To say Singapore is a foodie’s paradise is an understatement. We are more than that!
Perhaps, you may think that your everyday carrot cake and bak kut teh are all too common, but Singapore is blessed with different races and cultures, and this has directly impacted our food and all that we have to eat today.
Being in Singapore simply means you will never run out of options on what to eat, because just local food alone, we have a huge plethora and they are all unique in their own ways. We take a look at some of The Best Things To Eat in Singapore.
#1 BAK KUT TEH
Bak Kut Teh is a popular pork bone soup that has many different renditions across Southeast Asia. But of course, nothing beats the Singapore-style Bak Kut Teh – a rich and peppery clear pork bone broth with tender pieces of pork ribs.
Braised for many hours, the broth has an intense flavour and the pork is so tender that it falls off the bone easily. Traditionally eaten with white rice, braised peanuts and/or salted preserved vegetables, this is one of our all-time favourite local dishes.
#2 BEEF NOODLES
Beef noodles can be a pretty vague term because there are, too, many renditions across Asia. Here in Singapore, beef noodles are traditionally served in two ways – dry or with soup.
The dry version is served with a thick starchy brown sauce, whereases the latter is served in a rich herbal-like broth. Tender slices of beef are often accompanied by beef tendon or beef balls.
#3 CAI FAN/ MIXED VEGETABLES RICE
A great economical option for all, Cai Fan translates to Mixed Vegetables Rice. It is the most common stall in hawker centres and coffee shops, where you pick your own ingredients that will be piled atop white rice. Some popular dishes include Stir-Fried Kai Lan, Sweet & Sour Pork and Steamed Fish.
There is a Teochew porridge version which works the same way but porridge is used in place of rice.
#4 CHENG TNG
Cheng Tng is a popular and affordable dessert, usually found in coffee shops and food courts in Singapore. It used to be sold by street vendors in the past, but is a ubiquitous dessert that can be found just about anywhere in Singapore today.
It is a sweet “soup” that features ingredients such as dates and longans in a light brown broth. Cheng Tng can be eaten both warm or chilled, and are mostly under S$2.
#5 HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE
As Singapore’s most iconic dish, it is hard to not love this irresistible plate of goodness that can be found everywhere in Singapore. The Hainanese chicken rice dish features a fragrant rice that is cooked in chicken broth and pandan leaves, topped with tender chicken slices.
The chicken is steamed for long hours, and the Hainanese chicken rice is traditionally served with ginger, dark soya sauce and chilli sauce on the side.
#6 CURRY PUFF
Curry puffs are found in many shapes and sizes, and each ethnicity in Singapore has their own version that varies very slightly from each other. A rich curry (usually chicken curry) paste with potatoes and chicken are enveloped inside puff pastry.
This extremely delectable pastry can be found with different stuffing variations. Popular ones include Sardine or Vegetarian Curry. Some quirky ones are Chilli Crab to Chicken Satay.
#7 DURIAN PENGAT
Pureed durian is mixed in with palm sugar and coconut milk, and pandan leaves are used to enhance the flavours of the dessert. This is how the typical Durian Pengat is prepared and this dessert is well-loved by many Singaporeans.
Typically served chilled, some places also top their Durian Pengat off with a scoop of vanilla or coconut ice cream.
#8 FRIED HOKKIEN MEE
The Singapore Fried Hokkien Mee can also be referred to as fried prawn noodles. Yellow noodles and thick bee hoon are wok-fried with bean sprouts, squid, prawns and lard – all in a sweet broth that gives the dish its primary flavour.
When served, it comes with a slice of lime and a dollop of fiery chilli.
#9 ICE KACHANG
Ice Kachang is every citizen’s saving grace in our nation’s tropical heat. Coarse shaved ice decorated with ingredients such as red bean, pandan jelly, attap seeds and more. Multi-coloured sugar syrups are drizzled on the shaved ice to give the dessert a colourful finish.
In the past, street vendors used to serve Ice Balls – which were actually coarse shaved ice too, but shaped into a ball and served with just the sugar syrups. These days, ice kachang are a lot more elaborate. But they are still very economical – mostly under S$2.50!
#10 KWAY CHAP
Kway Chap is one that might intimidate foreigners, for it includes a multitude of ingredients – mostly intestine from a pig. The ‘Kway’ refers to thick cut flat noodles or kway teow served in a herbal broth, and ‘Chap’ refers to the braise sauce.
The braise often features pig’s intestines (both big and small), pork belly, and braised beancurd. Salted vegetables are add-ons, and the accompanying chilli sauce is often a pretty spicy one.
Nothing meats a warm bowl of Laksa and Singapore’s version of it is sometimes referred to as Katong Laksa. Katong is the place where this iconic dish originated from and the bowl of cut-up thick bee hoon is flavoured with dried shrimp, assam leaves, spices and enhanced with fragrant coconut milk.
Typically, the Katong Laksa is topped with cockles, fish cake and boiled prawns. Laksa is best consumed with a soup spoon only. You can add extra spice to your laksa with sambal chilli.
