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Eating in Singapore

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Being a hot melting pot of cultures, Singapore blends a wide variety of Asian and western cuisines but has its unique taste as well. The variety of foods you can try here is mind-blowing, but except Chinese, Malay, Indian, Indonesian, and European tastes widely represented here, local delicacies are something exciting and definitely worth giving them a shot. From the most budget hawkers to Michelin-starred cooking celebrities, Singapore celebrates the world’s trendiest tastes and riots against the insipid lifestyle.

Aliens may easily get puzzled by this motley diversity of food and even prejudiced against new experiences. We hope that this guide will help you to not only find your favourite restaurant, café, food court or a hawker centre but also make friends with new extravagant tastes.

Singaporeans love eating and especially eating out. The culture and service of food outlets are on the very high level here. Most of them have around-the-clock service and bustling atmosphere that is probably uncommon in the western world.   

Where to Eat?

Tasty places in Singapore vary from the most refined restaurants with exquisite interior and famous chefs to cosy coffee shops for a cordial talk to homely hawker centres where you can savour all flavours of Asian cuisine in a free atmosphere and for the minimal price. Prices usually start from 3 SGD.

Cafes & Coffee Shops

Cafes are a favourite hub for young people who reach for western tastes and trends. Singapore is home to the world’s popular Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Starbucks, or Coffee Club. On top of premium invigorating drinks, you can savour your favourite pizza or pasta here. Coffee shops are usually located outside the city centre in various Singapore’s housing estates. They have a neighbourly atmosphere: people come here not only for relatively cheap food but also for a sincere talk or playing a game or two of checkers. Although such places are a little bit quaint in the modern “fast” world, they still have lots of frequenters in the Singapore’s suburbs. How does the local coffee tastes? The Singaporeans adore sipping thick and strong coffee from porcelain cups.

Fast food

Fast food happily settled in Singapore in the 1970s. Here you can find almost all fast-food brands such as KFC, Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, Domino’s Pizza, and Pizza Hut. Probably not the healthiest way to eat, fast food remains one of the most popular because of its world-known items, and children-friendly and free atmosphere. Wherever you come from, you will find the flavours you got used to in Singapore.

Hawker Centres

Open-air hawker centres is a modernised way how traditional Asian hawker food can be served. Incorporating lots of food stalls in one place and being located in the city centre, near transport hubs or in every HDB housing estate, such places are great and probably the cheapest options for busy people to satisfy the munchies. Hawker centres were introduced to Singaporeans in the 1950s when the government decided to fight awful sanitary conditions of unlicensed street hawkers. Making the good hygiene “awardable”, the government encouraged hawkers to compete not only in the food itself but also in sticking to high hygiene standards. Today, delicacies served by Singapore’s hawkers in such centres (now they are usually called food centres) are absolutely safe and clean to eat. The prices for the hawker delicacies are very low, and is actually a phenomenon in expensive Singapore.

We recommend you visiting such tried-and-true food (hawker) centres:

  • Lau Pa Sat Food Center
  • Located in the business district, this hawker centre is not only a food “attraction”, but also an architecturql marvel.. Lau Pa Sat is the biggest remaining Victorian building constructed back in 1894 as a market. Today, it is home to lots of hawkers selling local delicacies.
  • Adam Road Food Center
  • Buffs of Malay or Indian food will love this upgraded place for its seafood barbeque, Roti Prata or delicious Nasi Goreng. Some western stalls are also present here. The stall of the international delicacy called Nasi Lemak awaits you here as well.
  • Newton Circus Food Center
  • This most popular Singaporean hawker centre will suit seafood buffs as it incorporates lots of BBQ stalls. Try Hokkien Prawn Noodles or Fish Porridge here since you are in the maritime city!

Food Courts

Being another preferable way of dining out, food courts are usually located in big shopping malls. The same food in the food courts can be more expensive than in the hawker centres, but they still attract crowds of people thanks to air-conditioning. In the food courts, you can find cuisines of different countries of the world (Italian, Korean, Japanese, and so on), so you can blend styles and tastes following your own mood. The only disadvantage of such places (especially in peak hours) is crowds of people. They can stand behind your back waiting for a free table. Only few food centres have waiters;  you usually have to carry your food to your table on your own.

