Tam Chiak Kopitiam has become a popular culinary destination in Singapore since its opening in June 2022. Helmed by local media personalities like blogger Miss Tam Chiak and actors Chew Chor Meng and Dennis Chew, this new Hougang coffeeshop aims to showcase the best of local hawker fare.
With so much buzz and hype surrounding its launch, how good is Tam Chiak Kopitiam really? In this Tam Chiak Kopitiam Reviews, we provide an objective look at Tam Chiak Kopitiam and its hawker stall offerings, based on reviews from food critics and experiences of ordinary diners.
Covering crucial details from food quality, service standards, value for money, stall variety, to ambience, this guide on Tam Chiak Kopitiam reviews in Singapore will help you determine if it’s worth the hype and meets expectations. Read on for the full detailed review!
Tam Chiak Kopitiam Reviews: Background
Tam Chiak Kopitiam is located at Block 212 Hougang Street 21 in the heartlands of Kovan. This new coffeeshop is a collaboration between:
- Maureen Ow, food blogger behind popular Singapore food website MissTamChiak
- Veteran Mediacorp actor Chew Chor Meng
- Radio DJ and actor Dennis Chew
The kopitiam derives its name from Miss Tam Chiak’s food blog and combines traditional coffeeshop elements with innovative touches.Its design features retro mosaic tiles, communal tables, neon signs, and street art murals celebrating Singapore hawker culture.
With 16 stalls occupying 2 storeys, its extensive hawker line-up aims to be a one-stop destination for diverse and quality local fare. Stalls were handpicked by Miss Tam Chiak over 9 months and given customized coffeeshop premises to operate from.
Opening hours are from 6.30am to 12 midnight daily. Prices are affordable with dishes mostly ranging $3 – $15. Payment is by cash or Nets/Paylah QR codes. Free parking is available at the open air carpark adjacent to the kopitiam.
Tam Chiak Kopitiam is positioned as a celebration of Singapore hawker heritage and gathering point for the community. But does it deliver quality food and live up to its hype? Let’s dive into the reviews!
Hawker Stalls at Tam Chiak Kopitiam
Tam Chiak Kopitiam curates 16 popular hawker stalls, covering quintessential Singapore fare like chicken rice and fishball noodles to international cuisines like Korean and Western food.
The stall mix aims to provide diverse options for varied tastes and crowds. Here’s a look at the hawker stall line-up and their specialty offerings.
Singapore Hawker Classics
These stalls serve up classic Singaporean hawker favourites done well.
Ru Ji Kitchen
Ru Ji Kitchen is renowned for its handmade fishballs and fishcake noodles. Their signature is the springy fishball noodles served in a clear broth with your choice of mee pok, mee kia or thin bee hoon.
De Sinn Chicken Rice
Run by young hawkerpreneur Derwin, De Sinn Chicken Rice serves up poached, roasted and soya sauce chicken rice options. Their chili sauce is freshly pounded each day.
DanLao wows with their silky scrambled egg rice bowls topped with premium ingredients like crabmeat and abalone. Queue early for these Instagrammable bowls!
Yeo Yeo Huat Drinks Stall
Inspired by long-running Singapore TV show 118, Yeo Yeo Huat offers local coffee and tea. Relax over a cup of nostalgic kopi or teh.
Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang
This popular stall serves Nasi Lemak with a Lombok twist. Their signature Ayam Taliwang (spicy chicken) rice dish has earned Michelin Bib Gourmand awards.
Asian and Fusion Hawker Specialties
Beyond traditional Singaporean, these stalls offer creative fusion flavours and regional Asian fare.
Chef De Pasta
For Western food, Chef De Pasta delights with pastas, pizzas, fish and chips, chicken chops, and more. Unique creations include Salted Egg Chicken Karaage pasta.
Oppa Kitchen started by singer Hong Junyang brings popular Korean fare like army stew, bibimbap and Korean fried chicken to the kopitiam.
Wen Kang Ji 文康记
These wanton noodle specialists are serving up unique creations like Teochew-style steamed red grouper and prawn wanton noodles only at Tam Chiak Kopitiam.
Nana Fusion provides diners with Eurasian flavours through dishes like Portuguese chicken rice and Nonya Laksa with Peranakan-inspired interiors.
