Chinatown Complex Food Centre is one of the largest hawker centers in Singapore, boasting over 260 stalls. Chinatown Complex is well-known among Singaporeans and residents from all over the island would make the long trip here to shop at the wet market in the basement and to purchase their meals from the plethora of stalls upstairs. You can practically find the entire gamut of Singapore hawker food here and more – from Michelin-starred joints to increasingly rare traditional snacks.
Chinatown Complex Food Centre is personally one of my most frequently visited hawker centers, especially since the pandemic began. I just love the wide choices of good food here and getting to try some rare dishes adds an exotic factor to one’s foodie exploration.
Without further ado, here are the things you must eat (and drink!) the next time you find yourself at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. The stalls listed here are not arranged in particular order and you’d probably need to make multiple visits to try all of them.
The 1950s Coffee
The Chinatown Complex outlet (the main branch) of The 1950s Coffee is listed in the Michelin guide and is noted for dishing out aromatic cups of thick kopi/kopi-o. The toasts are also worth a try – having been charcoal-grilled. If you are not a coffee person, do check out their Iced Lemon Tea – another drink of theirs that I swear by, especially on warm days.
They are closed on Mondays but they have another stall not too far away at Maxwell Food Centre that is open if ever you are craving for a hot cup during the start of the week.
Stall Number: #02-048
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday, 7AM to 5PM
Pan Ji Cooked Food
Don’t let the name deceive you. This is not an economical rice stall. Pan Ji Cooked Food is frequented by Singaporeans from all over the island for its exceedingly rare old school snacks. At the heart of it all is the Sachima. It’s not hard to miss whenever you drop by this stall. You will see a huge slab of crispy crackers in front. Sachima are essentially honey crackers coated with malted sugar syrup. Pan Ji Cooked Food sells them in different sizes and each piece goes well as a snack with coffee or tea.
Apart from Sachima, you can also buy Honey Twists and Sesame Egg Splits here.
Stall Number: #02-078
Opening Hours: Daily, 8AM to 3PM
Ah Kong Wa Kuih
Another stall to check out for its rare snacks is Ah Kong Wa Kuih. They serve rice puddings (Wa Kuih), steamed in round dishes. With every order, the rice puddings are slathered in a homemade sauce and served with sambal and raw garlic.
Stall Number: #02-116
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday, 7:45AM to 2PM
Chef Leung’s Authentic Hand-milled Rice Noodle Rolls
Chef Leung is an ex-Raffles Hotel dimsum chef who decided to set up shop in Chinatown Complex Food Centre in 2021. Those who drop by – especially during lunch hour – can expect long queues. Chef Leung’s chee cheong fun are in high demand and rightly so. Chef Leung (and his family) makes the rice rolls and the sauces from scratch. There are 5 flavors to choose from – Plain, Prawns, Tuna, Char Siew and Minced Pork. Other than rice rolls, Chef Leung also sells Hong Kong style Pork and Century Egg Congee which are equally good.
Stall Number: #02-96
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday, 7AM to 2PM
Fatty Ox HK Kitchen
Situated at the far end of Chinatown Complex Food Centre, Fatty Ox HK Kitchen specializes in springy Cantonese-style egg noodles. Think: Char Siu Noodles or Beef Brisket Noodles. The roast meats are the highlights here and practically everything is worth ordering. If you can’t make up your mind, you can order their assorted meat platters. I often find myself craving for a plate of their noodles for lunch, walking all the way there from my office only to find that they are closed. Do note they are not open on both Mondays and Tuesdays.
Stall Number: #02-84
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday and Tuesday, 7:30AM to 2:30PM
Claypot and Cooked Food Kitchen
Situated just next to Fatty Ox HK Kitchen near the windows, the plainly named Claypot and Cooked Food Kitchen specializes in exactly that. If you are looking for something more substantial for your lunch, this is the place to be. Almost everything here is served in a claypot, including Sweet and Sour Pork. I’m not complaining though as the portions are generous, with a relatively thick serving of meat with each chunk. If pork is not your thing, you can also check out their Sea Cucumber that comes with pork belly as well as their Steamed Garoupa Fish.
Do note this stall is more suitable for the office crowd, as they are only open during weekdays for lunch.
Update: The uncle serving this stall sustained injuries after a fall and as such, the stall remains closed while he is recovering.
Stall Number: #02-83
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 10AM to 2PM
One of Singapore’s most popular bak kwa brands originates from Chinatown Complex Food Centre where it still thrives to this day. Peng Guan can get very busy during Chinese New Year but fortunately they have also gone online and customers can also order their roasted pork for delivery.
Stall Number: #02-36
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday, 8AM to 3:45PM
Old Amoy Chendol
Old Amoy Chendol was established in 2017 by a millennial entrepreneur. The stalls sells artisanal chendol – its artisanal qualities comprising the usage of azuki beans (rather than kidney beans) and gula melaka sourced from Sarawak as ingredients in this quintessential dessert. Despite not having any other product, the business has expanded over the years, with 5 stalls all over the country. I have personally tried the chendol here and it is very good. They don’t stray far from traditional ingredients (you won’t find durian toppings here) so one can expect highly fragrant gula melaka and creamy coconut milk in each bowl.
