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Having been around since the early 1800s, the earliest hawker stalls in Singapore sprung from the earnest effort of migrants looking to survive. Today, in 2022, they are an integral part of its food legacy. Hawker centres symbolize the impact of diversity on the F&B world – as they have been responsible for even helping evolve the tastebuds of Singaporeans. In the process, they have also been a magnet for holidaying foodies, as they showcase an extravagant array of local and international cuisines. In fact, even tour guides and tourism websites put hawker centres on top of the list of 'must-visit' spots in Singapore.
Now, let's take a closer look at why the hawker centres of Singapore deserve all the attention they get.
Hawkers are a part of every Singaporean's life, serving a diverse and exciting variety of affordably delicious food for people on the go. But what truly sets hawkers apart is the authentic taste of the cuisines they look to preserve. They bring their own traditions to these dishes, as every plate is a representation of the place they are from. In that sense, a simple visit to a hawker's stall is a gateway to experiencing history and culture. Also, given the uniqueness of multiple cuisines in one location, these hawker centres attract locals and tourists alike.
The fact is that 7 out of 10 Singaporeans eat out every day. While juggling their busy lifestyle, most Singapore residents prefer to dine out for convenience. Most prefer to save themselves from multiple cooking steps, whether a snack between breaks or a meal during the day. The best part of hawker centres is that their timings are convenient for working-class people, So they can grab a meal anytime they get a break. Also, since there are also many hawker centres in different parts of the island, no matter what Singaporeans live - some option or the other is accessible to them.
Who would want to visit expensive restaurants regularly and drain their wallets regardless of net worth? Obviously, the low prices available at hawker centres are a huge selling point. But they are no indication of the quantity and quality of food one is likely to get. The best part of such places is that whether a student, a salaried employee or a millionaire, one can get a satisfying meal - anywhere from $3 to $7.
Being a multi-cuisine food court, one can visit and relish delicacies while enjoying a casual and great ambience. Unlike other eateries, hawker centres are meant to keep away the hustle-bustle of streets – giving customers a comfy, well-lit, and airy place to dine in peace while having a spirited conversation. Also, since the food stalls are given grades per the government's guidelines, these centres are expected to follow mandatory protocols to ensure proper food hygiene and quality.
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In the future, Singapore's hawker centres will continue to be a popular option because people's expectations for efficient, affordable, and hygienic dining experiences are unlikely to change. And why would it, when there are so many new stalls to visit, dishes to try, and cultures to experience?