First known as Seng Poh Market, a one-storey refuge built by the government to house the street hawkers eking out a living in Singapore’s oldest public housing estate, Tiong Bahru Market is now a sprawling two-storey complex that retains much of its timeless appeal despite the surrounding landscape’s burgeoning ‘hip factor’. The ground floor is a hubbub of frenetic bargaining activity on most mornings, with over 250 wet market and retail stalls hawking anything from dried goods to ornamental fish and cheap clothes. But in stark contrast to the claustrophobic experience downstairs, pigging out at the upper deck’s food haven is a spacious, breezy affair. High ceilings, well-spaced-out tables and an alfresco area spell good news for even the fussiest of hawker centre eaters.
TRY The chwee kueh from Jian Bo Shui Kueh is legendary and has endured for over 50 years despite the surfeit of similarly-named imposters masquerading as the real deal. This breakfast staple of oily rice cakes and fried chye poh is simple, sinful and addictive. Another institution down the same stretch of stalls is Tiong Bahru Pau, which has since expanded to six outlets island-wide. And a visit to TBM is never complete without the perennial debate over the two famous lor mee stalls vying for supremacy – both attract long queues and require a 20-minute wait on weekends. 178 Lor Mee is the new kid on the block that boasts pretty unusual ingredients while the more traditional take on this starchy noodle dish can be found at long-standing Tiong Bahru Lor Mee.
BEST TIME TO VISIT Chwee kueh is the breakfast of choice for Singaporean champs so come down early and start your day right.