Glutton's Square

Glutton’s Square was one of the most popular street dining venues in Singapore in the 1970s.1 Located at a carpark along Orchard Road opposite Centrepoint shopping mall, it was one of the few open-air street dining areas there.2 It was also infamously known as “Jaws Centre”, because some hawkers would charge unsuspecting tourists high prices.As part of the Singapore Food Festival held in July 2004, Glutton’s Square was revived and operated until February 2005.4

Glutton’s Square first opened in 1966. For more than 10 years, it attracted local and foreign diners, from families out for a quick dinner to revellers looking for supper before or after going to nearby pubs such as Tivoli, Tropicana and Peyton Place. When the carpark closed at 5 pm, hawkers would immediately rush to set up their stalls and prepare their dishes in anticipation of the eager evening crowd.5

At the height of its popularity in the 1970s, there were 80 stalls at Glutton’s Square selling local favourites, such as oyster omelette, carrot cake and char kway teow, priced at less than a dollar. Two stalls, each with two to three tables, shared a single parking lot. Thus, overcrowding was the norm.6

The open-air nature of the square subjected the hawkers and their diners to the whims of nature.7 Hawkers would throw their leftovers into the canal alongside the carpark, exacerbating the unhygienic conditions. There was no proper electricity and piped water.8 Hawkers had to lug pails of water from nearby Koek Street for their use.9 Because of these poor environmental and hygiene conditions, the government closed Glutton’s Square in 1978 and relocated 32 hawkers to Newton Circus Hawker Centre, while the rest were moved to the nearby Cuppage Food Centre. The last of the hawkers left the Orchard Road carpark on 3 September 1978, and the area was converted to a park in November 1978.10 Orchard Central currently occupies the site.11


As part of the month-long Singapore Food Festival in July 2004, Glutton’s Square was revived. This was one of the more than 50 events organised by the Singapore Tourism Board for the festival. Managed by food consultancy, Makansutra, 10 to 11 stall owners were gathered to participate in the event with at least 130 tables set up. These stalls sold a mix of local dishes including barbecued string ray, char kway teowchicken rice, fried carrot cake, roti prata, oyster omelette and satay. Organisers had difficulty getting the original Glutton’s Square hawkers to participate, as they were either deceased or had stopped business. However, they did find two hawkers from the original Glutton’s Square who were willing to participate – the Low brothers, Thye Chua and Thye Hong, who sold oyster omelette and char kway teow respectively at Newton Circus.12

Contrary to the unhygienic conditions of the 1970s, the stalls set up in 2004 had access to electricity and piped water. There were also electric fans for better ventilation and modern grease extractors to reduce pollution.13

About 200,000 diners visited Glutton’s Square in July during the food festival. The square opened until 6 am daily throughout that month. Due to the overwhelming response, it remained open until February 2005 under a new management team, Kopitiam. Its opening hours were shortened from 6 am to 3 am from Sundays to Thursdays and 4 am on Fridays, Saturdays and the eve of public holidays.14 

Some hawkers from the revived Glutton’s Square later set up shop at an open-air food centre called Glutton’s Bay at the Esplanade Mall, which opened in 2005. Glutton’s Bay was meant to recreate the atmosphere at Glutton’s Square.15 Low Thye Chua, the hawker who sold oyster omelette at the original Glutton’s Square in the 1970s, also moved his stall to Glutton’s Bay.16


Nureza Ahmad & Azizah Sidek

1. “A Food Centre No More...,” Straits Times, 5 September 1978, 22. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “Soulful Streets,” Straits Times, 5 February 1980, 16; Teo Pau Lin, “What’s Square Comes Round,” Straits Times, 4 July 2004, 30. (From NewspaperSG)
3. “Food Centre No More...”; Teo, “What’s Square Comes Round.”
4. Sharon Loh, “Street Food Comes Full Circle,” Straits Times, 3 July 2004, 6Teo Pau Lin, “Record Breaking Feasts,” Straits Times, 30 June 2004, 3; Sandra Leong, “Night Revellers,” Straits Times, 9 August 2004, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Teo, “What’s Square Comes Round”; Leong, “Night Revellers.”
6. Teo, “What’s Square Comes Round.”
7. Loh, “Street Food Comes Full Circle.”
8. Teo, “What’s Square Comes Round.”
9. Loh, “Street Food Comes Full Circle”; Teo, “What’s Square Comes Round.”
10. “Soulful Streets”; Teo, “What’s Square Comes Round”; “Food Centre No More....”
11. National Heritage Board, Orchard Heritage Trail: A Companion Guide (Singapore: National Heritage Board, 2018), 67.
12. Teo, “What’s Square Comes Round”; Leong, “Night Revellers”; Teo, “Record Breaking Feasts”; M. Berns, “Orchard Road Car Park Hawker,” ADB Newsbrief: A Publication of the Association of Dutch Businessmen in Singapore (November 2004), 10–11. (Call no. RSING 330.95957 ADBN)
13. Teo, “What’s Square Comes Round.”
14. Leong, “Night Revellers.”
15. Genevieve Jiang, “Makan by the Bay,” New Paper, 12 June 2005, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
16. “Die-Hard Gluttons Can Now Go to this Bay,” Straits Times, 22 May 2005, 28. (From NewspaperSG)

The information in this article is valid as at August 2021 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 



Streets and Places
Dinners and dining--Singapore