Lau Pa Sat: The oldest hawker centre in Singapore

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Foodies, listen up! If you’re looking for the absolute best place to sample the many varieties of Singaporean food, then look no further than Lau Pa Sat, otherwise known as Telok Ayer Market.

Lau Pa Sat, which means “old market” in Hokkien dialect, was first built in the 1870s and has survived as many incarnations through the years. Today, it is a food stall market where locals and tourists alike can enjoy dishes and snacks from dozens of stalls where the food is fresh and fantastic.  Lau Pa Sat is also an architectural gem, with its unique octagonal shape and opulent cast-iron columns that were shipped all the way from Scotland (by the makers of the Cavenagh Bridge, no less!).

The real reason to go to Lau Pa Sat is definitely the food, though. The layout of the market allows for over 100 different food stalls to be present within the octagon and outside along Satay Street. Everyday before noon, Lau Pa Sat opens to throngs of hungry lunchers who come from the nearby skyscrapers of downtown to enjoy their favorite Singapore dishes in the market’s cool atrium.

Must-try Dishes

If you’re unsure what you like or haven’t tried Singaporean food before, the Lau Pa Sat website lists a dozen different things for newcomers to feast on during their first visits to Lau Pa Sat. Here are some options for different taste buds:

Meat Lovers should try ba kut teh, which are pork noodles cooked with aromatic Chinese spices.

Timid Eaters will love Hainanese chicken, a flavourful poached chicken dish served with rice.

Noodle Addicts should go for laksa, a dish of thick Singaporean noodles covered in coconut milk and herb sauce.

Seafood Heads absolutely must go for the Chilli and Black Pepper Crab, a Singapore institution of fresh crab cooked in soybean paste, tomatoes, chillies, black pepper and tons of garlic.

Sweet Tooth’s will appreciate the abundance of local desserts, like Ice Kachang, a sweet shaved ice bowl similar to a sno-cone.

Lau Pa Sat is located right in downtown Singapore, and you should go there during lunch when it’s bustling with crowds. The market is a five-minute walk from the Raffles Place MRT Station, on Robinson Road.

Photo Credit: Choo Yut Shing