City Travel Tip #909
Hawker Centres – how to order your food and find a table
Anthony Bourdain was so taken by the hawker centres in Singapore that he tried unsucessfully to replicate it back in New York.
Hawker centres are where you can find a wide range of local Singaporean cuisine, at cheap prices. They are usually not air conditioned, but are well ventilated due to their spacious design and ceiling fans.
Hawker centres are a significant part of Singapore’s culture and history. In 2020, Singapore’s hawker culture was added to UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.
Among the popular hawker centres are – Newton Food Centre (which was featured in the film Crazy Rich Asians), Lau Pa Sat (which first opened in 1830) and Maxwell Food Centre (a favourite haunt of office workers).
Here are some tips for dining at a hawker centre:
1. If you see a table with a packet of tissue paper left on the seat or table, this means it is already taken by someone. Also known as “choped” in Singaporean lingo. It is a local habit to reserve a table with a packet of tissues before heading to order your food.
2. Some hawker stalls will deliver the dishes to your table. If so, take note of the table number when placing your order.
3. You will need to return your trays and dishes to the tray collection points after your meal.
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