Asia

The nine best foods to try in Singapore, and where to find them

Indian, Malay, Peranakan and Chinese… all the tastiest cuisines, are you with us? Well, Singapore is more than just Southeast Asia’s super pretty face. It’s one huge pot containing all of these foods, mixed up.

Not to be dwarfed by it’s futuristic skyrises and nightly light shows, Singapore’s amazing Hawker Centres have been scrumptious stalwarts for decades. From sambal stingray to chilli crab, and from oyster omelette to satay everything, you’ll find pretty much every type of Asian food being served from the stalls dotted around the city. Some of it can range from the wonderfully bizarre (fish head curry and fried carrot cake), to legitimately divine; we’re talking Michelin starred – and affordable – street food stands.

But what if you and your stomach only have a few days to sample it all? We’ve pulled together the eight most unmissable dishes (and the city’s famed namesake cocktail) into a handy list for you…

 

Chicken Rice

 

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Let’s start with Singapore’s unofficial, official dish: Hainanese Chicken rice. Though an incredibly simple looking meal, when prepared properly the poached meat is succulent and tender with a subtle flavour which works best with a scoop of chilli sauce, or a splodge of minced ginger.

Where to find it: Anywhere. This staple dish is on display at every hawker food centre, but locals love Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, in Maxwell Road Food Centre.

Ever wanted to eat at a Michelin Star restaurant? Head to the Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle in Chinatown Food Complex for your soya sauce chicken rice and you can tick it off your list, for just $3.8 SGD.

 

Katong Laksa

 

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There are various types of laksa in Singapore, this version, originating from the Katong district of Singapore itself, is a little different. Made with thick rice noodles cut into bite size chunks and dried shrimp soaking in spicy coconut gravy, it’s enough to have us considering a permanent move to Singapore. Nom.

Where to find it: 328 Katong Laksa to the east of Singapore’s marina gets rave reviews. Perched on a street corner in Joo Chiat and glowing with bold, red signage, you won’t miss it! They are so popular that they now have multiples outlets across the island.

 

Koya Toast

 

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France has the croissant, England has the full English, we do the brunch… and Singapore does Kaya Toast. Largely unknown outside of Southeast Asia, many locals kick-start their day with this toastie filled with kaya, a jam made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves, with dollops of melted butter.

Where to find it: Most cafes, coffee shops and even some locally run guesthouses with offer this up with your coffee each day. Ya Kun Kaya Toast is a chain with more than 40 spots across Singapore, so look out for one.

 

Fish Otah

 

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Otherwise known as Otak-Otak, this street treat may sound a bit violent, but it’s a much-loved snack in Southeast Asia. These minced fishcakes are traditionally served grilled, then wrapped up in a coconut or banana leaf. The name itself actually means “brains brains”, because it looks like brains. Not to put you off, or anything. They’re honestly delicious.

Where to find it: Any hawker centre worth its salt will serve you this delicacy straight off the grill in Singapore. So whether you’re in Maxwell Road, Old Airport Road or even Chinatown, you’ll be able to sniff some out and try as many as you like for next to no money.

 

Rojak

 

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YES, Asia. Even your salads are deliciously naughty, sweet and sour, sticky masterpieces… and Rojak (meaning ‘eclectic mix’) is the perfect example. To make it, fruit, local veggies and dough fritters are tossed together in a sticky black sauce made from chilli, lime, and prawn paste, then served with ground peanut and ginger.

We mean… it’s still a salad, right? The healthy kind?

 

Where to find it: If you want to sample the best in the world, you’ll find it in Lau Hong Ser Rojak, in the Dunman Food Centre, located just over 8km from Marina Bay in Singapore. The best thing? It’s less than a ten minute walk from 328 Katong Laksa, meaning you’re in for a double whammy within an hour of food foraging.

 

Popiah

 

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Spring rolls on steroids, oozing with dozens of different kinds of ingredients and chopped like sushi, Popiah is so popular in Singapore that some completely extra locals even host their very own ‘Popiah parties’. You can mix and match the Popiah’s contents to your individual desire – and at as little as $1.50 SGD, they’re as affordable as they are delicious.

Where to find popiah: Everywhere! Yi Ping Xiang Popiah in Bishan Park is famed among locals, and you could also check out Qin in Old Airport Road food Centre where you’ll find it served up right alongside another one of our must-eats…

 

Fried Carrot Cake

 

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Forget the sweet, orange variety of carrot cake we know well. Although fried balls of that would make for some serious hangover munch.

Singaporean carrot cake, locally known as Chai tow kway, is made from a type of white radish often called ‘carrot’. It’s mixed with rice flour, steamed, then cut into cubes before being fried up with garlic, egg and pickled radish. Served plain, it’s white. Add sweet soy sauce to the mix and it turns into black carrot cake.

Where to find Singapore Carrot cake: You won’t struggle to find either variety, but rumour has it the best white carrot cake can be found at the Lagoon Food Village, on the East Coast. Check out Fu Ming Cooked Food on Redhill Lane for the best of the black variety.

 

Chilli crab

 

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Sweet, succulent mud crab soaked in a tangy tomato and chilli sambal, laden with egg that soaks up the flavours perfectly… this is the king of all seafood dishes.

Although its humble origins lie in the back of a street food cart in Singapore in the fifties, you’ll now get to slurp up this delicacy in most restaurants around the city.

Where to find chilli crab: The coast! We’ve heard to get the best of the best, you need to pay a visit to either Mellben Seafood or Long Beach Seafood Restaurants.

 

Singapore Sling

 

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Bright lights, big city! What foodie adventure in Singapore would be complete without a few drinks to wash everything down with? Once you’ve had your fill of, well, all of the above, head into the CBD or out onto the glistening marina to sample Singapore’s signature cocktail made from gin, cointreau, pineapple, lime, grenadine and cherry.

 

Where to go: It’s birthplace, Raffles Hotel offers up the original sling, but expect to be set back over $20 SGD. Pretty much every bartender around the city will be able to sling one your way though, and with Singapore having just been announced as having five of the top 50 bars in the world (that’s 10% of all of them!) – Manhattan, Atlas, Native, Operation Dagger and 28 Hong Kong Street – there will be no shortage of options to be able try a few and find your favourite!

 

 

Ready to dive face first into Singapore’s foodie scene? Check out our flights deals, find accommodation and food tours, or simply inspire yourself more with our Singapore travel guide!