I remembered my first time to order food at the Hawker. Hawker, by the way, is a food center or food court where you can buy different types of dishes from Indian, Chinese and Malay cuisines. I tried them and all are superb.
But as a first timer in Singapore, how do you order your food? These are few tips that I should share to you.
You have to queue to order your food. No waiters and order takers are around. I'm from the Philippines and used to say "Dine In" and "Take Out" when ordering. This is totally not applicable here in Singapore.
If the stall keeper will ask you these words..."Makan", "Eat here", "Pack It", "Tapao" or "Take Away". These are quite confusing when pronounced by the Chinese. "Makan" is pronounced as Ma-kan, easy to understand. "Eat Here" is different, it's pronounced as Eat-hi-yia, "Have in Here" as Hav-in-hyia, "Pack It " as Pa-keh, "Tapao" is Ta-paw and "Take Away" is Teh-a-we. These sounds are based on what I heard from them. It may sound different from other people but at least a little bit closer to that.
So what are the meaning of these words?
As soon as you reach the counter, you can say to the Auntie or Uncle that you will "Makan". Makan is a word that means Eat. You can still say "Eat" with an eating hand gesture, but Makan is the fastest way they can understand and more proper than with a hand gesture.
Another word is "Eat here" or sometimes "Have in here", same as Makan. This means that you will be eating inside the Hawker (dine in) so they can serve your food in a plate.
If you want to take out or bring home your food, you can say "Tapao" or "Pack It". They will prepare your food in a styrofoam or in a waxed paper and pack it in a plastic bag.
There you go, have a nice breakfast, lunch or dinner!
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Hawkers in Singapore