12 hawkers you cannot miss at Tampines Round Market & Food Centre

By Jessica Chan June 6, 2024
12 hawkers you cannot miss at Tampines Round Market & Food Centre
Dishes from Teo Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle (left) and House of Dessert. Photos: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

There is much to envy about Tampines — the bustling neighbourhood is home to many creature comforts, particularly when it comes to good food. The residents here revel in popular restaurants and famous hawkers. 

Though, when pressed, they’ll all agree that one particular spot has the best representation of what Tampines (or, dare I say, east side) has to offer, and that spot is none other than the Tampines Round Market & Food Centre.

An icon since its inception in 1983, it sports a distinctive circular configuration further emphasised by the ring of shophouses. There’s a certain charm here — perhaps, it is the sense of kampung spirit between the stall owners here, or the  unspoken alliance that provides a good combination of dining options, groceries and amenities all in one area.

The main buzz at Tampines Round Market & Food Centre undeniably comes from its collection of longtime hawkers. It is popular in the mornings, for groceries and breakfast, and sports a quieter yet still buzzy vibe come dinnertime. 

You will need a couple of trips to fully experience (or stomach) Tampines Round Market & Food Centre. To get you started, why not eat your way down our list of 12 hawkers, tried-and-tested over the years by this east-sider herself?

1. Yummy Sarawak Kolo Mee

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-45, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Monday to Sunday (5am to 3pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? The husband-and-wife duo at Yummy Sawarak Kolo Mee leave no stone unturned in terms of the toppings for their kolo mee. Its massive menu makes up most of the shopfront, featuring a range of combinations with springy, curly egg noodles imported from Malaysia. 

You’ll often spot a long queue, and for good reason. Working seamlessly between stations, the pair spend ample time presenting pleasingly engineered bowls — uncle would blanch the noodles and season it with shallot oil and lard, before passing it to auntie, who would then lovingly and generously load up each bowl with your choice of toppings. 

Here’s a tidbit: Uncle is actually a second generation hawker. He has helped out at the stall since the age of nine and took over ownership of the stall from his mother, to much continued fanfare.

Crowd favourites: It is difficult to pick a favourite here but the signature Sarawak Kuching kolo mee set meal (from S$5.50) is always a good place to start. Slicked in fragrant oils and a splash of a braised sauce (that you’ll see simmering away at the front), each bowl is packed with its handmade dumplings, fried and boiled wontons, char siew and braised spare ribs. Mix in that fresh chilli padi paste and you won’t find a more joyous slurp than this. 

The spare ribs chicken feet noodle (from S$5.50) is another celebration of that dense, dark and powerful braise at Yummy Sarawak. Slow cooked in a special recipe of dark soy and spices, then left to simmer till it is served, the spare ribs are tender and every part of the chicken feet — skin, cartilage and tendons — is lip-smacking and gelatin-rich. All of this is served on a bed of fragrant kolo mee.

2. Chai Chee Pork Porridge

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-39, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Monday to Sunday (6am to 1pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: @a.sp00nful/Instagram

Why Visit? A good product at an honest price is what makes Chai Chee Pork Porridge such a mainstay at Tampines Round Market & Food Centre. Continuing his father’s legacy, Andrew Yan continues to serve up light yet creamy porridge using quality Thai rice grains and fresh pork or fish, at prices starting from just S$4.

The menu at Tampines is similar to the equally famous branch at Bedok 85 market that’s run by his brother. You’ve a choice of protein and a variety of toppings, such as century egg, cuttlefish and, for deep-pocketed foodies, there’s even the occasional abalone (S$8). 

Crowd favourites: You can’t go wrong with the original pork porridge (S$3.50). An excellent breakfast choice, it feels just like a warm hug in a bowl. The fragrant porridge hides numerous fresh pork balls (made in-house daily) that are tender and pleasantly savoury. The finishing touch is a drizzle of sesame oil that’ll instantly whet your appetite. 

Likewise, there’s the black fish porridge (S$4) with a delicate, sweet flavour courtesy of the daily delivery of fresh fish. Always opt for the addition of the raw egg here and give it a good stir while the porridge is still hot, for a boost in creaminess.

