photo:A chicken rice meal served in a hawker centre

As the adage goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. In Singapore, one must dine at a hawker centre to truly experience the authenticity of local fare. A hawker centre is an open-spaced food complex that serves a plethora of inexpensive local dishes. An average meal costs approximately US$2.60.

According to the Health Promotion Board in Singapore, one third of Singaporeans consume food out of homes more than seven times a week1. 80 per cent of them purchase their meals from hawker centres more than once a week1. Previously, the food served in hawker centres were notoriously known to be greasy with saturated unhealthy oils and high in sodium content2. However, there have been massive changes implemented by the Singapore government to encourage hawker centres to serve healthier options that are less oily, lower in salt content and offer more vegetables to consumers. The Health Promotion Board aims to get forty per cent of hawker stalls to serve at least one healthier dish by 20192. To date, there are an estimated 13,000 hawker stalls across Singapore3.

Mee soto, one of Singaporeans’ favorite hawker dishes, has a light chicken broth, topped with noodles, shredded boiled chicken, beansprouts and chopped chives4. It clocks in less than 500 calories with a relatively low fat content. Chicken dumpling noodles are also considered healthy when the dumplings are steamed instead of fried3. A plate of chicken rice can be consumed healthily when the consumers opt for steamed chicken without fatty skin. By ordering the meal in this manner, diners trim down at least two grams of fat6.

The Health Promotion Board conducts frequent checks to ensure hawker stalls serve quality and healthy meals to consumers. For those who meet such standards, they will be awarded with a label to educate consumers that the stalls serve healthy meals below 500 calories3. This initiative by the government is part of the Healthier Dining Program, covering over 2,700 outlets in 60 hawker centres and 450 coffee shops island-wide3. Through this initiative, hawker stalls put in effort to provide healthier options to diners to obtain this label. Such measures include offering more vegetables without additional costs, steamed chicken instead of fried, wholegrain breads, brown rice and more6.

As such, diners can now consume their meals at ease knowing that they can dine healthily at the humble hawker centers without needing to burn a hole in their wallets.


1. Health Promotion Board. (2016). Making street food healthier in Singapore. [online] Available at: http://www.wpro.who.int/noncommunicable_diseases/about

2. The New Paper. (2017). Eating healthier at hawker centres. [online] Available at: http://www.tnp.sg/lifestyle/makan/eating-healthier-hawker-centres
3. The Straits Times. (2017). HPB serves up plan for healthier hawker food option. [online] Available at: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/health/hpb-serves-up-plan-for-healthier-hawker-food-option
4. Health Hub. (2017). Eating light at a hawker centre is possible.[online] Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1463/eating-light-at-a-hawker-centre-is-possible#footnotes
5. Health Hub. (2017). Healthy hawker hacks. [online] Available at: https://www.healthhub.sg/programmes/86/healthy-hawker-hacks
6. The Straits Times. (2017). How to eat healthier at hawker centres. [online] Available at: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/food/how-to-eat-healthier-at-hawker-centres