Hawker centres are some of the most distinctive and unique features in Singapore’s history.
Following our nation’s rapid urbanisation, hawker centres like Ghim Moh Food Centre were built as a way to address the problem of illegal hawking, and to give these stall owners a safe and hygienic place to work without the constant worry of running from inspectors.
Yet, these locales do a lot more than just keep us full. They are a physical community space where diners of all backgrounds come to bond over the love of food at any time of the day — a salaryman scoffing down a quick breakfast before work, uncles and aunties chatting over a cups of coffee and tea on a languid afternoon, or students feasting after a late night project — hawker centres of today still carry the same sort of importance in our heritage and social fabric.
Ghim Moh Food Centre, which began its operations in 1972, remains a popular spot for many. Now almost half a century old, a number of stalls here have gone through facelifts and change of hands, but one thing remains: no frills, just well-made, good food.
Two stalls in particular have won the fancy of Michelin inspectors and placed them on Singapore’s edition of the Bib Gourmand list, while others come with a touch of comfort and nostalgia for a blast from the past. If you’re looking for delicious but affordable food, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s our hitlist of what to eat at Ghim Moh Food Centre:
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You don’t have to take the recommendation from us, but Chuan Kee Boneless Braise Duck has been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2018, 2019 and 2021 for a reason. Imagine a bowl of fluffy yam rice sitting in a pool of braised duck gravy, complemented by aromatic and tender duck slices that rest on top. The wholesome meal is complete with peanuts, tofu and chilli on the side. From S$3 a plate, it can’t get better than this.
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Another Michelin Bib Gourmand recipient, Guan Kee Fried Kway Teow is the place to make a beeline for if you’re in the area and craving some char kway teow with tons of wok hei. It might not be the most glamorous of dishes, but there’s an inexplicable sense of comfort that a plate of stir-fried noodles, egg, beansprouts, cockles, fried pork lard and Chinese sausage can bring.
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Deliciously soft in the centre and beautifully crisp on the outside, Heavens Appam is the place to go for your appam fix here. Not a fan of appam? The thosai and putu mayam (also known as Idiyappam or string hopper) make for great breakfast or lunch alternatives too. For more appam options around the island, head to our list here.
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Previously located at the now-demolished Margaret Drive Food Centre, Yuan Hokkien Fried Prawn Mee is best known for their sloppy plates of Hokkien fried noodles, each one kissed by
crack years of experience in the kitchen. The broth here is deliciously sweet and savoury thanks to the prawn heads, squid and pork bones used. This is then elevated by the oil and lard that are used to fry the noodles with. We’re not salivating, you are.
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Here at Ghim Moh Carrot Cake, you’ll find some of the best versions of the stir-fried dish around. Think soft and springy radish cake pieces with plenty of flavour and just the right amount of grease thrown in the mix. Can’t decide if you like it black or white? We recommend a S$4 serving of both.
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Looking for quality, affordable bakes that taste as good as they look? Head straight to The Headless Baker. Crowd favourites here include the financiers, banana loaves, cinnamon rolls and the lemon pistachio loaves. The Headless Baker only operates from 8am-2pm from Wednesdays to Sundays at their Ghim Moh joint, but you can always pop by their second location just a stone’s throw away at The Star Vista on other days.
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The art of making good Chwee Kueh is more elusive than it seems. If you don’t have the right ratio of water to flour, or are not experienced with the steam process, these finnicky cakes can turn out too hard or watery. The process of making the preserved radish is incredibly laborious and time-consuming too, and most of the flavours of the dish lies in how well it’s cooked. Ghim Moh Chwee Kueh not only makes their own preserved radish topping, but also use pork lard to cook it over a mini charcoal fire stove. You’ll find us queuing here for a simple breakfast, or a snack at any time of day.
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One of the pioneers of Ghim Moh Food Centre, Thye Hong Handmade Fishball Noodle is wildly famous for their handmade fishball and fishcake noodles. While these fishballs may be irregularly shaped, they’re juicy, bouncy, and perfectly seasoned, best enjoyed together with some soy sauce and chilli-mixed dry noodles.
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