  • We recommend visiting Food Republic which actually combines small restaurants and hawker stalls under one roof. The chain that is famous for its fancy marketplace décor has 11 food outlets in Singapore.
  • Chinatown Food Court located on the Smith Street is the right place to feel the ambience of old-fashioned Asian hawkers whose stalls line up making a street. Upstairs in the Chinatown complex, you can try Satay Bee Hoon, a must-eat Singaporean spicy delicacy cooked out of rice noodles, pork, cuttlefish, cockles, and water spinach.
  • The Cookhouse food court is the option for people who are looking for the elegant eat and spending some time with families. Except delicious food and stylish modern interior, this outlet wins clients with the innovative playground for children and proximity to the cinema. Find the Cookhouse on the 5th floor of the mall Jem.
  • FoodFare at the Sports Hub is the right place for hungry sports fans. The interior makes you feel immersed in the stadium ambience: scoreboards, crazy faces of fans encouraging you from the wallpapers, sport TV, and highly informative prints on pillars that will give you the theory of choosing running shoes, swimming, and so on.

Restaurants

These establishments are represented in Singapore in a bright variety – from cheaper, informal and cosy like Italian pizzeria La Smorfia and Spageddies or to luxurious rooftop places selling not only food, but also views. Today, there are lots of tiny, niche though fashionable places that offer exclusive culinary ideas to their limited audience. In opposition to them, there are huge restaurants that try to embrace as wider demand as possible. Off course, Singapore has its local culinary icons.

  • Carousel is a favourite outlet for families with kids that has 7 kitchens and serves Asian and Mediterranean cuisines (including halal). This outlet located at the Royal Plaza is also respected by seafood gourmets for exceptional freshness and assortment, as well as by sugar junkies coming here for signature desserts: bread and butter pudding, chocolate fondue and pastries.
  • Wild Rocket, the creation of the chef Willin Low, is one of the flagships of the local culinary. The restaurant was recently upgraded: not only on the design level has it become more stylish, but also the chef has made a gulp of inspiration which resulted in a new range of sophisticated dishes. The restaurant is also famous for its wine degustation offering. Come around for Low’s signature tiger prawn pomelo salad, coconut dessert or a bowl of noodles.
  • Wild Honey, a rustic establishment that celebrates best breakfast traditions from all across the globe and all day long. This is a perfect place to enjoy a hearty breakfast in Belgian, American, Italian, Swiss, Scandinavian, Japanese, or Mexican style in a homely and slightly cottage atmosphere. Miss Belgian waffles, eggs Benedict or puffy pancakes? Here you can discover unique breakfast tastes from all parts of the world.
  • Ding Dong, a restaurant opened by the creator of Tippling Club’s iconic chef Ryan Clift, isn’t that pricey as its older “brother”, but offers lots of interesting southeast-Asian dishes by the same talent. Ryan experiments with seafood putting it in surprise combinations. Try, for example, Clift’s “pumpkin, prawn and coconut veloute” or “burnt nasu with crab and crispy shrimp”.
  • Sky on 57 is a perfect place for pampering not only your taste buds but also eyes. Creation of famous Singaporean chef Justin Quek, the restaurant is located on the top of the iconic SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands. The most astonishing amenities of night Singapore can be seen from this restaurant’s windows and terrace. Quek’s signature technique is in mixing Asian and European tastes which makes one of the most exciting supper experienced ever.

Want it Vegetarian?

There are lots of meat-free outlets: from hawker stalls to informal restaurants for everyday meals to gorgeous places for special occasions. We give you a few options for a start.

Ananda Bhavan Restaurant will surprise you with time-tested green recipes. This chain of vegetarian Indian restaurants has the longest history: in Singapore, its hospitality and traditions go back to 1924. Being the elegant quintessence of Indian cuisine, the restaurant invites you to savour their signature pani puri (crispy balls with zingy tamarind chutney filling inside) or boli (flatbread made of lentil).

Pollen by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton is a really magic place to dine out. Buried in the vendure of Mediterranean-style gardens on the spectacular Marina Bay, this restaurant invites you into a fancy green adventure that will make you reconsider the way you ate your greens before. Sophisticated and innovative approach to cooking and a riot of tastes and colours distinguish this restaurant from many others in the row. From snacks, bites and refreshing cocktails to elegant 7-course dinner, Pollen is indeed is the most beautiful place to celebrate nature!

VeganBurg ruins the stereotype that fast food is junk and unhealthy. All meat ingredients are replaced by their green counterparts! Try out the Smoky barbeque burger with the mushroom patty inside or their tofu sausages, and you’ll forget your craving for meat forever.

