Due to its history as a seaport, Singapore has a rich cultural past that has cemented its reputation as an International Food city. It’s for this reason that if you tried to define Singaporean food, you’d probably need to borrow from a lot of other cultures in doing so—which sounds alright to us. So pick up your chopsticks and loosen your belt, as we rundown 8 of the best dishes to eat in Singapore.
1. Singapore Chili Crab
Created in 1956 this is a recipe that’s stood the test of time. But then why wouldn’t it? Soft yielding crab, sweet tomato sauce, a little tickle of chili heat. It’s everything you could wish for on one plate. Served from many a hawker stall, this messy treat is best eaten with your hands and accompanied by a Mantous or steamed or deep fried bun. It’s arguably Singapore’s most famous dish and if you want to visit where it all started, you can! The restaurant famed for inventing the dish, the Palm Beach Seafood Restaurant, is still serving up this delicious crab to this day.
2. Hainanese Chicken Rice
Your first taste of Hainanese chicken rice might be on the plane over as it is one of a small number of local dishes that Singapore airline serves. It is a great example of what can be done when you try to squeeze every bit of flavor from your ingredients.
Firstly the chicken is poached and the resulting broth (including any fat) is combined with ginger, garlic and Pandan leaves to cook the rice. What results is a very flavorful and slightly greasy rice which has been dubbed “oily rice” for obvious reasons. This is served alongside the chicken and fresh cucumber, which has also been boiled in the stock. A fiery, garlicky dipping sauce finishes it all off, cutting through the grease and setting your lips tingling. If that sounds like something you’d like, you’re in luck. One of the most popular dishes to eat in Singapore, this dish can be found pretty much anywhere but for the really good stuff, head to the Chinatown district and join the exceedingly long queue extending from the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken stand. Not only will you get a Michelin starred meal, you’ll get the cheapest Michelin starred meal in the world. And that’s worth the plane ride.
3. Oyster Omelet
It could be argued that we’re generally not big oyster eaters in the West, but maybe that’s because we’ve been missing a trick by not putting them in omelets. Oyster omelets are made with a slightly sturdier batter than your traditional omelet. One that has been thickened with tapioca or potato starch. This mixture is cooked over a high heat in pork lard, until the edges are brown and crispy and the middle is liltingly soft and yielding. It’s all presented with a scoop of spicy chilli sauce, spiked with lime and finished with fresh coriander. Of course, if you really don’t fancy oysters, you can get exactly the same dish with shrimp instead. Both options are commonly regarded by locals as being possibly the best dishes to eat in Singapore; probably on account of being shockingly delicious.
4. Char Kway Teow
Now I’m going to say two words to you and I want you to steel yourself.
Ready? Ok, here goes.
I know, I know, on the surface it doesn’t sound great. But honestly, these tasty little clams are surprisingly fresh, succulent and well worth the effort of getting past the name. Which you’ll have to if you want to try one of the most popular dishes to eat in Singapore, Char Kway Teow. This delicious street food literally means flat rice noodles, blistered in a hot wok with dark soy sauce, chili, bean sprouts, prawns and of course, blood cockles. It’s all finished with a topping of crispy pork lard which may not add to the health content but certainly ramps up the texture.
Now the chances are that you may have already heard of or even tried Laksa, but this very old dish has a lot of variants to its name. Generally speaking, Laksa consists of spicy, curry soup and noodles. Whether that’s rice noodles or vermicelli, or a coconut milk base rather than a sour asam base, depends on the region and variety you’re eating. One thing’s for certain though, they all taste very good indeed. Why not see if you can try them all and let us know your favorite?
6. Kaya Toast
Everyone loves a sweet treat with a hot beverage and the people of Singapore are no exception. That’s why they have Kaya Toast with their coffee. This morsel is very thin toast spread with a thick jam made with coconut, sugar and egg and it’s served with a little square of butter. Eaten either at breakfast, teatime or just as a snack, you’ll see this on many hawker stalls and you can even buy the jam or Kaya separately if you want to try it at home.
7. Nasi Lemak
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that’s why you should have Nasi Lemak. This hearty but healthy breakfast consists of rice cooked in coconut milk, with a side of cucumber, omelet, fried anchovies with peanuts and sambal. Once again there are many variants of this dish across the region, including two in Singapore alone. But the basic structure is the same and the flavors are all delicious. If it seems too strange to be eating something spicy for breakfast, don’t worry, you can also add it to the already large repertoire of great dishes to eat in Singapore during lunch—quite versatile!
8. Sugarcane Juice
Sugarcane juice is popular across a lot of Asia but the high temperatures of Singapore might mean you appreciate it just that little bit more here. Sweet, cool, and tangy if you ask for lemon, this refreshing drink can revitalize a weary traveler, meaning for just a small sum you are free to go forward and try even more Singaporean delights!
Well, that’s our list. Truth be told, Singapore is such a food lover’s paradise that you’ll be spoilt for choice. Fancy some authentic Japanese Ramen? Not a problem. How about a New York style bagel? Sure, sounds good. Or maybe some Korean BBQ or a delicate bowl of pasta. Yes, yes, yes. All these things are available and so much more. You certainly won’t run out of incredible dishes to eat in Singapore!
Suggested next reading: 6 Hong Kong Dishes You Simply Can’t Afford To Miss (& 1 You Probably Can)