MasterChef Singapore is back! In Season 2, 12 home-cooks will battle it out to win over the taste buds of judges Audra Morrice, Damian D’Silva, and Bjorn Shen.

And to be crowned the next Singapore MasterChef, after Zander Ng.

To catch the competition, MasterChef Singapore Season 2 airs every Sunday, 9:30pm on meWATCH and Channel 5, with 10 episodes till April 25.

I have caught the first two episodes, and it has been quite exciting with fun personalities so far. 24 aspiring contestants were first down to the Top 12, and 2 more were further eliminated after Episode 2 (I won’t reveal the names here, just in case you have not caught it yet.)

To find out more about our MasterChef Top 12, I asked them about their favourite hawker food and personal recommendations – some of them under-the-radar places (so read on).

I also wanted to know more about their creativity and thought process, and so questioned how they would recreate this particular hawker dish.

From all the responses and performance so far, I must say engineering student Derek Cheong left quite an impression with his precision to cooking, and ability to bring together various unexpected components to complete a dish. But hope he moves beyond desserts for the other episodes.

Derek Cheong, 24
Engineering Student

Hawker Food I Love Most… Prawn Noodles
I eat prawn noodles at least once a week and will always order the most expensive serving. I love very rich and robust flavours, and prawn noodles just have that kick of umami from the prawn shells.

I enjoy my prawn noodle broth with a nice mix of pork, especially pork with gelatinous mass like pig’s tail. It makes the soup so much more addictive with a sticky mouthfeel.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Loyang Way Big Prawn Noodles, at 64 Loyang Way, Singapore 508754.

The broth is so umami rich and with a nice mix of prawn and pork flavour. Topped with a generous serving of fried shallots, which boosts the flavours even more.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
I would incorporate roasted fish bones into the broth, with a mix of crabs and pork as well to make it sweeter. I always use mini shrimps to increase the prawn flavour. I like my noodles dry, so I will make crispy prawn chilli, with a touch of black vinegar and pork lard.

For the prawns, I love the sweetness of carabinero or botan ebi. By searing the prawns, it brings out the natural sweetness from the shells into the meat which makes it so much more delectable.

Finishing the bowl of noodles off with some nice sakura ebi oil and sakura ebi flakes.

Vasun, 40
Private Tutor

Hawker Food I Love Most… Raita Sorbet
This is a modern interpretation of the traditional Raita usually served as a side dish with biryani. I simply love the refreshing taste and tantalising flavours of the Raita Sorbet.

The modern spin on a classic Indian dish is so intriguing and fun. I recently came across this dish when the chef owner of the stall recommended it to me when I was making my selection, and is a wonderful dish to have alongside the other delicious savouries.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Luckmeow, Maxwell Food Centre #01-03.

I am inspired by how Chef Pasha has integrated his modern culinary skills with his own culture and breathed new life into traditional Indian dishes while retaining their authentic flavours. Each dish is also plated so beautifully that you forget that you are dining at a hawker centre.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
I would add a twist to Raita Sorbet with some pomegranate pearls for an extra burst of fresh, tangy flavour and colour.

Trish Yee, 32
Sales and Marketing Director

Hawker Food I Love Most… Fried Carrot Cake
Cai Tow Kueh is the type of breakfast our family will eat during weekends morning. As a kid, I always had sweet tooth and the sweetness of the dark soy sauce that comes with the fried carrot cake appeals to me.

When I moved to the States with my husband, we were craving for carrot cake so badly that I even decided to make my own. Yes, including making the kueh itself.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Song Zhou Carrot Cake, Bedok Interchange Hawker Centre #01-37.

I love the wok hei fragrance that comes with the carrot cake. Every bit came with charred edges that is caused by the caramelisation of the black sauce.

The carrot cake has a soft tofu like texture and I personally prefer carrot cake of smaller bits so that every bite is enveloped with the fluffy egg and chai poh.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
I will add in smoked ham and sakura ebi and top it off with an onsen egg to make it look like something you can order for brunch at an upscale café.

Mitchelle Chua Seok Hoon, 46
Flight Attendant

Hawker Food I Love Most… Laksa
The first and best dish I fell in love was Singapore Laksa, also because this dish is quite similar to the Curry Mee in Penang (where I grew up at). Laksa can be so hearty, and fills the stomach and soul.

