Singapore is, undeniably, a nation of foodies. Eavesdrop on any conversation and the chances are you’ll overhear a hotly contested debate as to where the best *insert any dish here!* can be found. Thanks to the cultural diversity of the city, the cuisine is a delicious blend of Chinese, Malay, and Indian influences.
And the street food or ‘hawker’ culture in Singapore is thriving; these bustling food centres found in every neighbourhood are a must-visit for all who venture to the Lion City. Their unique appeal has even caught the attention of the influential Michelin guide which, since launching in Singapore, has bestowed its coveted stars to a myriad of local hawker stalls; you won’t find a cheaper Michelin approved meal anywhere else in the world!
Next time you visit (and once you’ve finished exploring the red dot’s top tourist attractions) be sure to add this must-try foodie bucket list to your agenda. You’ll easily find all of these treats at hawker centres and kopitiams (a traditional coffee shop) across the island. Use your Singapore Tourist Pass to whizz around the city and try them all. Happy eating!
1. Hainanese chicken rice
The national dish of Singapore is a classic, yet simple favourite: fragrant rice, topped with succulent chicken, served with a spicy chilli sauce. A visit isn’t complete without sampling it at least once.
Wander the streets of Singapore and it’s likely you’ll occasionally notice a pungent whiff in the air, and if you happen to be passing a fruit stall at the time, chances are the culprit is the king of fruits: durian. Once you know what it is, you’ll smell it everywhere (though thankfully not on public transport, where it’s banned!). But don’t let that put you off; love it or hate it, it’s a must try!
3. Kaya toast, soft boiled eggs, and kopi
It doesn’t get more quintessentially Singaporean than starting the day with a breakfast of kaya toast, soft boiled eggs, and kopi. The combination of kaya (a sweet, coconut jam) slathered over toasted bread with runny, soft-boiled eggs is delicious. Add a dash of soy for extra flavour, and wash it all down with a mug of kopi (the Malay/Hokkien term for coffee).
4. Curry puffs
The ultimate Singaporean snack is a crispy, flaky curry puff. Traditionally, a pastry shell is filled with chicken and curried potatoes but you’ll likely see other flavour combinations too.
5. Chilli crab
Another unmistakably Singaporean dish is the mighty chilli crab. Expect a mud crab drenched in a rich tomato, chilli sauce to be served in its shell alongside a serving of mantou (Chinese steamed buns); the ideal vessel for mopping up the addictive gravy.
This famed Peranakan dish – a firm favourite in both Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine – combines rice noodles with chicken, prawns, or fish, in either a steaming, spicy, coconut milk or sour asam. Head to Katong in the east for the best (arguably!) laksa in Singapore.
7. Roti prata
A South-Indian flatbread, adopted and beloved by Singaporeans. Roti prata is a crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside bread enjoyed by itself or dunked in curry. Traditionally a savoury dish, it’s now equally likely to be found in dessert form thanks to the addition of chocolate or ice-cream. Sweet or savoury, it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
8. Char kway teow
Unhealthy though it may be, char kway teow is a delicious combination of noodles, egg, Chinese sausage, cockles, and bean sprouts. A staple of the Singaporean food scene and the Asian equivalent of comfort food.
9. Bak kut teh
Hailing originally from China, this pork rib soup cooked with fragrant herbs like garlic, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, and coriander seeds, is a firm favourite. Depending on who is doing the cooking, you might find yourself with a darker, more herbal broth flavoured with soy, or a lighter, peppery broth; both are equally tasty.
10. Nasi Lemak
The national dish of Malaysia is equally popular in Singapore. Most commonly eaten at breakfast, it comprises rice soaked in coconut milk and cooked in pandan leaves, served alongside anchovies (ikan bilis), peanuts, boiled egg, and sambal fish, rendang, or fried chicken. An indulgent, yet delicious, way to start the day!