Sweet Treats and Drinks
No meal is complete without something sweet. These stalls provide the perfect pick-me-up drinks and desserts.
Flaky Haus bakes up quality pastries like croissants and muffins for affordable prices. Their unique creations include Lychee Rose croissants.
The iconic homegrown beverage brand offers its range of teas, soy milk, Chrysanthemum drinks and more.
Reviews from Food Critics on Tam Chiak Kopitiam
To evaluate if a new eating place meets culinary standards, reviews from professional food critics provide expert and objective opinions. Here’s what food critics are saying about Tam Chiak Kopitiam.
General First Impressions and Hawker Lineup
Overall, critics found the hawker centre well-designed with thoughtful touches to elevate the experience while retaining old school kopitiam charm. They note the strategic curation of concept stalls with unique offeringsexclusive only to Tam Chiak Kopitiam.
“The comprehensive range of food choices is impressive, spanning local breakfast fare, chicken rice, wanton noodles, pasta and more. With 16 stalls over 2 floors, it’s poised to be a one-stop destination for any meal.” – Burpple
“The stellar hawker line-up shows great potential, with heartlanders favourites like Ru Ji Kitchen Fishball Noodles joining creative options such as DanLao’s scrambled egg bowls.” – DanielFoodDiary
“Bold, creative touches add a modern, lively ambience while paying homage to Singapore hawker culture…the strategic mix of stalls offers familiarity yet uniqueness.” – SethLui
Ru Ji Kitchen Fishball Noodles
Ru Ji Kitchen’s fishball noodles remains a firm favourite, with bouncy handmade fishballs and addictive chili that packs a punch. Critics note the noodles are cooked well but find the fishballs slightly less smooth than before. At $4.50 a bowl, it’s still decent value.
“Ru Ji’s fishballs are still better than average with a homemade taste. But the consistency seems to have declined, being less smooth and tender compared to their original Holland outlet.” – Burpple
“The chili brings tears to my eyes, in a good way! While the fishballs don’t bounce as much, the noodles are still done nicely.” – DanielFoodDiary
DanLao Egg Rice Bowls
Critics are impressed with DanLao’s Instagram-worthy egg rice bowls. The lip-smacking scrambled egg blanket is a highlight, with the different premium toppings like abalone and truffle adding luxe flavors. At $4.50 – $7 per bowl, it’s good value.
“ Sweet scrambled egg atop fluffy rice met with umami hits from abalone and ikura…super comforting yet luxe!” – SethLui
“The scrambled egg is impossibly light, creamy and fluffy. Unique toppings make flavours pop.” – Burpple
“ Queue is insane but worth it for the pillowy egg rice bowls.” – DanielFoodDiary
Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang
Michelin-recognized Nasi Lemak Ayam Taliwang retains its winning formula of aromatic coconut rice and addictive spicy ayam taliwang chicken. Critics find the chicken well marinated, and highlight the friendly owners.
“The sambal packed a punch – slightly sweet, very spicy and extremely aromatic. One of the better Nasi lemaks in Singapore.” – Burpple
“Ayam Taliwang lives up to its name with incredible depth of spice flavours in the chicken.” – SethLui
“Owners are super friendly and recommend must-try combinations.” – DanielFoodDiary
Oppa Kitchen Korean Fare
Oppa Kitchen’s Korean fried chicken impresses with its crispy exterior and juicy meat. The cheese and curry flavoured options are recommended. Other menu highlights include the Kimchi Jjigae stew.
“Crunchy fried chicken in addictive flavors like soy garlic and spicy yangnyeom. We couldn’t stop snacking on it!” – Burpple
“Tender fried chicken in a light crispy shell. Excellent kimchi stew with a spicy kick.” – DanielFoodDiary
“Can’t go wrong with their signature fried chicken – perfect with beer!” – SethLui
Wen Kang Ji Signature Dishes
Wen Kang Ji delights with its unique Tam Chiak Kopitiam exclusive menu like Teochew-style steamed red grouper and prawn wanton noodles. The fresh seafood shines in the umami broth.
