Omnipresent at every late night meal, these nine hawkers serve the best satay in Singapore.
Like kebab, yakitori, and chuan, satay is Southeast Asia’s answer to skewered meat. Thought to have originated in Indonesia, the dish is typically made with chicken, pork, mutton, and beef, and traditionally grilled over charcoal. It usually comes with raw onion, cucumber, and ketupat, as well as peanut sauce for dipping.
Over time, two distinct forms of satay emerged in Singapore. There is the Malay style, which marinates the meat in aromatics such as lemongrass, blue ginger, and galangal. Pork is also not offered due to religious reasons. Then there is Hainanese satay, which adds five spice to the seasoning and pineapple to the peanut sauce. Separately, the Teochew community decided to flavour noodles with the sauce, giving us satay bee hoon.
One of the most popular places to eat satay in Singapore is at Lau Pa Sat, which takes over a street in the evening for hawkers to cook outdoors. Others are located at hawker centres around the island, including Chinatown Complex, Geylang Serai, Clementi, East Coast, and Chomp Chomp. While more eateries turn to factory-made satay due to labour cost, some of these on the list still maintain the old way of making it, including skewering the meat by hand. Read on to find out more.
9 hawkers to check out for the best satay in Singapore
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Many satay stalls call themselves Alhambra, but the Geylang Serai Food Centre stall is the rightful heir to the name. Formerly of the famed Satay Club near Beach Road, the stall is currently run by second-generation owner Saiful bin Haji Juwahir, who continues making satay according to his father’s recipe. Chicken, mutton, beef, and tripe are skewered by hand, marinated with eight spices, and grilled over charcoal. Dried shrimp and chilli bring umami and heat to the peanut sauce.
(Image credit: @jimmyfooddiary / Instagram)
On Lau Pa Sat‘s Satay Street, stalls seven and eight, also known as Best Satay, draw one of the longest lines. Operating here since 2002, they sell chicken, mutton, and beef skewers marinated according to a family recipe that dates back to the late 1960s, and grill them over charcoal. They also developed their own peanut sauce, chunky enough to defiantly cling on to the smoky meats.
(Image credit: @chen_osotogohan / Instagram)
Chai Ho started selling bak kwa when it first opened and eventually expanded into satay, which is now the mainstay – the Clementi Food Centre stall still sells bak kwa around Chinese New Year. Run by second-generation hawker James Zhang, he skewers and marinates pork and chicken satay by hand, and the former has bits of caramelised fat in between the tender meat. The peanut sauce is homemade, too.
(Image credit: @thefoodmole / Instagram)
Among the many satay sellers at Chomp Chomp Food Centre, this eponymous stall is one of two hawkers here recognised with a Michelin Plate – the other is Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Noodles. Their charcoal-grilled skewers are evenly charred and juicy, and pineapple puree adds a zesty kick to the peanut sauce.
(Image credit: @greedynomz / Instagram)
Haron Satay is named after founder Haron Abu Bakar, who opened the stall at East Coast Lagoon Food Village in the late 1970s. His dish won him plaudits like Singapore Hawker Master in 2011, and he also supplied Singapore Airlines for a period of time. After his death, the business passed onto his two daughters, who continue their father’s techniques of marinating the fresh meat for half-an-hour, then cooking it over charcoal for five to seven minutes. Chicken satay is the highlight here, alternating between tender and charred, with the flavours deepened by a sweet peanut sauce.
(Image credit: Haron Satay 55 / Facebook)
Even if you never been to Kwong Satay, you might have tasted their products. The brand is one of the larger satay suppliers in town, but started out in the 1960s as a satay stall in Geylang, which it still operates today. Their marinate has a mix of Hainanese, Peranakan, and Indian influences, while the peanut gravy is accented by belachan and pineapple. Kwong also offers different cuts of meat including pork loin and pork belly.
(Image credit: @oopatoo / Instagram)
Pang’s Satay is named after Pang Meng Kan, who ran a popular Serangoon satay stall during the 1970s before passing his recipe to his son-in-law, Steven Ho. He now carries the torch at Chinatown Complex, skewering fresh meat by hand and making his own peanut sauce. His marinate gently caramelises the signature pork belly, and the meat’s flavours are brightened by the pineapple peanut sauce.
(Image credit: @evirobiex / Instagram)
Like Pang’s Shi Xiang is located at Chinatown Complex Food Centre, but its history dates back much longer. The business started in the 1950s as a pushcart along Sago Lane, before moving into the hawker centre when it opened in 1983. Now operated by the son of the original owners, each satay is made by hand and marinated for up to a day, and the spiced seasoning penetrates the chicken and pork deeply. The charcoal grill adds a lick of smoke, and the thick peanut sauce is robust and slightly sweet.
(Image credit: @bloodytoad / Instagram)
Yong Seng traces its origins back to the 1950s when the current owner’s grandfather sold satay from a pushcart in Bugis. After a stint at Jurong Kecil, the business moved into Bukit Timah Food Centre in the 70s is currently run by the third generation. According to owner Poo Chen Nee, it was her father who introduced grated pineapple into the peanut sauce, which considerably lightens the rich condiment. Chicken, pork, and mutton satay are sold here, with the pork particularly flavourful and smoky.
(Image credit: @to.live.to.eat / Instagram)