Want to know which hawkers keep prices low despite rising costs? Now there’s an easy way to search for them.

Ever wanted to know which places offer the cheapest Chicken Rice, Wanton Mee, or Laksa? Now you can easily find your nearest budget hawker dishes with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) pilot online directory. The ministry database includes food items and prices from 103 hawker centres from the second quarter of this year.

Just go to their search site here, choose from 22 popular hawker dishes and your desired location, and it will display search results of hawker food priced at or below the 30th percentile price of the food type surveyed.

hawker directory Here are some of the results I found to be interesting:

  1. The lowest price for most hawker dishes is $2, but the following dishes are the exception and cost below $2:
  • Roti Prata 1 piece of “kosong” $0.60
  • Porridge (peanut) $0.70
  • Nasi Lemak set meal $0.90
  • Mee Goreng $1.30
  • Vegetarian Bee Hoon $1.40
  • Mee Siam $1.50
  • Fried Kway Teow $1.50
  1. The least expensive Nasi Padang and Duck Rice was $2.20 and $2.50, respectively.
  2. There are only 2 dishes at/below the 30th percentile price in the “Orchard, Cairnhill, River Valley” region: Nasi Padang at $3 and Mee Goreng at $3.

The listing also includes photos so when you arrive at the stall, you know you’re at the right place. So far, the website has had more than 15,000 unique visits since its launch last month. I’m not sure how often they will update the price list, but if you find a price discrepancy, you can email the details to MTI. Please note that one of the hawker centres (Blk 17, Upper Boon Keng Road Hawker Centre) was excluded because it was undergoing renovations during the time of the survey.

2 Comments on Where to Find a Meal for Under $1

  1. Thank you for this post. I will investigate.

    Singapore is the only place in the world that I know of where it is much cheaper to eat out (at food hawker courts of course, not restaurants usually) than it is to buy groceries and cook at home. In Thailand, Malaysia and especially Vietnam and Cambodia I save a lot of money by buying produce at local outdoor markets (literally on the street or maybe at a supermarket) and cooking at home.

    But in Singapore, the opposite is true. Perhaps it is because of the huge variety of healthy food products in Singapore tempt me to buy Lithuanian probiotic cheese, Turkish figs and other luxury items.

    But during my five recent days in Singapore staying at a friend’s flat, I spent $20-23 per day shopping at Fair Price. What is going on here? Mostly I just bought fruit and veggies, nuts and seeds. Cheese is more expensive here in Johor and poorer quality in the boondocks where I live. But it doesn’t seem to matter what or where I shop in Singapore – to keep a healthy kitchen it seems to costs me a million dollars compared to everywhere else in Asia except Japan. Even Taiwan is affordable by comparison.

    Yet, eating out is relatively cheap versus the high standards of the country.

    Is it the rental prices of grocers versus food stalls, the high health standards that require so much government oversight (and taxes) for restaurants? Or is there some supply and demand issue I do not understand? In Thailand many apartments have no kitchens because it is cheaper to eat out. I lived in Chiang Mai for six months and never cooked one meal at home.

    Another ‘weird’ thing about Singapore (compared to say, Vancouver) and I quite prefer Singapore in this regard – is that under my friend’s gov’t housing block, not segregated in another area, but literally underneath, are many simple restaurants. Many more than supermarkets and grocers. It is as if the gov’t or the culture actively discourages people cooking at home. There is no incentive.

    The other question I have is why South Asian food (Indian, especially Tamil) is ghettoized. I see Indians and Bangladeshis all over the place, yet try finding non-halal Indian food in a food court.Good luck! It is even worse in Malaysia but there are political reasons for this here – bumiputra policies where non-Malays pay higher rent (I think). In Singapore I understand there is a free and secular market. Indians eat like everybody else. Why aren’t they represented in hawker centers? All I ever see is mamak (Indian Muslim?) places.

    I am vegetarian. Singapore is paradise compared to Malaysia in this regard. However,as I wrote Indian food, especially vegetarian Indian food, appears to me to be concentrated only in certain areas.

  2. correction…

    I wrote… “the high health standards that require so much government oversight (and taxes) for restaurants?”

    I meant in *grocery stores*, because apparently places that serve food are less tightly controlled than in Canada. Of course, Singapore has basic health inspections. You can be level A, or B (is there a C?)

    But in Canada, everyone I knew who operated a restaurant lived in fear of the health inspectors who were petty dictators with a lot of discretion. One had to have all sorts of ridiculous high level of hygiene as if operating a lab instead of a simple eatery.

    Canada is not business-friendly. We get regulated to death. But supermarkets should be the same more reasonable standards in Singapore as restaurants. I do not understand what is going on.

    Why is it cheaper to eat out?
    And do Singaporeans health suffer because of this?

    I started a new style of eating that I call ‘I buy you cook’, where I buy veggies then take it to any cheap eatery and say ‘will you cook this for me?’ It is not cheaper than eating a normal restaurant meal, but I get exactly what I want, as I control the ingredients (no meat, no MSG, no sugar etc). I do this only in third world countries.

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