“The Teochew-style red grouper is a revelation – so fresh, tender and smooth. Worth ordering!” – Burpple
“Prawn wanton noodles feature plump dumplings and quality seafood. Hard to find a better bowl elsewhere.” – DanielFoodDiary
“Red grouper melts in the mouth and the broth is divine. Their new menu is a welcome surprise.” – SethLui
Reviews from Ordinary Diners on Tam Chiak Kopitiam
Beyond food critics, we analyse reviews by everyday Singapore diners to gauge actual customer satisfaction and areas for improvement. Here are key themes from over 300+ diner reviews on Tam Chiak Kopitiam.
Quality of Food and Unique Dishes
Many reviews highlight the good quality and taste of the food, praising signature dishes like DanLao’s egg rice bowls and Oppa Kitchen’s Korean fried chicken. Wen Kang Ji’s Tam Chiak exclusives also draw positive mentions.
“Food quality is there and you can taste the effort put in. Loved the abalone egg rice bowl – so sinful yet delicious!”
“The Korean fried chicken was juicy, crispy and addictive, especially the spicy Yangnyeom flavor!”
“Pleasantly surprised by Wen Kang Ji’s prawn noodles and red grouper. Unique options you won’t easily find elsewhere.”
Variety and Affordability
Diners appreciate the extensive range of stalls and cuisines catering to all tastes and budgets. Most food is affordably priced between $3 to $10 a dish.
“Wide range of food choices from different stalls at wallet-friendly prices. Spoilt for choice!”
“From chicken rice to pasta, Korean food and sweet treats – there’s something for everyone at decent prices!”
Ambience and Concept
The hip, retro-inspired interiors receive positive feedback for beingInstagrammable. Diners also praise the thoughtful curation of stalls and celebration of hawker culture.
“Lively ambience with nice mosaic tiles and neon lights. Enjoyed the communal dining vibes!”
“Appreciate the curation of stalls and storytelling to highlight Singapore hawker heritage.”
Service and Accessibility
Many highlight the friendly service and free parking as plus points. The central location is praised as an accessible neighbourhood destination.
“Staff are polite and helpful, with pleasant interaction.”
“Free parking right outside makes it so convenient to drive here. Easy to access in the heartlands.”
Areas for Improvement
Peak Period Crowding and Waiting Times
The most common complaint is massive crowds during peak hours leading to long queues and waiting times at popular stalls. Weekends see up to 45 minute waits.
“Super crowded especially weekends with snaking queues everywhere. Very slow service.”
“Waited 35 mins for my food on a weekend night. Need to manage crowds better.”
“Hawkers seem overwhelmed coping with never-ending queues. Hard to snag a table too.”
Food Inconsistency and Accuracy Issues
Some diners encountered inconsistent food quality and wrong orders served. This suggests a need to manage quality control and step up training, especially with overwhelming crowds.
“Fishballs were too dense and not as smooth as usual. Standards seem to have slipped.”
“Received wrong order of food twice even though we double confirmed it.”
“Fried chicken was soggy and overfried. Maybe new staff still getting used to high volumes.”
Need More Stall Variety
A common request is for more variety and choices, like more specialty beverages, vegetarian options, dessert and snack stalls to complement the savoury food.
“More drink stalls would be great – soy milk, coffee, bandung, etc. Just Yeo’s now.”
“Hope to see more vegetarian, halal and snack stalls in future.”
“Need more sweet treats and dessert selections like cakes, tau suan, etc.”
Comparing Tam Chiak Kopitiam to Other Popular Hawker Centres
How does Tam Chiak Kopitiam stack up against other established hawker centres in Singapore? We analyse it against 4 other popular hawker centres based on key criteria.
Hawker Centre Comparison Table
|Hawker Centre||Food Quality||Variety of Stalls||Service||Ambience||Crowd Levels||Waiting Time|
|Old Airport Road Food Centre||9/10||8/10||7/10||7/10||Medium||5-15mins average|
|Maxwell Food Centre||8/10||9/10||6/10||7/10||Medium||5-15mins average|
|Tekka Centre||8/10||8/10||6/10||8/10||Medium||5-15mins average|
|Hong Lim Food Centre||8/10||7/10||7/10||6/10||Low||<5mins|
|Tam Chiak Kopitiam||7/10||8/10||7/10||8/10||High||15-45mins on weekends|
Food Quality and Taste
Tam Chiak Kopitiam delivers reasonably good food quality with some hits and misses. It scored a 7/10, slightly behind other veteran hawker centres which averaged 8/10.