3. 137 Lor Mee Prawn Mee

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-09, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Tuesday to Sunday (6.30am to 1pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

Why Visit? Ordering from 137 Lor Mee Prawn Mee requires commitment — you’ll have to arrive ideally at around 7 or 8am because this stall, which has perfected the luscious poetry that is its lor mee, tends to sell out before the sun even fully rises.

Ordering here is straightforward. Prices are either S$4 or S$5 for an abundant bowl, with your choice of noodle (there’s flat yellow, kway teow, mee pok or thin bee hoon). 

The slight price increase hasn’t deterred loyal regulars, judging from the constant queues, and it’s easy to see why — price increase or not, each bowl still comes jam-packed with freshly made toppings.

Crowd favourites: The lor mee (from S$4) here is precise, comprising half a braised egg and the meatiest deep-fried fish nuggets, swimming in a dark, spiced gravy redolent with pork and sesame. Always say yes to the additional splash of black vinegar, garlic mince and dollop of sambal — a little tangy and piquant, it adds depth to the already tasty gravy. 

4. Song Han Carrot Cake

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-07, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Tuesday to Wednesday, Friday to Sunday (6am to 12pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? There are a handful of carrot cake stores at Tampines Round Market & Food Centre but Song Han Carrot Cake stands out with a unique ingredient — a good dose of curry powder. (In fact, it probably is the only one in Singapore that does it this way.)

Regulars adore the cheerful uncle who runs the store single-handedly, handling everything from taking orders, cashiering to frying. He does it in batches so you never have to wait long for your plate of piping hot carrot cake, white or black.

The queue, however, is a painful thing. As you wait, you’ll see plates after plates of carrot cake being dished out, with the mouthwatering aroma of wok-fried eggs, garlic, prawns and curry, all of which are not yours — if waiting isn’t quite your thing, you’ll do well to go during off-peak hours on weekdays. 

Crowd favourites:  Once it’s your turn to order, it makes absolute sense to go all out with a big serving of the fried white carrot cake (from S$2.50). Uncle’s carrot cake is on the softer, mushier side, perhaps on purpose, to allow the scrumptious mix of soy sauce, chye poh (preserved radish) and, of course, curry powder to meld into every radish cake cube. 

For the best of both worlds, there’s the fried yuan yang carrot cake (S$4.50), where the aforementioned white version is halved, to make way for its smoky, sweet brother, otherwise known as the “black” carrot cake. While the curry flavour may be less obvious in the black version, uncle’s expert frying caramelises the dark soya sauce, making it just as flavoursome.

5. Rajarani Thosai

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-33, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Thursday to Tuesday (7am to 1.30pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? Rajarani Thosai is one place to bookmark for a quintessential South Indian breakfast in Tampines. The mother-and-son duo behind this are masters of their craft when it comes to homemade thosai, appam and putu mayam (also known as idiyappam). 

They do not shy away from the laborious prep and continue to prepare their batter, fillings, dhal, and chutneys by hand within the store everyday. 

Expect a wait early morning as many come for this nutritionally-dense and appetising breakfast that’s easy on the stomach. 

Crowd favourites: By now you would have realised that the thosai is a big deal here, if it isn’t already clear from its stall name. There’s a total of 21 options for fillings (with prices ranging from S$2.50 to S$5), but the masala potatoes are where it is at. 

The masala butter egg (S$5) reigns supreme — the egg acts as a barrier keeping the crepe nice and crisp while the butter amps up the already aromatic spiced potatoes. It truly shines when enjoyed with the accompanying coconut chutney.  

It also does exceptional appams: Fermented rice and coconut milk batter are poured into a chatti, a pan that sinks in the middle, giving the appam its iconic lacy edges and cushiony middle. An oldie but a goodie is the plain appam set (S$2.50) which comes with a heavy serving of the strikingly orange palm sugar. Best eaten warm, tear it by hand and enjoy the combination of sweet, savoury, crispy and fluffy in one bite.

