Eating in Singapore

Singapura - 114Maxwell Centre

If like me you’re passionate about food and eating, it’ll be impossible not to fall in love with Singapore.

Here food is taken very seriously, from Fine Dining restaurants to Hawker Centres, the possibilities are many, with options for all pockets and with the premise that it’s hard to eat badly in Singapore!

As a country of immigrants, the influences flow among the Chinese, the Malayan and the Indian food. In terms of modern restaurants, there are also, as expected, the French, Japaneses cuisines, and the Spanish, which seems to have invaded the city with its tapas.

Singapura - 115Maxwell Centre

But let’s start with breakfast, in Singapore the most traditional one is the Kaya Toast and eggs, meaning, slow cooked eggs accompanied by a toast with butter and a kind of jam (kaya), made with basis on coconut and sugar. Sweet, very sweet, but it’s impossible to leave Singapore without tasting one of these. The most famous place for it is the Ya Kun Kaya Toast, with places spread all over town.

Singapura - 91As to street food, the true essence of the city’s gastronomy, is something that hardly anyone knows better than the Singaporeans, used to good food at low prices. In Singapore, unlike other Asian countries, street food is not actually on the street, but in Hawker Centres (more than 20 around town), food squares created by the government in a way to control quality, hygiene and security of the establishments and products sold. So we decided to choose 10 dishes that represent the interesting Singaporean cuisine.

Singapura - 25Satay by the bay Hawker Centre

10 must taste dishes in Singapore 

Singapura - 28Satay

1 – Satay
Satay is a famous dish of Malayan or Indonesian origin, with basis on marinated meat with saffron and other spices, placed in skewers and grilled. A much appreciated dish by the Singaporeans, which also inspired the name of one of the Hawkers in town (Satay by the bay). The most famous meats are chicken, veal or lamb (the most interesting) and even pork in some Chinese sellers. To go with there’s usually a spicy sauce of peanut, onion and cucumbers.

Where to eat: Satay by the bayKwong Satay and Haron Satay.

2 – Carrot Cake
No, it’s not the famous American cake, neither it has carrots in. It’s like an omelet made with eggs and daikon.

Where to eat: Fu Ming Carrot Cake, Hai Sheng Carrot Cake, He Zhong Carrot Cake

Singapura - 29Carrot cake

3 – Hokkien ‘Mee’ 
Singapore’s Hokkien Mee is a combination of egg noodles, rice noodles, with shrimp broth and pork meat, squid and shrimps, among other variations.

Where to eat: Geylang Lorong 29 (Satay by the Bay), Eng Ho Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee, Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Noodles, Original Serangoon Fried Hokkien Mee

Singapura - 119Chicken Rice

4 – Chicken Rice
This is probably the most famous Singaporean dish. It’s all over town and in every kind of restaurant. The chicken is cooked in an aromatic broth af chicken and pork, and then the rice is also cooked in the same broth, with the adding of ginger, garlic and a series of spices. Usually is also accompanied with a spicy sauce.

Where to eat: Tian Tian Chicken Rice (made famous by Anthony Bourdain), Boon Tong Kee.

Singapura - 117 The queues at Tian Tian Chicken Rice

5 – Chili Crab 
Singaporeans love crabs, in all shapes and sizes, being the most appreciated the Chili crab (with a slightly spicy sauce and small breads to dip in the sauce) and the Black pepper crab (with a slightly sweet black pepper sauce).

Where to eat: Long Beach Seafood (see), Red House Seafood Restaurant, Crab Party

Singapura - 56Chili Crab

6 – Fish Head Curry
A dish with origins in South India that’s been suffering some changes with the influence of other people in Singapore. A curry served with half a fish’s head and vegetables, with spicier or sweeter versions, depending on the origin.

Where to eat: Samy’s Curry, Bao Ma Curry Fish Head, Gu Ma Jia

Singapura - 31Murtabak

7 – Roti Prata and Murtabak
Another dish that features the cultural mix of Singapore, Indian origin, Malayan name and eaten by the Chinese! A type of thin pancake, cooked over a hot plate that can be sides to many dishes. When filled with ingredients (like sardines, chicken or vegetables) it’s called Murtabak.

Where to eat: Prata Stall (Satay by the bay), Thasevi Famous Jalan Kayu Prata Restaurant, The Roti Prata House

8 – Bah Kut Teh
This one of the most humble plates in Singaporean cuisine and it’s chinese immigrants, an intense broth with a basis on pork, pepper and herbs, later enrichened with the least noble cuts of pork.

 Where to eat: Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh, Song Fa Bak Kut Teh, Leong Kee (Klang) Bak Kut Teh

Singapura - 116

9 – Laksa
A fusion between the Chinese and Malayan cuisines. The most famous in Singapore is the curry Laksa, where is used dough, coconut milk, fish, shrimp and clams, and obviously the laksa leaf.

Where to eat: 328 Katong Laksa, Sungei Road Laksa, Janggut Laksa

10 – Rojak
We end with a series of sautéed vegetables with a fried dough cake, surrounded with a leavened shrimp paste sauce.

Where to eat: Janggut Laksa, Hoover Rojak

Singapura - 103Durio

Another thing you can’t miss in Singapore, and Asia in general, is the fruit, from pitaya to the several citrus, and the jackfruit, and several species and varieties you can’t find in Europe. A fruit in particular, the Durio, causes an intense love/hate stimulus with its intense smell (like a good French cheese) and its creamy texture. You should try it when coming to town!

singapura -1xxxxxThe Chinese “cousin” of our pastel de nata 

Besides fruit and street food, Singapore is also a Fine Dining paradise, with over 10 spaces being part of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Among them, the most famous must be the restaurant André, of the chef André Chiang, who used his French cuisine training to adapt it to Asian ingredients and contemporary presentations. Besides André, there are other famous ones, Waku Ghin, the Les Amis, the trendy Burnt Ends, the Corner House at the beautiful Botanic Garden, the Japanese Shinji (one of the best outside Japan), the Jaan, the Tippling Club, the Wild Rocket (see) and a new rookie of the Singaporean gastronomic scene, Meta (see), among many other great restaurants.

meta - 2Japanese sweet shrimp at Meta 

And so you live in Singapore, a city worth knowing without leaving the table.

Yes, because food is culture!

Where to stay
The South Beach
The Fullerton Hotel

Versão Portuguesa

 Photos: Flavors & Senses

Flavors & Senses in Singapore with the support of  Samsonite and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) – #YourSingapore.
– During our trip we were accompanied by the tireless Naseem Huseni – STB’s guide.

This article is the 5th of 5 articles of our Singapore Guide. 

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