14 Best Singaporean Local Cuisine and Foods You Must Try
Table of Contents
- No Time to Read? Here’s a Snappy Summary of This Article
- SINGAPORE AND THE HAWKER CULTURE THAT YOU KNOW
- HAWKER CENTRES
- 1. CHILLI CRAB
- 2. CHAR KUAY TEOW
- 3. SATAY
- 4. HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE
- 5. BAK KUT TEH
- 6. NASI LEMAK
- 7. LAKSA
- 8. ROTI PRATA
- 9. BAK CHOR MEE
- 10. PRAWN MEE
- 11. POPIAH
- 12. CHAR SIEW RICE
- 13. OYSTER OMELETTE
- 14. FISH HEAD CURRY
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Meanwhile, Check Out Tropika Club’s Ecosystem of Websites
No Time to Read? Here’s a Snappy Summary of This Article
- CHILLI CRAB: The article features chilli crab as one of the best Singaporean local cuisine and foods. Chilli crab is a seafood dish made by stir-frying crabs in a spicy and tangy tomato-based sauce. It is often served with steamed or fried buns, which are used to soak up the sauce.
- CHAR KUAY TEOW: The article also highlights char kuay teow as another delicious local dish. Char kuay teow is a stir-fried flat noodle dish with ingredients such as eggs, bean sprouts, Chinese sausage, fish cake, and cockles. It is seasoned with dark soy sauce, chilli, and garlic.
- SATAY: The article mentions satay as a popular street food in Singapore. Satay is a grilled meat skewer that can be made from chicken, beef, mutton, or pork. It is served with a peanut sauce, cucumber, onion, and ketupat (rice cake).
- HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE: The article praises Hainanese chicken rice as one of the most iconic dishes in Singapore. Hainanese chicken rice is a dish of poached chicken with rice cooked in chicken broth and fat. It is accompanied by a ginger-garlic-chilli sauce, dark soy sauce, and cucumber slices.
- BAK KUT TEH: The article recommends bak kut teh as a comforting soup dish. Bak kut teh is a pork rib soup that is simmered with herbs and spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, and pepper. It is usually eaten with rice, youtiao (fried dough fritters), and salted vegetables.
- NASI LEMAK: The article describes nasi lemak as a traditional Malaysian dish that has become a popular comfort food across Southeast Asia. Nasi lemak consists of fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk, served with various side dishes such as crispy fried chicken, sambal (a spicy chili paste), fried anchovies, sliced cucumber, and hard-boiled eggs.
SINGAPORE AND THE HAWKER CULTURE THAT YOU KNOW
Singaporean cuisine is as ethnically diverse as its people, blending Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and Indian influences. A trip to a few of the hawker centres or shopping mall food courts will probably be as eye-opening as gastronomically gratifying.
Hawker Culture, between the practice of dining and mingling at hawkers centres over food prepared by hawkers, is an integral part of the Singapore way of existence. Throughout the formative years of Singapore’s independence, hawkers and local communities, with the assistance of the authorities, came together to build up hawker centres, supplying secure livelihoods for hawkers and affordable meals for the people. Today, hawker centres across Singapore continue to serve the needs of diverse communities in recreational, residential and business districts.
Hawker civilisation is permitted by hawkers in Singapore, who maintain the culinary practices connected with food dishes prepared at hawker centres. The food reflects the multicultural make-up of Singapore, comprising mostly Chinese, Chinese and Indian as well as many different cultures. Hawkers at Singapore take inspiration from the confluence of cultures, experimentation, and adapting dishes to local tastes and context, representing a living food heritage through generations.
Hawker centres serve as”community dining rooms” where people from varied backgrounds share the experience of dining over breakfast, lunch and dinner. An individual can see freshly prepared food at the hawker stalls and hear multi-lingual exchanges made over meals in a lively atmosphere. A standard hawker centre includes many food and drink stalls, and a shared seating area. Dining at a hawker centre is a quintessentially Singaporean experience, allowing one to experience a wide variety of multicultural food and drinks at affordable rates. It’s common for people and even strangers to eat and interact in the same table regardless of religious or dietary differences.
This (non-exhaustive) list by Tropika Club covers what we think are the best examples of Singaporean food available across the city-state, from humble road food carts to swanky rooftop restaurants and all in between.
