Join us as we take a closer look at some of the most prominent delectable hawker treats of Southeast Asia
There isn’t anything quite like hawker food.
Those who live in Southeast Asia—especially in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand—will easily agree on the notion above, and rightfully so. Hawker foods have become a large part of numerous cultures in Southeast Asia, and to talk about the local cuisines of many parts of the region without mentioning them would be extremely difficult, if not impossible.
While the definition of hawker foods may not be easy to outline, the term generally refers to a genre of cuisine that is usually prepared by roadside stalls and open-air food courts or dining centres. These foods are especially famous for their incredible flavours, numerous textures and affordable prices. The fact that they can be accessed, purchased and enjoyed easily also makes them favourites for meals at any time of day.
In this list, we close in on some of Southeast Asia’s defining hawker fare, and arm you with seven more reasons to start planning your trip to the region this very instant. Seven delightfully delicious reasons, at that. Be warned: there’s a high possibility that you will end up salivating severely by the end of this article!
On that scrumptious note, buckle up, grab your cutlery, and let the journey begin!
1. Char Kway Teow
WHAT: Flat rice noodles, stir-fried with soy sauce, chilli, dried shrimp paste, prawns, cockles, eggs, bean sprouts, and fish cakes. It is sometimes prepared with pork sausages and pork lard, but there are plenty of vendors in the region who make the dish without the inclusion of any form of pork.
WHERE: Popular in Malaysia and Singapore
2. Curry Laksa
WHAT: This rich and creamy variation of Southeast Asia’s beloved laksa presents yellow noodles or rice vermicelli that is served in a curry soup which is made from coconut milk, along with condiments like bean sprouts, chicken strips, shrimp and fish cakes. It is usually eaten with servings of chilli paste.
WHERE: Popular in Malaysia and Singapore
3. Chicken Rice
WHAT: Oily rice that is prepared by cooking rice with chicken stock, pandan leaves and a paste that is made of ginger and garlic. This rice is then served with pieces of roasted or steamed chicken, along with a drizzle of soy sauce, fresh slices of cucumber and a dipping sauce that is usually made of chilli and ginger.
WHERE: Popular in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
WHAT: Pieces of marinated meat—usually beef, chicken, fish or lamb—that are collected on a wooden skewer and cooked over a charcoal grill, giving them a smoky and decadent flavour. These skewers are then served with a spicy peanut-based sauce, alongside pieces of fresh cucumber, onion slices and rice cakes that are referred to as lontong or ketupat.
WHERE: Popular in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand
5. Tau Fu Fa
WHAT: A soybean pudding that is usually served with a syrup that is derived from either white sugar or palm sugar. Hailing from China, this dish can be enjoyed both cold or hot, and is commonly eaten as dessert. The syrup is sometimes flavoured with ginger and pandan leaves too. Some also enjoy having this pudding with a glass of fresh soy milk.
WHERE: Popular in Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore
6. Banana Fritters
WHAT: Sliced banana wedges that are immersed in batter and are deep fried to create fritters that are crunchy on the outside but sweet and sticky on the inside. Usually eaten at tea time or as dessert, modern takes on this simple snack present it with various complementary components, including—but not limited to—vanilla ice-cream, cheese and chocolate syrup.
WHERE: Popular in Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand
WHAT: As its name—which means ‘mixture’ in Malay—indicates, rojak is a dish that marries a vast array of ingredients together under a blanket of sauce of gravy. Often regarded as a Southeast Asian salad of sorts, its most popular rendition is fruit-themed, featuring chunks of pineapple, cucumber, rose apple, sour mango, and other fruits that are dressed with a combination of sugar, lime juice, dried shrimp paste, chilli and chopped peanuts.
WHERE: Popular in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore
Is that your stomach’s song of hunger that we hear? Fret not! GOASEAN is here to help, with our handy Let’s Go Now booking platform. Head on over to the page to get your Southeast Asian culinary escapade underway!