Singaporeans take their food very seriously.
Bad restaurants don’t survive here for long, and good ones have long queues and are impossible to get into.
While Singapore has plenty of five-star fine dining options, most people opt to eat street food in the hawker centres, which are open-air food courts where vendors prepare everything from Malaysian curries to Indian roti and Chinese noodle soups.
The hawker centre vendors are strictly monitored by the government for health and hygiene, meaning that it’s nearly impossible to get sick from the food here.
We recently ate our way through Singapore, trying everything from hawker centres to fine restaurants. Here are the best things we ate.
Disclosure: Our trip to Singapore, including travel and lodging expenses, was sponsored by the Singapore Tourism Board.
Chicken rice is Singapore's unofficial national dish. First, chicken is boiled in a flavorful broth. Then the rice is cooked in that same broth. The result is a fragrant, flavorful, succulent rice that pairs perfectly with the juicy chicken.
chilli crab is another one of Singapore's national dishes. The crab is doused in a spicy chilli-tomato gravy. Eating it is a messy affair — the best way to eat it is to crack the shell with your hands and slurp out the meat. Then mop up the gravy with doughy buns.
Choy sum is a Chinese vegetable that's a thinner version of bok choy. It's prepared with garlic as a side dish that complements chilli crab.
Laksa is another signature Singaporean dish. The Katong Laksa is a Peranakan (a Singaporean ethnic group) fish soup that's made with rice vermicelli noodles in a rich and spicy coconut broth. The soup is filled with seafood like shrimp, squid, and fishcake.
Char kway teow is another iconic Singaporean dish. It's made from flat rice noodles that are stir-fried with soy sauce, chilli, shellfish, and chives.
Barbecue stingray with chilli sambal is another iconic Singaporean dish. The stingray is coated in a spicy chilli sauce, wrapped in a cleaned banana leaf, and grilled for a smoky, spicy, and delicious flavour.
Fried Hokkien Mee is made with a combination of thick yellow egg noodles and rice vermicelli noodles which are cooked in a seafood broth and topped with shrimp, squid, pork belly, and lard. Singaporeans love to add chilli sauce for an extra kick.
Kaya toast is Singapore's national breakfast food. The toast is grilled over an open charcoal flame, and then slathered with kaya (a coconut jam made with coconut, milk, and sugar).
The kaya toast is served with coffee and soft-boiled eggs. You're supposed to add soy sauce and pepper to the eggs, then dip the kaya toast into the warm, liquidy concoction.
Lontong is a Malay dish that consists of a spongy rice cake cut into strips and cooked in a rich curry with vegetables and egg.
Murtabak uses a dough that's similar to roti prata, but is stuffed with minced lamb, egg, and onions. It's usually served with a side of curry for dipping. You can get this at hawker centres all over the city, but the best place to eat it is at Zam Zam, in Kampong Glam (the traditionally Arab neighbourhood in Singapore).
Rojak is a Malay fruit and vegetable salad that's made with pineapple, cucumber, and dough fritters tossed in a fish paste sauce and topped with crushed peanuts. It's a sweet, spicy, and gooey mixture.
Dim sum is an extremely popular meal in Singapore. People gorge themselves on all sorts of Chinese dumplings and snacks, like these shrimp and pork dumplings.
This roast pork, from Crystal Jade Palace Restaurant, is crunchy and crispy on top and fatty and delicious on the bottom.
Bird's nest soup is a Chinese dish that's made with the saliva of a swiftlet bird and is considered to have healing powers. The soup is incredibly expensive: a bowl can easily cost about $100.
Some hawker centre stalls display their dishes behind glass, like this Chinese squid with celery dish.
You'll find roast ducks hanging in restaurant windows and hawker centre stalls all around Singapore.
Singaporeans love their food spicy. You'll find trays of chilli condiments all around the hawker centres.
The satay meat is typically chicken or mutton, and it's served with a side of cool cucumbers and onions and a sweet peanut sauce.
Otak-otak is a cake made of mashed fish that's mixed with coconut milk, chilli, and spices, wrapped in a banana leaf, and grilled over charcoal. It's a traditional Peranakan (a local Singaporean ethnic group) dish.
This grass jelly with IQ balls is a sweet gelatinous dessert that's made with ice, syrup, and jelly.
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