Do you remember back in school when you would sprint to the canteen during recess, just to get that steaming warm plate of Chee Cheong Fun (rice noodle rolls) with sweet sauce or a plate of delicious Lor Mai Kai (Chicken Glutinous Rice)?
If you grew up in Singapore, chances are, all of these are more than familiar to you. To us, these local breakfasts are still what comforts us the most in the mornings.
As Singaporeans, we are always proud of our multi-ethic society and of all the different cuisines available. Also, these local breakfast foods are usually inexpensive. If you are new to our Lion City, here are 12 local breakfasts in Singapore to try. And to all fellow Singaporeans, don’t you agree that these are better than the typical brunch fare of eggs Benedict and pancakes?
#1 BANANA LEAF-WRAPPED NASI LEMAK
This popular Malay cuisine usually consists of coconut rice with Ikan Billis, Sambal Sauce, Fried Fish, Omelettes and more.
Typically wrapped up in banana leaf to give that extra bit of fragrance, Nasi Lemak is our favourite comfort breakfast. And they usually cost only a dollar or two – depending on the ingredients in the packet.
#2 CHAR SIEW PAU
A Singaporean-style Char Siew Pau is a fluffy white bun with chopped char siew (honeyed BBQ pork), then steamed until cooked. These used to cost us only about S$0.50 back in school, and they are about S$1 to S$1.50 now at coffee shops.
#3 CHEE CHEONG FUN WITH SWEET SAUCE
The Singapore version differs from its Hong Kong-style counterpart and is more sweet than savoury. These rice noodle rolls are steamed, cut up then served with sweet sauce and sesame, and chilli upon request.
These are a great breakfast option as it will satisfy your cravings without filling you up to an uncomfortable extent. A serving these days costs an average of S$1.
#4 CHWEE KUEH
Chwee Kueh is really steamed rice cakes topped off with Cai Poh (diced preserved radish), and chilli is served on the side upon request. The rice cake itself is pretty much tasteless but the Cai Poh is flavourful and slightly salty, hence balancing out the textures and overall taste of each bite.
A serving of 6 Chwee Kuehs in Singapore typically goes at a mere S$1.50 at local coffee shops, thus making it both economical and understatedly delicious.
#5 DOUJIANG YOUTIAO
Doujiang is soya bean milk, and Youtiao is dough fritters. When put together, it is a match made in heaven.
More often than not, the dessert of jellied beancurd (or what we call douhua) is served instead of soya bean milk. But whatever it is, you dip your youtiao into it for the best taste. Breakfast or supper, Doujiang Youtiao is always a good idea.
#6 FISHBALL NOODLE SOUP
A bowl of fishball noodles go for an average of S$3.50 in coffee shops. It may look next to nothing, but this unassuming bowl is sheer comfort food for most Singaporeans.
Yellow noodles served with fishcake slices and fishball in a bowl of sweet broth, fishball noodle soup is well-loved by both children and adults in Singapore. Add some chilli padi for an extra punch.
#7 KAYA TOAST & HALF-BOILED EGGS
Kaya is coconut jam for the uninitiated, and kaya toast is quite simply toasted old-school bread with a spread of kaya and butter slice(s). Kaya toast is often served with two half-boiled eggs and a cup of warm beverage.
Back in school, we had half-boiled eggs and kaya toast with a warm cup of Milo or Horlicks. Now, when we have it in coffee shops or hawker centres, we have them with a nice cup of black coffee or tea.
#8 LOR MAI KAI/FAN CHOY
Lor Mai Kai (Glutinous Chicken Rice) and Fan Choy (Glutinous Char Siew Rice) are quick and easy meals as they are usually pre-packaged and re-steamed to be served hot.
Both glutinous rice variations are extremely filling, and though they are harder to find these days, we have fond memories of this local breakfast that typically costs S$1.50.
#9 PEANUT PORRIDGE
This is as old school as it can get. Primarily accompanied with shredded chicken and/or peanut, it is one of the most economical breakfast option in Singapore hawker centres. You can easily get a bowl for S$1 or less.
#10 PRAWN NOODLES SOUP
Hours and hours of simmering pork bones and prawn shells and more; nothing beats the sweetness of prawn noodles soup.
The choice of noodles is yours – vermicelli, yellow noodles or flat noodles, you take your pick. But the highlight here is the flavourful broth and fresh prawns, with fried shallots to top. A bowl of Prawn Noodles Soup costs an average S$4, but the better ones can go up to S$10 per bowl (served with tiger prawns).
#11 ROTI PRATA
This local Indian dish is hands down our ultimate guilty pleasure. Few things in life please us like a slice of piping hot egg prata. Prata comes in a plethora of variations, but we prefer ours the classic way – kosong (plain) or with egg.
Dip it in the complimentary curry sauce, or do it the Singaporean way and eat ‘em with sugar.
#12 WANTON NOODLES
Wantons are popular meat dumplings and they are either boiled or deep-fried when sold here in Singapore. Whether you have it dry or with soup, a bowl of Wanton Noodles never disappoints.
When the wantons are big and juicy and the noodles are nice and springy, the whole dish just falls into place. Having Wanton Noodles for breakfast is lovely, but it works as a lunch or dinner dish too!
Illustrations for ladyironchef by Chen Xuan