Singaporeans love their food.
From hawker centres to food courts, a diverse menu of dishes and cuisines form the staple of the Singaporean diet. But how many calories do these popular hawker dishes contain?
Once you know that, you can make more informed choices when you’re spoilt for choice the next time at a food centre.
Here’s some nutritional info and the calories for 10 hawker food favourites:
1. Chicken Rice
Pandan-infused rice topped with steamed chicken and a side of cucumbers. This Singaporean comfort food packs nostalgia and fragrance. Usually paired with a bowl of soup, (Hainanese) Chicken Rice is the go-to dish when Singaporeans are feeling a little homesick. And who can forget about the spicy garlic chili? This dish ranks as one of the healthier hawker dishes out there. But go for the steamed chicken if you want something less greasy.
Calorie count: 607 kcal (roasted chicken); 550kcal (steamed chicken)
2. Nasi Briyani
Often paired with a side of food-coma, the fragrant and hearty Nasi Briyani with Chicken is loaded with aroma, flavour and satisfaction. More often than not, this carb-heavy dish will often leave you fatigued after your indulgence – consider yourself warned. The spice-infused basmati rice tends to be the culprit, so don’t force yourself to finish all the rice if you can’t. Otherwise, treat yourself to a Nasi Briyani once in a while, but not too frequent if you still want to do work after lunch, haha.
Calorie count: 887 kcal
3. Char Kway Teow
Ai hum mai? (Cockles in your dish for you?) Who doesn’t love a pipping hot plate of Char Kway Teow with cockles and Chinese sausage? This wok-fried delicacy has been a staple of Singaporean cuisine, and is a blend of kway teow noodles, sweet dark sauce, eggs and other lovely additions. This dish is also one of the more oily ones in the hawker centres, so take note!
Calorie count: 744 kcal
4. Nasi Lemak
From Changi Village to Chong Pang and Boon Lay, Nasi Lemak is well-loved by Singaporeans and tourists all over the country. Who can resist the warmth and hospitality of the makcik (Malay for “Auntie”) behind the counter as she serves up your fragrant, fluffy coconut rice with a side of fried chicken wings, eggs, ikan bilis, and the all-necessary sambal chili? This versatile dish can be eaten any time of the day, and comes with guaranteed satisfaction and happiness. If you want to avoid the grease, perhaps switch out the fried chicken wing for another dish like a fish fillet.
Calorie count: 696 kcal
5. Fishball Noodles
Savoury noodles with bouncy fishballs — we’re talking fishball noodles. Whether with chili or not, this comforting meal has been on Singapore’s menu long enough to be regarded a classic. This dish has been widely regarded by health professionals as one of the healthier option from hawker centres and food courts. Adding on the soup only slightly adds on the calories. If you’re feeling not too famished, consider ordering this the next time!
Calorie count: 474 kcal (dry); 523 kcal (soup)
6. Mixed Economic Rice (Cai Fan, Chye Png)
“Auntie, I want this, that and those.” How many times have we been spoilt for choice in front of the expansive Cai Fan display? With hundreds of permutations and combinations to choose from every day, mixed economic rice (or Cai Fan) has become, arguably, the most important staple in hawker centres and food courts. Of course, how much calories the dish contains depends on the dishes you order. Rice with a side of one meat and two vegetables can constitute a rather healthy and nutritious meal!
Calorie count: 585 kcal (rice + one meat + two vegetables)
7. Ban Mian
Whether it is mee hoon kuey, ban mian, or mee sua, this hearty dish is a go-to for rainy days, or when you are feeling a little under the weather. The simple, old-school broth has just the right balance of sweet and salty. The noodles, if prepared right, is soft to the bite yet chewy on the inside. If you find yourself not drinking enough water throughout the day, maybe add some soupy dishes like this into your menu.
Calorie count: 475 kcal
8. Chicken Satay
Sometimes, the smoky aroma and the sizzle from the grill is too strong to simply walk by and resist. We usually end up with dozens of sticks of satay, brought to your table by the friendly hawker holding his rattan fan. This dish packs only some calories per stick, but we know you won’t stop at just one. Five sticks of chicken satay sets you back around 150 kilocalories – but that’s not including the peanut sauce and ketupat (rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves). Share it with your friends and family when you order it!
Calorie count: 150 kcal (five sticks, without sauce)
9. Kaya Butter Toast Set
It’s always a great way to start the morning with some kaya butter toast, soft-boiled eggs and a cup of kopi (coffee) or teh (tea). This traditional Singaporean breakfast has been well-loved by locals since the 1900s. Whether it’s from an air-conditioned Ya Kun, or your neighbourhood coffee shop, a kaya toast set is the classic breakfast choice for Singaporeans. For a slightly healthier option, opt for a steamed bun instead of toast!
Calorie count: 448 kcal
10. Roti Prata
Another well-loved breakfast item-cum-supper food is none other than Roti Prata. This versatile carb can be combined with many of our favourite ingredients – think Onion Prata, Cheese Hotdog Prata or even Ice Cream Prata. The more you add, the more sinful it gets too. Nonetheless, the classic plain and egg prata packs a reasonable amount of calories. Just try to resist adding sugar or too much curry to them.
Calorie count: 481 kcal (one egg and one plain prata, without curry)
The next time you visit your nearby hawker centre and be spoilt for choice, remember this list! Whether you want to go for something heavy and indulgent, or something lighter and healthier, there is sure to be a hawker stall ready to satisfy your day.
*Numbers vary from each stall. The amount and type of oil, ingredients and cooking methods all affect the total caloric count of each food item.
By Pinky Chng, May 2016 / Updated + Additional Reporting by Derrick Tan