Master Singapore’s Street Food, “Crazy Rich Asians”-Style

The city’s Michelin-starred hawker fare proves that not only the super wealthy can indulge in some of Singapore’s best dishes.

Master Singapore’s Street Food, “Crazy Rich Asians”-Style

Singapore’s hawker food stalls showcase cuisine from across Asia.

Photo by T.Dallas/Shutterstock

The heartwarming and hilarious modern day Cinderella story Crazy Rich Asians didn’t just make us want to book a trip to Singapore stat; it also had us drooling over all the amazing Singapore eats the actors indulged in throughout the entire rom-com. Despite the over-the-top high-society life that is the centerpiece of the film, the city’s hyper local hawker fare cuisine plays a dominant role as well. (Added bonus: you don’t have to be crazy rich to enjoy the amazing collection of Asian food these street stalls churn out.)

As soon as the lead characters arrive in Singapore, they head straight to Newton Centre, a bustling late-night market where the food stall vendors, also known as hawkers, serve them a dizzying array of steaming satay sticks and made-to-order chili crabs.

Singaporean actress Fionna Xie, who plays the soap opera star Kitty Pong in the movie, is a big fan of her city’s hawker food, according to Singapore Tourism, which provided some of the cast’s local recommendations. Her favorite dishes at Newton Centre, or Newton Circus as it’s also known, are fried carrot cake (which, contrary to its name, is actually a stir-fry dish consisting of cubes of radish cake), chili crabs, and fishball noodles.

For those who noticed the lead character Nick Young (played by Henry Golding) boasting to his girlfriend Rachel Chu (played by Constance Wu) while they were at Newton Centre about the fact that Singapore’s hawker stalls have actually garnered Michelin cred, he wasn’t just trying to impress. Two years ago, the unassuming hawker stand Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork on Singapore’s Crawford Lane became one of the first street food stalls in the world to be awarded a Michelin star.

Xie attests that despite the long wait (some say it can be up to a couple hours), it’s worth getting in line at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork for a bowl of bak chor mee, a pork noodle dish that made the place legendary. “Be prepared for long lines, springy, vinegary goodness and a rather happy belly,” said Xie.

And Hill Street isn’t the only Singapore stall that has gotten Michelin recognition. Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, which serves up the city’s traditional chicken rice dish, also garnered a Michelin star.

Singaporean actress Janice Koh, who plays Felicity Young, one of Nick Young’s aunts in Crazy Rich Asians, said that what makes the Singapore dining experience truly unique is the mix of superb fine dining restaurants at one end of the spectrum and its vibrant pan-Asian hawker food culture on the other.

“For something authentically local, I would head straight for the charming neighborhood of Tiong Bahru, one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates. I love Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice, which has been serving their signature pork chops and curry chicken for over 60 years,” said Koh.

She also recommended Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh on Seng Poh Road for its “old-school style tender pork ribs served in a peppery broth.” Another one of Koh’s pro tips? Head to Jian Bo Shui Kueh in the market place upstairs from Old Tiong Bahru Bak Kut Teh for the perfect breakfast pairing of chwee kueh, or steamed rice cake topped with preserved radish, and a cup of local coffee.

And for those who want a taste of the Crazy Rich Asians lifestyle featured in the film, Koh recommends booking a table at these more upscale venues: the Michelin-starred Candlenut restaurant for its innovative Peranakan food, Wild Rocket for a modern twist on traditional Singaporean cuisine, and the National Kitchen for Chinese comfort food in a historic building.

>>Next: Get to Know Singapore in One Deliciously Complex Dish

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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