A visit to Singapore isn’t complete without digging into the local cuisine. From noodle soup to dim sum, seafood to desserts, there are many, almost too many, options for dining. The city is blessed with countless hawker centres and restaurants for every budget. What should you eat? Here are the eight best dishes you should look for during your next visit to Singapore.
Hainanese beef noodle is a well-loved by Singaporeans. If you want a savory meal to start your day, look no further than a bowl of beef noodle. Cooked with thick brown beef broth, beef noodle is usually served with thick beehoon or kway teow noodles. You have your choice of meat which accompanies the noodles, such as sliced meat, brisket, tendon, and beef balls.
Stir-fried flat rice noodle with cockles and bean sprouts might not sound too enticing but it is a comfort food for those who love this dish. As the dish has become popular in many countries, each chef has developed his own distinct recipe. The best varieties are usually at traditional hawker centres. Char kway teow used to be served to laborers because of its high fat content and low cost but now it’s considered an iconic treat in Singapore and Malaysia.
Congee is a type of rice porridge typical in many Asian countries, usually, but not always, eaten for breakfast. It’s also considered comfort food. Congee is often served with a variety of side dishes. In Singapore, accompaniments typically include braised pork, steamed fish, stir-fried water spinach, salted egg, fish cake, tofu, minced meat, chili sauce, or vegetables.
On a hot and sunny day in Singapore, there’s nothing better than an ice cream sandwich to cool you down. It’s an unlikely food to see on the street of Singapore, but it is getting more well-known as the country’s iconic food. Ice cream sandwich vendors sell the ice cream on slices of multi-colored bread, on cones or in cups instead of sandwiched between wafers.
When in Singapore, eating at least three different meals of chicken rice is a must do. As a national dish of Singapore, chicken rice can be found everywhere from hawker centres to high-end restaurants. The recipe for the dish is adapted from early Chinese immigrants from Hainan Island. The chicken is served with rice cooked in chicken stock with ginger and pandan leaves, cucumbers, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
If you are craving something more western, yet thoroughly Singaporean, look for kaya toast. Kaya toast is a well-known breakfast or snack food in Singapore and Malaysia. Kaya toast is prepared with kaya (coconut jam) and margarine or butter on white bread. It’s especially good with a cup of kopi c or teh tarik. There are many franchises specializing kaya toast but it also can be easily found in hawker centres or Chinese food stalls.
Another of Singapore’s national dishes, chilli crab is popular in Singapore and Malaysia. It’s prepared with crabs cooked in a thick, sweet and savory sauce made with tomato and chilli. The dish can be found in seafood restaurants all over the island from street stalls to high-end restaurants. It is traditionally eaten with bare hands as a means to savor the juicy crab meat with its sweet and spicy chilli sauce.
Literally meaning pulled tea in Malay, teh tarik is a popular hot drink in Singapore and Malaysia. The name comes from the “pulling” process during the preparation. The mixture is poured back and forth repeatedly between two containers from a height, giving it a thick bubbly top which is the signature look of the drink. It is made from black tea and condensed or evaporated milk. It’s served in kopi tiams, outdoor stalls, or restaurants.
In the heart of the business district, there is Lau Pa Sat, one of the most popular food markets in the city. This hexagon-shaped hawker centre is full of local stalls dishing out local favorites from early in the morning till evening. Lau Pa Sat is the ideal location to find them all under one roof, and the setting is far more romantic than most hawker centres, especially at night when the satay vendors set up their stalls outside.
For those of you who are visiting Singapore for business, or want to live like a local, check out apartment renting options at Metro Residences. You just need that homey feeling sometimes. During ITB Asia in Singapore, a group of speakers stayed at one of the Metro Residence’s properties, Robinson Suites. It was located 1.5 kilometers, 2 MRT stops away from Marina Bay Sands. The building was secure and the room was well-equipped for an extended stay. I especially enjoyed using the washing machine after traveling around hot Singapore for a few days. The best thing about Robinson Suites was that it was located right across the street from Lau Pa Sat hawker centre. You will never go hungry here!