Skewering the Competition: 5 Best Satay Stalls in Singapore, our picks (2023 Update)

If you’re a foodie, you’ve probably come across SATAY at some point in your culinary adventures. But have you ever stopped to think about the origins of this delicious skewered meat dish?

Satay is believed to have originated in the Middle East, where the nomadic people would barbecue their meat on metal skewers (and even swords) over open fires. This concept eventually found its way to Indonesia through Arab traders searching for spices, and then spread to Malaysia and Singapore. The word “satay” is believed to come from the Indonesian word “sate,” which means “to skewer.” So, essentially, satay means “skewered meat.”

In Southeast Asia, Satay is usually made with beef, mutton, lamb, or chicken, but non-Muslim folks in Singapore also enjoy pork satay. The meat is marinated in spices and grilled over a flaming charcoal fire, brushed with oil for that tantalizing glaze, and served with a peanut sauce dip and raw onion and cucumber. It’s often accompanied by ketupat, which are steamed rice packets wrapped in coconut leaves.

But let’s not forget about that peanut sauce dip – it’s made with ground peanuts, lemongrass, candle nuts, shallots, dried chili, tamarind pulp, and sugar. Some variations even include pureed pineapple for a sweeter flavor.

When we talk about satay, we have to talk about Lau Pa Sat, also known as Telok Ayer Market. It is a popular food destination in Singapore known for its diverse and delicious street food, but it is also a historical site for Singaporeans. Once night falls, it is also home to many many satay stores that grill on an open air, road side . One thing unusual about Lau Pa Sat is that the stores are unnamed, and only differentiated by their numbers. It is indeed a unique dining experience.

However… SURPRISE, while the Lau Pa Sat Satay stores are very good (special shout out to our friends at Satay Power 6). none of the stores at Lau Pa Sat cracked our pick for Top 5 Satays

Outside of Lau Pa Sat, locals will normally go to the satay heaven that is East Coast Lagoon Food Village. Now, I know what you’re thinking – with so many satay stalls to choose from, how could one stand out above the rest? Well, let me tell you, Haron Satay 55 has got some seriously tasty satays. Established back in the 1980s by the legendary Mr. Haron (RIP), the stall has since been passed down to his daughters, who have been keeping the family recipe alive and well. These satays are the real deal – juicy, smoky, and with just the right amount of sweetness from a gula melaka glaze. Trust me, one bite and you’ll be hooked. And don’t even get me started on the homemade peanut sauce – it’s a game changer. But beware, this place can get pretty packed, with wait times of up to an hour after 6pm. 

Our next pick on the list is a bit more of a nostalgic hit, and a showcase on our hawker traditions. Before there was Lau Pa Sat, or Satay by the Bay or East Coast Lagoon Food Village, there was our legendary Satay Club. Alhambra Satay is probably the last remaining member of the once legendary establishment, which used to have 26 stalls by the sea where people could sit on low stools and chow down on the best satay in the city. Alhambra Satay is run by Encik Saiful, the son of the original owner, who has kept the tradition alive by hand skewering the satay and making all the secret spices in-house. Trust me, the mutton satay is to die for – it’s tender and flavorful, without any pesky sinews getting stuck in your teeth. The chicken satay is also good, but let’s be real, you’re here for the mutton. Unfortunately, Alhambra Satay is located in a coffee shop rather than somewhere with a seaside view, but hey, the satay is so good you won’t even notice. Don’t miss out on this little slice of culinary history – get yourself to Alhambra Satay and chow down on some serious satay goodness!

For a more chinese flavored version, Shi Xiang Satay. is located in a quiet corner of the Chinatown Complex Food Centre. It is conveniently located in the green zone (near the area that sells craft beer). This little stand has been around since 1955, so you know they know their stuff when it comes to grilling up some delicious skewers of meat. These satays do not disappoint. They’re marinated for at least 24 hours to ensure maximum flavor, and the grilling is just perfect – the fat is slightly charred but not burnt. Plus, the house-made satay sauce is out of this world. And let’s not forget the pineapple puree, which helps cut through the richness of each bite. All in all, Shi Xiang Satay is a must-try for any satay lover in Singapore. The relatively affordable pricing makes it an amazing side dish to chow down with an ice cold beer.

Kwong Satay is a must-visit stall in the red light district of Geylang. The humble store has a long history dating back to the 1960s! That’s right, folks – these guys have been grilling up delicious satay for over 50 years. And they’re not just any old satay, either. Kwong Satay’s signature pork loin and pork belly satays are made with a secret recipe that includes Hainanese Chinese, Peranakan, and Indian influences. The satay spice rub is a mouthwatering blend of cumin, turmeric, lemongrass, candlenut, and fennel, among other things.  And the sauce? Oh man, the sauce. It’s a velvety blend of lemongrass, blue ginger, candlenut, belachan, and fresh ground peanuts, topped off with a generous dollop of mashed pineapple puree for an extra kick. Trust me, you won’t be able to resist the sweet and sour goodness of Kwong Satay’s sauce.

We have to round off the list with Pondok Makan Indonesia, one of the few halal Michelin-listed eateries in Singapore. Located just a few minutes away from MRT Bugis Station at Albert Centre Market & Food Centre (it is also on the route of our Free Walking Tour of Kampong Glam and Bugis). This low-key store is only known amongst its most hardcore fans. known for its delicious Indonesian fare like Mee Rebus, Mee Siam, Gado Gado, Tahu Goreng, Soto Ayam, Nasi Soto, Lontong. One dish that really stood out is definitely the Satay, which is available in chicken, beef, and mutton varieties. Each skewer is well-marinated with a touch of sweetness and turmeric spices, making it a real treat for the taste buds. In fact, the mutton Satay was especially impressive – it was juicy and tender, with crispy charred edges, and didn’t have any of that gamey smell or taste that mutton can sometimes have. Overall, this humble Malay stall serves up some seriously delicious and authentic Indonesian delights that are definitely worth checking out.

Leave a Reply