If you’re in Singapore, one of the more accessible hawker places is the Newton Food Center. Located at the MRT Station Newton, the Newton Food Center is a mere 3 minutes walk from the subway.
Merely go out of the Newton MRT Station via the Newton Food Center Exit (There are signs), follow the shaded pathway, cross the street and you’re there.
Newton Food Center is one of the most touristy hawker centers in Singapore. The prices are slightly more expensive than the rest, but some dishes are extra yummy, and I still think is worth a trip.
Photo Credit: Smart Local
Here are 10 practical tips in visiting Newton Food Center and to get the authentic Singapore hawker experience:
1. It gets really hot so wear light clothing: Shorts, Cotton T-Shirts, Etc.
Going to a hawker center is not the same as going to an air-conditioned fashion show. Prepare to sweat, line up, and mill with crowds from all income levels.
This was the scene on a Saturday night:
The place was full, full and FULL! It doesn’t help that Newton Food Center was featured in Crazy Rich Asians. Remember this?
Photo Credit: Crazy Rich Asians
It was hard to get a table especially with a bigger group (We were a group of 7-8 pax), but eventually we did if your eyes are keen and you’re willing to stand and wait for awhile:
Eventually you will get seats, but once again, dress down instead of up. It’s harder to wait when you’re in a neoprene dress and sky high heels.
2. Seats are actually free for all.
You actually DO NOT have to order from the food stall in front of your seat even though it’s ideal.
My husband was pressured to order from the hawker stall in front of our seat and was somewhat scammed because the vendor insisted he had to purchase a minimum order to seat on the table.
This is NOT true.
You are not obliged to order from any specific stall if you sit on a table. Vendors know this so don’t feel pressured if you want to order from other stores.
3. Before ordering, make a one round trip around the hawker center to get an idea about what to get and where.
There are so many stalls to choose from at the Newton Food Center. It’s so easy to get confused and to wonder what and where to order.
However, a quick trip around the center shows a lot of redundancy. For example, despite the sheer number of stalls, the most popular food stalls sell the same food as the following:
- Chili Crab and Seafood with Baby Veggies
- Oyster Cake & Carrot Cake
- Chicken Wings and Satay
- Indian Food
- Noodles: Char Kway Teow, Prawn Mee, Fishball Noodle Soup
- Juices and Drinks
This means that many of the stalls serve practically the same food, and every stall actually has a minimum standard to taste, so despite the confusion, just pick a stall. Any stall. Given that it’s Newton Food Center, you’ll still be okay regardless of which stall to choose.
4. Despite the redundancy, some food stalls are more popular than others.
This is what my local friend said about ordering in hawker centers:
When I asked my friend what to get, she said that most locals usually order in the stalls where the lines are longer. Their sense is that the more delicious the food, the more popular it is, hence the lines.
You can also do some minimum research on what type of stalls are more popular. Stalls are numbered by numbers posted on the signboard as follows:
5. Bring wet wipes.
Yes, there’s a clean toilet at the end of the Newton Food Center. There are a lot of washing basins too. It is in this area that you can also refill your water.
However, it’s safer to bring wet wipes with you especially when eating seafood. Better safe than sorry! 🙂
6. Stalls will deliver your paid ordered food to your seat, so REMEMBER YOUR TABLE NUMBER.
Every table has a number which you need to remember. It’s printed on the side of the table.
When ordering on multiple stalls, hawkers will deliver the cooked food to the table once you give them instructions on where your table is.
See? Check out the table number written on the plates that were delivered in our table #202:
It’s a lot easier than carrying plates of food. Just let them do it for you.
7. Never order food that does NOT indicate a fixed price.
My husband didn’t know and ordered the grilled tiger prawn from the stall in front of our table. They charged him SGD13 (Php 500) PER PRAWN, with a minimum order of 4 tiger prawns.
This was what Php 2,000 looked like — not only was it dry, it was also freaking expensive.
Locals will always tell you: Never order anything that’s not fixed price. The vendors may cheat on the weight of the food, and overcharge you on the order.
And of course, once the food is on time table, you have no choice but to pay it. Very important, only order fixed price items.
8. If you’re ordering a non-fixed price item — say, Chili Crab, make sure you determine the price first when making the order.
Apparently, Chili Crab is worth SGD40-50 depending on kilo/size. While our tiger prawns was SGD 53 for four pieces, a Chili Crab will average around SGD 45-55 per order, which makes it very worthwhile to have:
Photo Credit: GastronomicWanders Blog
Indicate the total price to pay before ordering and paying so there’s no misunderstandings once it’s cooked. Order some delicious mantou to wipe the sauce with.
9. Almost everything was good: Here’s what we ordered from the best to the worst:
When you’re at the Newton Food Center, order the Cockles, Satay Sting Ray and Chicken Wings. They were the best dishes we had when we ate there.
This plates of Cockles (SGD 10/order) was cheap, and was the best dish we had along with the satay sting ray. It was best eaten with chili sauce:
Another best dish was the Satay Sting Ray worth SGD10-15 depending on the size. It was tender, perfectly cooked and very flavorful. Apparently, this is one of Newton Food Park’s specialty. Please order it:
The third best dish was the Chicken Wings, which was around SGD 1.4 each. Eaten with a dash of calamansi, the chicken feet rounded up the best three dishes at Newton Food Center:
Here were the consolation prizes:
Satay — Pork, Chicken, Mutton, worth SGD0.70 each (Minimum of 10 pcs):
Oyster cake worth either SGD6/8/10 depending on size:
Fried Dark Carrot Cake worth SGD3-5:
Char Kway Teow:
And Hokkien Prawn Mee:
For the drinks, the Soursop Juice is to die for. I would go over and over again for the Soursop Juice. My juice had bits and pieces of Soursop. Very authentic.
10. Out of courtesy, especially on peak periods, vacate the table/seats when you’re finished eating.
The busy Hawker Center is not the best place to hang out and make tambay especially after finishing your meal. Especially during peak hours, so many other guests are standing by and waiting for the next available seat:
If you want to talk to your friend, go to the coffee shop or the mall. But especially during peak hours, while it’s okay to eat leisurely, please vacate the table for the next guest to sit in once you’ve finished and somewhat digested your food.
It’s just the courteous thing to do.
Come and visit the Newton Food Center in Singapore when you visit Singapore. Start with this center first and go and visit the rest. It’s a great introduction to a hawker experience when you visit Singapore.