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These are the best heritage Hainanese diners in Singapore

Hainanese cuisine is often overlooked and generalised.

If you’re muttering “Isn’t it just Hainanese chicken rice,” under your breath now — we’re here to prove you wrong.

Before we get started, here’s a quick history behind Hainanese cuisine in Singapore. Compared to the Hokkiens, Teochews and Cantonese in China, the Hainanese were among the last to arrive in Singapore. Due to their difficulties in communication and comparatively underprivileged backgrounds, many ended up as cook boys and waiters in the British and Peranakan households.

heritage hainanese diners
There’s so much more to Hainanese cuisine than just chicken rice. (Image credit: Jew Kit Chicken Rice)

While these positions might have deterred many, their occupations proved to be an advantage for the community: the Hainanese became the first Chinese in Singapore to master Western cooking and table craft, resulting in dishes like Hainanese chicken rice, fried pork chop, meat pies and Hainanese steamboat. They eventually ventured into the F&B and hotel industry on their own in the post-WWII years.

If you’re ready to revisit the dialect’s spectacular heritage and food, look no further than these best Hainanese restaurants in Singapore.

(Hero and featured image: Three Hungry Tummies)

Scroll down for the best Hainanese restaurants in Singapore:

Family-run Cheng’s 27 (previously known as Cheng’s Delicacies) has been in operation since 1989, nestled in a cosy kopitiam along Tiong Bahru. Here, find hearty plates of Hainanese home-styled dishes for both lunch and dinner service, including the iconic Canned Pig Trotters Bee Hoon, a saucy plate that’s elevated with tons of wok hei flavour.

If you’re early enough, make sure to grab a bottle of their homemade kaya (best served chilled on top of some buttery soda biscuits!) and their crowd-favourite Gula Melaka Chiffon Cake to go.

(Image credit: @taanism via Instagram)

27 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168654
+65 6223 7883

Golden Mile Thien Kee Steamboat was founded in 1952, in the colourful Bugis Street, but has since moved to the basement of Golden Mile Tower. You’ll be greeted chatters of Hainanese by guests and servers alike in the air, before being ushered to your table. Besides chicken rice, many diners here come for their classic steamboat — a rich chicken soup base that’s topped with an assortment of blood cockles, pork liver, pork slices, beef tripe, fried fish maw, sea cucumber, fish slices, squid and more.

(Image credit: @goldenmilethienkee via Instagram)

6001 Beach Rd, #B1, 20 Golden Mile Tower, 199589
+65 6298 5891

3 /4

Jin Wee Restaurant

Easties won’t be strangers to Jin Wee Restaurant — an unassuming Kopitiam-styled eatery along Upper East Coast Road. On every table, you’ll be sure to find a serving of the diner’s Hai Nan Pork Cutlet a mountain of chopped pork cutlet drizzled in a tangy tomato-based sauce, complete with slivers of sweet onion and waxy potatoes.

If you’re wondering what the giant clay pot is at the entrance of the shop, it’s home to individual chicken soup clay pots that have been simmering in the vessel for hours on end — resulting in fall-off-the-bone meat and a clear, comforting broth packed with flavour.

(Image credit: @hansbaobao via Instagram)

928 East Coast Road, 459117
+65 9852 7066

Easily one of the most popular Hainanese restaurants in Singapore, Chin Chin Eating House draws upon almost nine decades of experience to offer diners authentic dishes today. The dishes here are quintessentially Hainanese, and range from steamed chicken rice, to chap chye, mutton soup, and of course, pork chop. If you wanted to venture out of the usual fare, the restaurant does other zi char staples like the Prawn Paste Chicken and Cereal Prawns equally well too.

(Image credit: @alfccw via Instagram)

19 Purvis Street, Singapore 188598
+65 6337 4640
These are the best heritage Hainanese diners in Singapore

Jocelyn Tan

Senior Writer

Jocelyn Tan is a travel, food and design writer who loves to explore lesser-known cities abroad and chat with locals about their favourite eats in town. When she's not writing, she's probably indulging in serial killer podcasts or reading one too many books on East Asian history.


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