We can never get enough of boldly-flavoured local food. And while there’s no shortage of hawker centres to frequent, these restaurants offer well-executed, hawker-style dishes made from carefully-sourced, premium ingredients – plus generous portions, perfect for sharing. Check out these recommended spots for local favourites with sophisticated execution.
Chicken rice, Chatterbox
This iconic 50-year-old institution recently underwent a major facelift, and is now part of the newly-renovated Hilton Singapore Orchard. The expanded menu boasts more sharing plates and a host of zi char-inspired dishes, but most fans still come for the famous Mandarin Chicken Rice.
For this speciality, executive chef Liew Tian Heong uses only chickens weighing around 2 kilograms each, rendered perfectly tender via a unique ‘steam-cook’ method to ensure smooth, succulent flesh. It’s served with fluffy, fragrant aged Jasmine rice perfumed with pandan leaves, shallots and chicken fat. Individual sets come with belly warming chicken broth with tofu, dark soy sauce, and excellent house-made chilli sauce and grated ginger, both blended ultra-fine in a $16,000 machine.
Lobster laksa, Burger & Lobster
Available at both the Raffles Hotel and Jewel Changi Airport outlets, this rich, lemak laksa bursts with flavour from warm spices and aromatic coconut milk. The large bowl of rice noodles is topped with bean sprouts, tofu puffs, and fresh Atlantic lobster. Depending on your appetite, you can choose to have a half or whole crustacean; the restaurant brings in fresh supplies daily, so customers can pick from the latest catch.
Fancy more variety? Consider also the flame-grilled sambal glazed lobster, served with garlic toast – a sweet and spicy spin on hawker favourite sambal stingray.
Nasi lemak, The Coconut Club
Coconut Club’s star dish, which uses carefully-sourced quality ingredients, has won it many fans. The eggs are produced by chickens fed on more nutritious feed, while the coconut milk used is made from fruit sourced from a family-owned plantation. Organic French chicken from Malaysia’s Toh Thye Seng Farm is marinated for at least 12 hours before being deep-fried, while the rice is cooked twice: first with rempah, then coconut milk. The all-important sambal is made fresh every two days.
The Coconut Club is relocating from Ann Siang Hill and re-opening a new flagship in another location in early May. Spread across multiple floors with 100 seats, the restaurant will introduce all-day dining with plenty of new dishes to try. Signature Nasi Lemak Sets will continue to be available. Meanwhile, The Coconut Club at Siglap will continue to operate as the central kitchen and for deliveries and takeaways. Soon, there will be a small dining section for guests who prefer a quick bite on the spot.
Beef hor fun, Violet Oon Singapore
This hearty, Cantonese-style dish is available at Violet Oon’s ION Orchard and Jewel Changi Airport outlets. Tuck into slices of 150-day, grain-fed Black Angus tenderloin flash-fried with black bean sauce for a beautiful smoky aroma, then married with silky tangles of rice noodles. The substantial dish comes with fresh poached greens, bean sprouts, and a side of preserved vegetables to brighten the flavour.
Bak kut teh, Coffee Lounge
Goodwood Park Hotel’s popular Coffee Lounge offers comforting bak kut teh, or peppered pork ribs soup, with a choice of steamed rice or mee sua. Premium pork is simmered with whole peppercorns, garlic, rock sugar and Chinese herbs for an hour. The result is a subtly peppery yet flavourful soup that goes perfectly with fried dough fritters and preserved vegetables. The dish is also part of Coffee Lounge’s popular Local Degustation menu: diners can choose their own three or four-course lineup of tasting portions.
Hokkien mee, The Orchard Café
Orchard Hotel’s buffet restaurant, The Orchard Cafe, is the place for a substantial meal of heritage-inspired local creations and a variety of international dishes. Slurp up their moreish Singapore Hokkien Mee, which comprises both yellow and rice noodles fried in rich prawn stock. The wok hei-imbued dish is topped with fresh plump prawns, pork slices, squid, chives, and bean sprouts. Before tucking in, add a touch of calamansi and sambal for extra dimension.
Lobster porridge, Beast & Butterflies
This comforting Teochew-style porridge is found at all-day dining spot Beast & Butterflies at M Social Hotel on Robertson Quay. It’s made from a foundation of fragrant steamed jasmine rice, generous portions of succulent lobster, and sweet, slow-boiled crab broth. The indulgent gruel is topped with deep fried conpoy for crunch, and a scattering of julienned ginger, bonito flakes and fresh spring onions to finish.