Originally constructed in 1915, Tekka Centre is a historic icon in the vibrant Little India neighbourhood. It moved from its initial location to this current spot in 1982, and boasts an always-busy food centre that houses hundreds of hawkers selling mouth-watering fare.
Tekka Centre is known for its high concentration of top-notch stalls dishing out Indian-Muslim and South Indian delicacies: Such as fragrant biryani, light and fluffy appam and ripping-hot naan served with your choice of sides. Besides these options, you’ll also find delicious prawn noodles, moreish braised duck rice and stellar specialty coffee.
Tekka Centre | 665 Buffalo Road
545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles
As one of the top-rated vendors of the dish, 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles draws snaking queues at all hours of the day. But bear the wait and you’ll be rewarded with an umami-laden bowl packed with juicy prawns, springy noodles, soup that has a great depth of sweet-salty flavour and a smattering of fried shallots to finish.
The establishment has been operating since the 1950s, and is now run by a third-generation owner. We’re partial to the dry version, which come with a zesty chilli-ketchup sauce. Prices begin at $4.
Sri Tiffin Stall
For scrumptious dosas and addictive and feathery appams, look no further than Sri Tiffin Stall. The popular spot whips up a large variety of classic South Indian delicacies at bang-for-your-buck prices. Their signature masala dosa is served super thin and crispy, and is packed with lentils and chunky potatoes.
There’s also a lovely tang from the fermented batter. Also try the appam, which comes with the requisite sugar and coconut shavings. And for a snack to take home, pick up a few savoury vadai fritters. Prices start from $1.
Biryani lovers should make a beeline for this spot. The historic Michelin-recommended storefront was founded in 1968 and is known for its heaping servings of aromatic, spiced, long-grained rice topped with your choice of protein.
It’s currently helmed by the late founder’s son, who’s been heading up the stall for over two decades and counting.
We suggest the classic chicken biryani set, which comprises a large piece of succulent chicken, boiled egg and discs of crispy poppadum. A meal here will set you back around $6.
Heng Gi Goose and Duck Rice
While it doesn’t serve goose meat any longer – due to changes in AVA regulations – this is still a go-to place for some scrumptious braised duck rice. The meat is wonderfully tender and moist, without any of the toughness that you may find at lesser vendors.
For $3.50, you’ll get a one-person serving of juicy braised duck with white rice, fresh cucumber slices, spring onions and some herbal soup. Those with large appetites can add additional fixings to their meal, including braised eggs, pork belly and tau kwa.
Started by two friends with the goal of providing affordable coffee to all, Generation Coffee is not your regular kopi joint. Instead, you’ll be met with single-origin beans and specialty blends that have been crafted into espresso-based beverages, alongside more traditional kopi options. They even offer oat milk to cater to those who may be avoiding dairy.
The latte ($3.20) has a robust kick and velvety mouthfeel. And for something special, try the Dirty Matcha ($3.50): a bittersweet matcha drink finished with a well-pulled shot of espresso.
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Grandma Mee Siam
This humbly named stall serves a humble dish, and executes it with aplomb. But rather than just making mee siam with the standard rice vermicelli noodles, it also offers thick yellow noodles. These give a chewier and, dare we say, more satisfying bite.
For $2.50, you’ll get a serving of noodles topped with a hard-boiled egg, tau kwa, spring onions and a hefty dollop of chilli sauce. Do note that the gravy is a little on the sweeter side. You can pair your mee siam with a side of fried treats like ngo hiang, prawn fritters and meatballs.
Temasek Indian Rojak
Want something a little different than the Chinese-style rojak found at most hawker centres? This is where you’ll find some of Singapore’s finest Indian rojak. To create your meal, first choose from a selection of colourful items: Including crispy meat and vegetable fritters, tempeh, seafood and sausages.
They’ll then cut everything up and assemble it together on a plate with cucumbers, red onions and green chilli to slice through the richness, along with a tasty and tangy dipping sauce. Expect to pay roughly $5.
Pak Kashmiri Delights
Naan is the name of the game here. And you won’t be disappointed with the large, fluffy and flavourful discs that come out of the kitchen at Pak Kashmiri Delights. Go straight for the fragrant, toasty garlic naan that is baked upon order and goes for $2 a piece.
You can select from an assortment of dishes to complete your meal, including aloo gobi, chicken masala and – our personal favourite – mutton keema. If you’re in the mood for something a little sweeter, try the Kashmiri naan, which is generously studded with raisins.
Cap off your lunch with a sweet treat at Lim Cendol. The dessert stall is run by a mother-and-son duo and specialises in just three dishes – pulut hitam, ice kacang and chendol.
The pandan jelly in their signature chendol is made from scratch each day, and has a chewy and slippery texture that goes well with the shaved ice and kidney beans. Meanwhile, those who like novelty should try the ice kacang. It includes ingredients like sliced bananas and steamed peanuts that aren’t normally found in the dessert. Prices start at $2.
Yakader Muslim Food
A solid biryani spot, Yakader Muslim Food makes its version “dum” style. Rather than prepare the rice and protein separately, the individual ingredients are all combined and cooked together in a large pot with a myriad of spices, thereby ensuring that the flavours are well incorporated.
For about $6, you’ll get a mountain of rice and meat along with a hard-boiled egg, some pickles and poppadum served atop a large banana leaf. The mutton is fall-off-the-bone tender, and the generous portion is sure to fill you up.
ALSO READ: Little India hawker food guide: Best eats of Tekka Centre and Xin Tekka Food Hall
This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.