Maxwell Food Centre is one of those rare hawker centers in Singapore that is highly popular with tourists and at the same time, is held in high esteem by locals for its authentic and traditional hawker dishes. The main reason for this is that Maxwell Food Centre is the current home of a myriad of age-old street stalls that originally plied the area around China Square (now part of the CBD). Many of these establishments have been around for 80 years or more and continue to be managed by the same family, albeit the 2nd or 3rd generation. Other than that, patrons can find quite a number of relatively rare hawker dishes here such as Fuzhou-style oyster cake, peanut pancake, rickshaw noodles and more and at any given day, one can find Singaporeans from near and far descending upon this humble-looking hawker center queueing for various specialties.
Personally, Maxwell Food Centre is one of my most frequently-visited hawker centers in Singapore as I enjoy walking to this place during my lunch hour whenever I am looking to clock in more steps. My favorites here are a mix of some of the original China Square hawker stalls as well as newer ones started by enterprising youngsters. Without further ado, here are some of the food you should try the next time you find yourself at Maxwell Food Centre.
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Taste of Jiang Nan
This is the place to go if you are looking for some Din Tai Fung-esque meals at a much cheaper price. Their Pork Chop Fried Rice is one of my favorites here, as are their variety of dumplings – most especially the Red Oil Spicy Dumplings.
Tip: This stall does not have a defined rest day. They will announce their rest days in advance via their Facebook page here so pls check it out before heading down to avoid disappointment.
Stall Number: #01-62
Opening Hours: Daily, 11:30AM to 7:30PM
Phone: 8342 9898
Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake
One of an ever dwindling number of establishments in Singapore still serving this traditional snack, Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake may not be the best place in Singapore to grab one of these UFO-shaped delights. But given the rarity factor and their number of years in the business, I still patronize them whenever I find myself in Maxwell Food Centre. The oyster cakes here are slightly thinner with less oysters compared to another oyster cake stall I frequent at Berseh Food Centre.
Stall Number: #01-05
Opening Hours: Daily except Sunday, 9AM to 8PM
Mr Appam opened in 2021 by Vietnam-born Nguyen Thi Kieu Hanh. Hers is an inspirational story as she originally wanted to sell Vietnamese food but ended up being required to sell Indian food as dictated by the bidding process for the particular stall she was awarded. Despite having no expertise in preparing Indian food, she decided to make do with the opportunities given to her by selling appam – the South Indian pancake which is popular as a breakfast dish.
Kieu Hanh did not manage to just get by but her stall is slowly thriving as well because of some offbeat flavors she offers such as Pandan Brown Sugar Coconut Appam and Ice Cream Appam alongside more conventional ones like Princess Appam. A Vietnamese hawker is probably the last person you’d expect to find preparing appam behind the counter so kudos to her for making the most out of her circumstances and doing it with zeal.
Stall Number: #01-99
Opening Hours: Daily except Tuesday, 8AM to 8PM
The Green Chili Chicken Rice at Alimama is a must-try especially if you are looking for some spice. While comparisons may immediately be drawn with the green chili chicken stall at Sims Vista Food Centre, there’s no doubt that this is the only place serving this highly popular dish in the city centre. During the time of my visit, I found the chicken crispy without being too dry. The green chili here gave it a rather more pronounced spicy effect as compared to the one I tried at Sims Vista.
Stall Number: #01-09
Opening Hours: Daily, 11AM to 8:30PM
Phone: 8484 3944
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
By far the most well-known stall at Maxwell Food Centre, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice gained worldwide fame when it was featured by Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay, the former having commented at how fragrant the chicken rice was. I have personally been to Tian Tian quite a few times myself. While I did find the chicken rice fragrant, I did not find it to be any more so than those from my own neighborhood chicken rice store. What I found notable however, was how plump and juicy the strips of chicken were. I would certainly consider the chicken rice here to be above average.
Stall Number: #01-10/11
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday, 10AM to 7:30PM
Phone: 9691 4852
The 1950s Coffee stall here is a branch, the main one being located not too far away at Chinatown Complex. Expect aromatic cups of kopi and toast to go along your morning drink. Their homemade Ice Lemon Tea is also worth getting during warm siesta-inducing afternoons. It is worth noting that while the main outlet at Chinatown Complex Food Centre is closed on Mondays, the Maxwell branch remains open.
Stall Number: #01-90
Opening Hours: Daily, 7AM to 5PM
Jin Hua Fish Head Bee Hoon
I spotted one of this food centre’s longest queues at Jin hua Fish Head Bee Hoon, not a bad feat considering they have been around for some 2 decades or so. The stall is well-known for its Cantonese style Fish Head Bee Hoon. Grouper should be your fish of choice here. They fry it with most of the bone intact to achieve a sweeter flavor. Customers can choose to have their soup with or without milk.