6. Nasi Lemak Specialist

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-14, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Tuesday to Sunday (7.30am to 1pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Sarah Chua/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? Nasi lemak is simple yet hard to master. To reflect the full flavour spectrum of this Malay breakfast, its many components — from the coconut-flavoured rice to the explosive sambal — require care, attention and tonnes of love to get right. For that, Tampines residents can count their lucky stars that Madam Mazwin Khan of Nasi Lemak Specialist has done exactly that. 

She begins her prep way before sunrise at 5am. Long grain basmati rice is cooked with freshly squeezed coconut milk, a homemade batter is whipped up for the chicken leg, wings and yellow fish, eggs are fried to perfection with a soft centre, and the ikan billis (anchovies) are fried with peanuts. There’s a lot going on before she opens the stall at 7am, but nothing deters the kind makcik (auntie in Malay) from delivering a good plate of nasi lemak to her patrons. 

Crowd favourites: Be sure to order the mega value set (S$5.50) — spice-crusted chicken wing, begedil (fried potato patty), toasted otah, fried egg and ikan billis kacang (fried anchovies with peanuts), are served on a fluffy bed of lemak basmati. The chicken wing is no doubt the star — deep fried till shatteringly crisp, the batter reveals a juicy, turmeric-laden flavour that’s a dream with the accompanying sweet sambal tumis.

Feeling indulgent? Go for the beef rendang set (S$6) that presents tender beef chunks in a thick, nutty and buttery gravy. As you dig in, you’ll experience a warming spice that’s thankfully easily quelled by the basmati rice. Mix the rendang gravy into the rice for the best flavours.

7. Shen Li Restaurant

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-15, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Tuesday to Sunday and public holidays (4.30pm to 9pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? Daniel Chew of Shen Li Restaurant deserves our attention — rarely would you meet someone with such expert control of huo hou (heat in Chinese), and at just 28 years of age. The young-gun is a third-generation hawker, having taken over the store from his uncle Ah Chye. The family-run business was started by Chew’s grandmother in 1972, and moved over to the Tampines Round Market & Food Centre in 1983. 

Come by in the evenings to catch a glimpse of the bright-faced Daniel in the kitchen. He is supported by his family; two ladies man the order taking and cashiering while Ah Chye handles the prep. This finely-oiled team pushes out complicated zi char dishes in an instant. 

Shen Li’s menu is extensive — there are the classics but certain more contemporary creations are sure to catch your eye. In particular, fruits seem to be a recurring theme. There’s blueberry chicken, orange pork, lychee sliced fish, to name a few. 

Crowd favourites: The mango fried grouper (price ranges from S$26 to S$40, depending on the size of the fish) has it all: Sweet, tangy, savoury and spicy. A whole grouper is first deep-fried just enough to form a crisp exterior that shields the sweet, pearly flesh within. It is then doused with a bright tomato-based sauce with fresh mango slices, lime, lemongrass, rojak flower and chillies, reminiscent of a sweet sour pork and Thai mango salad all at the same time — which also happen to be two of my favourite dishes. Order to share, and remember to grab some mango with every bite. 

The claypot tauhuey (S$10) is my personal favourite and, from a brief look of every table around me, seems to also be everyone’s go-to dish. Delivering his take on the sizzling hot plate beancurd dish, Daniel replaces the usual egg tofu with a softer, delicate variation (silken tofu). Texture-wise, the soft tofu is almost like a luxurious Simmons bed for the combination of minced pork, prawns, crispy dried shrimp, fried silverfish, and the luscious, starchy gravy. 

8. Lao Lee Pig’s Viscera Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-43, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Tuesday to Sunday (7am to 2pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? It took many trials, errors and improvisation over years for Madam He to perfect her prawn noodle recipe, but it is clear she has succeeded. Much like her equally popular neighbours, Madam He’s Lao Lee Pig Viscera Pork Ribs Prawn Noodle usually sports a queue from opening till closing. 

What makes her noodles so sought-after, is its comforting, umami-laden broth — you’ll most likely catch her prepping the broth (for the next day) when afternoon rolls around. It’s made up of a combination of pork bones and prawn heads, and accentuated by garlic, pepper and a few “secret ingredients”, all of which are boiled first at high heat before it is left to simmer overnight.