Stall Number: #02-008
Opening Hours: Daily except Sunday, 10:30AM to 6PM
Bedok Chwee Kueh
Just like the original outlet in Bedok, one can find snaking queues for chwee kueh at their Chinatown outlet in the morning and perhaps rightly so. The chwee kuehs are topped generously with chye poh. Add in their sambal for an extra kick.
Stall Number: #02-43
Opening Hours: Daily, 7AM to 7PM
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao
Xiao Long Bao stalls aiming to replicate Northern Chinese offerings are a relatively new phenomenon in Singapore – having been started by more recent immigrants from China. One of the more prominent ones is Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao which was also awarded with a Michelin Plate some time back. The stall serves up baskets of Xiao Long Bao, Spicy Oil Wantons, Pan Fried Dumplings, Zha Jiang Mian and more. Expect to queue up especially if you visit during lunch hour.
Stall Number: #02-135
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday and Tuesday; 11:30AM to 3pm, 5pm to 8:30pm (starts from 10am on Sundays)
Shang Hai Fried Xiao Long Bao
Shang Hai Fried Xiao Long Bao serves up almost exactly the same dishes as the older Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao. During a random visit, I spotted queues forming here at Shang Hai Fried Xiao Long Bao as well although they were not as long as at the Zhong Guo La Mian stall. After trying a few dishes here, I would say this would make for a worthwhile alternative especially when the queue at Zhong Guo La Mian is too long or during the days when they are closed.
Stall Number: #02-104
Hakka Hamcha and Yong Tou Fu
Set up by a young couple from Malaysia, Hakka Hamcha and Yong Tou Fu offers a twist in its Thunder Tea Rice by incorporating a puffed rice option for added texture. Other than this, they also offer a number of options for yong tau foo which goes well with their housemade chili sauce. At the time of my visit, the couple had just recently set up shop and they were quite eager in receiving feedback.
Stall Number: #02-123
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday, 11AM to 7PM
Li Ji Cooked Food
This humble looking stall may look just like any other economical rice stall but it never fails to attract a long queue, especially among the older crowd. A look at the counter reveals seemingly simple dishes. Think: steamed pork, steamed fish, eggplant yong tau foo, etc which don’t look like the types of food that would attract a queue. However, this is the type of place to go if you are on a budget, with regulars attesting to Li Ji being “cheap and good.”
Stall Number: #02-139
Opening Hours: Daily except Saturdays, 11:30AM to 2PM
Despite losing its Michelin star and after opening several outlets worldwide (including a sit-down restaurant in Chinatown itself), one can still find long queues forming at the original Hawker Chan stall at Chinatown Complex. The star dish – Soya Sauce Chicken – is flavorful, with plump and tender pieces of meat slathered in a sweet savory sauce. While I wouldn’t queue for more than 10 minutes, I do find merits in visiting the original stall.
Stall Number: #02-126
Opening Hours: Daily except Sundays, 10:30AM to 3:30PM
Jia Ji Mei Shi
I still have very vivid memories buying from here for the very first time while I was still in my 20s. The auntie was quite awed that someone from the younger generation would be interested to buy Sooh Kueh, Yam Cake and Green Bean Rice Dumpling – and she further remarked that she hardly encountered any young folks buying from their stall. I love having platters of these assorted dumplings in the morning. Their Bee Hoon is also quite popular although I find it quite run-of-the-mill. It’s really the Soon Kueh you should go for here.
Stall Number: #02-166
Opening Hours: Daily except Wednesdays, 6AM to 10PM
Monan is my go-to place at Chinatown Complex Food Centre whenever I am looking for a meal that isn’t oily and with less artificial additives. Their shabu-style pork soup can be customized and if you want something a bit more sinful you can go for the pork belly or even innards such as intestine, stomach, liver, etc. Personally, I go for their lean meat with spinach and a serving or two of their homemade meatballs. It really hits the spot with the soup possessing the natural sweetness of daikon. The meatballs are also quite popular as takeaway items as it’s 100% natural and they don’t use flour as additive.
Stall Number: #02-137
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11AM to 8PM
Omelette Chef was opened in 2020 by an ex-hotel chef who dons a fancy chef’s uniform while preparing omelette stuffed with ingredients such as diced chicken, prawns, spam, smoked duck and more. Although the concept was only opened a couple of years back, the stall owners have been in the hawker business for a while now. The stall used to sell soups.
Each serving of omelette comes with rice or noodles and a side of sweet corn. Diners can also top it up with a serving of mushroom soup for a small supplement.
Stall Number: #02-136
Opening Hours: Daily except Sunday, 11AM to 8PM