If you’re planning to travel to Singapore, I’d bet that eating scrumptious Singaporean food is high on your bucket list. And there’s no better place to start than the Chinatown Complex Food Centre.
This eclectic food court is not just one of the biggest, but one of the best hawker centres in Singapore. Eating your way through this foodie heaven is an absolute must while visiting the Lion City.
At the Chinatown Complex, you’ll taste all the food-crazed city’s yummiest culinary creations. All the best Singaporean dishes—char kway teow, lor mee, laksa, bak kut teh—are here. And in spades.
Not sure what to expect at Chinatown Complex Food Centre? Get your bearings with this complete guide to what to expect and where & what to eat…
What to expect at Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Chinatown Complex Food Centre is located at the heart of Singapore’s Chinatown. And, as you’d imagine, it’s chock-loaded with Chinese-inspired cuisine at every turn.
Craving wonton noodles, char kway teow, or bak kut teh? You’ll find it all here. The food centre doesn’t cheap out on other Singaporean favourites either. The likes of laksa, sambal stingray, chili crab, and satay grace the Chinatown Complex, too.
This hawker centre is home to over 260 food stalls, placing it among the most extensive food courts in the city.
With all its nooks and crannies, the Chinatown Complex can be difficult to navigate on your first couple runs. Surely, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s all part of the fun that comes with digging into Singapore’s bustling food scene!
Besides the sheer number of food stalls here, the centre’s most notable advantage is its value.
Unlike restaurants—which can be a tad overpriced in Singapore—meals here are insanely affordable. (Much like at other hawker centres in Singapore.)
Oh—and did I mention?—extremely tasty and filling.
Even if you’re not on a tight travel budget, the quality of food at some of the stalls can be spectacular. In fact, it’s soooooo good at times that you can’t help but ditch the city’s more formal restaurants in exchange for some delicious hawker fare.
Where & what to eat
As I’ve often mentioned, it’s hard to go wrong at most of the hawker stalls around these parts.
Perhaps a palate more well-attuned to the subtleties of Singaporean flavours would disagree. But as a roving Canadian—whose country’s most-prized national dish is nothing more than greasy pub food—nothing I tried here was a complete bust.
Not sure where to let your tastebuds start exploring? Here are a few recommended stalls & what to try…
- Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (#02-126): No guide for where to eat at the Chinatown Complex Food Centre should start without this famous hawker stall. Also known as Hawker Chan, this venerable food vendor is one of Singapore’s most famous. It was among the first two hawker stalls in the world to score a coveted Michelin star. Their signature soya sauce chicken rice is both moist & mouth-watering. And at just S$2, it’s the cheapest Michelin-starred meal on the planet!
- Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Fu (#02-88): Brave the perpetual line-up at this popular stall to get a taste of their signature yong tau fu. It’s served with a healthy portion of springy bee hoon and their own homemade fish paste.
- Terry Katong Laksa (#02-04): After a handful of visits to Singapore, laksa emerged as the ultimate Singaporean food pleasure. This is one of the best places to try laksa in Chinatown. The Katong-style laksa here is well-balanced. It’s punctuated with delicate seafood flavours & spice. All without the overwhelming dash of coconut flavours you might find elsewhere.
- Lao Ren Jia Roasted (#02-03): Arriving in Singapore late at night with a craving for wonton noodles led me to this stall. It’s in a quieter corner of the complex, away from much of the action. Served on a bed of perfectly-cooked noodles, their char siew is both affordable and worthwhile. The roasted duck rice here is also worth a try.
- Heng Ji Chicken Rice (#02-131): Sure, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice in Maxwell Food Centre might be more famous due to its celebrity-chef thumbs-ups. But Heng Ji is the place to tackle your chicken rice cravings in Chinatown. Braving the perpetual queue of locals puts slabs of juicy bone-in chicken onto your plate. It’s served with the family’s secret dark-soy-based sauce with aromatic oil. Yum!
- Jia Ji Mei Shi (#02-166): Serving a handful of breakfast items late into the night, Jia Ji Mei Shi is always a great stop for a snack. While many of the menu items are standard fare, their bee hoon and yam cake with chee cheong fun stand out.
- Shi Xiang Satay (#02-79): If you’re not able to catch Satay Street at Lau Pa Sat or walk along nearby Chinatown Food Street, this is one of the better options. Shi Xiang Satay has been on the Singapore food scene since 1955. It started on the streets of Chinatown before moving into the complex. The chicken & pork satay here is marinated for 24 hours. It helps the meat retain its natural juiciness without over-charring as its barbecued to perfection. In Hainanese-style, the peanut dipping sauce is topped with pineapple puree. It gives the sauce an extra dash of sweetness and tropical tang.
- Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice (#02-53): For claypot rice, Zhao Ji is a favourite in the area. Their signature dish combines tender chicken, salted fish, and lup cheong (Cantonese sausage) with moist rice. It’s drizzled with dark-soy oil fusion for the ultimate finish.
- Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao (#02-135): Recommended by Michelin, this stall is one of the top places to eat in Chinatown Singapore. Their specialty is xiao long bao, Shanghai-style steamed dumplings. They’re hand-crafted, succulent, and steamed to perfection. Besides xiaolongbao, Zhong Guo La Mian also serves up delicious hand-pulled noodles.
For most travellers, the MRT is the easiest way to navigate here. Take the North East Line to Chinatown MRT Station. Leave the station through Exit B. The hawker centre is just a 1-minute walk from here.
Where to stay
For foodies, Chinatown is one of the most popular areas to stay in Singapore. There are plenty of great accommodations near Chinatown Complex Food Centre. If you’re embarking upon the ultimate Singapore food adventure, they’re a great option!
Not sure where to start? Here are a few of the best hotels in Chinatown…
- Bliss Hotel: Travelling on a shoestring? Bliss Hotel is one of the top budget hotel picks in Chinatown. This property offers large rooms with modern decor and Oriental touches. Extras like a rooftop bar and free smartphone rentals add to the value.
- The Scarlet Singapore: This boutique hotel occupying a lovely heritage building on a side-street. It features contemporarily decorated rooms along with some great amenities. They extra include a rooftop bar and outdoor hot tub for your chillin’ pleasure.
- Ann Siang House: Set in an old Chinese merchant house, this boutique hotel is a charmer. It features spacious rooms and well-equipped modern studio apartments. The hotel is located between Chinatown and Telok Ayer.