- Singapore reigns as the world’s most expensive city for the fifth year in a row.
- Despite its status, the country is also known for its inexpensive street food.
- From delectable chilli crab to rice cake topped with savoury vegetables, Singapore boasts a variety of street foods to get your hands on.
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But that doesn’t mean you have to blow a ton of cash on fantastic food in Singapore.
While Singapore has plenty of five-star fine dining options, most people opt to eat street food in the city’s inexpensive hawker centres, which are open-air food courts where vendors prepare everything from Malaysian curries to Indian roti and Chinese noodle soups.
We 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.
This is Singapore’s version of carrot cake, called chai tow kuay — but it’s nothing like the sweet confection we think of as carrot cake. The “cake” is cut up into little pieces and fried with soy sauce, eggs, vegetables, and fish sauce. It’s greasy and delicious.
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.
Chui Kueh is a dense rice cake that’s topped with savoury preserved vegetables.
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.
Fish ball soup is served piping hot with a side of chillis for an extra kick.
Hong Kong-style wonton noodle soup is savoury and delicious.
Roti prata is a fried Indian pancake that’s tissue-thin, greasy, and delicious.
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).
Bok choy is served in a garlicky brown sauce as a green side dish.
Rojak is a 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.
This sweet crispy prawn from the Majestic Restaurant, served with scallions, was enormous.
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.
Or these beef meatballs.
Dim sum has a few vegetarian options, like these mushroom 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 $US100.
Chinese fried rice with seafood is typical hawker centre fare.
Some hawker centre stalls display their dishes behind glass, like this Chinese squid with celery dish.
You’ll find roast chickens and ducks hanging in restaurant windows and hawker centre stalls all around Singapore.
That roast duck or chicken is used in several Chinese dishes, like this noodle soup.
This hawker centre vendor serves spit-roasted pork and chicken.
Fried Indian snacks, like samosas, are displayed behind glass in hawker centres.
People help themselves to fried pakora (vegetables) and other fried Indian treats.
Indian food vendors sell fried fish with masala sauce.
Big tubs of chana masala (chickpeas with masala sauce) smelled delicious.
Tandoori chicken is a typical Indian dish.
Singaporeans love their food spicy. You’ll find trays of chilli condiments all around the hawker centres.
Chinese fish cakes are a quick and savoury snack.
Vendors grill satay — skewers of meat — over an open flame.
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.
There’s also prawn satay.
This Chinese seafood omelette is topped with chopped scallions.
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.
Singaporeans eat cockles either raw or cooked in various noodle dishes.
You can get fried fish and prawns on a stick.
Fried yams and tapioca cake are popular finger foods.
People choose to wash down their meals with fresh coconut water or soy-based drinks.
Sweet red bean buns make for a nice dessert.
This grass jelly with IQ balls is a sweet gelatinous dessert that’s made with ice, syrup, and jelly.
Kaya cake is a sweet spongy cake that’s made with kaya (coconut jam).
Fried bananas are crispy on the outside and gooey and delicious on the inside.
Pineapple tarts are a traditional Peranakan dessert.
- Read more:
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