9 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Hawkers Asian Street Food Vendor
Asian street food has become a popular option for many people. With so many vendors to choose from, how do you know which hawkers Asian street food is best for you? We have noticed many popping up in the USA now. This includes our Makansutra mate from Singapore, KF Seetoh. He is opening up a Singaporean Asian Street Food Hawker with 17 stalls (11 originating from Singapore) off Times Square in New York City. We’ll touch more on this later in this blog. From our Singapore Food Blog we’ll be giving you our personal 9 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Hawkers Asian Street Food Vendor.
To those who are unfamiliar. Hawker centres in Singapore are like enormous food courts. With stalls lining the outside selling everything from full meals and snacks to drinks. Most restaurants offer a menu that draws from local traditions. Also traditions from other parts of the world, such as Chinese, Malay, Indian, Indonesian, and Western cooking.
They are built to provide a cleaner option to traditional hawker carts and now house many vendors selling a variety of inexpensive foods. Customers at restaurants sit at a communal table. With wait staff serving icy cold beverages to the table, clearing and washing dishes and silverware in the back.
Asian Hawker Centers in the USA
If you happen to be in the USA have a look out for the following popular locales for a variety of hawkers Asian street food menus;
– Hawkers Asian street food Nashville,
– Hawkers Asian street food Jacksonville,
– Hawkers Asian street food Dallas,
– Hawkers Asian street food Charlotte, and
– Hawkers Asian street food Bethesda
I love the fact that our American cousins are embracing the hawker foods from Asia, including Singaporean hawker food. In fact, my Japanese sister-in-law has taken me around a few that already exist in and around New York State.
Unesco Heritage Sites
We respect the hawkers so much in Singapore that we lobbied to have it recognised by Unesco. In December 2020 that dream became reality.
In December 2020 Unesco added Singapore’s hawker culture to its list of world heritage sites. A 24-person international committee agreed to this proposal through online deliberations. It took only three minutes to complete the process, despite three years of work. This was executed by the National Heritage Board, the National Environment Agency, and the Federation of Merchants’ Associations.
By including hawker culture in the list, Singapore is promising to do more to preserve and promote it. Every six years Singapore must submit a report to Unesco. This is to detail the steps it has taken to preserve our hawker culture for future generations. Here’s hoping that’s respected.
The Covid impact…
This segment of F&B took quite a hammering during Covid and many fell to the wayside . Some were quick to adapt and offer takeout and deliveries, enabling them to survive.
The team at islifearecipe.net pride ourselves on supporting our hawkers during Covid. We wrote a lot of content to promote as many stalls as we could during the 2 years of Covid. Every little helps…
9 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Hawkers Asian Street Food Vendor
We have passion for eating at hawkers and attempting to help the sustainability of our hawkers at Islifearecipe. This gives us a certain ‘authority’ on hawkers. This, in turn, goes some way to confirm our 9 tips for choosing the perfect hawkers Asia street food vendor. Here we go.
Here are our nine tips to help you choose the perfect hawkers Asian street food vendor.
- Consider your budget.
With so many vendors to choose from, it can be hard to decide which is the best option for your budget. Don’t be afraid to ask around, even of the locals in the hawker center you have chosen. There are also online communities that can often provide valuable insight into what’s available in the area. Of course, there are food blogs like ours at Iselifearecipe.net and FoodyFreak.net.
Also when I say budget I mean within single-digit dollars. A great plate of food at a hawker will only set you back between $3-6 on average. Surely that’s within budget?
- Look for a vendor with a good reputation.
When it comes to choosing a hawkers Asian street food vendor, it’s important to consider their reputation. Do they have repeat customers? What are their reviews like? Try to find a vendor with a good rating online or in your local community.
Also, look for queues. Locals will queue for hours for their favourite dishes from their favourite stalls. Spot a queue, and join it. A picture paints a thousand words they say. A queue at a hawker will tell you where to eat.
- Consider the type of food you want.
Do you want an appetizing variety of snacks and drinks? Or do you prefer something more substantial? Consider what type of food you’re interested in before making your selection. We prefer to ‘tapas’ it buying many dishes and throwing them all in the middle for sharing. You get such a selection then, plus if you do dislike something you only waste on dish not your only dish.
- Be open-minded about where you eat.
One of the great things about Asian street food is that it can be eaten anywhere – at home, at work, or even on the go! If this is something that interests you, consider trying out different vendors before settling on one that’s perfect for you. but, again, be open-minded. Do not eat with your eyes first, rather trust your other senses.
For example, chicken feet might not float your boat. But believe me that is going to knock the Colonel onto the seat of his pants in a flavour competition any day of the week. Have an “I’ll give it a try” attitude, because you’ll never know until you try.
- Ask questions!
No matter how experienced you may think you are when it comes to Asian street food, there’s always room for improvement! If you have any questions about which vendor is best for you or if there are any specific items on their menu that pique your interest, don’t hesitate to ask!
Hawker food and recipes are usually 3 or 4 generation hand-downs and they take great pride in explaining their food and the history behind. But they will NEVER share every recipe ingredient because that’s the Hawker magic dust, it’s their IP.
