Eating your way through Singapore? Don’t miss out on the ever-popular Maxwell Food Centre, one of Singapore’s best hawker centres!
Maxwell Food Centre is located on the edge of Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar. The hawker centre is famous for offering some of the city’s tastiest local dishes. Its location is perfect for travellers seeking culinary brilliance in the heart of the city.
Among Singaporeans, Maxwell Food Centre has long been a fixture in the city’s food scene. It’s been open for business since 1986. Since then, Maxwell Food Centre has gained a deserved reputation among locals & travellers as one of the best places to eat in Singapore.
As of late, Maxwell Food Centre has experienced a resurgence. Much of the thanks goes to the late travelling chef/foodie, Anthony Bourdain. On an episode of Parts Unknown, he deemed the signature dish at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice “so fragrant & delicious that it can be eaten on its own.”
(Yep, that’ll get the crowds roarin’ here.)
Ready to experience the best of Maxwell Food Centre? Get prepared with this complete guide including what to expect and where & what to eat…
What to expect at Maxwell Food Centre
One of the things you’ll love most about Maxwell Food Centre is the variety. Coming from the nearby Chinatown Complex Hawker Centre, you’ll notice a more extensive selection of ethnic foods here.
Maxwell Food Centre goes beyond the Chinese-inspired dishes of Chinatown. Here, you’ll find plenty of food inspired by Singapore’s other two main ethnic groups, Indian and Malay.
Thanks to its simple one-floor layout in rows, Maxwell Food Centre is also easy to navigate. (At least easier than most other big hawker centres in the city!)
Visiting at peak lunch or dinner hours? Don’t be surprised if it’s difficult to secure a seat. It’s a testament both to the hawker centre’s popularity and the limited number of tables compared to the number of food stalls.
Where & what to eat at Maxwell Food Centre
As with any hawker centre, my advice is to walk through all the stalls first to see what catches your eye. With the popularity of Maxwell Food Centre, there’s a mix of options. There’s a handful of über-popular (even downright famous) hawker stalls here serving up some of the tastiest dishes in Singapore.
Keep your eyes peeled for a few of these gems:
- Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice (#01-10/11): This is, by far, the most famous food stall in the food court. Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice was put on the map after two celebrity chefs—Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain—gave it a big thumbs up. As you’d expect, the signature dish here is Hainanese chicken rice. Whether it’s the best chicken rice in Singapore or not is a matter of preference. Judging by the perpetual queue here, if you say “yes,” you’d have plenty of backup.
- Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice (#01-07): If the lineups at Tian Tian prove a little too hectic, slink over to Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice. You’ll (hopefully!) endure a more subdued wait. The chicken rice here is almost identical in quality. And it’s hardly a surprise. The stall’s owner spent over 20 years stirrin’ up chicken rice for his famous next-door neighbour.
- Rojak, Popiah & Cockle (#01-56): While rojak is more popular over at the Old Airport Road Food Centre, Rojak, Popiah & Cockle is the place to try it at the Maxwell Hawker Centre. The Malay-style rojak here drops down a mix of crispy dough (yo tiao), beanspouts, and vegetables. It’s topped with a sweet and spicy prawn dressing and chopped peanuts. Add a century egg or cuttlefish if you’re feeling a little more adventurous. The popiah (Malay spring roll), filled with cabbage, carrots, hard-boiled egg, and peanuts, is also worth a taste.
- Zhen Zhen Porridge (#01-54): Like at other popular stalls, the queue at Zhen Zhen Porridge can feel endless at times. It’s a striking ode to the simple beauty of their signature dish. The stall tosses together a yummy bowl of smooth Cantonese-style congee (rice porridge). It’s rich with sliced fish, shredded chicken, shallots, spring onions, and century egg.
- Chee Cheong Fun Club (#01-38): One of my own personal favourites at this hawker centre is the delicious chee cheong fun at Chee Cheong Fun Club. These small rice rolls seem to melt in your mouth with their silky-smooth texture. The stall tops them with a special proprietary sauce. It fuses together Singaporean, Malay, and Cantonese flavours. Struck together, these little slices of heaven offer a ton of joy—with a bit of a bite. Try out the KL-style curry chee cheong fun for an even larger dash of spice.
- Marina South Delicious Food (#01-35): Its name may sound like a Chinese-to-English translation gone comically wrong. Don’t let it fool you: The food here is no laughing matter. This popular food stall serves up yummy local wok-fried Singaporean favourites. The best of the bunch include oyster omelettes, hokkien mee, and carrot cake. The char kway teow is a superb choice for an introduction to the Marina South Delicious Food menu.
- Empress Place Teochew Beef Kway Teow (#01-43): This popular beef noodle stall was once a staple in the Singapore East Coast food scene. When they opened their Maxwell Food Centre location, it became an instant favourite. In their signature soup, thinly sliced beef is cooked to perfection and drowned in a rich tasty broth with silky noodles. Yum!
- Tong Xin Ju Special Shanghai Tim Sum (#01-92): To tackle your xiaolongbao cravings, try out this popular hawker stall. The Shanghai-style steamed dumplings dumplings here are made fresh daily. They deliver a silky texture that seems to melt in your mouth. Their guo tie (fried dumplings) are equally epic, if a little heavier.
- Teochew Rice and Porridge (#01-98): A long history predates this popular porridge stall. It’s graced the streets of Singapore since the 1970s. Unlike the youngins in the bunch, the owner here sticks the the basics. She offers only a dozen or so varieties of her signature porridge dishes. While there’s a variety of more “exotic” items on the menu like shark meat, the minced pork porridge with black beans is a great place to start.
- Hup Kee Wu Xiang Guan Chang (#01-97): This popular food stall has over 70 years under its belt. And it means business with its unique Hokkien-inspired menu. Among the top dishes to try at Hup Kee Wu Xiang Guan Chang are the ngoh hiang (meat roll) and neng kway (egg lard cakes). Its namesake guan chang (pink sausage) is also worth a taste.
- Jin Hua Fish Head Bee Hoon (#01-77): We agree: The stall name is unlikely to get many travellers excited (the late Anthony Bourdain excluded). But the signature dish here—you guessed it, fish head bee hoon—tastes far better than it sounds. This delicious noodle soup consists of a milky broth strewn with bee hoon noodles. It also tosses in a smattering of vegetables, shallots, and sesame oil. Try it. You might be surprised!
Maxwell Food Centre is located on the edge of Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar. Several MRT stations (Outram Park, Chinatown, Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar) are within 10- to 15-minutes walking distance.
The closest is Chinatown MRT Station on the North East Line. From Exit B, it’s less than a ten-minute walk via South Pagoda Street and South Bridge Road.
Where to stay near Maxwell Food Centre
Maxwell Food Centre is located near Chinatown, Tanjong Pagar, Telok Ayer, and the Singapore CBD. There’s a ton of great hotels to choose from nearby including some of the best Chinatown hotels.
Here are some of our favourites in the area…
- Bliss Hotel is one of the top choices in the area for travellers on a budget. This modern hotel features spacious rooms with extras usually reserved for luxury accommodations. Included is a free smartphone rental for the duration of your stay in Singapore.
- The Scarlet Singapore is situated in a beautiful heritage building amid the bustle of Chinatown. This mid-range boutique hotel charms with ultra-contemporary rooms. It’s also got a host of excellent amenities including a rooftop bar and outdoor hot tub.
- Ann Siang House is another superb boutique hotel occupying an old Chinese shophouse. In addition to their regular rooms, you can book self-catering studio apartments for a more homey feel.