Also, I was a pescatarian before and Laksa is my favourite because it is mostly made from seafood.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Ah Ma Chi Mian 阿嬤吃麵 at Parkway Parade Food Republic. This stall’s gravy has a rich broth, like how I would cook at home. (Note: DFD has checked with Ah Ma Chi Mian, and the Laksa may not be available at all times and outlets.)

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
Either a Squid Ink Tagliatelle with Laksa seafood gravy or Raviolo with fish and prawn fillings with laksa gravy.

Melissa Chloelia Lim, 30
Hotel Operator

Hawker Food I Love Most… Wanton Mee
The juxtaposition of textures (pillowy soft dumplings, smooth alkaline noodles, crunchy vegetables, and rich char siew) in every bite gets me every time.

As a child, this used to be a weekly ritual after church with my family. It is wonderful how something so inexpensive can taste so awesome.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Bei-Ing Wanton Noodles 美樱云吞面, 50 East Coast Road, Roxy Square 1 #01-64, Singapore 428769.

This place particularly impresses me because their dishes are plated with a Michelin-like flair. Dark soy gravy is swoosh-ed over your plate with an artistic but purposeful brush stroke.

Whilst looks are important, they do not disappoint at all in terms of taste. Their noodles are cooked to al-dente perfection. The sauce, being a dark soy base, is not what you would typically find in a wanton noodle joint. However, it is perfectly balanced.

Their char siew is commendable, but I would say their dumplings are the star of the show. Peppery silky morsels that are gorgeously seasoned.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
I would smoke the chilli sauce that accompanies the gravy and garnish the dish with ikura roe to add a tinge of umami.

Nor, 41
Full time Homemaker

Hawker Food I Love Most… Mee Soto
I enjoy eating noodles, especially those with a soup base. I would satiate my cravings by eating Mee Soto twice a month.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Haji Waliti Haji Mazuki, Haig Road Hawker Centre #01-18

I personally prefer this stall’s broth as it is light yet flavourful so good with bee hoon. They also serve Mee Soto Anika (my 2nd choice), which comes with toppings of chopped beef pieces instead of just shredded chicken.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
I will add a Confit Leg of Chicken and use only Kampong Chicken for the broth and handmade noodles.

Leon Lim, 32
Private Tutor

Hawker Food I Love Most… Cheng Tng
I like that Cheng Tng is a medley of very simple ingredients that complements each other really well. The soup is sweet and refreshing, with various ingredients contributing to a myriad of textures when you eat it. With every bite you get to discover different treasures within the bowl.

I even have a barter trade system with my favourite hawker stall, so whenever I bake or cook something, I will bring a portion to the Auntie at the stall and she would treat me to a bowl of Cheng Tng.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Hot & Cold Dessert, Blk 353 Clementi Ave 2 #01-72 Singapore 120353

I like that this stall is authentic with its flavours and generous with servings. The Cheng Tng soup is not overly sweet and you can taste the flavours of all the various “treasures” in the soup.

Moreover, the stall owners are highly dedicated to their craft and also very welcoming in their demeanor. In addition, they have been invited to the Istana several times to showcase their desserts.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
A plated dessert, featuring a dried longan sorbet with the various Cheng Tng ingredients as the garnishes and toppings.

Tan Oon Yong (Oon), 32

Hawker Food I Love Most… Wanton Noodles
In particular the type with dark sauce. My siblings and I grew up with this as our weekly Sunday treat.

My father was born and raised in Malaysia and this was his preferred style of wanton noodles. Naturally, we shared his palate and prefer this version over the type with ketchup

Recommended Hawker Stall
Tanjong Rhu Wanton Noodle, 21 Old Airport Road, Singapore 390021.

This stall prepares the noodles with a nice springiness and bite, coupled with an umami-rich dark sauce.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
I would use a super succulent piece of pork belly for the char siew and cook it sous-vide for 24 hours prior to char-grilling for a melt-in-your-mouth result.

Jai Ganesh, 32
Former Army Officer

Hawker Food I Love Most… Hainanese Chicken Rice
It is one of the most satisfying meals in our Singaporean Cuisine… the sumptuous oily ginger rice, beautifully roasted or steamed chicken and the game changing chilli form an amazing symphony of flavours.