1. CHILLI CRAB
Hey there, have you ever heard of Chilli Crab? It’s a delicious and iconic dish in Singapore that you simply have to try. This seafood delicacy is made by stir-frying crabs in a spicy and tangy tomato-based sauce, and it’s a favorite of both locals and tourists alike. Chilli Crab is often served with steamed or fried buns, which are perfect for dipping in the flavorful sauce. If you’re a seafood lover, you can’t miss the chance to taste this dish during your visit to Singapore. It’s definitely a must-try experience that will leave your taste buds craving for more. So, be sure to add Chilli Crab to your foodie bucket list and savor the delicious flavors of Singapore!
Chilli crab was encouraged by the Singapore Tourism Board among Singapore’s national dishes, and are available in fish restaurants all around the island. It’s traditionally eaten with bare hands as a way to savour the delicious crab meat using its sweet and hot chilli sauce. Restaurants often offer wet towels or even a washing machine bowl with lime for diners to wash their hands after their meal.
CNN Go listed chilli crab among the”world’s 50 most tasty foods”, at Number 35
2. CHAR KUAY TEOW
Char kway teow is a popular noodle dish from Maritime Southeast Asia, notably in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. In Hokkien, Char means “stir-fried” and kway teow refers to flat rice noodles. The dish is considered a national favourite in Malaysia and Singapore. A traditional plate of char kway teow could not be done without lard, which delights the dish with special flavors. These days, in the healthier version of this delicious fried noodle dish, lard is replaced by oil, and more vegetables are added in.
A traditional plate of char kway teow could not be done without lard, which delights the dish with special flavors. These days, in the healthier version of this delicious fried noodle dish, lard is replaced by oil, and more vegetables are added in.
“Satay” basically refers to skewered and grilled meat, served with a spicy sauce that tends to involve peanuts. What kind of meat is used? That depends on personal preference. This dish can be made with chicken, pork, beef, lamb, or even fish.
Satay is another popular dish in Singapore that you don’t want to miss. It consists of skewered and grilled meat, usually chicken or beef, that is marinated in a blend of spices and served with a sweet and savory peanut sauce. Satay is often accompanied by cucumber, onions, and rice cake, and it’s a common sight at street food stalls and hawker centers around the city. One of the best things about Satay is that it’s perfect for sharing, making it a great option for groups or as a tasty snack while exploring the city. So, if you’re looking for a delicious and satisfying dish to try in Singapore, make sure to give Satay a taste!
4. HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE
When you see succulent cooked poultry hanging neatly in a row in a food booth, you’re looking at one of Singapore’s national dishes–Hainanese Chicken Rice.
A ubiquitous sight in hawker centres throughout the nation, it is also on the menu at several major restaurants and even resort cafes. All provide the same dish at varying costs: bite-sized pieces of chicken–or even an entire chicken if you are eating as a big set –served with fragrant rice, spicy chilli and ginger paste.
The recipe for the dish is adapted from ancient Chinese immigrants in Hainan Island, off the southern coast of China. They utilise a specific fowl that is bony and fibrous and serve the chicken with oily rice. A ground green chilli dip rounds off the dish.
5. BAK KUT TEH
Bak kut teh is a Chinese soup broadly served in Singapore, and its name translates as”meat bone tea”, and at its simplest, includes meaty pork ribs simmered in a complex broth of herbs and spices (such as star anise, cinnamon, cloves, dang gui, fennel seeds and garlic) for hours. Bak kut teh is generally eaten with rice, and Bak kut teh is typically a great morning meal.
The Bak Kut Teh tradition dates back to the 19th century when Chinese immigrants in Singapore and Malaya utilised pork ribs and herbs like star anise, fennel seeds, cloves and coriander to boost their energy. The soup was also found to have positive benefits for people with ailments such as rheumatism, and it soon grew to become very popular among Chinese migrant workers. The Hokkien and Teochew are traditionally tea-drinking cultures, and the significance of Bak Kut Teh runs deep within their cuisines.
6. NASI LEMAK
Nasi Lemak is a popular Malaysian dish that has become a staple in Singaporean cuisine. It is a fragrant rice dish that is cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, giving it a rich and creamy texture and a sweet aroma. The dish is usually served with a variety of condiments and toppings that add different flavors and textures to the dish.
The rice is the star of the show in Nasi Lemak, and it is cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves, giving it a unique flavor and aroma. The rice is also slightly sweet, which pairs well with the savory and spicy condiments that are served with it.
Nasi Lemak is typically served with a range of toppings, such as fried chicken wings, fried fish, or prawns. It is also usually served with a side of sambal, which is a spicy chili paste that adds heat and flavor to the dish. Other common condiments include fried anchovies, cucumber slices, roasted peanuts, and hard-boiled eggs.
