Over heard

MTI's online directory points the way to hawker treats

A chicken rice lunch set.
A chicken rice lunch set.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Who could resist a mouth-watering plate of fragrant chicken rice for around $2? But where can you find such a tasty gem?

Enter the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), which has published a pilot online directory of some of the cheapest hawker food across the island.

This goes right to the heart of the burning question facing office workers - how to get a good lunch without busting the bank.

The Islandwide List Of Hawker Food features 22 popular dishes - including chicken rice, laksa, mee siam and roti prata - available at food centres managed by the National Environment Agency. It can be found on MTI's website at www.mti.gov.sg/Hawker/Pages/Search.aspx .

The directory lists the dishes that can be found at each location and their prices, along with photos of the individual stalls.

You can tuck into chicken rice for as little as $2.50 at Market Street Food Centre in Raffles Place. Try the Golden Shoe Chicken Rice stall or Tong Fong Fatt Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice outlet.

The cheapest nasi lemak - from as low as $1.50 - can be found at Nasi Padang Sederhana at Amoy Food Centre in Tanjong Pagar.

MTI's foodie squad surveyed prices at 103 hawker centres from late March to early April before determining the cheapest 30 per cent of each dish and listing them.

The ministry also recently released a related study which found that hawker food prices are driven up more by increases in the cost of raw materials than by rent hikes.

An MTI spokesman told The Straits Times that the list aims to help the public "find comparatively lower-priced hawker food and to make more informed choices that would suit their budgets".

He said the list has received 15,410 unique page views to date.

"MTI welcomes feedback and suggestions from the public on how we can improve this online list," said the spokesman. It will evaluate feedback and suggestions from the public and study the long-term feasibility of the initiative.

Search executive Mary Chen, 26, who works in the Raffles Place area, feels that the initiative is "a good start", especially for the budget- conscious working in the central business district.

"But most people also tend to use apps which are already popular, like SoShiok or Burpple," she said, adding that these are easy to navigate on mobile phones, unlike the MTI directory.

"They just need to make it more user-friendly and accessible."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2015, with the headline 'MTI's online directory points the way to hawker treats'. Subscribe