Crowd favourites: Go for the classic pork ribs prawn noodles (from S$5, available in dry or soup versions). The tender ribs are the highlight — the natural sweetness of the pork matched with the soulful broth is, needless to say, top-notch. If you don’t have a specific noodle preference, we recommend mixing it up; a go-to for me is the yellow noodles with thin bee hoon for added texture. 

I regret to say that I’ve friends who would turn their nose at pig organs. (How dare they, really.) But if I had to choose one dish to change their minds, it would be the pig’s viscera noodle (from S$5, also available in dry or soup versions). Pig’s kidney, liver, intestines, skin are thoroughly cleaned and blanched just enough to retain each of their unique flavours and texture (the firm, plump bite of the kidneys was particularly memorable). Should you still be squeamish about any of the components, simply inform the cashier to leave them out. 

9. Teo Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle 

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-05, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Wednesday to Sunday (6am to 2pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? Watching Jimmy Lim, the man behind Teo Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle, work, you get the sense that this man is nothing short of meticulous. He has divided his small stall into two sections with a stainless steel counter — there’s the noodle station (him), and then there’s the section with the numerous slow cookers (we counted at least six) which comprise a simmering thick, fragrant braise, manned by his wife. 

Each cooker consists of different ingredients that make up the titular dish at Teo Kee. What’s interesting is that this pragmatic design wasn’t just so the couple could fulfil orders (which tend to come in bulk), quickly. The braise for each ingredient differs, so utilising a different slow cooker for each component ensures that every item can fully take on that sweet, earthy flavour when served. 

Here’s a tip if you ever find yourself craving for Teo Kee’s noodles: Check its Facebook to get updates on when the carefree husband and wife team decides to take an impromptu holiday. 

Crowd favourites: Think of the noodle set meal (S$6) as an introductory sampler set to all the good that the duo has to offer: You get a whole braised egg, chicken mid-joint, chicken feet and one of best braised ribs you’d probably get from a hawker. 

The slow-cooked, tender meat is juxtaposed against the slippery layers of fat and crunchy cartilage, all of which have fully absorbed that addictively sweet braise. Then there’s the noodles — the thin mee kia has that quintessential bite and bounce. Dressed in simply nothing more than fragrant lard, a rather fiery chilli and fried garlic, it’s easy to slurp the noodles up as is, but take a pause and add at least a spoonful of that braise — it gets even better.

Its namesake, the mushroom minced meat noodle (from S$4) has a depth of flavour and texture that is very much different from what you know of bak chor mee. Jimmy skips the usual vinegar, instead opting to use the same braise sauce. The accompanying minced meat is also vividly flavoured with a similar dark sauce. The chilli is optional but is highly recommended, as the spice helps cut through the heavy, earthy flavours.

10. Yi Le Shu Shi

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-10, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Monday to Sunday (7am to 2pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? It’s hard to miss Yi Le Shu Shi. The storefront, which extends to the seats in front of the shop, comprises a grand display of breakfast staples and traditional snacks. Orders are first taken at the front (be clear and concise when ordering!), quickly penned down, passed to the husband-and-wife duo who churn out orders with deft focus. 

The main draw here is the wallet-friendly prices. If you’re smart about your choice of fried toppings to go along with the economic bee hoon, you can easily grab a fulfilling meal from just S$3. There is also the savoury Chinese kuehs that range from S$1 to S$2, and nasi lemak going at no more than S$3.50. Do note that the latter comes in limited quantities daily and is usually snapped up by early birds.

Crowd favourites: My perfect order for economic fried noodles (from S$1.50) involves mixing the bee hoon and kway teow, a sunny side up, ngoh hiang (five-spice pork roll) and extra sambal chilli, coming up to a very affordable S$4. You get a riot of textures and flavours, all gelling together thanks to the sweet, spicy sambal. Admittedly it can be a tad oily for the first meal of the day, but you can easily negate it with a teh o (black tea) from the neighbouring Quan Fang Coffee Stall.

