Tastes and Flavours of Singapore
Befitting its position as the “crossroads of Asia”, Singapore’s cosmopolitan blend of cultural influences is reflected in its ethnically diverse cuisine and the choice is vast, ranging from inexpensive, heavy on the flavour, light on the wallet, dishes sold at hawker stalls; to high-end cuisine served in the best five-star hotels.
Singapore can justifiably claim to be Asia’s food capital, where East meets West in a dizzying mélange of flavours. A culinary journey of discovery can be had by visiting Chinatown, Little India and the city’s Western-style eateries. A must have signature dish is spicy chilli crab, which is to Singapore what pizza is to Italy.
Be it after a long day at work or during leisurely weekends, Singaporeans head out en masse to hawker stalls, cafes and fine dining restaurants located on every nook and corner of the island.
Shopping and dining out are two of the country’s national pastimes and Singapore has a mouth-watering array of cuisines to satisfy every palate - from local favourites like char kway teow, roti prata, and satay, to a fine selection of South East Asian, Mediterranean, American, European and Middle Eastern cuisine. You will be delighted to know that several restaurants and small eating houses are open 24/7 if you seek sustenance during the night.
Wine and dine in style at luxury venues such as Marina Bay Sands; One Fullerton; or amid the breathtaking sky high views at the 72-storey Equinox Complex. Alternatively, take a cable car from Mount Faber to Sentosa Island to dine al fresco under the stars. Even those with dietary restrictions are taken care of as plenty of shopping centres, restaurants, and food outlets offer Halal and vegetarian dishes.
The following are some local “must try” dishes. You can’t say that you have experienced Singapore’s culinary adventure if you haven’t tried at least one of the following dishes.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
Popular amongst both locals and visitors alike, Hainanese Chicken Rice is carefully boiled and steamed at the right temperature to ensure perfect tenderness of the chicken; the right fragrance of the rice cooked in chicken broth; and the special blend of chilli, garlic and ginger which complements the tastefully cut pieces of chicken. It will indeed make you crave for a second helping.
Char Kway Teow
A Singapore speciality and a hot favourite with locals, this dish is found in most hawker centres. Comprising of fried flat rice noodles, with dark sauce and pork lard, it is flavoured with ingredients such as cockles, prawns, bean sprouts and eggs. It all started as a humble meal for labourers but has since become a respected dish.
A form of skewered meat on wooden sticks slowly charcoal-grilled and served with sweet peanut sauce, satay is a well-known staple in Singapore and throughout Southeast Asia. It is usually served with sliced onions, cucumbers and Ketupat (rice wrapped with palm leaf).
This spicy Peranakan dish is a mix of both Chinese and Malay styles. Comprising thick white noodles, bean sprouts, sliced fish cake, cockles, prawns and eggs, laksa is complemented by a delicious mixture of mouth-watering gravy soup cooked slowly over a low heat. Though it is available at almost every food centre in Singapore, the best servings can be found in the Katong area.
Despite its name, the Singapore fried carrot cake is quite unlike the sweet spiced cake eaten in the West. This dish is whipped up with rice flour cakes, white radish, scrambled eggs, spring onions and chye poh and can be ordered and eaten in two different styles. The “white” version is slightly charred with a crispy layer fried with chilli. The “black” version is sweeter as it is fried with dark soy sauce.
Recommended wining and dining areas
This is one of Singapore’s hottest and hippest dining destinations and is brimming with a wide variety of award-winning restaurants, bars, cafes and gourmet grocers. This is a highly recommended place to visit while in Singapore. Enjoy dining in a lush green setting, with a hint of relaxed old world charm.
Clarke Quay and Boat Quay
Previously a warehouse district during the height of the British colonial trading era, these two areas have become hip places where an abundance of the world’s greatest cuisines are on offer. The restored architectural beauty provides the perfect backdrop for a riverside meal or drink.
This location is a place where you will find all the local “must try” dishes. Newton Food Centre is considered the king of Singapore’s food hawker centres and with its history, range of dishes and ideal location near Orchard Road, it is a popular destination for many Singaporeans when showing their overseas friends around. Many famous hawker stalls originated in this district.
Chinatown Food Street
The outdoor food street in Chinatown combines an ambience of the era of the first arrival of Chinese workers and their delicious, innovative cuisine, and contemporary, modern Singapore. Food stalls are lined up alongside the roads with wooden tables and chairs that recreate vintage Singapore. Classic dishes such as Char Kway Teow, Hainanese Chicken Rice and Carrot Cake can be found here.
Lau Pa Sat
This area features colonial architecture that has been refurbished to preserve the architectural heritage for years to come. This is one place where you can find all the different types of cuisine - be it Chinese, Malay, Indian, fusion, South East Asian, Mediterranean, American, European or Middle Eastern cuisine. Diners can also enjoy good food with the backing of a live band in the evenings.
Although this area is easily explored in a short time, the number of choices for original Indian cuisine is limitless. Only a few streets cover Little India, but there is so much ethnic character to discover. This small district is filled with food ranging from North Indian tandoori fare in air-conditioned comfort to South Indian vegetarian dishes.