Singapore’s most famous hawker centre recently emerged from a makeover – and it’s not a good look. While the original opened on to the roads, attracting people with its bustle and bright lights, mark II is enclosed and uninviting. You can eat well enough here, but it’s touristy and pricey compared to other hawker centres. Hong Kong movie star Chow Yun-Fat comes here whenever he’s in town.
First published on . Updated on 23 May 2012.
What's it like: A renovated, horseshoe-shaped open-air hawker centre from 1971, right in the middle of town – part of the reason the Singapore Tourism Board promoted this black, white and brown retreat as a hotspot for out-of-towners. Comparatively, this food centre is the area’s affordable dining spot, but it is one of the more expensive hawker centres on the island. Over the years, its often over-zealous hawkers have taken a lot of flak – for rising prices, touting and dishonest practices like the overcharging of by-the-kilo seafood dishes. With such scandals long since gone, Newton remains an induction ground if you want a primer on local food. What to eat: At the straightforward Satay Chicken Wings Otah (Stall 30), try the succulent barbecued chicken wings brushed with a tangy marinade – once 90 cents each, prices have now risen to $1.30.
Two stalls to the left, Heng (Stall 28) makes a pair of golden dishes without the use of pork and lard – a crisp oyster omelette ($5) with juicy little bivalves; and a delicate white carrot cake ($4) with medium-sized prawns and not-too-salty chye poh (preserved radish). Request chilli sauce when ordering.
Along the same row, Al-Amin Indian Muslim Food (Stall 26) does a flavourful chicken murtabak ($5) – a roti prata stuffed with tender shreds of chicken, small carrot bits and a rust-coloured curry sauce for dipping.
For lighter bites, Kwang Kee Teochew Fish Porridge (Stall 20) simmers fresh and tender slices in a light and fragrant soup with full grains of rice ($4). Bee Heng (Stall 12) makes a Hokkien-style popiah (fresh spring roll with braised vegetables, deep-fried flecks of flour, egg and prawns; $3.60 for two rolls) that’s thick in the skin, but balances crunchy, soft and fl eshy textures. Finally, for a classic barbecue, go for Hai Yan BBQ Seafood (Stall 11).