What to Eat?

Arriving in Singapore, don’t rush to KFC or McDonald’s. Try some authentic dishes that will enrich your travel and broaden your taste limits. Lots of popular Singaporean dishes have Malay, Indian or Chinese influences, but the presentation is genuine, for sure. Vegan and not very, hot or moderate, hearty and light – in Singapore you can find food that will match the most fastidious diet ever, and the abundance of seafood, exotic fruits and veggies will make every dish a true discovery.

1. Satay

This barbeque delight on a wooden stick has Indonesian roots. Marinated in turmeric, grilled and accompanied with chopped onions, cucumbers, cubes of rice cake, and hot peanut dip, this dish can be cooked of beef, mutton, chicken and even pork. Look for this delicacy in the Malay, Indian or Chinese (if you like pork) hawker centres.

2. Hokkien Noodles with Seafood

Egg and rice noodles accompanied with fried pork strips and seafood delicacies like prawn and squid is an incredibly invigorating meal that soaks in a hearty prawn stock. Do get mixed up with this dish with another delicacy with the similar name (Hokkien Char Mee): also noodles, but made of only eggs and sprinkled with a genuine dark sauce.

3. Hainanese Chicken Rice

Asia celebrates quaint taste combinations. Just imagine that almost every coffee shop in Singapore will have a stall that serves this rice dish pieces of chicken on top. Some cookers can offer you to black (roast) the bird or white it (boil in a rich chicken and pork stock). The original dish tastes unforgettable with chilli sauce with garlic and ginger.

4. Fried Carrot Cake

Having almost nothing in common with the sweet picture a phrase “carrot cake” paints in our head, this traditional Singapore dish is fried of eggs, radish, flour, turnip and comes in 2 versions: the sweet black one (fried with the sweet dark sauce) or crispy white one (fried on the beaten egg).

5. Chilli/Pepper Crab

Want it red (chilli) or want it black (pepper), in Singapore, you will get it served with rich, thick, and hot gravy and accompanied with mantou (fried bun). Crabs are cooked in two stages (boiling first, then frying) to make the crab meat soft enough to separate from the shell.

6. Kaya Toasts and a Lightly-Boiled Egg

In Singapore, it is has been a favourite breakfast for decades. The toast is a grilled rectangular slice of white bread covered with butter and coconut jam. The eggs will be runnier than you expect. You need to crack open the eggshell and pour the egg into a separate plate and sprinkle it with soya sauce and salt. The Singaporeans traditionally wash down such breakfast with thick black coffee.

7. Roti Prata

Pizza buffs will enjoy this Indian delicacy that reminds a flat cake filled with eggs, cheese, onions, chocolate, banana, mushrooms, or meat. This popular dish is usually served with a hot chicken/fish curry sauce or an ice cream scoop. The layers of dough are quite thin, and after being fried on the metal pan, this flat cake is crispy from outside and juicy inside.

8. Fish Head Curry

Another Indian dish that has firmly consolidated its grip on the tables of the Singaporeans – the Fish Head Curry. The recipe was changed under the influence of many cultures mixed in the country, and today’s Singaporean version is a half the head of a red snapper stewed in the rich curry gravy accompanied with aubergine and okra. Want it spicier – choose Indian version. Want it sweeter and lighter – opt for the Chinese one. Some recipes include even sour tamarind notes.

9. Nasi Lemak

Originally invented for breakfast, this Malay coconut rice dish is a perfect comfort meal throughout the day. The coconut cream gives the rice a sweet flavour while anchovies, eggs, peanuts and sambal (hot Malay sauce) create a zingy aftertaste. The sambal is a very important ingredient which defines the cook’s mastery quality. Nasi Lemak is a favourite dining option for lots of Singaporeans, and it is available in many stalls all across the city.

10. Rojak

A mix of bean sprouts, turnips, dough fritters, cucumbers, pineapple, and roast peanuts generously sprinkled with prawn sauce is a rich and hearty dinner option with extravagant Asian taste. The Indian-style Rojak allows you to experiment with optional ingredients and create your unique dish.

Only in Singapore, can you gulp all Asian tastes – from bespoke and extravagant dishes in posh rooftop restaurants to old good street meals our forefathers ate – and pay for the world-class quality according to your budget. Vibrant and zingy Singaporean tastes are the best way to explore and glue to the local culture. Because they are so addictive that it’s impossible to be apart.

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