5 Hawker Dishes To Earn Your Old Airport Road Food Centre Foodie Badge

5 Hawker Dishes To Earn Your Old Airport Road Food Centre Foodie Badge

Earn your stripes with these five classics at one of Singapore’s largest hawker centres.

What better way to celebrate the addition of Singapore's Hawker Culture into the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity than with one of the largest (and possibly most historic) hawkers in town? 

Old Airport Road Food Centre may now be a bustling hotspot with 168 food stalls, serving hungry locals and tourists alike from the wee hours of the morning till late, but it got its name from the spot’s history as Singapore’s first civilian airport, Kallang Airport. The MRT station nearby is, in fact, named after the plane Douglas DC-3 or Dakota, flown by today's KLM. It survived World War II, both as a British and Japanese base, before returning to business as a commercial airport that expanded so much it had to be moved. 

That left land that eventually became Kallang Estate Fresh Market & Food Centre in 1958, and was refurbished in 1971 into the two-storey building we see today.

1. Albert Street Prawn Noodles

What makes Albert Street Prawn Noodles different from the other two (equally great) hae mee options is its broth. Succulent medium-sized prawns, your choice of pork toppings - pork ribs, pigtail and intestines - and springy noodles come swimming in morish orange broth that’s equal parts umami and sweet; a recipe passed down from the owner’s push cart “store” circa 1963. There’s also their homemade chili powder that shines in both broth and dry version, with the latter winning over patrons with its ample servings of lard and fried shallots. Tip: The pigtail is a gelatinous delight that goes hand-in-hand with the seafood-based broth. 

  • Stall #01-10
  • Opening hours: Thu-Tue 9.00am-10.00pm (Closed on Wed)

Related: 10 Ultimate Slurp Worthy Noodle Recipes

2. Roast Paradise

Randall and Kai may be youngest chaps at Old Airport Road, but they give a masterclass in Kuala Lumpur-style roasts of char siew and sio bak (roasted pork belly). Char siew chunks entice with a glistening caramelised char and alternating layers of meat and fat, courtesy of the boys’ choice of bu jian tian (meat between the shoulder and belly), while unctuous sio bak draws crowds with its impeccably crisp crackling. Most will go for the chicken rice, but go for the Hakka noodles that come with lashings of lard, sesame and onion oil and a hefty side of sweet minced pork. 

  • Stall #01-121
  • Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11.00am-4.00pm (or until sold out)

Related: 10 Noodle Recipes for Easy Anytime Meals

3. OAR Seafood Soup

There’s a bit of a wait at OAR Seafood Soup - for good reason. Formerly known as Yan Ji Seafood Soup, they prepare every bowl upon order. Starting off with an already flavorsome base, marinated meatballs, batang fish slices and prawns - or if you’re feeling fancy, crayfish - are left to simmer in succession. What you have is an opaque, umami-laden broth that’ll have you question why you didn’t go for the largest serving in the first place. For more bliss, swirl in prawn roe (within the prawn head). 

  • Stall #01-122
  • Opening hours: Tue-Sun 11.00am-8.00pm

Related: 10 Must Try Seafood Recipes

4. Tong Kee Charcoal BBQ

I’ll just say it: This is my favorite place for barbecued chicken wings. While options are aplenty on the island, the amiable uncle behind Tong Kee Charcoal BBQ has yet been dethroned with his deceptively simple yet brilliant wings. Lightly marinated to retain the wings’ natural sweetness and roasted meticulously atop red-hot charcoal for a delicate smoke and sizzling edges, the zesty chili sauce further revs up your appetite for, most likely, another order of 10. 

  • Stall #01-24
  • Opening hours: Mon-Sat 5.00pm-12.00am, Sun 1.00pm-12.00am

5. Kah Ping Re Ye Xiang

Skip the desserts and go for the rojak at Kah Ping Re Ye Xiang. While more famous neighbors reside nearby, it continues to impress regulars and curious onlookers with its sublime take on the sauce. Mining the middle ground between sweet and savory with common ingredients of prawn paste, tamarind paste, sugar and crushed peanuts, the husband-and-wife duo amps it up with generous chunks of fresh fruits, vegetables and charcoal-toasted dough fritters and tofu puffs.

  • Stall #01-87
  • Opening hours: Mon 12:00pm-10:00pm, Thu-Sun 12.00pm-10.00pm (Closed on Tue and Wed)
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