#12 MILO DINOSAUR
Milo is a malt chocolate drink, and it is Singapore’s favourite drink. The Milo Dinosaur might seem like an intimidating name, but it is quite the contrary.
Iced Milo is piled up high with more powdered milo, and it is also how this quintessential drink had the name ‘Milo Dinosaur’ coined – with the ‘dinosaur’ referring to the mountain of Milo powder.
#13 OYSTER OMELETTE
Oyster Omelette is a mainstay in many hawker centres and coffee shop stalls because it tastes so ridiculously good. Beaten egg and flour, together with seasonings and condiments, are wok-fried with plump and fresh oysters to produce this incredible dish.
The flour, when fried, becomes crisp on the outside but still soft on the inside. It adds a good textural variety and bite to the dish. Have it with some sambal chilli and you are in for a treat.
#14 PRAWN NOODLE SOUP
Prawn Noodle Soup is a great comfort for Singaporeans. Typically, yellow noodles or vermicelli is used together, served in a rich prawn and pork ribs broth, and topped off with fresh prawns and pork meat.
Most prawn noodle stalls in Singapore also offer a dry version where the noodles are tossed in various sauces.
We call Rojak the Singapore-style salad. It is a fruit and vegetable “salad” tossed in a shrimp paste sauce and sprinkled with crushed peanuts.
The Indian version of this is very different. It is a variety of deep-fried doughs, seafood and meats that is eaten with a red peanut sauce.
#16 ROTI PRATA
Called ‘Roti Canai’ in India, the Roti Prata (as it is called in Singapore) has made its mark and goes down as one of our country’s most iconic dishes.
It is like a flour pancake that is usually made a-la-minute, and served with a side of chicken curry. The most common varieties are plain and egg prata. And as typical Singapore kids, we grew up eating our prata with sugar.
Who can pass up on barbecued skewered meats? Pork, chicken and beef are usually used, and the skewers are grilled or BBQ-ed upon order. It is served with ketupat (Malay rice cake), onions and a side of peanut stalls.
Way back in the past, satay seller used to have mobile stalls where they push through estates where they call out “SATAY!” to alert residents of their arrival. Now, we can find satay in everywhere in hawker centres, food courts and coffee shops.
#18 SWEET & SALTY GLUTINUOUS RICE
It is quite difficult to find stalls selling this traditional dish of sweet & salty glutinous rice, with many long-standing stalls fast depleting. But if you are lucky and happen to chance upon a stall selling it, do not hesitate to purchase it.
Typically, the salty one is more popular but some will choose to mix theirs in with some sweet glutinous rice too. This is one local gem that should not be forgotten.
#19 SWEET CHEE CHEONG FUN
We all know the Hong Kong-style Chee Cheong Fun where either shrimp or char siu meat is stuffed inside. Singapore’s version is served bare (no fillings) and topped with sweet sauce, sesame seeds and sometimes, chilli.
This rice noodle (‘fun’) is made by steaming a mixture until it becomes a large sheet, then rolling it to resemble a pig’s intestine (‘chee cheong’). It is a common and economical breakfast staple in Singapore.
#20 YONG TAU FOO
Yong Tau Foo is can be easily found in coffee shops and hawker centres, with a shelf of ingredients where you take your pick. Grab a bowl and a thong, choose your favourite ingredients and hand it over to the shop assistant.
Choose between soup or dry (some places serve laksa or mee rebus sauce to go with it) and pick a noodle or rice of choice. Popular ingredients include fish balls, cabbage, tofu, stuffed chilli, beancurd skin and stuffed taupok.
#21 BAK CHOR MEE
Bak Chor Mee is a Singaporean hawker dish of minced meat noodles that is commonly eaten as supper.
The piping hot bowl of springy noodles is tossed in black vinegar and chilli, then topped with sautéed mushrooms, lard, minced pork, meatballs, pig’s liver and sambal chili paste. There are a variety of noodles – from thick to thin to flat ones – and you can request for a non-spicy bowl too.
#22 BAN MIAN
Ban Mian in Singapore is a crossbreed noodle dish influenced by the Hakka and Hokkien cuisines. Essentially a big sheet of noodles, the sheet is then cut up to bite-size pieces.
The end result is bouncy delicious egg noodles submerged in a near-boiling anchovy stock broth, complete with minced pork, vegetables and a runny egg.
#23 BRAISED DUCK RICE
Braised Duck Rice is a popular Teochew Chinese delicacy that is well-loved by Singaporeans. The tender duck meat is complemented with a rich sauce and served with a bowl of porridge or fragrant rice.
There are numerous variations of the sauces across Singapore but recipes typically include a myriad of herbs, spices and other flavourful condiments to give the dish an irresistible oomph.
#24 CARROT CAKE (BLACK & WHITE)
Black Carrot Cake, otherwise known as Chai Tow Kway, is nothing like the sugary sweet treats you would come across in Western bakeries. The Singaporean version is a savoury spicy dish that is available in white or black.
