What was once a wet market in 1929 dealing mainly fresh produce, today Maxwell Food Centre is one of the most popular hawker centres in Singapore. Having seen through the Japanese Occupation and gone through many changes in the post-war years, Maxwell Road Market was converted into a food centre in 1987. The street food hawkers operating under temporary zinc-and-roof structures along the back lanes of China Square were relocated here, which turned the wet market into a huge food centre. Drawing in locals and tourists alike, today Maxwell Food Centre is one of the most famous food centres in Singapore, with flocks of CBD workers here at lunchtime. Even though many food places can get overly touristy and commercialised, Maxwell Food Centre has retained its old-school charm and remains one of the best places to savour great Singaporean food.
For over three decades, Zhen Zhen Porridge has been serving up some of Singaporeans’ favourite comfort food. Like your porridge thick, creamy with broken grains? Then you will surely enjoy Zhen Zhen Porridge. Every spoonful packed with flavour and ingredients such as chicken, pork or fish. Be prepared to wait, sometimes for quite a long time. The stall seems to have a perpetual queue! But you know what they say – good things are worth the wait.
No matter what time you’re here, there’s no escaping the snaking queue at this famous nasi lemak stall. In our opinion, it’s very much worth the wait! The family recipe places emphasis on four crucial components: the basmati rice, sambal chilli, chicken wing and otah otah. True enough, their rice is incredibly fragrant, the sambal and otah just the right level of spice, and the chicken is perfectly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside!
The other popular nasi lemak stall here definitely holds its own against its fierce competitors! You’d also need plenty of patience here as the queue moves rather slowly and, at times, not at all. However you’ll be rewarded with a plate of fluffy, coconut-y rice, with your choice of sides. Take your pick from the Fish Set, Chicken Se, Sutra Special and Adam’s Special, which includes mutton rendang!
Jin Hua Fish Head Bee Hoon is another long-time tenant at Maxwell Food Centre, serving up delicious Cantonese-style fish soup with a comforting, flavourful and milky broth that can be paired with fried or white fish. This stall is very popular amongst the working crowd especially during lunchtime, be prepared to wait for 20 minutes and up during peak hours!
No list on Maxwell Food Centre is complete without Tian Tian Chicken Rice, and it's arguably one of the most popular chicken rice stalls in Singapore! American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has even said that the chicken rice here is so fragrant and delicious that it can be eaten on its own. Although the rice at Tian Tian is highly raved about, their chicken is also tender, juicy and smooth and makes a great companion with the rice, chilli and dark soy sauces.
Having moved from the now-demolished Margaret Drive Food Centre, Tong Xin Ju Special Shanghai Tim Sum continues to serve up yummy dumplings at affordable prices in Maxwell Food Centre. They are handmade, made to order and served piping hot with well-marinated fillings. Don't ask us to pick between the steamed or fried dumplings – we can't decide! Make sure to try them both if you have the room for it.
Hup Kee Wu Xiang Guan Chang has been in business for over 70 years, with its roots as a pushcart stall before World War II. Today, they are one of two remaining stalls that still serve the Hokkien version of ngoh hiang, as opposed to the usual Teochew style which is more common in Singapore. Some other must-trys include the pink sausage, liver rolls and neng kway (egg lard cakes) which are all handmade everyday!
Fuzhou oyster cake is a dying piece of culture and food, so we're glad it's still here around in Maxwell. As the stall name suggests, they only serve oyster cakes that make a perfect savoury snack when you don't want a full meal. It has satisfyingly crispy edges, a doughy middle and a flavourful filling of minced pork, prawns, celery and of course, oysters!
Ye Lai Xiang has decades of experience behind them, and some even say they're the pioneers in bringing Hainanese western food into local hawker centres! They're well known for their special house sauce that's said to be developed by the late master chef who served in the British Navy. The food is delectable, portions are generous and the pricing is reasonable. Arguably one of the best Hainanese western food in town!
Popo and Nana’s Delights is a humble Peranakan joint offering a mix of Peranakan and Eurasian food fix. They feature a menu of rice sets that are rotated daily, depending on what fresh ingredients are available that day. With Covid-19, they were made to pivot and have since started offering online delivery and pick up orders too! We've heard many great things about their Ayam Buah Keluak, so make sure to try it if it's available!
For some good wok-hei staples, look no further than Marina South Delicious Food. You'll find the usual suspects like char kway teow, hokkien mee, carrot cake and oyster omelette here. We must say, it's rather uncommon to find a stall serving all these dishes together! But judging from the awards they've gained along with the media recognitions, we agree they're pretty good.
A fan of traditional pastries and handmade kuehs? Then you most definitely have to check out Xing Xing Ondeh-Ondeh Tapioca Cake. Everything is handmade daily and the owners start their day as early as 3am! The tapioca cake is so soft and bouncy it's almost jelly-like, and the ondeh ondeh is addictively chewy with a sweet oozy middle. You'll also find other items on the menu like kueh kosui!