This is one of the dishes I have every weekend without fail.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Chicken Rice at Coffee Express 2000 Pasir Ris, Blk 443 Pasir Ris Drive 6, Singapore 510443.

I can say that I have travelled around Singapore to try the ones that have been highly recommended and even to random hawker stalls.

However, there is one stall which I would definitely highly recommend and that is the place I have been going to since I was a kid. This stall was the first place I ever had a plate of chicken rice and I stand by this place because of the wonderful flavours and unbelievable consistency every single time. It is still operating under the same owner till today.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
It would be to serve it with crispy chicken skin, either by deep frying it or oven roasting the skin. I think the crispy would add an additional dimension to the dish in terms of texture and it would go excellently well with the beautifully tender meat.

Zephyr Eng, 30
Real Estate Broker

Hawker Food I Love Most… Laksa
While there are now several versions of this popular home-grown dish, one defining characteristic is the rich, aromatic broth, infused with creamy coconut milk, candlenut, tumeric, galangal and a host of other spices to add to its complexity.

The dried shrimps give Laksa its unique, yet amazing umami flavour, and not forgetting the piquant sweetness of the prawn, saltiness from the slices of fish cake and fresh cockles, and an earthy aroma from the finely chopped laksa leaves.

When I was posted to London, Laksa was the one dish I missed the most. One thing that has never changed is that no matter how careful I am, I always end up splattering some of the precious broth onto my uniform (when I was little) or clothing.

Recommended Hawker Stall
My Cosy Corner, Coronation Plaza #02-02, 587 Bukit Timah Road Singapore 269707

This no-frills, hole-in-the-wall corner stall has been a favourite of mine since I was little. While their Laksa may appear to be simplistically prepared in a home-styled manner, I can attest that their broth is absolutely delicious and good to the very last drop.

The broth is prepared fresh each day, which assures the quality of every bowl they serve. It is thick but not too lemak (creamy), and the umami-ness from the dried shrimp and aromatics from the spices all come together very nicely.

The combination of the small tables and the sounds of the cutlery knocking against the plastic bowls also adds to the nostalgia.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
A Dry Laksa which encapsulates all the complex, aromatic flavours of the classical Laksa, without the broth. The intensity of the aromatics coats every strand of noodle, creating a mouthful of amazing umami and depth of flavour, without worrying about splattering broth onto one’s clothing.

Inch Chua, 32

Hawker Food I Love Most… Popiah
It is wonderfully complex, simple yet delightful. So many different components need to be just right for the flavours to sing together. And of course, it takes great skill to wrap a good Popiah.

Besides its glorious taste, I believe the dish itself is a truly a communal and social activity. As a child I remember my family having Popiah parties and compare how well wrapped each are in jest.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Old Long House Popiah, 22 Toa Payoh Lor 7 01-33, Singapore 310022.

It is a recommended place that offers taste of authentic Popiah since 1930s. The hand-made popiah skin, juice caramelised turnip, crispy golden bits and punchy chilli make that perfect bite.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
A 3 ways amuse bouche interpretation of Popiah – one classic warm roll, cold sushi roll, and fried roll.

Danial Khalis Bin Aziz, 31
Courier Manager

Hawker Food I Love Most… Nasi Lemak
What is there not to love?! The sweet and spicy sambal, the fragrant coconut-flavoured rice, crispy peanuts and anchovies, and wide selections of either chicken wings or fish.

Since young, my mother would cook Nasi Lemak fortnightly. My siblings and I would fight over the side dishes and the smell of the fragrant coconut rice steaming in the kitchen filling up the entire house. These are the memories that I would never forget.

My mother has since passed down her recipe to me and I would want to recreate those memories with my wife and daughter.

Recommended Hawker Stall
Nasi Lemak Specialist, 137 Tampines St. 11 #01-14, Singapore 521137

This stall has one of the best Nasi Lemak I have tasted outside, with a wide selection of side dishes and uses basmati rice.

If I Were To Recreate This Hawker Dish
Instead of using normal rice, I would use glutinous rice (pulot) drizzled with coconut sauce and topped with sambal king prawns, peanuts and anchovies.

Catch MasterChef Singapore Season 2 on meWATCH HERE.

* This entry is brought to you in partnership with MasterChef Singapore.

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