Ah, Tiong Bahru. The home of the hipsters, and the land of atas cafes. Over the past years, the historical neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru has seen the advent of hipster cafes, artsy shops, and the like. While the change is somewhat welcome, I still find myself mourning over the loss of the many traditional hawker and kopitiam stalls that have been replaced by these new establishments.
Fortunately, not all is lost. Within Tiong Bahru and around the vicinity, there are still a few food gems that can be found. So I’d thought to remind all of us of the good old days with this list of 10 Hawker and Kopitiam Food Gems In Tiong Bahru!
— Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre —
1. Tiong Bahru Hwa Yuen Porridge (#02-74)
This stall has been in business for many, many years. And up till today, they still serve porridge that could warm every part of your body and soul.
Pictured above is the Pork Porridge (S$3). The porridge served here has a silken texture which makes every mouthful enjoyably smooth, and easy to swallow. It’s also not overly sticky to the point of being cloying.
The porridge is also extremely fragrant, and not bland at all, as one might expect from a mediocre bowl of porridge. There is a hint of sesame oil, which makes it all the more flavourful.
The porridge also comes with a good mixture of pork cuts. There were thin slices of pork liver, lean meat, as well as miniature pork balls.
If you order the Shredded Chicken & Century Egg Porridge (S$3), you can top it up with a small serving of Cantonese-style Chee Cheong Fun for just $1.
The Chee Cheong Fun itself is velvety and delicately thin, and the sauce extremely aromatic. Additionally, the chilli adds a nice touch of spice and sweetness to the dish.
Tiong Bahru Hwa Yuen Porridge: 30 Seng Poh Road, #02-74 Tiong Bahru Market, Singapore 168898 | Opening Hours: 7.30am – 10.30pm (Daily)
2. Long Ji Soya Bean Drink (#02-63)
If you visit Long Ji Soya Bean, you’ll notice that there are newspaper cutouts and articles displayed around the storefront. If you look at them closely, you’ll find that besides selling amazing soya bean, the owner is also a martial arts enthusiast.
Anyway, the Soya Bean Drink (S$0.80) sold here is thick and smooth, and wonderfully fragrant. Nothing like the watered-down nonsense you might get at other places.
Long Ji Soya Bean: Tiong Bahru Market, #02-63, 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898
3. Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee (#02-01)
Despite only being recently awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand, Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee has been open for business for decades. First started by his mother, Chef Manfred has since taken up the mantle, or should I say spatula, serving delicious bowls of fried sotong prawn mee.
I’d always find the noodles bursting with deep flavour, and carrying a strong wok hei tang. I’d make short of the plate in no time, and would lick it if not for the sliver of self-respect I still have.
The portion of seafood is decent, with tender prawns and succulent sotong interspersing the noodles. There are three portion sizes you can choose from (S$3/S$4/S$5), so it’s really up to you how much you want to eat. Anywho, I’ve loved Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee since I was a child, and will continue to as long as it’s open for business!
Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee: Tiong Bahru Market, #02-01, 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore 168898 | Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm (closed on Mondays)
4. Tow Kwar Pop (#02-06)
At Tow Kwar Pop, the tow kwar is still hand-grilled, making it absolutely phenomenal.
It’s also a little different from the usual tow kwa. Sandwiched inside each piece of tow kwa are strips of bean sprouts and cucumber. This gives an interesting crunch when you bite into the soft and airy tow kwa.
When mixed into rojak with apples, pineapples, cucumber, dough fritters and crisp slices of fragrant cuttlefish, and slathered with a gloriously thick rojak sauce, it makes for an exceptional dish. The sauce has a good depth of flavour, and is highly addictive. This is a must-try if you find yourself at Tiong Bahru Food Centre!
Tow Kwar Pop: Tiong Bahru Market, 3o Seng Poh Road, #02-06, Singapore 168898 | Opening Hours: 12pm – 8pm (Daily)
5. Tiong Bahru Char Kway Teow (#02-11)
It’s no surprise that the well-loved Char Kway Teow would be on a list of delicious hawker food. Tiong Bahru Char Kway Teow serves a simple, but incredibly satisfying Char Kway Teow (S$3/4) that will fulfil every Char Kway Teow-lover’s dream.
The kway teow and yellow noodles were stir-fried to perfection, while remaining springy but also enjoyably soft. I’m not one who enjoys crunchy bean sprouts as I feel that they carry a raw taste that isn’t too pleasant, but the bean sprouts in this Char Kway Teow were tender and juicy.