Asking questions is key when it comes to finding Asian street food! Not only will this help you make better decisions about which vendor is right for you, it can also help put your family and friends at ease. They’ll know they can always ask if they have any questions!
- Use Social Media.
Another way to find the best vendors is through social media. Posting about your interest in Asian street food and asking others for suggestions is a great way to get started. In fact, we already subscribe and contribute to forums sites such Quora. You can also use social media to find out about vendor events. Plus any special happening happenings, hawker centre launches, revamps, and anything interesting.
A great example is our crew renting a food truck soon to cook toasted sarnies for a hawker event. Hey, it’s all about creating a buzz and footfall.
- Look For The Right Time Of Year.
Different vendors offer different types of food during different times of the year. If you’re looking for something appetizing, try out a vendor during the spring or summer months. If you want something more substantial, try out a vendor during the winter or fall months. This does align in the USA to the foods cooked aligned to the holidays.
This ‘behaviour’ is usually driven by access to produce. We see this changing now with new farming techniques. Plus international supply chains opening the world to buyers and normalising produce availability. I remember when ‘salad onions’ were called ‘Spring onions’, for obvious reasons.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Go Off-The-Beaten Path.
If some of these tips fail, don’t hesitate to go off the beaten path! There are often amazing vendors hiding in unexpected places. make sure to ask around because others living and working in the local area, city, and/or country may be able to point you in the right direction!
I have eaten in some places you’d likely feel uncomfortable. The power of body language and hand-gestures kicks in. You’ll sit, enjoying their food, drinking some beers. Likely giving some nods of appreciation (also to make it look like you are involved) and then they’ll treat you like a local. It’s true. It has happened to me.
5 hours later you’ll stumble out bloated from the beer and food you shared with tables of complete strangers. It’s infectious.
- Finally check reviews online.
Of course, as a food blog writer I would say to be sure to check online reviews before making your decision. Many times, people will post about vendors they didn’t actually enjoy – this can give you a heads up about which vendors to avoid. But food bloggers will give reviews of places they loved, it’s a human nature thing.
But of course, to caveat, your palate and preferences will be different to the next person so always take a review with balance. that balance is a blend of the other things we recommend here to find that perfect hawkers Asian street food.
One last thing to consider is price and hours of operation. Sometimes, you may be able to get a better deal if the vendor operates during off-peak hours. And remember – always respect the vendor’s space and time!
When choosing a hawker, it’s important to consider your own needs and preferences. If you’re looking for authentic Asian street food, then look no further than the hawkers in Singapore. Or find those authentic versions in your country of residence.
There are a few hawker centres in Singapore that you should visit if you’re looking for a must-try hawker centre. Check our hawker reviews on islifearecipe.net for more of that deep-dive.
You can find everything from Malaysian favourites like Nasi Lemak. To more familiar dishes like Singapore Chicken Rice and pork stalls serving up Char Siew Roast Pork in the many hawker centres. The food stalls at the hawker centre also offer a wide variety of local delicacies, such as Ice Kachang and Bee Hoon Soup. The hawker centre has food for everyone. Whether you’re looking for authentic Singaporean cuisine or something a little different.
I said we’d get back to our mate KF Seetoh, from Makansutra, and his new project that he started with Mr Anthony Bourdain. Now this is what you should choose if in New York City and craving Hawkers Asian street food. This concept is super-authentic with the 11 teams all originating from Singapore.
The project’s genesis can be traced back to 2013, when Seetoh and the late celebrity chef and author Anthony Bourdain met at the World Street Food Congress in Singapore. Later, before his death in 2018, Bourdain contacted Seetoh about opening a “Anthony Bourdain Market” featuring hawker fare in New York. Hey presto, the show must go on…
KF Seetoh recently stated on Facebook on Friday July 22;
“It’s heartening for the hawkers and us at Makansutra knowing the gahmen agencies got our backs in NYC and eager to jump in to help however whenever. Enterprise SG had been right beside us through pre-opening nitty gritties. Meandering through NYC authorities Singapore Tourism Board and SG Global Network are raring to jump in for post opening, events and media relations. A big thank you to them.
If not for their help, the delay would be way longer than necessary. The opening of Urban Hawker now looks to be in early Fall, early September. It will happen, and we will wok it!”
That gets my vote if I was desperate to try hawkers Asian street food in the USA for the new Urban Hawker food market, which will be located at 135 West 50th Street, near Times Square in Manhattan. On the list are halal burger joint Ashes Burnnit, Sembawang’s famed White beehoon chain and mod coffee stall Kopifellas.
Also front and centre are: Peranakan restaurant Daisy’s Dream, chicken rice experts Chicken Nice from Maxwell Food Centre, the iconic Dragon Phoenix (known for chilli crab and inventing the yam ring), Hokkien-style prawn noodle soup sellers Prawnaholic, Hainanese Western stall Smokin’ Joe, Malay and Indonesian cafe Padi@Bussorah, Indian stall Mamak’s Corner, and Mr Fried Rice.
Now, that is what you call a hawker line-up!!!
If you are visiting Singapore, get some reading done of islifearecipe.net and click that tab for our current list of in-depth hawker reviews. Or follow the 9 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Hawkers Asian Street Food Vendor. Get out there and explore. It’s actually our preference, and is how we get our new content day to day. Enjoy!!!