Singapore: Follow Your Nose To Satay Street

For Singapore’s biggest outdoor BBQ, head to Boon Tat Street in the business district, more commonly known as Satay Street. 

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At 7pm each weeknight, and earlier on weekends, a traffic warden walks to the middle of Boon Tat Street, in the heart of Singapore’s business district, and abruptly closes the road to traffic.

Before the last car has even vanished from sight, tables and plastic stools are spread out in even rows across the road as smoke from kerbside charcoal pits billows into the night air.

Welcome to Satay Street, Singapore’s biggest outdoor barbecue, where you can smell the smoke long before you see it.

We came straight from Gardens By The Bay and took the MRT to Downtown station. We didn’t even need a map as we exited on Central Boulevard: we just followed our noses towards the Lau Pa Sat hawker centre between the skyscrapers at Raffles Quay.

You smell the smoke in the air long before you see it.

There you’ll find around 12 hawkers serving up a variety of grilled sticks – including chicken, mutton, beef and prawn – and each comes with a delicious satay dipping sauce.

Everything is cooked before your eyes over the special narrow charcoal pits that you will see lining the street.

The first priority when visiting Boon Tat Street is to grab a table. They fill up fast and you could wait a while if you’re not on your game.

Then, after examining the various stalls, choose the one you’d prefer to order from. We chose the much-hyped Best Satay (Stalls 7 & 8) and it did not disappoint. Look for the red shirts with the stall number on it (pictured). 

We ordered Set A which included 10 chicken sticks, 10 beef sticks and 5 prawn sticks for $25. And to wash it all down, a frosty cold Tiger beer was obligatory on this steamy Singapore night. 

Cooked over roaring hot coals, the meat skewers had a robust, smoky aroma with a beautifully charred outer crust. The chicken satay was tender and succulent, with a hint of ginger, garlic and turmeric, and pulled away from the stick easily.

Each platter is accompanied by diced cucumber and onion and the most delicious peanut satay dipping sauce, with just a mild chilli heat.

Remember, the hawkers on Boon Tat Street only accept cash, so come prepared with a few spare $20s. All in all, this will be one of the cheapest, but most satisfying, meals you’re likely to have in the Lion City.

How To Get To Boon Tat Street

Take the MRT to either Telok Ayer, Raffles Place, Tanjong Pagar or Downtown stations and walk to the Lau Pa Sat Festival Market. It's located opposite the Deutsche Bank building, at the junction of Boon Tat Street and Robinson Road. It's roughly a five minute walk from each station.

Hours: 7pm–1am Mon-Fri; 6pm-1.30am Sat/Sun

Did You Know?

Street vendors selling satay and preparing food with a portable charcoal grill were a common sight in Singapore until the late 1970s, according to Singapore's National Library Board. 

© 2019 Bernard O’Riordan (Travel Instinct). All Rights Reserved. 

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