14 Singaporean eateries listed in Top 50 World Street Food Masters

A bowl of $3.70 bak chor mee (mince pork noodles) is seen at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles, which recently won a Michelin star, in Singapore July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A bowl of $3.70 bak chor mee (mince pork noodles) is seen at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles, which recently won a Michelin star, in Singapore July 28, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

A total of 14 Singaporean eateries have made it to the Top 50 World Street Food Masters list that was revealed by the World Street Food Congress on Wednesday (7 June 2017). Michelin-starred hawker stall Hill Street Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee was number one in the list.

They are the first family behind this Singapore-invented dish and the second generation, already in his sixties, have now received worldwide attention as one of the first street food hawkers to obtain a Michelin Star. The sambal and black vinegar-laced pork noodle is the stuff addiction is made of, and the wait for an order is about 90 minutes today,” WSFC said of the popular stall located at 466 Crawford Lane.

Street foods are judged based on ingredients sourcing, food preparation, basic hygiene factor, adaptability, consistency, confidence and the quality and flavour of food. Other factors are also taken into consideration, such as their ability to inspire and create jobs, their reputation and opportunities for the populace, including the displaced and disadvantaged.

The panel behind the list is made up of widely-travelled commentators, writers, food celebrities and “professionals who have a third eye, nose, ear and peculiar palates for heritage street food culture”.

The 13 other Singaporean eateries who made it to the list, their ranking, as well as comments from the panel are as follows:

10. Chey Sua Fried Carrot Cake (Toa Payoh West Market and Food Court)

“They are believed to be the first to introduce the now popular fried carrot cake frittata style. They make their own cakes and the quality shines through. They are legends in their own right and even Michelin has recognised them in their guides. A whole flat stack of chopped daikona and rice flour cakes is slowly pan fried with eggs, pickled daikon, and fish sauce.”

16. Master Tang Wanton Mee (Kopitown Coffeeshop)

“Master Tang is the 80-plus-year-old chef who began his career after he left the toil of China in the hardship years. He learned from old experts and grew to become the chef trainer at the famous Crystal Jade group of restaurants. His signature, which he now sells here too, is wanton noodles – springy firm noodles with a robust wanton mixed with an incredible roasted shrimp sambal to match the noodle.”

24. An Ji Sang Mee (Smith St, Chinatown)

“The way this hawker fries up thin egg noodles, or mee kia, into a mount of crispy noodle is just part one of the artistry. Beef or seafood, tossed in a rich umami and spicy black bean sauce is slathered over the noodles. Parts of the noodles soften and crackle as it’s served. This takes time to make, so be patient and eat it fast when it arrives.”

26. Tan’s Kueh Tutu (Blk 22B Havelock Road #01-25)

“This is the family that invented the rice flour pancake stuffed with sugared peanuts and caramelised grated coconut. The daughter of the late creator now runs this humble yet efficient little stall in that same tradition of her father. It is named such because of the steam chimneys used to make the cakes – it whistles when it is ready.”

28. KEK Seafood (124 Bukit Merah Lane 1)

“The husband and wife founder toiled in a humble hawker centre stall over 20 years ago and today, because of their diligence, inventiveness and with the support of their older Gen Y kids helming the business, they have become an icon of sorts. Even three Michelin and celebrity chefs patiently wait for their signatures like the Moonlight Fried Kway Teow, the Ming Choo Tempura, spinach with crispy ikan bilis or anchovies, plus their kid-friendly Marmite Fried Chicken.”

30. Hoy Yong Cze Cha Seafood (352 Clementi Avenue 2, #01-153)

“If ever there is such a thing as a “Singapore restaurant”, these no frills cze cha (cook and fry) stalls is it. Like many, Hoy Yong offers the usual no frills fare like steam fishes, chilli crabs and sambal greens, but his imaginative signatures is what gives him this edge. His Stuffed Tempura Duck Roll is peerless. Don’t miss his Golden Bean Skin Roll or the smooth and Eggy Fried Hor Fun noodles. The atmosphere is totally local and away from the tourist zones.”

33. Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice (Blk 40 Holland Drive)

“There is boldness in their rendition of this national dish of Singapore. The rice is oily enough, intensely flavoured and the chicken is chopped into confident and shiny pieces of poached goodness with a very coherent soy and sesame oil sauce. Benson is the second generation of this household name in chicken rice, and he carries on in the tradition of his late father faithfully.”

40. Hwa Heng Beef Noodle (#01-01 Bendemeer Food Centre)

“These are the second and third generation folks of the old and wonderful Odeon Beef Noodle back in the day. They created and made this popular. Udon-like rice noodles are blanched and drenched in a thick gooey and extremely beefy sauce topped with black smoky soy sauce and chunks of beef, salted vegetables and greens. They never fail to sell out each day.”

42. Kim’s Fried Hokkien Mee (62B Jalan Eunos)

“They call him the “Rolex Mee Master” as his only way of telling you he has arrived as a street food vendor is to wear a long-sleeved shirt and a Rolex watch. But don’t be deceived, this old master artfully injects a lot of attention into the shrimp stock which he carefully fries, scoop by scoop, into his noodles, topped with seafood and pork. He will even drop some seared fresh oysters in the equation if you ask.”

44. Soon Wah Fishball Kway Teow Mee (#01-69 Newton Circus Food Centre)

“In true traditions of the South Chinese Teochew folks, these fishball noodle masters make every ball by hand from seasoned fish paste. It’s served atop soup or sambal-laced noodle with some greens. The second generation “kids” that helm this 60-year-old hawker stall are already in their 60s.”

45. Heng Kee Curry Chicken Noodle (531A, Upper Cross Street, Hong Lim Food Centre, #01-58)

“Street food evolves and in the “meld” of culinary cultures, the Teochews are now famous for curry noodles, of all things, in Singapore. The curry is uber smooth and the fresh poached chicken does it justice, and with that dollop of added sambal, this dish charges the system till it’s time to go home for the day.”

48. Nasi Ambeng Dapur Ummi (430 Upper Changi Road East Village #01-65)

“This is regarded as a Muslim dish created in Singapore, its own nasi tumpeng (a rice dish) if you must. It was first served in Singapore in a restaurant back in the 80s. A mount of rice is surrounded by a plethora of spicy meats like rendang and chicken, seafood, nuts, fish crackers, potato cutlets, spicy dried beef lungs, bean sprouts and even eggplants and rained upon with a generous splash of sambal. A regal meal for at least two people. “

50. Ah Lim Oyster Omelet (166 Jalan Besar #01-32 Berseh Food Centre)

“This humble husband-and-wife team began in a street food cart before relocating and roosting in this corner hawker centre stall. He hunches over the cast iron pan and tosses up one of the best, roasty and crispy yet gummy and starchy omelette topped with juicy quick-seared oysters.”

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