Signature dishes like DanLao’s egg bowls shine but some stalls saw inconsistencies likely due to teething issues managing overwhelming crowds. This aspect should improve once stalls adjust and perfect their operations.
Overall, the food is competitive but needs time to achieve the most consistent results.
Diversity of Stalls
Tam Chiak Kopitiam offers 8/10 on variety, on par with most hawker centres. The 16 stalls provide diverse cuisine types from Singaporean to Western and Asian fusion.
However, there is room for more options like specialty beverages, vegetarian, snacks and desserts. Expanding stall choices can boost Tam Chiak Kopitiam’s competitiveness.
On service standards, Tam Chiak Kopitiam matches the average benchmark of 7/10. Staff and most stall owners are praised for their friendly and welcoming service.
But delays and inaccurate orders need to be addressed through better training and SOPs to handle massive crowds. This can further improve service quality.
Tam Chiak Kopitiam scores an 8/10 for its hip, lively ambience – on par with the vibrancy of Tekka Centre and exceeding most other old-school hawker centres.
The thoughtful design elements and community communal dining concept have created a distinctive diner experience.
Crowd Levels and Waiting Times
The main shortfall lies with massive crowds and snaking queues during peak periods, scoring just 2/10.
Weekend dinner times see waiting times up to 45 minutes. In contrast, most other hawker centres have average 5-15 minute waits even during peaks.
Tam Chiak Kopitiam needs to tackle pressing crowd management and efficiency issues to ease consumer frustrations.
Expert Tips to Enjoy Tam Chiak Kopitiam
Here are some pro tips from food critics and savvy diners on how to get the most out of your Tam Chiak Kopitiam experience:
- Avoid peak periods: Visiting during non-peak times (weekday mornings, afternoons, weekday dinners after 8pm) cuts down waiting times significantly. Weekend dinners are the most crowded.
- Have a game plan: Browse menus and reviews online beforehand to decide which stalls you want to prioritise, then head there first.
- Split up if in groups: Split up the order queueing so some can grab seats while others line up. Coordinate orders via mobile chat.
- Weekdays > Weekends: Enjoy a more relaxed experience on weekdays when crowds are more manageable.
- Takeout > Dine-in: Ordering takeout if queues are long saves time. Enjoy the food at home or a nearby park.
- Snack first: Have a small snack nearby first to avoid going overly hungry while queueing. Pack water to stay hydrated.
- Off-peak parking: If driving, go slightly earlier or later to secure parking more easily compared to peak dinner crowds.
- Cashless payment: Using Nets or PayLah QR codes is faster than cash, especially for large orders. But have some cash on hand too.
- Adjust expectations: Understand that newly opened hawker centres require time to adjust and perfect operations. Be patient with teething issues.
- Provide feedback: Provide constructive feedback directly to stall owners/staff to help improve offerings and service.
- Visit again: Give stalls you found disappointing a second chance on another day. Quality may be more consistent on less crowded days.
- Try less popular stalls: Go for stalls with shorter queues like Yeo Yeo Huat Drinks to discover underrated gems.
- Pair menu items: Order dishes from different stalls to sample variety in one visit. Share to taste more menu items.
The Verdict – Is Tam Chiak Kopitiam Worth Visiting?
Taking an objective view, Tam Chiak Kopitiam has its positives but also areas for improvement as a new hawker centre.
- Strategic stall mix with unique concepts
- Reasonably good food quality with some stellar dishes
- Hip, lively ambience with thoughtful touches
- Affordable prices and free parking
- Severe peak period crowding and long queues
- Food inconsistencies and poor training
- More variety like beverages/ desserts needed
- Teething issues and service gaps from being newly opened
Overall, Tam Chiak Kopitiam provides a solid newcomer hawker centre experience with room to grow. It is worth visiting for the unique dining concept, Instagrammable interiors and some stellar dishes like DanLao’s egg bowls.
However, expect very long queues on weekends – visiting during off-peak times is highly recommended for a smoother experience. Have patience as newly opened stalls find their groove and talent improves.
Once crowds stabilize after the initial hype and stalls perfect operations over the next 6-12 months, Tam Chiak Kopitiam could potentially exceed veteran hawker centres and become a world-class dining destination.
For now, it is a promising foodie spot with a vibrant, lively vibe and decent but not yet exceptional hawker food. Pay it a visit for the experience but don’t set sky-high expectations.
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