7 Singapore Hawker Hacks Every Tourist Should Know

If there’s one thing that the island of Singapore is known for, it’s for its wide variety of cuisines. Many foodies consider Singapore a food haven due to the numerous hawker centers located throughout the city. After all, who doesn’t love a cheap, delicious, and authentic meal?

To eat at a hawker center in Singapore helps you discover the true soul of a Singaporean. Amidst the picture perfect skyscrapers and urban developments, a hawker center is full of character and traditional cuisine that reflects the cultural melting pot of Singapore.

Unfortunately, for many tourists, going to a hawker center could prove to be a complete culture shock. Don’t worry; we at Evolve Vacation have come up with some sure-fire tips that will surely have you eating at a hawker center like a local. Today, Evolve Vacation shares 7 Singapore Hawker Hacks Every Tourist Should Know:

1) Chope your table!


Hawker centers could become quite crowded, especially during lunchtime. Thus, it could be difficult for anyone (yes, even a local) to reserve a table or even a place to sit. Because hawker centers are first come, first serve, you should find an open seat or table before you order your steaming hot bowl of bak kut teh.

To reserve a spot, leave a packet of tissues on your desired table or seat. Don’t worry – nobody’s going to steal your tissues. It’s simply the Singaporean way to “chope” or reserve a seat or table. This way, you can easily satisfy your grumbling tummy because ordering food is the only thing you have to think about!


 2) Have your cash ready!


Nothing infuriates a hawker uncle or auntie than having to deal with a hefty $50 bill. Time is precious for them, as every minute they spend counting money could be spent serving another customer. If you know you’re going to eat at a hawker center, be sure to have smaller bills to make things easier.


3) The stall with the longest queue is the stall with the best food!


When you’re at a hawker center, you’ll be spoilt by the many choices of food they have available. Not only that, there are probably several stalls that serve the same kind of food. If you’re wondering where to eat, we suggest you head on over to the stall with the longest queue.

If you aren’t the most patient person and can’t deal with standing in a queue, avoid the hawker centers from 12pm to 1:30 pm – this is the time that most Singaporeans eat lunch, especially the office workers.


4) Do you have a large appetite? Head to the hawker center after lunch or during dinner time!

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If you feel unsatisfied with the regular portions you get during lunchtime, head on over to the hawker center after lunch or during dinnertime. Although most of the stalls would have closed by then, the ones that do stay open usually give away larger portions because they don’t keep the dishes for too long.


5) Stall owners serve more food to men.


To always ensure you’re getting the largest portions possible, let the men in your group do all the ordering. Most stall owners tend to give smaller portions to women, even if they are charged the same price. If you’re a woman with a big appetite, let your male friend order for you and don’t forget to order “more rice” instead of “add rice”!


6) Order dishes that are about to run out.


As you visit your favorite stall, check out the serving plates and carefully choose the dishes that have 1.5 to 2 portions of the dish left. Most of the time, the stall owners will choose to give you the entire remainder of the dish, which is usually more than the average portion size! Yay!


7) Self-service?


Most hawker centers will have numbers on their tables. This isn’t just for aesthetic purposes — it’s an actual table number that you can give the stall owner so your food can be delivered to you. Alternatively, if you see a sign that says “self-service”, this means you’ll need to get back to the stall and take the food away to your table yourself.


Although eating a hawker center might seem intimidating, you definitely shouldn’t scratch it off your list. Hopefully, by following this guide you’ll feel less nervous about getting that authentic chicken rice you’ve always been hearing foodies rave about.

So tell us, which hawker center will you visit first?

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