First opened in 1972 to resettle street hawkers around Kallang Estate, Old Airport Road Food Centre remains one of Singapore’s favourite hawker haunts for wallet-friendly local fare. The hawker centre was named for its proximity to Singapore’s first civilian airport, Kallang Airport, which was built by the British in 1937. Today, the three rows of back-to-back stalls are home to more than 160 cooked food stalls including these featured in the MICHELIN Guide Singapore with Bib Gourmand and MICHELIN Plate distinctions.
A new entry in the MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019 Bib Gourmand selection, To-Rico’s Guo Shi specialises in kway chap, a classic Teochew dish that comprises an assortment of soya sauce-braised offal served with a separate bowl of slippery flat rice noodles in soup. Pork offal such as large intestines, stomach and skin are thoroughly cleaned before they are braised in a rich and herbal soya sauce together with other components like trotters, pork belly, firm tofu and hard-boiled eggs.
Accolades and press clippings on its bright red signboards attest to the truth of this wanton noodle stall’s name. Established in the 1940s, Hua Kee Hougang is now run by fourth generation hawkers who serve up consistent bowls of noodles made with the same time-honoured recipe. The wanton mee ($4 or $5) features springy thin yellow egg noodles smothered in a spicy, sweet sauce with an umami kick from fried shallots and pork lard. The noodles are then topped with slices of char siew (barbecued pork) and soft wanton dumplings.
Another famous Old Airport Road hawker is Whitley Road Big Prawn Noodle, which boasts bowls of noodles topped with, yup, big whole prawns. The red-hued broth looks deceptively spicy, but the colour is derived not from chilli, but from prawn heads, shells and pork ribs boiled over hours to distill their savoury essence. The Big Prawn Pork Rib Noodles cost $5.50, $8, $10 or $12 but another popular option is an all-in-one bowl with pork ribs, liver and pieces of tail meat on bone ($8,$10, $15).
Sloppy, gooey and all-round satisfying, lor mee is a traditional Hokkien noodle dish that features thick, flat yellow boodles smothered in an almost gelatinous gravy flavoured with five spice and vinegar. Topped with hard-boiled egg halves, bean sprouts and coriander, the dish also comes with a dollop of minced garlic and a spoonful of sambal chilli which you can opt to stir in to your liking. This hawker stall draws long daily lines with about half an hour waits for its lor mee ($4, $5, $6), so you might as well get the $5 bowl which comes with much more generous toppings of fish chunks and braised pork.
Singaporeans travel from all over the island for a plate of Lao Fu Zi’s char kway teow—smoky, slick yellow noodles and flat rice noodles stir-fried with eggs, Chinese sausages, bean sprouts and plump cockles. The dish is cooked in a drier style than most hawker versions and comes in both “white” and “black”. Both pack a flavourful punch, though the latter with sweet dark soya sauce is more popular. Each plate of char kway teow costs $5, $8 or $10 and is cooked to order, so expect a wait.
Banner image from 51 Old Airport Road Food Centre & Shopping Mall public Facebook group