Laksa is a popular noodle soup dish that is commonly found in Southeast Asia, particularly in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. It is a spicy and flavorful dish that is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Ingredients and Preparation
Laksa typically consists of rice noodles in a spicy and aromatic coconut milk-based broth. The broth is made by combining various spices and herbs such as lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, and chili peppers with coconut milk and chicken or seafood stock. The dish is then served with a variety of toppings such as shrimp, fish cake, chicken, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, and sliced hard-boiled eggs.
Laksa can be found in many different variations depending on the region it is prepared in. In Malaysia, there are two main types of laksa: Asam laksa and Curry laksa. Asam laksa is a sour and spicy fish-based soup that is popular in the northern states of Penang and Kedah. It is typically served with thick rice noodles, sliced vegetables, and garnished with fresh herbs and chili paste. Curry laksa, on the other hand, is a richer and creamier soup that is made with coconut milk and curry paste. It is usually served with a variety of toppings such as chicken, shrimp, and tofu.
In Singapore, laksa is a popular dish that is often sold in hawker centers. It is typically served with thick rice noodles and topped with shrimp, fish cake, and cockles. The broth is a blend of coconut milk, curry spices, and dried shrimp.
8. ROTI PRATA
Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, roti prata hits the spot every time. A South-Indian flatbread made by skillet soup flavoured with ghee (Indian clarified butter), it’s usually served with fish or mutton curry.
Roti signifies bread’, and prata or paratha means’level’ in Hindi. Some believe that the dish evolved from original pancake recipes out of Punjab in India, but around the causeway in Malaysia, the flatbread is known as roti canai, which some say is a nod to its roots from Chennai.
Regardless of where it comes from, roti prata is a satisfying meal for virtually any hour of the day. While the classic versions are served plain or with eggs as a filling, neighbourhood menus now feature an assortment of modern variations such as chocolate, cheese, ice-cream, and even durians — turning it from a major course into a dessert.
9. BAK CHOR MEE
Bak chor mee is a popular dish in Singaporean cuisine. The name translates to “minced meat noodles” in English. It is a noodle dish made with a mix of thin egg noodles and thick rice noodles, topped with minced pork, sliced pork, and sometimes pieces of liver and mushrooms. The dish is typically served in a savory broth with various toppings, including vinegar, chili sauce, and pork slices.
One of the key elements that make bak chor mee unique is the addition of lard and crispy fried anchovies, which add extra flavor and texture to the dish. Some variations also include meatballs, fish cakes, and vegetables, depending on the vendor.
Bak chor mee can be found in many hawker centers and food courts around Singapore. The dish is a popular breakfast option, but it can also be enjoyed for lunch or dinner. It’s a comforting and satisfying meal that is loved by locals and visitors alike.
10. PRAWN MEE
Prawn mee is a popular noodle dish in Singapore that is loved by locals and tourists alike. This dish is made up of a flavorful and rich broth made from prawn shells and heads, and is served with yellow noodles, bean sprouts, sliced pork, prawns, and eggs. Some vendors even include crispy deep-fried shallots or sliced fish cakes for added texture and flavor. The broth is simmered for hours with various herbs and spices to achieve the perfect balance of sweetness and savory flavors. Whether you like your prawn mee spicy or not, it’s a must-try dish when visiting Singapore. So be sure to add it to your foodie list when you’re exploring the country!
Popiah is a fresh spring roll that’s a popular snack in Singapore. It’s made by wrapping fillings such as jicama, carrots, lettuce, tofu, and eggs in a thin, soft wheat flour skin. The filling is typically flavored with a sweet sauce, and chili paste is often added to give it a spicy kick. Popiah is a must-try when visiting Singapore, as it’s a delicious and healthy snack that’s enjoyed by both locals and tourists. If you’re looking to satisfy your cravings for something light and refreshing, popiah is definitely worth a try. Many food stalls and restaurants in Singapore serve popiah, so it’s easy to find and enjoy this tasty treat.
12. CHAR SIEW RICE
If you are a fan of roasted meat, then you must try Char Siew Rice! This dish is a popular Chinese-style BBQ pork dish that is marinated with a combination of sweet and savory ingredients. The pork is then slow roasted until it’s tender and juicy. Char Siew Rice is usually served on a bed of steaming hot rice and accompanied by some stir-fried vegetables. It’s a perfect meal for lunch or dinner, and you can easily find it in many food courts and hawker centers in Singapore. Don’t forget to drizzle some dark soy sauce and chili sauce on top of the meat for an extra burst of flavor!
