From classic Malaysian laksa and Indonesian satays, to southern Indian curries and spicy Chinese stir-fries, there are more dishes to try in Singapore than you can shake a set of chopsticks at. A thriving blend of cultures and cuisines drives the bustling street markets and exciting restaurant scene which demand to be explored. Go there armed with our expert recommendations.
Top 10 foods to try
Bak chor mee
Translated as minced meat noodles, this dish of flat egg noodles (known locally as mee pok) is prepared with a base sauce of vinegar, lard, soy sauce and chilli, and garnished with condiments such as pork liver slices, fishcake and minced pork.
Common fare in most hawker centres and food courts, nasi padang is a delicious, fuss-free and versatile steamed rice dish also found in numerous restaurants, served with a wide range of meat and vegetables, cooked in a variety of sauces and curries.
Try our prawn laksa curry bowl, ready in just 15 minutes.
A south Indian fried flatbread, roti prata is often paired with curries. The breads are individually moulded into their characteristic disk shape and fried on a griddle. It’s flaky and crisp, and you can add toppings like egg and onion. Children (and some adults) also like to eat it with sugar.
If this has got your mouth watering, try our roti jala or Malaysian net pancakes.
Kaya toast and eggs
Toast is smothered in kaya, a thick egg custard jam cooked with aromatic pandan (screwpine leaves) with a slice of butter. It is often paired with runny soft-boiled eggs on the side and your choice of either local coffee or tea.
Regularly referred to as Singapore’s national dish. The rice is cooked in chicken stock, ensuring a burst of flavour with every bite. Go for the steamed chicken option, served with thick sweet soy sauce, chilli and ginger.
Cooked with coconut milk and screwpine leaves, this fragrant rice dish is often served with a spicy sambal (sauce), a chicken wing marinated and fried with cumin, as well as ikan bilis – that’s small fish, fried and eaten whole.
Whole crabs (usually mud crabs) are cooked in a thick, savoury sauce with tomato and chilli. Get to work cracking the shells and pincers to get at the sweet meat. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!
Singapore can get pretty hot, especially in the afternoons, so cool down with sugarcane juice. It’s served with ice and you can ask for some lemon to give it a sour kick. It’s found in most hawker centres and costs about £1.
Two types of noodles – egg and rice – are stir-fried with beansprouts, prawns, squid, egg and small slices of pork. Squeeze a calamansi (local citrus, similar to lime) over the dish before you tuck in, and don’t be afraid of adding a little sambal on the side.
5 foodie travel tips
Even if you’re not on a budget, don’t miss out on the experience of going to a hawker centre. There are many of these buzzing food halls with stalls each specialising in a limited range of dishes (sometimes just one). This is where you’ll find truly authentic, local specialities such as chicken rice, satay, laksa and chilli crab. Note that stalls are usually cash-only.
Smack in the middle of the central business district, Lau Pa Sat, is a huge and historic hawker centre that’s worth checking out at any time of day. A night visit, though, brings an added bonus: the small road is closed off from 7pm nightly (weather permitting), and satay stalls are set up. Enjoy the evening atmosphere of the tropics while feasting on fine little skewers of meat.
Read food blogs
If you’re overwhelmed by choice and at a loss about what to prioritise, there are plenty of food bloggers in Singapore who have got your back. A simple Google search will reveal bloggers such as Ieatishootipost or Bibik Gourmand, who visit a huge range of food spots across the island to bring you the lowdown of what’s to die for (and what to weed out of that long to-eat list).
Sure, Singapore is known for its Sling (the cocktail invented at the city’s colonial landmark, Raffles Hotel), but there’s a high ‘sin tax’ on alcohol, making it expensive to drink here compared to neighbouring countries. Be warned: there are also laws against drinking in public after 10.30pm.
Ask a local
Singaporeans are a food-obsessed lot and very opinionated about their cuisine. If you’re unsure about what to eat, simply ask a local. You’ll be sure to be guided off the beaten track for real food finds. And look out for queues. If people are making time to line up for something in this fast-paced and frenetic city, there’s bound to be something good at the end of it.
Like these recommendations? Read other foodie travel guides…
Is there anything we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments section below…
All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of the 25 November 2017 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country they are travelling to.