The traditional Southeast Asian Carrot Cake is a plate of white radish cake cubes stir-fried with rice flour, chye poh (Chinese dried radish) and eggs. Additional sweet dark sauce is added for the black version.
#25 CHAR KWAY TEOW
The Singaporean version of Char Kway Teow is an addictive plate of sweet-and-savoury rice cake strip noodles stir-fried with several ingredients – bean sprout, belachan chili paste, blood cockles, eggs and sweet sauce.
The dish is extremely unhealthy due to its high fat content but it is insanely delicious! Just drop all your concerns and enjoy a plate of char kway teow; it’s worth it.
#26 CHWEE KUEH
Chwee Kuehs – or more professionally known as Water Rice Cakes – are actually mini bowl-shaped steamed rice cakes topped with crunchy salted turnips.
These savoury snacks are inexpensive (typically under S$1.50 for 4 pieces) and are often consumed as breakfast in Singapore. Best eaten with the kickass chilli, of course.
#27 FISH HEAD CURRY
Fish Head Curry is literally an entire red snapper fish’s head cooked with vegetables. The bubbling red curry stew is spicy and slightly sour, often eaten with fragrant white rice.
These are often found in zichar stalls in Singapore, and it is a communal dish.
#28 FROG’S LEG PORRIDGE
Frog’s Leg Porridge sounds like an exotic dish to eat in TV series Fear Factor, except that it is not. In fact, it is one of the best things in Singapore!
The local Singaporean delicacy of succulent frog meat served with smooth congee is usually consumed during dinnertime or suppertime. There are various cooking styles, but the most popular one is ginger with onion, and gong bao (dried chilli).
#29 HOR FUN
Hor Fun is a plate of thick flat rice noodles served with prawns, squids and snakehead fish slices and drenched with an aromatic viscous sauce.
The sauce is made of chicken stock, egg whites, fish sauce, oyster sauce, light sauce and thickened by corn flour. It may look like second to nothing but this is a very flavourful dish that is more often than not very filling.
#30 KAYA TOAST
The traditional kaya toast is a widely consumed breakfast staple in Singapore. Sweet coconut jam spreads are sandwiched between butter-smeared bread toasts.
Kaya Toast usually comes in a set, complete with 2 half-boiled eggs and a hot drink (either coffee or tea) of choice.
#31 LOR MEE
Lor Mee is a Chinese braised thick yellow noodles dish characterized by its starchy sauce. A good bowl of lor mee is hard to come by these days.
Its contents are rather complex, but basically comprises beansprouts, Chinese black vinegar, celeries, dark soya sauce, fried fish, hard-boiled egg, garlic cloves, ginger slices, meat broth, rock sugar, sliced pork belly meat, spiced powder and tapioca starch to produce a mouthwatering dish.
#32 MEE GORENG
Mee Goreng in Singapore is more often than not Halal-certified, and is a popular supper dish.
This spicy convenient snack is a plate of yellow noodles served with seafood and traces of fried egg. The yellow noodles are usually cooked to varying shades of brown and red, depending on the amount of tomato sauce, oyster sauce and sweet soya sauce used.
#33 NGOH HIANG
Ngoh Hiang is a deep-fried roll of meat wrapped with beancurd skin and seasoned with five-spice powder. The filling is usually finely diced water chestnut, minced meat, prawns and yam.
#34 NASI LEMAK
When directly translated, Nasi Lemak actually means rice in cream. Indeed, the fragrant rice has been soaked in coconut cream before it is steamed and served. The rice is served with cucumber slices, dried shrimp paste, crispy fried anchovies and hard-boiled eggs. A dollop of sambal chilli goes along with it as well.
Optional condiments such as chicken wing and sambal sotongs are common add-ons for a more wholesome meal.
#35 PEANUT PANCAKE
Peanut Pancakes are more affectionately known by the Hokkien community as Mee Chiang Kueh. The pancakes are crispy on the outside, incredibly chewy and fluffy on the inside, and filled with a generous amount of roasted crushed peanut.
Popiahs are fresh spring rolls that are considered festive food to the Peranakan and Hokkien communities. Today, they are commonly eaten throughout the year as a savoury snack.
The delicate tapioca egg skin wraps a rich variety of turnip, bamboo shoots, firm bean curd, minced garlic, pork, prawns and topped off with a sweet sauce.
#37 SAMBAL STINGRAY
Sambal Singray is a divine spicy seafood creation where the stingray is wrapped in banana leaves and charcoal-grilled till cooked.
A spicy concoction of fermented shrimp paste and tamarind paste along with other spices such as lemongrass and red chilies are then smeared over the fish.
#38 TUTU KUEHS
Tutu Kuehs are mini steamed white rice cakes filled with either grated coconut or roasted peanuts. These traditional Singaporean desserts are served on a fragrant piece of pandan leaf and are nostalgic snacks for the older generation.