New York’s first Singapore-style hawker center opens in Midtown next week

September 20, 2022

Image courtesy of Max Flatow

After nearly five years of planning, the city’s first Singaporean hawker center is set to open next week. Created by Urbanspace and KF Seetoh, who is the founder of Makansutra and operator of numerous food courts in Singapore, the Urban Hawker food hall will feature 17 vendors offering a diverse variety of cuisines, including 11 Singapore-based vendors. Located at 135 West 50th Street, the market officially opens to the public on Wednesday, September 28, operating daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“At Urban Hawker, we have a great range of international flavors that we’re excited to present to New York’s diverse and curious palates and people,” Seetoh said. “I have always believed that our hawker food will be well-liked by the world. Why? Because it’s just good, humble heritage fare that the world will love, too.”

The vendors selected for Urban Hawker offer cuisines like Malay, Chinese, Peranakan, Indian, and more. Some of the market’s vendors are making their debut in the United States, including the following Singapore-based vendors:

  • Wok & Staple is a unique Chinese eatery offering classics with a Singaporean twist. They created culinary favorites like the Sambal Chili Crab, Yam Basket, and Kyoto Pork Ribs, a delicacy that has since become a standard item in most of Singapore’s Chinese restaurants.
  • White Restaurant is best known as the restaurant that created white bee hoon, a combination of rice noodles with fresh prawns, squid, vegetables, and chicken stock. They also offer side dishes like pork wontons and fried ginger wings.
  • Daisy’s Dream serves home-cooked Singaporean Peranakan classics with a focus on authenticity. Menu highlights include curry chicken, nasi lemak, and laksa, a traditional coconut curry rice noodle dish. The establishment was created by Daisy Tan, who at the age of 60 decided opening a restaurant was her ideal retirement plan.
  • Mr. Fried Rice has 13 locations throughout Singapore, each offering made-to-order wok-fried rice. Customers can include a selection of proteins with their rice, including pork chops, crispy fish, teriyaki grilled salmon, crab meat, and more. They also offer fried udon.
  • Hainan Jones is known for its Hainanese Chicken Rice, one of Singapore’s most popular local dishes. Hainan Jones was created by KF Seetoh to promote “heritage street food worldwide,” for which the top chicken rice masters from Singapore were brought in.
  • Kopifellas is a modern coffee shop that first opened in Singapore in 2007. The shop grinds its beans on-site daily and offers customers the ability to customize their drinks with different kinds of milk, sweetness levels, and more. Besides coffee, they also offer boba and tea. Food options include tea with toast and soft-boiled eggs.
  • Ashes Burnnit has made its name with signature items like the grilled satay chicken burger, crispy fried fish burger, Asian slaw, and signature peanut sauce. The Urban Hawker location will offer Roti John, a Singaporean sandwich made of a spicy omelet and minced meat.
  • Prawnaholic Collections is a prawn noodle shop offering its own take on the classic dish. Created by Alan Choong, the food stall offers a signature twist on the dish with torched pork belly, crispy pork lard, prawns, fish cake, and ajitsuke tamago. Other menu items include wok-fried prawn noodles, fried oyster omelets, and torched sesame pork rib ramen.
  • Padi D’NYC was created by childhood friends Hashim Ali and Slaiman Rahman and offers signature Singaporean dishes offered in a communal dining setting. Their New York location will offer items like homemade peanut sauce, beef rendang, and mee rebus, a yellow egg noodle soup with dried baby shrimp, fermented soybean paste, herbs, spices, and garnishes.
  • Mamak’s Corner offers Singaporean-Indian cuisine with items like dosas, and saffron basmati rice served with chicken, lamb, or fish curry. They also offer customers a variety of rotis which can be filled with chicken or lamb curry. The rotis are made fresh for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Smokin’ Joe is a build-your-own food stall offering customers Hainan Western dishes inspired by cuisine inherited from the British colonial era in Singapore. Menu items include curry rice with sauteed vegetables, fries, mesclun salad, and baked beans. Other items include grilled chicken, fish cutlets, and cheese sauce.

Other Urban Hawker vendors include Lady Wong, a pastry shop focused on Nanyang flavors, Jakarta Munch, offering Indonesian rice and salad bows, and Sling Bar, a 30-seat cocktail bar offering a seasonal menu of gin-focused drinks. Additionally, Yum Yubu will offer rice stuffed in fried bean curds, Dim Sum Darling will offer dumplings and spring rolls, and Tradisyon will offer Filipino comfort food.

In 2015, Urbanspace and Seetoh collaborated with the late Anthony Bourdain to bring the food center to life, but Bourdain withdrew his proposal after the project failed to acquire a lease. Nearly four years later, Urbanspace and Seetoh revived the plans for the food market.

It was first announced last November that the Singaporean food hall would be opening in a recently renovated office building designed by Emery Roth and Sons that is near major tourist attractions like Times Square, Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park.


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