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Singapore showcases unimaginable varieties of cuisines influenced by the Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Peranakan and Western traditions – a multicultural mix that offers a unique gastronomic experience.
But before you dive into the unique culture that surrounds dining in Singapore, here’s my list of 10 dishes that should definitely be on your bucket list. These might not be traditional but it will definitely tickle your tastebuds.
1. Hainanese Chicken Rice
Chicken rice is a basic delight for me and can be found almost anywhere in Singapore and on almost any Asian restaurant menu for that matter. Chicken rice has become something of an unofficial Singaporean national dish. I’ve tried this at different stalls and the tender juicy meat and the gelatinous skin of the steamed chicken and even the roasted one never failed to wow me. Combined with the aroma and spices of ginger and chili dip, this is like heaven in my mouth.
Where to eat Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore:
2. Bah Kut Teh
Bak kut teh literally translates as “meat bone tea”, and at its simplest, consists of meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices for hours. Despite its name, there is in fact no tea in the dish itself; the name refers to a strong oolong Chinese tea which is usually served alongside the soup in the belief that it dilutes or dissolves the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-laden dish.
Bak kut teh is usually eaten with rice or noodle, as well as with youtiao – long pieces of deep-fried dough common in China and other East and Southeast Asian countries. And as for me, I prefer eating it with rice lol! The most popular variant of this dish is light in color, whilst the original Hokkien recipe uses dark soy sauce for a saltier taste.
Where to eat Bak Kut Teh in Singapore:
3. Curry Laksa
Laksa is, without a doubt, one of the tastiest dish Singapore has to offer. So if you are going to try only one dish in Singapore, make it laksa. Its defining characteristic is the spicy coconut-based curry soup and the noodles – thick vermicelli cut into shorter pieces that can be easily slurped up with a spoon. And to enhance the flavor even more, slices of fish, shrimp and cockles are added for a hearty meal.
Where to eat Laksa in Singapore:
4. Fish Head Curry
Fish Head Curry is probably the most talked about dish aside from Hainanese Chicken Rice when it comes to local food in Singapore. There are actually a few variations to the dish that people may not know of. Every ethnic group in Singapore has its own version of the dish. Some mix in tamarind paste for a tinge of sourness, others add coconut milk for a creamier texture. The only similarity is the head of a fleshy Red Snapper swimming in a pool of spicy gravy, along with a mix of vegetables such as okra (lady fingers) and egg plant. These combination of ingredients and cooking styles from the different cultures has created a distinct cuisine that is unique, spicy and aromatic. It may not look an appetizing dish but I assure you its incredibly good.
Where to eat Fish Head Curry in Singapore:
5. Chili Crab
You can not leave Singapore without tasting the famous Chilli crab. It is basically a seafood dish in which stir-fried crab is coated with sweet, savory and spicy tomato based sauce. It is traditionally eaten with bare hands as a means to savor the juicy crab meat with its sweet and spicy chilli sauce. The accompanying mantous (deep-fried buns) are often dipped in the chili crab’s sauce and taste best when they are fried to a golden, heavenly crisp.
Where to eat Chili Crab in Singapore:
6. Fried Carrot Cake
When I first heard that Carrot Cake is something famous to eat in Singapore I thought how odd it seemed that a cake would be found in Hawker Centers, they’re mostly all about the Noodles or Laksa or Chicken Rice. And then I saw the pictures that revealed Carrot Cake is nothing like the Carrot Cake we have in the Philippines. What’s more, it doesn’t even have carrots in it!
The ‘cake’ is actually made from steamed rice flour and white radish, fried in an egg-like omelet and then garnished with spring onions. It’s normally served white, meaning plain, but it’s sometimes served dark, where it’s seasoned with molasses or a sweet black sauce.
Where to eat Carrot Cake in Singapore:
Chicken satay is a popular food of Malaysia and Singapore. Satay is like pork or chicken BBQ in the Philippines but with a unique twist! It is usually eaten as a starter or a snack but it is also served as a side dish. However or whenever served, it is always accompanied by the delightful peanut-laden satay sauce that’s simply heavenly when it’s piping hot. And don’t forget to mix it with the complimentary raw onions and slices of cucumber, it makes the dish somewhat refteshing. Yes! Its so good, I can eat it everyday!
Where to eat Satay in Singapore:
8. Kaya Toast and Soft-Boiled Eggs
Kaya Toast and Soft-Boiled Eggs is one of the most common breakfasts and snacks in Singapore, it is usually accompanied by a cup of hot or ice (depending on your preference and the weather) coffee or tea. I really love how the not-overly-sweet kaya toast complements the soft-boiled eggs very well. Kaya toast consists of, well, crunchy toast, softened butter, and kaya jam – a delicious and popular jam in Singapore and Malaysia made from coconut milk, eggs, pandan leaf, and sugar. For the soft-boiled eggs, you break them into a little plate, drizzle with dark soy sauce and pepper, and slurp them down, yum! You can either stir the mixtures up or eat the egg white and egg yolks separately.
Where to eat Kaya Toast in Singapore:
9. Char Kway Teow
I first saw this dish being enjoyed by a group of Korean tourist, seeing them happy while eating it made me order one for myself! Hahaha…copy cat!
Char Kway Teow literally means “stir-fried rice cake strips, char kway teow is a very popular dish made from flat rice noodle (hence the name “kway teow”) stir-fried over very high heat in pork fat, soy sauce, chili, eggs, seafood such as prawns and blood cockles, and herbs and spices.
Where to eat Char Kyaw Teow in Singapore:
10. Hokkien Prawn Mee
While there are the soup version (Hokkien hae mee) and the fried version (Hokkien char mee), the soup version is more popular in Singapore. Hokkien prawn mee consists of egg noodle and rice noodle cooked in soup stock and served with prawns, fish cake, pork, sometimes squid and other vegetables. The fried version is stir-fried with eggs and the same ingredients mentioned earlier, and served with soy sauce, sambal chili and lime. Both variation is equally tasty but I prefer the soup version 🙂
Where to eat Hokkian Mee in Singapore:
There you have it my 10 must try food in Singapore. I hope that this short gastronomic tour will give you bird’s eye view of Singapore’s rich culinary heritage and help you in your planning of the ultimate Singaporean food trip!
How about you, what is your favorite Singaporean dish? Leave your answer as comment below. Happy eating!