Youths react to Singapore’s hawker culture being added onto UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list

Youths share their thoughts on this culinary heritage milestone.

Jeremy Na

Just like that Khalid song, Young, dumb and broke. Ok maybe not dumb but definitely the other two.

Published: 17 December 2020, 6:20 PM

Hawker centres have always been a key part of our Singaporean heritage. From endless rows of food from different cultures, to the buzz of chatty diners enjoying their meal under the same roof, you won’t find the same warmth and sense of welcome in some fancy Italian restaurant.

But it’s not just about the atmosphere. It’s also about the hawker culture

Despite having gone through some rough spots through 2020, our hawker community has finally received good news as it was successfully inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

We spoke to some youths to find out what exactly about Singapore’s hawker culture are they most proud of.


From traditional cuisines to fusion, our hawker centres have something for everyone. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM/@SGHAWKERCULTURE

Part of a shared identity

“The hawker food in Singapore is very unique and special, and it’s also a culture that most, if not all, Singaporeans share as we all frequently eat at hawker centres. I think it’s very heartwarming that the hawkers are also getting recognition for all their hard work. 

“There used to be a wanton noodle store in Bishan and I used to go there all the time as a kid. It was my favourite store for the longest time due to the sense of nostalgia it brought me.” – Tia, 19, student.

Diversity of cuisines and cultures

“What I like the most about hawker culture in Singapore is really the diversity of food from so many cuisines, which I feel sort of reflects our country’s diversity. It’s like hawker culture is mirroring Singapore’s social fabric but with food instead.

“My favourite hawker centre is East Coast Park Hawker Centre. I love the sambal stingray, satay and zi char there.” Venkat, 19, student


Hawker centres are still buzzing with people during COVID-19. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/JAI

Swiftly prepared and reasonably priced

“Dining at a hawker centre is always fast and cheap and that is something I appreciate, you don’t have to wait too long for the food neither is it overpriced.

“My favourite hawker place is Ci Yuan Hawker Centre at Hougang Avenue 9 and my favourite dish to order is definitely pork chop curry rice from the Hainanese curry rice stall!” – Ryan, 19, student.


The beauty of hawker centres lie in their affordable yet tasty dishes. PHOTO CREDIT: NAURIS PUKIS VIA UNSPLASH


“I actually appreciate the cleanliness of the hawker centres in Singapore. It’s well maintained and they have regular cleaning which allows us to enjoy the good food comfortably.

“I really like the Aspirasi Chicken Rice stall at Seah Im Food Centre. I usually get the sambal chicken rice because of the crunchy bits of batter that it comes with.“ – Muhammad Aqil, 23, fitness professional.

Under one roof

“Singapore’s hawker centres are one of the only places in the world where you can find cuisines coming from different ethnic groups all in one place.

“My favourite hawker place is the one in Chong Pang and there is this ayam penyet shop. I will always buy their nasi goreng ayam penyet,” – Kishanntini, 20, Student


Written by Jeremy Na, Ardini Insyirah and Meagan Goh

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