Carrot cakes and char kway teow are a dime a dozen in hawker centres. But, hidden from the spotlight are a few hawker foods that are slowly losing recognition among Singaporeans today.
Some of these hawker foods used to be thriving in our grandparents’ or parents’ generation but have gradually become endangered as more stalls give up passing on their legacies. But, we’re not going to just let them pass us by.
From rare Teochew kuehs to traditional Malay pancakes, we’ve dug up 8 vanishing hawker foods in Singapore you have to try before they’re gone forever and where to find them. Get a taste of your grandparents’ favourite dessert or your parent’s after-school snack!
#1 BUBUR TERIGU
Resembling a paler-looking bubur hitam, the bubur terigu is a sweet wheat porridge. Boiled for at least an hour, the white wheat transforms into a sticky, gooey stew. It is usually sweetened with fragrant gula melaka and coconut milk to give it that extra oomph.
This traditional treat can be found stewing at a small handful of stalls such as Gong He Guan and Hua Jie Traditional Desserts.
Gong He Guan
28 Upper Cross St
Tel +65 6223 0562
Daily: 10.30am – 10.30pm
Nearest Station: Chinatown
Hua Jie Traditional Desserts
17 Upper Boon Keng Rd, #01-70
Nearest Station: Boon Keng
#2 CHI KAK KUEH
Black sesame? Charcoal? Nope, it’s mugwort. Known as “chi kak kueh” or “shu ke kueh”, this Teochew snack features mugwort-infused skin stuffed with sweetened green bean paste. Similar to the more familiar ang ku kueh, it’s delightfully chewy on the outside.
Only a few stalls in Singapore make this rare type of kueh, such as Yan Seng Cooked Food and Poh Cheu Soon Kueh & Ang Ku Kueh.
Yan Seng Cooked Food
#01-313, Tekka Centre, 665 Buffalo Road
Tel +65 6314 0630
Daily: 6am – 3pm
Nearest Station: Little India
Poh Cheu Soon Kueh & Ang Ku Kueh
127 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-222
Tel +65 6276 2287
Mon – Sat: 8am – 6pm
Nearest Station: Queenstown
#3 FUZHOU OYSTER CAKE
Resembling golden-brown UFOs, these Fuzhou oyster cakes are the perfect snack for when you’re craving a deep-fried indulgence. These flat discs are usually stuffed with oysters, minced pork, coriander and roasted peanuts. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, these babies are super addictive.
You can find them at Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake and Fuzhou Poh Hwa Oyster Cake.
Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake
1 Kadayanallur St, #01-05, Maxwell Food Centre
Mon – Sat: 9am – 8pm
Nearest Station: Telok Ayer
Fuzhou Poh Hwa Oyster Cake
166 Jln Besar, #02-34
Tel +65 8112 5286
Daily: 10am – 6pm
Nearest Station: Lavender
#4 NOI JI SUAN
The lotus seed version of tau suan, this traditional dessert is basically a sweet lotus seed porridge. The lotus seeds are cooked till soft and crumbly, but with slightly more bite as compared to that of mung beans. Cooking this dish involves a pretty laborious process of removing the pith of each seed, which is probably why it’s getting harder to find.
Thankfully, House of Dessert in Tampines Round Market and Food Centre are still dedicating themselves to whipping up a solid bowl of noi ji suan.
House of Dessert
137A Tampines Street 11, Tampines Round Market and Food Centre, #01-02
Tues – Wed: 7am – 3pm
Fri – Sun: 7am – 3pm
Nearest Station: Tampines West
#5 PIG TROTTER JELLY
Maybe the name of this dish alone is enough to make some of you gag. We’re not gonna lie, pig trotter jelly definitely has an acquired taste. For those of you who have never tried it, expect chilled gelatinous pork trotter stew cut into bite-sized strips. It is usually dipped in vinegary chili sauce to balance out the heavy, meaty flavour.
This Teochew delicacy can be found at Lao Liang Pig Trotter Jelly & Shark Meat in Jalan Berseh Food Centre.
Lao Liang Pig Trotter Jelly & Shark Meat
166 Jalan Besar, Jalan Berseh Food Centre, #02-37
Tues – Sun: 11am – 3pm
Nearest Station: Jalan Besar
#6 ROTI KIRAI
Roti kirai translates into “net bread”, which is pretty self-explanatory when you look at the snack. It is traditionally served on special occasions such as birthdays and weddings.
Shaped like a tightly-woven lattice, this Malay dessert is made from flour, eggs, water and turmeric powder. It pairs wonderfully with curry but is delicious on its own too.
Get a taste of this delicacy at Roti Kirai Delights or Alimah’s Kitchen!
Roti Kirai Delights
851 Jurong West Street 81, #06-291
Tel +65 8498 5459
Mon – Fri: 12pm – 8pm
Sat – Sun: 12pm – 2am
Nearest Station: Pioneer
Block 2A Commonwealth Drive, Tanglin Halt Food Centre, #01-23
Nearest Station: Queenstown
#7 SWEET AND SALTY GLUTINOUS RICE
Most of us are probably familiar with lor mai kai and lotus leaf glutinous rice. But how about sweet and savoury glutinous rice? This type of glutinous rice was a breakfast staple in Singapore during the 1950s and 1960s, but has gradually lost its prominence in the hawker scene.
Loaded with stewed peanuts and fried shallots, the dish is irresistibly fragrant. The rice itself is chewy and sticky, with a good bite to it.
Millennium Glutinous Rice at Chinatown Complex Food Centre is the only one hawker stall which is known to be churning out this dish in Singapore.
Millennium Glutinous Rice
335 Smith St, #02-092, Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Mon – Sat: 7am – 3pm
Nearest Station: Chinatown
#8 TAU KWA PAU
Char siew paus and tau sar paus have got nothing on the tau kwa pau. This rare gem sees deep fried tau kwa stuffed to the brim with a variety of ingredients — chopped fish cake, fried yam bits, hard-boiled egg and cucumber. Finished off with some thick savoury gravy, it makes for a really hearty meal.
Say Seng Tau Kwa Pau is the only stall left in Singapore that makes this delicious combo. Hurry down now to try this traditional delicacy before it goes extinct!
Say Seng Tau Kwa Pau
271 Onan Rd, Dunman Food Centre, #01-05
Tel +65 9488 7736
Tues – Sun: 8am – 5pm
Nearest Station: Eunos