In the heart of the financial district, surrounded by the tallest buildings in Singapore you will find Lau Pa Sat, one of the most popular food markets in the city. Come here to try the local delicacies, chicken rice, satay and kaya toast, as well as the other dishes that make up the varied cuisine on offer in Singapore. Although there are plenty of places to try these dishes, Lau Pa Sat is the ideal location to find them all under one roof, and the setting is far more romantic than most hawker centres, especially at night when the satay vendors set up stalls outside.
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Lau Pat Sat can be found on the corner of Boon Tat Street, an easy five-minute walk from Raffles Place MRT station. From the outside the food market looks like it belongs to a Victorian seaside town; ornate cast iron pillars hold up a terracotta roof with a distinctive clock tower that makes little impact compared to the skyscrapers that surround it. Inside the stalls are set up in rows leading to the centre of this hexagonal building.
If you are lucky enough, your meal may have musical accompaniment, a band plays nightly at the centre of Lau Pa Sat. On our visit we caught the tail-end of the jazz band and then got to enjoy a scratchy recording of 80s hits instead.
There are plenty of stalls to chose from, so have a walk around and check out what’s for sale and what others are eating – the perfect way to avoid food envy. The prices are reasonable, with dishes around five dollars. Recommendations can be found on boards displayed in the centre, and there is a map to help you navigate. After hearing so much about the Hainanese chicken and rice from Whampoa Nanxiang (Stall 52) I try a portion of this, with a Malaysian favourite that’s popular in the city, roti prata (Stall 61 – Mohamed Restaurant).
Both were delicious: the simplicity of chicken and rice has a rich, meaty flavour and is a fail-safe for most people. Although usually served at breakfast, the spicy chickpeas in the prata curry, together with freshly made roti-bread, make a good meal at the end of the day too. Other dishes people flock here to try include: chilli crab, carrot cake, and Laksa, a noodle dish in curry sauce.
Throughout the day different stalls are open. Come for breakfast and try Kaya Toast, the reinterpretation of colonial toast and jam, spread with a paste made out of coconut and egg accompanied by kopi-O, a Malaysian style coffee. The stall at Quay 18, called Kopitiam is popular in the morning and at the end of the day for dessert. For a snack, try curry puffs from Power Puff (stall 24) or some sweet potato from the jolly staff Visa Fortune (Stall 50A).
I recommend going after 7pm, as this is when Satay Street opens. Situated just behind the building, the road is closed from traffic every evening, when the sellers set up their barbeques and try and tempt you in with tasty meat on a stick. It might not be the best quality meat around, but sitting on the plastic tables with a beer and the famous snack is a fun way to end your time at Lau Pa Sat.
Locals may say that Lau Pat Sat is not the best place to try Singaporean dishes, but as a visitor I would have to disagree. The atmosphere is convivial and all the dishes I tried were fresh and tasty. Given that Lau Pa Sat is such a picturesque venue, it’s a great initiation into the food Singapore is famous for and given that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, fitting it into any itinerary is easy.
Lau Pa Sat Food Hawker Centre
- Opening Hours: 24 hours
- Location: On the corner of Boon Tat Street and Robinson Road, not far from the Raffles Place MRT station.
- MRT: Raffles Place
- Address: 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582
- Tel: +65 6276 0521