Of the many steamed cakes it offers, the homemade yam cake (S$2) comes highly recommended by regulars. It is extremely fragrant and moreish thanks to the liberal addition of shallots, mushrooms and dried prawns, which is further amplified when paired with that same sweet sambal.

11. Hai Chang Fish Head Steamboat

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-03, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Wednesday to Sunday (5.30pm to 9pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Photo: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? Bring your family and friends for this one — you’ll need a crowd to fully enjoy what Hai Chang Fish Head Steamboat brings to the dinner scene at Tampines Round Market & Food Centre.

The titular fish head steamboat comes with three choices of fish: Red grouper, pomfret and giant grouper, in ascending order of price. It also serves up a succinct menu of wok-fried classics. It’s not uncommon to see tables at the hawker centre with the traditional charcoal hotpot in the centre, flanked by a plate of freshly sliced fish and at least one other meat, seafood or vegetable dish. 

You won’t have to worry about the fish overcooking here — the use of charcoal, which is controlled solely by an uncle in front of the store, and the unique shape of the pot helps maintain the broth at a gentle simmer. 

Single diners can also order from its single-diner menu, which includes sliced fish soup with noodles and its zi char dishes with rice.

Crowd favourites: If you’re with family, then the fishhead steamboat with sliced pomfret (from S$40 to S$78 with an extra plate of fish at S$32) is just the dish to order — it is the most fuss-free option with little bones and the pomfret is naturally sweet, smooth yet firm and has just enough omega-3 fat to augment the already delectable stock. 

The longer you let it simmer, the more evidently the umami notes from the tee poh (sole fish powder) and slight tang from the sour plum come across. 

Any dish from its signatures is a sure win, but the standout and crowd pleaser is no doubt the sweet and sour pork (from S$12). The chef insists on frying upon order, instead of pre-frying ingredients for a quicker serve, which means that the thinly battered pork slices, served in a vibrant, tangy sauce, are downright juicy and tender.

12. House of Dessert

Tampines Round Market & Food Centre, 01-02, 137 Tampines Street 11
Open: Tuesday to Wednesday, Friday to Sunday (7am to 1pm)

Tampines round market & food centre
Cold watermelon ball at House of Dessert. Photo: Jessica Chan/HungryGoWhere

Why visit? Even if you’re a casual fan of Chinese desserts, you’d enjoy the offerings here at House of Dessert. The store offers old school favourites, hot and cold, at budget-friendly prices. 

Despite being called tian tang (sweet soup in Chinese), the desserts here are just mildly sweet, and its health-boosting ingredients are given ample room to shine. The stall offers bowls teeming with snow fungus (used in Chinese medicine to tonify the body), black sesame (minerals and healthy fat) and lotus seeds (used in Chinese medicine to strengthen digestive systems), to name a few. 

Crowd favourite: Singapore’s perpetual summer will have you reaching for its cold watermelon ball (S$2). Fresh watermelon balls, crunchy corn and ice get a hefty splash of fragrant coconut milk for sweetness, making it a great post-meal treat or a refreshing break from the heat. My only gripe is that this dessert is only available on Wednesdays.

Connoisseurs of chinese sweet soups should go for the lotus seed soup (S$2.50), where lotus seeds are added into a sticky, caramel-like broth, and slowly simmered to a soft, powdery paste that’s sweet and reminiscent of almonds. This traditional Teochew dessert is becoming a rare commodity nowadays as preparing it is a laborious task.

Hungry for more? Check out the new Lola’s Cafe which has set up its first mall outlet at Tampines Mall, and Bingo, a new rustic cafe at Joo Chiat. 

Yummy Sarawak Kolo Mee, Chai Chee Pork Porridge, Rajarani Thosai and Shen Li Restaurant are on the GrabFood delivery service and offer free delivery (up to S$3 off) with GrabUnlimited.   

Do explore the GrabFood Dine-in service for awesome deals.  

Alternatively, book a ride to these places at Tampines Round Market & Food Centre. 

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Jessica Chan


Jessica simply read too many Roald Dahl books as a kid and grew up thinking she’d be the next Tolkien. When not dishing out the latest F&B trends, she co-runs a printmaking studio and is a professional cat slave.

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