Waterloo Street in Singapore is best-known among locals for its Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho), probably the most popular Taoist temple in country! Local Singaporeans will actually refer to Waterloo Street as “Si Beh Lor”, meaning Fourth Horse Carriageway in the Hokkien-Chinese dialect.
In fact, all the old streets in that area, one of the earliest neighbourhoods in Singapore, have Hokkien-Chinese names which corresponded to the names given by the British colonial government in the 19th-century:
Hokkien Name = English Name
Tua Beh Lor (Main Horse Carriageway) = North Bridge Road
Ji Beh Lor (Second Horse Carriageway) = Victoria Street
Sar Beh Lor (Third Horse Carriageway) = Queen Street
Si Beh Lor (Fourth Horse Carriageway) = Waterloo Street
Gor Beh Lor (Fifth Horse Carriageway) = Bencoolen Street
Lak Beh Lor (Sixth Horse Carriageway) = Prinsep Street
Chit Beh Lor (Seventh Horse Carriageway) = Selegie Road
There’s also a small, beautiful Hindu Temple, Sri Krishnan, right next to the Goddess of Mercy Temple which attracts its share of devotees. So, it’s a rather busy pedestrian mall there, plus a large food centre which opens early for breakfast, and gets especially busy at lunch.
I met up with 3 other friends for breakfast there last March, and we opted for the simple breakfast options which Singaporeans looked for at food centres, where various hawker stalls would each offer their own specialty dishes.
What we ordered:
Chee cheong fun - Steamed Cantonese rice noodle rolls. The Singapore-style dressing consisted of hoi sin sauce and spicy chili sauce. The version here has chopped scallions sprinkled on top. Very plain version - I much prefer the ones in Kuala Lumpur which has a more complex bean-sauce dressing, or the Penang version drizzled with fermented shrimp paste, besides hoi sin and chili sauces.
Orh kueh - steamed taro pudding, which also comes with hoi sin sauce and chili sauce, topped with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions. The version here lacked the amount of taro to give the pudding a more pronounced flavour and heavier density which I prefer.
Nasi lemak - the coconut milk-flavoured rice was accompanied by sweet chili paste, fried spam and a fried egg. This is a Chinese-style nasi lemak stall, and didn’t have the curried meats or vegetables I can find at a Malay one.
Png kueh, soon kueh and fried noodles - P’ng kueh is a Teochew pink-tinted glutinous rice flour cakes stuffed with glutinous rice, dried shrimp, groundnut and black, fungus, whereas soon kueh is a variant with shredded jicama filling instead. These were pretty meh.
We also ordered the fried rice noodles and a bowl of rice congee sold at the same stall and immediately regretted it - very bland flavours.
Chwee kueh - another Teochew specialty: small, steamed rice pudding topped with stewed salted radish. These were delicious.
Nyonya chang - steamed glutinous rice dumplings with a pork and candied wintermelon filling, spiced with coriander. The version here was pretty average.
Other than its convenient location near the popular temples, and also the Bugis shopping precinct, we didn’t find any outstanding renditions of the standard Singaporean breakfast staples here.
Waterloo Street Food Centre
269B Queen Street, Singapore 182269
Opening hours: 7am to 9pm daily (the various stalls have varying operating times)