No air-conditioning? No problem. At the prices you pay for Wagyu beef or kaisen-don at these modern hawkers, you’ll be happy to break a sweat.

Gentrified hawker centres in Singapore are all the rage now–not that we are complaining. After all, where else in the world can you have authentic char kway teow  whipped up  by a stalwart hawker along with a  bottle of snazzy craft beer? Skip on over to four of these modern coffee shops  in the city that serve upscale gourmet nosh at an affordable price.  


Built on the site of the old Ayer Rajah Hawker Centre, this modern hawker centre exudes a too-cool-for-school vibe with its graffiti-ed metal containers and occasional live music. Here, old-school hawkers cook beside a collection of young chef-owners that serve everything from French to Japanese food.  The non-hawker fare here includes the heritage menu at Damian D’Silva (#01-28), where you can find crispy rendang sliders, and French cuisine from Garçons (#01-37). Be sure to also check out The Fishball Story (#01-14), where local hawker-preneur Douglas Ng whips up his Bib Gourmand-awarded fishball noodles.

JTC LaunchPad @ one-north, 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent. Open Mon-Thu 6am-12am, Fri-Sat 6am-1am, closed Sun.


The Bedok Marketplace

What used to be Simpang Bedok Food Centre has been revamped into the more atas-looking Bedok Marketplace. The stalls have been designed to look like rows of old shophouses, complete with Venetian blinds, a vintage VW bug and an old-school accordion-style metal gate.  The stalls here offer much more than the usual hawker fare, from the innovative eats at Ballistic Meatballs (#02-02/03) to a Wagyu rump and foie gras donburi at The Burning Oak (#02-16) that wouldn’t be out of place in a restaurant. Of course, we’re not going to discount our local food as well, as the marketplace is home to Liang’s Wanton Noodles (#02-07) and 来 Lok Lok (#02-08).

348 Bedok Road, Level 2. Open daily 11.30am – 12.00am.


Salute Coffeeshop

You won’t find char kway teow or chicken rice here; all the stalls at this coffeeshop serve Western food. Anchor tenant Stew Küche serves up German food like pork knuckles and sausages, which are great paired with the various beers and ciders that they offer.  Other tenants include Seasalt, a seafood specialist offering dishes like fish and chips and white wine mussels, and Immanuel French Kitchen, which serves up French fare like duck confit. The place becomes extremely packed on weekends, so we suggest that you go early or call ahead to make a reservation (yes, they take reservations).

#01-40,  Blk 119 Bukit Merah Lane 1.  Tel: 6276 6445.  Open  Sun-Tue 11am-10pm

Alibabar the Hawker Bar

Previously known as Ali Ba Ba Eating House, this coffeeshop was rebranded a few years ago as a “kopitiam by day and hawker bar by night”. The food here features mostly non-hawker fare like French, Spanish and Japanese food, although one stall has managed to escape the gentrification — Yong Huat, which had been there since the coffeshop’s previous incarnation — and serves sinful, lard-laden plates of char kway teow and Hokkien mee.  Come night, the bar opens and offers a wide range of craft beers.

125 East Coast Road.  Tel: 6440 6147

Featured image: Timbre+