There are few topics as divisive to a Singaporean than food. Eating is a national past time in our diverse city, which means we all wear our rich culinary landscape like a badge of pride that we laud at any chance possible. We are always on the collective prowl for anything new that excites our taste buds, which makes Singapore the perfect breeding ground for any new food trend. Just think of desserts and the plethora of fads that have passed through the realm of sweets here — matcha invading every treat imaginable, salted egg yolk sauce finding its way into ice creams, bubble teas with kidney-killing levels of sugar that draw queues ad infinitum. It goes on and on. Amidst all the novelty, we Singaporeans will always seek solace in the familiar and the traditional in the form of the hawkers that have pushed out reliably delicious bowls of our favourite desserts.

Nothing screams Singaporean like a towering rainbow of shaved ice with dollops of sweet corn (don’t come for us, Malaysia), or comforting brown sweet broth swimming with longans that make a bowl of cheng tng. These are the humble morsels that we will always return to, that occupy a special place in our hearts that all the bingsu in the world could never fill. The next time you’re craving something sugary, why not savour nostalgia at any of these hawker stores that have pushed out bowls of your local favourites for decades and more? You’re keeping a culture alive.

(Featured image credit: 75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup. Hero image credit: Coconut Club.)

Four Seasons Chendol


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Acamas Teo BingQiang (张秉强) (@acamasteo) on


Nestled in the famous Toa Payoh Lorong 8 Market and Food Centre is a stall that many locals swear is the best chendol in Singapore. A bowl of Four Seasons Chendol is sin in a plastic tub, period. Candied atap seeds mingle with red beans and chewy green jelly noodles, snowed in a blanket of shaved ice that comes slathered with creamy coconut milk and thick-as-tar gula melaka. If Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong counts himself as an ardent fan, so can you.

Zhao An Granny Grass Jelly


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Gregory Leow (@gregoryleow) on

We’re all trying to deal with the global warming assault by being as green as possible, so instead of chaining yourself to the aircon to cope with the heat, go get yourself a bowl of cooling grass jelly on ice at Zhao An Granny Grass Jelly.

There may be no grandmother behind the stall, but the eponymous matriarch is responsible for the family recipe that has been sold since 1974. The blueprint for her delightfully firm, herbal jelly has been passed through three generations, with the grandson keeping the establishment alive and thriving in Golden Mile Food Centre. Order yours with some atap chee or sea coconut to cut the bitterness of the jelly.

Tiong Bahru Tau Suan


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ian Low (@thesilverchef) on

Tau suan, the sticky mung bean dessert, may not be everyone’s favourite. Sometimes mushy, often too gelatinous, tau suan can easily disappoint, but when done right, it is a thing of comfort.

At Tiong Bahru Tao Suan, the dessert is done to perfection and has been done so for years. The mung beans still have some bite to them, swimming in a sweet soup accentuated by salty fried you tiao made fresh daily. They tend to sell out by the time the morning is over, so head down to Tiong Bahru early if you can.


75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by JZ (@gnohznaij) on

Ah balling, the colloquial name for tang yuan, is not just a dessert reserved for the Winter Solstice. At 75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup, these pillowy glutinous rice balls have been a daily staple since 1974. Handmade to chewy perfection every morning, these sesame and peanut-stuffed rounds come in chunky, slightly savoury peanut soup that makes a good substitute for your breakfast on days where you feel like cheating on your diet.

No Name Cheng Tng


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Home is NYC (@sean.eats.all) on

Cheng tng is the definitive dessert one thinks of to cool down when the weather is just shy of being hell on earth. The sweet and clear soup, fortified with gingko nuts, persimmons and longans, used to be a staple for coolies who worked at the ports in the sun, and years later, it provides the same respite to us city dwellers at hawker centres around the city.

No Name Cheng Tng sells a version we particularly enjoy. Hunks of chewy sago and winter fungus pepper the cold soup which has just the right amount of sweetness to make it a textural, refreshing quencher.

Jin Jin Hot/Cold Dessert


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jennifer Yeo (@qiuuing) on

While Jin Jin Hot/Cold Dessert has been a mainstay in Bukit Merah for long, the humble stall has changed owners to a younger duo that retain the integrity of classic desserts like chendol, ice kacang and red ruby, just reworked with flavourful twists of their own. Their Power Chendol is arguably their most famous dessert (just a look at the location tag on Instagram will evince that), thanks to the syrupy ladle of almost-fudgy gula melaka that glazes the ice ball, but try their take on the ice kacang, another favourite that checks all the right nostalgic boxes.

Beatrice Bowers
Features Editor
Beatrice Bowers writes about beauty, drinks, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she moonlights as a Niffler for novels and can be found en route to bankruptcy at your nearest bookstore. Don't tell her boss.