Stall Number: #01-77
Opening Hours: Daily except Thursday, 11:30AM to 8:30PM
Nian Nian You Yu
I stumbled upon Nian Nian You Yu while standing in the middle of Maxwell Hawker Centre and seeing 2 ladies walk past with a tray of steamed pomfret. I attempted to recall their steps and ended up at Nian Nian You Yu where I successfully traced the 2 young guys selling the steamed pomfret. One of the guys actually came from Michelin-starred Sommer where he was a junior sous chef. Although it was the Steamed Pomfret that got my attention, they also sell Steamed Sea Bass with ginger and soy sauce as individual sets with rice and soup. I thought it was good value for money even though I later found out the seemingly whole piece of pomfret was actually sliced in half. This is a good option if you are looking for something healthier to eat at the hawker centre.
Stall Number: #01-79
Opening Hours: Daily except Sunday, 11:30AM to 7:30PM
Aftertaste Traditional Tutu Cake
This relatively new stall is the place to go for some Tutu Kueh in the city area. Go for the coconut-flavored kueh which comes with a moist (and warm) filling. If coconut is not your thing, you can also choose chocolate or peanut filling or you can also go plain. Other than that, their Tapioca Cake and Muah Chee are also worth trying. This is a vegetarian-friendly stall.
Stall Number: #01-73
Opening Hours: Daily except Wednesday, 11AM to 7PM
Popo and Nana’s Delights
Nyonya cuisine is usually more expensive so I found it a pleasant surprise when I stumbled upon Popo and Nana’s Delights at Maxwell Food Centre. Dishes here change by the day and the current’s day menu is displayed on a sign board. At the time of my visit, I had their Ayam Buah Keluak which came with such an addictive sauce that you’d want to spread all over the accompanying rice. Dishes here are sold as a set at an affordable S$6 inclusive of rice, a side of veggies (chap chye) and soup.
Stall Number: #01-70
Opening Hours: Daily except Saturday and Sunday, 11AM to 3:30PM
Old Nyonya is a stall serving Malay-influenced Peranakan delights in Maxwell Food Centre. You can expect a number of breakfast-friendly dishes here such as Mee Siam, Mee Rebus and Lontong. They are particularly famous for their Laksa. For something heavier, you can check out their Curry Chicken and Rendang Chicken. They don’t exactly compete head-to-head with the other Peranakan store in Maxwell Food Centre as Old Nyonya has a greater Malay inclination.
Stall Number: #01-04
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:30AM to 8:30PM
Phone: 8366 9311
Authentic Hong Kong Delights
A relatively new stall at Maxwell Food Centre is Authentic Hong Kong Delights, an establishment selling Cantonese desserts. The stall was opened by a Guangzhou-born flight attendant so you can expect some really authentic desserts here. Most customers rave about their Yam Cake as well as their Yam Sago dessert.
Stall Number: #01-36
Opening Hours: Thursday to Sunday, 1PM to 9PM
China Street Rickshaw Noodles
China Street Rickshaw Noodles is an age-old hawker stall that traces its roots back to when Singapore literally had its hawkers out in the streets. At the time, the rickshaw drivers around the CBD needed a cheaper form of sustenance and Rickshaw Noodles provided exactly that. Until now, a bowl remains quite cheap – at about S$1++ but don’t count on one bowl to satisfy a hungry tummy. The bowls are relatively small-size. I would personally recommend ordering veggie and meat from another stall to go along with the noodles.
Stall Number: #01-87
Opening Hours: Daily 8AM to 2AM
Oriental Stall Duck Rice and Duck Noodle
This is the place to go for cheap braised duck rice – for as little as S$3.50 a plate. The yam rice that accompanies the braised duck is flavorful and one can really make out the generous portions of yam on it.
Stall Number: #01-19
Opening Hours: Daily, 10AM to 7PM (opening and closing times may vary +/- 30 minutes depending on the day of the week)
China Street Fritters
As its name suggests, China Street Fritters is another one of Maxwell Food Centre’s long time occupants. The stall originated in China Street nearly 80 years ago and is pretty well known for its ngoh hiang and liver rolls. If you enter Maxwell Food Centre from the back facing Kadayanallur Street at around noon, you’d most likely find a crowd gathering by this stall. China Street Fritters was in the news recently for wanting to sell their business for around S$1 million as none of the succeeding generations of the clan were interested to continue the business (currently, it’s the 2nd generation manning the stall).
Stall Number: #01-64
Opening Hours: Daily except Monday, 12PM to 7PM (opening and closing time may vary by +/- 1 hour depending on the day)
Phone: 9239 6464
Aside from China Street Fritters, this is the other popular stall for ngoh hiang at Maxwell Food Centre. With a snaking queue the norm during lunch time, loyal customers usually go for their dependable combo of Bee Hoon with Ngoh Hiang and Red Sausages.
Stall Number: #01-97
Opening Hours: Daily except Wednesday, 11:30AM to 6PM
Phone: 8113 7015
Heng Heng Tapioca Cake
As denoted by their signboard, Heng Heng is another stall which came from the original China Street hawkers prior to the existence of Maxwell Food Centre. Heng Heng prides itself in various sweets, most notably their ondeh ondeh and tapioca cake. I particularly enjoyed their kueh kosui which came with a generous amount of coconut shavings. Their kueh kosui is less sticky and more jelly-like in texture – wobbly and soft to the touch.
Stall Number: #01-31
Opening Hours: Daily except Sunday, 8AM to 1:30PM