First built in 1981, Kreta Ayer Complex was part of Chinatown’s urban renewal. In 1984, it was renamed Chinatown Complex, and later Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre when the market and food centre was completed. The complex was a big part of the government’s effort to provide a solution to the thousands of street hawkers who were still plying their trade illegally throughout Chinatown. 300 street hawkers were relocated here and HDB would periodically upgrade the food centre. Through the years, the complex has been home for all the street hawkers and living heritage of Chinatown’s traditional foods and trade. Many of them remained at the complex for decades. At 2016, there were still about 20% of the original hawkers who are still in the complex. Boasting over 200 stalls today, here are some of the must-trys.
The mother-son duo running this stall in Chinatown Complex sells homemade xiao long bao and other authentic Szechuan dishes like Zha Jiang Mian and beef noodles. The XLBs are freshly made by hand, and the broth is said to be cooked for 12 hours before they are frozen and wrapped in the dumpling! Many would compare this to what other bigger restaurant chains offer, but only at a fraction of the price. It's no wonder why they were awarded with a Michelin Plate.
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-135, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 11:30 AM–3 PM, 5–8:30 PM, Wed to Sun. Closed on Mon & Tues
Opened by an ex-Raffles Hotel chef, Chef Leung's Hong Kong-style chee cheong fun is painstakingly handmade with house-milled rice batter. Take your pick from five different flavours here – plain, prawns, tuna, minced pork and char siew. Other than chee cheong fun, Chef Leung also has Hong Kong style congee on the menu which are equally good!
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-96, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 7 AM–2 PM, Sun to Fri. Closed on Sat
What makes Xiu Ji Ikan Bilis Yong Tau Fu different from other yong tau foo stalls in Singapore is the fact that their fish paste is handmade! The owners make them by hand, and you can definitely taste the difference in the food. The fish paste stuffed in the yong tau foo ingredients are exceptionally flavourful, fresh and clean-tasting. One thing to keep in mind is that they are often sold out by 1pm, and people start queueing as early as 7am!
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-88, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 5 AM–1:30 PM, Tues to Sun. Closed on Mon
Jia Ji Mei Shi is one of those staple hawker stalls selling old-school breakfast favourites such as chee cheong fun, fried bee hoon and porridge. They don't look like the most appetising, but they're really not here to impress you visually anyway. The chee cheong fun is extremely no-frills, coated with sweet sauce, fragrant onion oil, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. The yam cake is velvety smooth and there's just something incredibly comforting about their dishes.
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-166, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 6 AM–10 PM, Thurs to Tues. Closed on Wed
The traditional Cantonese-Teochew glutinous rice is a dying art, so head on to Millenium Glutinous Rice for a taste of this dish. Offering both sweet and savoury options, every batch of rice is cooked just right – not too mushy nor too tough. This traditional dish makes for a easy breakfast option, or as a good accompaniment to dishes from other stalls like Hong Kong Mong Kok Dim Sum!
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-92, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 7:30 AM–12 PM, Tues to Sat. Closed on Sun & Mon
No meal is complete without some a sweet treat and Dessert Station is a popular option for traditional desserts in Chinatown Complex Food Centre. There are both hot and cold options here, such as ice kachang, bur bur cha cha, yam paste, tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) and many more. Best of all, prices are super friendly on the wallet!
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-146, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 8:30 AM–8:30 PM, Tues to Sun. Closed on Mon
Ann Chin Popiah makes their own popiah skin from scratch every day, which is part of the reason why they were listed with a Michelin Plate! The filling is a combination of turnips, carrots, beansprouts, vegetables and egg, rolled up in their house-made popiah skin with a garlic and sweet sauce spread. A testament to their quality and popularity, Ann Chin Popiah has expanded to many branches in Singapore. However, if you get the chance to, you have to visit their OG outlet and see the staff hard at work!
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-112, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 9 AM–6:30 PM, Sun to Tues. 8 AM–7 PM, Wed to Fri. 8 AM–3:30 PM, Sat.
Ah Kong Wa Kuih is unlike the flashy stalls at Chinatown Complex Food Centre. The store front is simple and there is only one item on the menu: wah kueh. A dying art in Singapore, it's similar to the more famous chwee kueh except that instead of savoury chai po, Ah Kong Wa Kuih is topped with a brown sauce, minced garlic, and chilli sauce. There are also ingredients such as dried shrimps and mushrooms steamed together in the wah kueh.
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-116, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 7:45 AM–2 PM, Tues to Sun. Closed on Mon
Another Michelin-recommended stall, Fatty Ox HK Kitchen is well known for its beef brisket and tendon noodles. The sauce here overall has a strong herbal taste and might not be for everyone, but for those who enjoy it, it is well worth the trip to Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Another popular dish is the soy sauce chicken noodles, which can be regarded as a strong competitor to Hawker Chan!
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-84, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 7:30 AM–2:30 PM, Wed to Sun. Closed Mon & Tues
Going for a midday snack instead? Pan Ji Cooked Food is known in Singapore for its exceedingly rare old school heritage snacks. Its most popular item is the sachima, which is made of fried dough pieces and malted sugar syrup. Apart from sachima, the stall also has other freshly made fried dough snacks such as honey twists and sesame egg splits.
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-78, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 8 AM–3 PM daily
We've probably all had chicken rice balls, but what about duck rice balls? Having been around for over three decades, Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck Rice made waves locally for their duck rice bento that looks completely different from the usual duck rice and kway chap that we know. Don't worry though – the recipe remains entirely the same! And it's great for those who can't decide between duck rice or kway chap. You get to try both with the bento set!
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-156, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 10 AM–6 PM, Tues to Thurs, Sat & Sun. Closed Mon & Fri
We love that hawker bars are now a thing. Singapore's favourite hawker craft beer bar in Chinatown Complex Food Centre, Smith Street Taps is our go-to for affordable pints. Featuring 20 premium local and international craft beers on tap, highlights include Pentrich Brewing Co’s Shine Like Trillions and locally brewed Saturday Saranghae from Alive Brewing.
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-062, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 6–10:30 PM, Tues to Thurs. 6–11 PM, Fri. 2–11 PM, Sat.
One of the most popular stalls in Chinatown Complex Food Centre is Hong Kong Mongkok Tim Sum. One of the go-to spot for locals to get a good and cheap dim sum fix, the queues got so long that the owners had to introduce a ticketing system. And we can see why – from the siew mai to char siew bao, all the dishes are all very well-executed.
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-97, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 11 AM–5 PM, Wed to Sun. Closed Mon & Tues
Liao Fan is probably the stall that most tourists (and maybe locals) would head for. Boasting a Michelin star, they are one of first hawker stalls in the world to be awarded so. It is also the cheapest Michelin star meal you can get in the world! Even though the business has expanded to multiple chain around the world, the best place to get it is still at the OG hawker stall in Chinatown Complex Food Centre! Enjoy a variety of dishes like Soya Sauce Chicken Rice, Roasted Pork Rice, Char Siew Rice and many more at affordable prices.
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-126, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 10:30 AM–7:30 PM daily
Established in 1979, Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice sticks to a time-tested method. Come prepared to wait 30 minutes or more, as each portion is cooked slowly over a charcoal fire. They are generous with their ingredients and you'll find chunks of chicken, pork belly, duck liver sausages, salted fish and lup cheong (Chinese sausage). They definitely have no shortage of customers, so you can also call to reserve in advance.
Address: 335 Smith St, #02-198/199, Singapore 050335
Opening Hours: 4–9 PM, Fri to Tues. Closed Wed & Thurs