to be one of the more underrated local delights in our vast mosaic of hawker food. Not to confused with kueh Tutu, both these cakes look really similar to each other.
Kueh tutu has coconut or peanut fillings while putu piring is filled with one of my beloved ingredients, gula melaka.
At Aziza Putu Piring, not only can you find this charming snack but putu piring with unconventional fillings such as Durian (S$2.70 for three) or Nutella (S$2.70 for three).
A little bit of traditionalist when it comes to my putu piring, the Gula Melaka (S$2.70 for three) was good enough for me.
These snow-white cakes were delicate and filled with sweet, smoky caramelly gula melaka. It’s hard to stop at one of these dainty little snacks. Of course, if you are a durian fanatic or know any in your life, then you have to let them try the Durian putu piring.
If you’d prefer something of the savoury persuasion, then Aziza Putu Piring also peddles a gamut of fried goodies such as Curry Pies (S$1.80 each), Samosas (S$0.80 each) and Goreng Pisang (S$1.80 each). Yup, leave your diet behind when you’re here.
Aziza Putu Piring: #01-02 | Tel: +65 9640 2483 | Opening hours: 9am – 8pm (Daily)
9.Whampoa Soya Bean
I have a huge sweet tooth and a soft spot for local desserts. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that I’ll include two entries centred around desserts.
There’s nothing like a bowl of silky beancurd or dou hua to cool you down after an especially hearty meal. At Whampoa Soya Bean, you can find all sorts of old-school desserts. From refreshing bowls of Grass Jelly (S$1.50) to nourishing servings of White Fungus (S$2.50) to the well-loved Cold/Hot Beancurd (S$1.30), your sweet tooth cravings are sure to be satisfied.
Always a purist when it comes to dessert, one has to start with the beancurd. I picked the cold version because humidity and I do not get along.
The curds were soft and not overly sweet; texture-wise I would have liked them a little smoother and silkier. Nevertheless, a pretty satisfactory bowl of dou hua.
If you would like to change it up from your regular dou hua, I’d recommend the Gingoko Beancurd (S$2). Little golden nuggets of starchy gingko nuts admittedly make excellent partners.
Whampoa Soya Bean: #01-19 | Opening Hours: 7am – 10.30pm (Daily)
With the sweltering heat and as we have already established, I’m not a fan of humidity. Nothing cools me down like a refreshing bowl of chendol.
If Four Seasons Cendol sounds at all familiar to you, Four Seasons Cendol had their first stall in Toa Payoh and is even the favourite of ESM Goh Chok Tong.
With a glorious icy orb, drizzled with sticky gula melaka syrup and soft pandan-flavoured chendol squiggles, that is a perfect bowl, if I do say so myself.
Marine Parade Central Market And Food Centre has always held a special place in my heart. Having grown up in the area, I’ve seen the stores and buildings come and go.
While we did suffer a couple losses with this renovation, I’m glad some of my favourites are still around at Marine Parade Central Market And Food Centre. Hopefully, some things never change.
Our Rating: 5 / 5
Marine Parade Central Market And Food Centre
84 Marine Parade Central, Singapore 440084
Marine Parade Central Market And Food Centre
84 Marine Parade Central, Singapore 440084