The subject of local food in Singapore is a tricky thing – you can never be too sure if what we claim originates from Singapore is actually a rejigged version of another culture’s signature dish. This is not the time to get involved in another one of those ‘so-and-so-dish-is-ours-so-stop-hijacking-it’ sagas (hello, chilli crab), so let’s just call this roundup what it is – eight of the best places in the city for satay, a long-time Singaporean favourite. Warning: not all’s halal.
Chai Ho Satay & Dried Pork
Possibly the cheapest non-halal satays in Singapore
You’re lucky if you live in Clementi, because really, everything you’ll ever need from a basic satay stall is at Chai Ho Satay & Dried Pork. We hear this charcoal grill-based stall sell bak kwa (barbecued meat) too during the festive season (hence the name) but it’s the photo-worthy glistening pork and chicken skewered meats that can send satay lovers over the edge. Unless you come on an off day, they are usually merely slightly charred. If it is overdone, place another order – at $0.38 per stick, these are probably the cheapest in Singapore.
Chuan Kee Satay
Long queues for pork satay
An Old Airport Road favourite, Chuan Kee is famous for their pork satay – succulent skewered meats, sandwiching a luscious piece of lard if you’re lucky. This, and their equally juicy chicken satay, is served with a bowl of thick and tangy sauce made delicious with grated pineapple. Chuan Kee also sells bak kwa and mutton satay (all satays, $0.40-$0.50 per stick), though the latter hasn’t been sighted in a while. Be prepared to get through half of your meal before the satay arrives – the queue and overall waiting time here knock the rest out of the ballpark.
Fu Dao Home Made Satay
Fu Dao Home Made Satay's stall front
Black pepper satay
This is another you’ll have to get in line for, though the queue won’t take as long as Chuan Kee Satay’s. About four years on, Fu Dao still draws a crowd with its one-of-a-kind, satay crusted with black pepper – smoky, spicy chunks of either chicken or pork meat make for interesting, feisty bites. Their standard pork and chicken satay (all satays, $0.50 per stick) are tasty too; tender and slightly honeyed. The peanut sauce could probably do with more texture, but really, that’s extraneous.
How Fu Dao keeps their satay
sauce warm | Photo:
Haron 30 Satay
CRITICS’ PICK | HALAL
Smoky, generous skewers with spicy peanut sauce
The award-winning stall at the East Coast Lagoon Food Village is known for its tasty and generously-portioned beef, mutton or chicken satay ($0.60 per stick), so expect to wait awhile for your turn. The marinade, an umami blend of spices like cumin, lemongrass and turmeric, is not something you can easily find anywhere else. Made even better with tender, smoky meats that bite off the skewer with ease, as well as spicy homemade peanut sauce, the entire experience is many gastronomic thumbs up.
Old Punggol Satay
Lard-laced satays at three outlets island-wide
Such lip-smackingly good satay, it’s no wonder that Old Punggol has got more than one outlet (our latest count reveal three island-wide). They’ve got chicken, pork and mutton ($0.50 per stick), and you can just about taste the lard on each skewer, so stay away if you’re on a diet. The charred bits of meat add a touch of bitterness that we enjoyed but if you’re worried about that, you shouldn’t be patronising this stall at all.
Fu Dao's satay is a little charred, a little sweet, a
lot of sauce | Photo:
The ultimate pork belly satay
Kwong Satay’s relatively new pork belly satay ($0.80 per stick) – debuted at the Ultimate Hawkers Festival – is to die for. Twice the size of its original pork loin satay ($0.40 per stick), the meat is juicy and slathered with flavourful Asian spices like cumin, coriander and the real treat, saffron. Like at Chuan Kee, the peanut sauce contains pineapple, but Kwong fans are known to brush it off – the satay here is too good on its own.
Soon Lee Heng Satay
Best for a satay barbecue at home
It won’t be easy to find the stall – having unit numbers doesn’t really help when many of the stalls don’t show theirs clearly and Soon Lee’s signage is inconspicuously propped up in their food display. When you do find it though, cross your fingers and hope you’re in time to order copious amounts of their juicy, slightly sweet pork satay, which is known to run out before dinner hits. Alternatively order these raw for a satay barbecue at home.
Beef tripe satay
One of the better halal satay stalls in Singapore, Zaiton offers beef, beef tripe, mutton and chicken ($0.60 per stick). While all the meats are juicy and tender, the beef tripe is especially moorish. Its peanut sauce stands on its own as it’s nice and thick, and a little spicy.