Thosai that melts in the mouth
Spurred by her dying mother's last words to her and her siblings - 'be ambitious and start your own business together', Mrs A. Sarasvathi (front, with her sister), 37, quit her administrative job 10 years ago. She then started a South Indian eatery with her older brother, younger sister and cousin. Her stall's crispy paper-thin thosai is famous for its melt-in-the mouth quality.
Sakunthala's Restaurant, 151 Dunlop Street, 9.30am to 11pm daily, Paper thosai: $2.20
Lemon is key to great banana fritters
In the 1950s, Mr Corlinn Lim's father formulated a recipe for banana fritters that drew crowds to their old stall in Somerset Road. The younger Lim, 46, however, kept improving on it. He replaced the lime slices that were added to the frying oil with lemon. This makes the fritters taste more fragrant.
Lim Kee (Orchard) Banana Fritters, Stall 61 Maxwell Food Centre, 11am to 8pm daily, Banana fritter: $1 a piece
Lard is the secret to his char kway teow
Mr Ho Kian Tat, 51, can't help it if he frowns when he fries his char kway teow. 'When I'm cooking, I can't be distracted.' His noodles have won him a following among several VIPs including politicians. He insists on using lard in his noodles for its fragrance, but is open to requests for less oil.
No 18 Fried Kway Teow, Stall 17 Zion Riverside Food, Centre, Noon to 2.30pm and 6.30pm to 11pm, closed alternate Mondays, Char kway teow: $3/$4/$5
He uses good vinegar for his bak chor mee
Mr Tang Chai Chye, 54, inherited his late father's Teochew bak chor mee recipe in 1975 and has been selling the dish since. In 2005, he shared the recipe with his son, who opened his own stall at Hong Lim Food Centre. Mr Tang says the secret to his noodles lies in the quality of the black vinegar he uses.
High Street Tai Wah Pork Noodle, 12 Prince Edward Road #01-16, Bestway Building, Meeting Point Food Court, 9am to 3pm, closed Sundays and public holidays, Bak chor mee: $4/$5
Peranakan fare cooked by Cantonese
He's known for dishing up authentic Peranakan favourites like ayam buah keluak. But Mr Raymond Ou Yong, 44, is not a Peranakan. The Cantonese learnt his skills from his Hainanese father-in-law, who in turn was taught by his father, the restaurant's founder Yap Chee Kwee. Mr Ou Yong says the key to winning over his sceptics is keeping an open mind to feedback from his Peranakan guests.
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant, 214 Joo Chiat Road, 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 9pm, closed Tuesdays, Ayam buah keluak: $8/$15/$22
Popiah skin must be tender
A good roll of popiah is measured by two things, says Mr Ng Ann Kee (with his wife), 69, who's been making them for more than 30 years. One, the ingredients must be sufficiently crunchy and, no, you can't cheat by using peanuts. His nut-free version relies on a special fish batter. Two, the popiah skin must be so thin, it melts in the mouth. Judging by the crowd he gets, he's got both down pat.
Old Long House Popiah, Block 22 Toa Payoh Lorong 7 #01-03, 6am to 5pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays, Popiah: $1
Chwee kueh that even New Yorkers eat
Madam Goh Seoh Eng (with her husband), 62, was one of 12 hawkers chosen to cook at the Singapore Day event in New York earlier this year. The secret to the smoothness of her chwee kueh, or rice flour cakes, is using boiling water when making the cake batter. She also uses chai po (pickled radish bits) only from a particular part of China, which she won't reveal, because they are especially crunchy.
Siang Siang Chwee Kueh, Block 85 Bedok North Street 4 #01-247, Fengshan Market & Food Centre, 7.30am to 6pm, closed Mondays and Tuesdays, Chwee kueh: 4 for $1
Salad is the draw at nasi padang stall
When her husband suddenly died 20 years ago of a heart attack, Madam Hajjah Mona, 65, was left to run the family's nasi padang stall alone. She would rise at 4.30am daily and toil for more than 12 hours at the stall. While her two sons have since taken over the running of the stall, she still sticks around to ensure that the quality of the food is consistent. The stall's crunchy and spicy salad, urap, which is made with bean sprouts and various herbs, is a highly addictive appetiser.
Hajjah Mona Nasi Padang, #01-301 Geylang Serai Temporary Market, 7.30am to 7.30pm, closed Wednesdays, Nasi Ambeng set meal: $3/$4
He adds corn to fried Hokkien mee stock
Mr Alex See's father, who was a fried Hokkien noodle seller, used to tell his sons to cook their own dinners if they were hungry. And when they did, he would taste and critique their cooking. For the last seven years, Mr See, 57, has been cooking for a living. While his recipe is largely passed down from his father, he adds sweet corn to enhance the freshness of his seafood stock.
Geylang Lorong 29 Fried Hokkien Mee, 396 East Coast Road, Food R Us Coffeeshop, 11.30am to 9.30pm, closed Mondays, Fried Hokkien mee: $4
He loves eating rojak, so he sells it
He had no experience selling food but Mr Cheng Kong Sang (with his wife), 76, liked eating rojak so much that he decided to open his own stall selling it in 1971. It's been more than 30 years and he still keeps things traditional by grilling his dough fritters over charcoal just before it is served. And it is the plates of warm rojak he serves that have won him a big following.
Toa Payoh Rojak, Block 51 #01-108 Old Airport Road Hawker Centre, Noon to 8pm, closed Sundays, Rojak: $2/$3/$4/$5
Fire control for good carrot cake
Watching Mr Ngerng Mui Choo, 57, rhythmically frying his carrot cake with two spatulas can be entertaining. But the real excitement comes when you sink your teeth into his firm and well-seared radish cakes. Mr Ngerng, who has been toiling at his nameless stall for more than 20 years, says the secret is good control of the strength of the fire.
Carrot Cake, Block 107 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 #01-164 Soon Seng Restaurant, 6pm to 11.45pm daily, Carrot cake: $1.50/$2/$3
Generous portions in his lor mee
When Mr Lim Chong Teck, 50, was an apprentice under his father, who sold lor mee from a pushcart back in the 1960s, he didn't like how his father would scrimp on ingredients. So when he opened his own stall 30 years ago, he vowed to serve his customers lor mee topped with fried snapper fish, stewed egg and fatty pork. A smart move, judging by the queues at his stall.
Xin Mei Xiang, Block 51 #01-116 Old Airport Road Hawker Centre, 7am to 2.30pm, closed Thursdays, Lor mee: $3/$4