13. OYSTER OMELETTE
Should you ever ask me precisely what the signature dish of the Hokkien people is, I’d reply this is it: the oyster omelette. Throughout the Min-language speaking areas (from all of Fujian province in China, the whole of Taiwan and also the Min-speaking Teochew community from Canton, into the Hokkien diaspora in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines)this dish is still eaten regardless of in which the Min people land up.
Shellfish is a staple of those Min people because these flourish along the shallow rocky coastline of the Fujian province by the South China sea. Locals have a particular penchant for oysters, long before the French climbed madly about them. And they also use them in a different standard Hokkien dish, the Rice Vermicelli Soup with Oysters, that’s currently the national dish of Taiwan.
14. FISH HEAD CURRY
If it comes to meals in Singapore, fish head curry is perhaps the city country’s most renowned dishes. Formerly, it was a small puzzle regarding the roots of fish head curry. Still, thanks to some recent information coming to light by the English newspaper Tabla, it’s now pretty much undisputed that it had been invented by a guy named “MJ Gomez” who conducted a Indian restaurant together Sophia Road (his initials stood for”Marian Jacob”). On the other hand, the date of this dish creation is somewhat vague, some states 1949, some states 1952. But what’s most important is that this dish is here to stay.
In conclusion, Singaporean cuisine is a unique blend of various cultures and has a rich history that reflects the country’s diverse heritage. With a wide range of flavors and dishes, from spicy to sweet, Singaporean local cuisine is a must-try for any food lover. From the famous Chili Crab to the traditional Nasi Lemak, the food scene in Singapore offers a feast for the senses. With this list of the top 14 must-try Singaporean foods, you can embark on a culinary adventure and taste the best of what this vibrant city-state has to offer. So, don’t hesitate to explore the local food scene and indulge in the delicious and diverse cuisine of Singapore.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What is hawker culture and why is it important in Singapore?
A: Hawker culture is the practice of dining and mingling at hawker centres over food prepared by hawkers. Hawker centres are community dining rooms that offer a wide variety of multicultural food and drinks at affordable prices. Hawker culture is a living food heritage that reflects the diverse and dynamic nature of Singaporean society. Hawker culture was also inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020.
Q: How can I find the best hawker centres in Singapore?
A: There are many hawker centres in Singapore, each with its own specialties and atmosphere. Some of the most famous and popular ones include Lau Pa Sat, Maxwell Food Centre, Old Airport Road Food Centre, Chinatown Complex Food Centre, and Tiong Bahru Market. You can also check out this guide by Tropika Club Magazine for more recommendations.
Q: What are some of the common ingredients and spices used in Singaporean cuisine?
A: Singaporean cuisine is influenced by Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and other cultures, so it uses a variety of ingredients and spices to create different flavours and aromas. Some of the common ingredients include rice, noodles, coconut milk, seafood, chicken, pork, eggs, tofu, and vegetables. Some of the common spices include chilli, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, curry paste, shrimp paste, soy sauce, and dark soy sauce.
Q: What are some of the dietary restrictions and preferences that I should be aware of when eating in Singapore?
A: Singapore is a multicultural and multi-religious society, so there are different dietary restrictions and preferences among its people. For example, Muslims do not eat pork or consume alcohol, Hindus do not eat beef or pork, Buddhists and Taoists may be vegetarian or vegan, and some Chinese may avoid certain foods during festivals or auspicious occasions. You can usually find halal-certified food at Muslim stalls or restaurants, vegetarian food at Indian or Chinese stalls or restaurants, and gluten-free or vegan food at some cafes or health food stores. You can also ask the hawkers or staff for more information before ordering.
Q: How can I learn more about Singaporean cuisine and culture?
A: One of the best ways to learn more about Singaporean cuisine and culture is to visit Singapore and experience it for yourself. You can also read more articles on Tropika Club Magazine, which features all things locally Singapore. You can also watch some videos on YouTube or Netflix that showcase Singaporean food and culture, such as Street Food Asia: Singapore, Chef’s Table: Jeong Kwan (featuring a Singaporean chef), or Crazy Rich Asians (set in Singapore).
Have an Article to Suggest?
Tropika Club is always looking for new and exciting content to feature in their magazine and they value the input of our readers. If you have any noteworthy content or articles that you believe would be a great addition to Tropika Club’s magazine, we are open to suggestions and encourage you to reach out to us via email at [email protected]. By doing so, Tropika Club values your expertise and knowledge in the matter and appreciates your willingness to help. We will review your recommendations and update our list accordingly
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