The lup cheong (Chinese sausage) and hum (cockles) were flavourful, making the Char Kway Teow all the more glorious. Overall, the dish was also not too oily, which is good news for your arteries.
With more than 40 years of history, Tiong Bahru Fried Kway Teow certainly remains one of the best in town.
Tiong Bahru Char Kway Teow: 30 Seng Poh Road, #02-11, Singapore 168898
— Kopitiam Stalls —
6. Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh
Just a short walk away from Tiong Bahru Market sits Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh. Here, they serve piping hot bowls of mouth-watering Teochew-style Bak Kut Teh that are perfect for a cold, rainy day.
Priced at S$6.50 per bowl, Old Tiong Bahru’s Bak Kut Teh boasts a rich and robust broth that isn’t too peppery. Hints of garlic permeated the broth, accentuating the umami released by the pork ribs.
Each bowl is served with about three ribs, which add up to a pretty decent amount of meat. While not fall-off-the-bone tender, the pork ribs were sufficiently juicy and soft enough to provide for easy chewing!
Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh: 58 Seng Poh Road, #01-31, Singapore 160058 | Opening Hours: 6.30am – 9pm (Tues – Sun), Closed on Mondays | Tel: +65 6224 4990
7. Ah Chiang’s Porridge
Another stall that’s perfect to visit on a rainy day is Ah Chiang’s Porridge. Situated within the iconic low-rise flats of Tiong Bahru, Ah Chiang’s Porridge offers some seriously delicious bowls of porridge that will warm your very core.
I’m a fan the Pork Offal Porridge (猪扎粥) (S$4.50) which comes with a variety of pig organs. The porridge itself is seasoned to perfection, and the texture is ideal – it hits the sweet spot between sticky and watery.
Ah Chiang’s Porridge: 65 Tiong Poh Road, Singapore 160065 | Opening Hours: 6am – 11pm (Daily) | Tel: +65 6557 0084
8. Fish & Chicks (Food Paradise)
Fish & Chicks is a franchise that’s been around for quite some time, but a new branch recently opened in Tiong Bahru, at a coffee shop named Food Paradise.
Here, they offer dishes like Chilli Crab Pasta (S$9.50) and Salted Egg Pasta (S$9.50), both of which come with a huge piece of chicken or fish, customer’s choice. I mean, it’s Chilli Crab Pasta, how can I not order this? What’s more, it’s topped with an onsen egg, which makes the dish that much richer and satisfying.
The pasta itself was cooked al dente, and paired extremely well with the light and sweet chilli crab sauce. I also like that they don’t go easy on the spice. After all, it’s chilli crab for a reason. The pieces of fish was fried to a perfect crisp, while remaining tender on the inside. The portion was quite large, and it was more than enough to fill me up.
It’s truly impressive how a simple kopitiam stall manages to execute this dish with such perfection. I highly recommend Fish & Chicks for anyone who loves affordable western food!
Fish & Chicks: 11B Boon Tiong Road, Singapore 160010
10. Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice
I remember coming to Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice with my family as a young child. Each visit filled me with untold excitement as I imagined a plate of rice drenched in that supreme curry, topped with traditional Hainanese pork chop and a generous serving of chup chye.
Despite always having snaking lunchtime queues, Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice is truly one of the best you can find, and certainly one of the most authentic. Definitely give this a go if you’re in Tiong Bahru, you won’t regret it.
Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice: 71 Seng Poh Road, #01-49, Singapore 160071 | Opening Hours: 8am – 2.45pm (Daily) | Tel: +65 6225 3762
— Bonus: Near Tiong Bahru —
10. Shenton Way Golden Bridge Roasted Chicken Rice
When you think of the hor fun sold at Roasted Meat stalls, you’d probably imagine plain hor fun mixed with the usual wonton mee sauce.
Well, Shenton Way Golden Bridge Roasted Chicken Rice (I know, it’s quite a mouthful) isn’t that…basic. Here, if you order any of their roasted meat with hor fun, you’ll get authentic zi char-style hor fun topped with the meat of your choice.
Pictured above is the Roasted Duck Hor Fun (S$4). Initially, I’d thought the duck would turn out dry and hard, but was pleasantly surprised when I bit into the succulent and juicy meat. The hor fun was smooth and springy, while the gravy was packed with flavour.
While Bukit Merah isn’t exactly in Tiong Bahru, it’s only a short distance away. And travelling that extra bit will be worth it for the food served at Shenton Way Golden Bridge Roasted Chicken Rice.
Shenton Way Golden Bridge Roasted Chicken Rice: 112 Jalan Bukit Merah, Singapore 160112