Hawker Foods That Are Good For You

Hawker Foods That Are Good For You

With our expert tips, you can now dig into these dishes without guilt. By Estelle Low

The hawker centre is every weight-watchers’ nightmare. You’re confronted with all sorts of fat-laden food: char kway teow, chicken rice, laksa, Hokkien fried mee, nasi lemak, Indian rojak… Thankfully, less sinful and equally sumptuous options exist, so there’s no need to swear off everything. You can choose from the lesser evil of the hawker dishes, or just go for these five dishes which are considerably lower in fat and sodium – culprits of obesity and related diseases – and higher in protein and fibre, the building blocks of a healthy diet.

We got two experts – Jaclyn Reutens, clinical dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants, and Jolyn Wong, dietitian at Dayspring Corporate Wellness – to reveal their best ordering and eating strategies. Consider your hawker food dilemma resolved!

1. Hawker Foods Good for You: Teochew Porridge

Similar to economical rice, you choose a few sides to go with a bowl of watery congee. The dishes may be pre-cooked or prepared a la minute. Steamed fish, minced pork, braised duck, salted egg, tofu and stewed vegetables are common options. “You can easily achieve a balanced meal if you select the dishes carefully,” says Jaclyn.

Teochew Porridge


What to order? “When dining with a friend, I’d order two vegetable dishes – preferably dark, leafy greens – plus a fish. Any fish is fine, as long as it’s not deep fried. Each diner should get a palm-sized serving of fish.”

How to choose? “Pick steamed or lightly stir-fried food. Avoid battered stuff, like sweet and sour pork, or dishes with a thick layer of oil on the gravy’s surface.”

How to make it healthier? “Stint on the condiments, especially the fermented soya beans which add unnecessary sodium to the meal. A bit of chilli for taste is fine.”

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