A taste of Singapore

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Singapore is a food lover’s paradise.. there’s no doubt about that. Being a multi-racial society, we are a melting pot of tastes and cultures. We have all kinds of food available in Singapore, Chinese, Malay, Indian, Western, Japanese.. the list is endless. What’s even better is that this stunning variety of food is offered nearly everywhere, at hawker centres, food courts and malls. It is extremely rare to see such a wide array of food so easily accessible to everyone.

I think food defines us as Singaporeans, and today’s post is dedicated to my list of Top 10 must-tries in Singapore.

Going on a holiday and being away from your familiar food can be rather daunting and exhilarating at the same time. Well, in order to enhance your Singapore experience if you happen to travel here, I’ve compiled a list of must tries in Singapore if you happen to be visiting. I deliberately did not include ‘atas’ restaurants and cafes in my list, despite their rising popularity in Singapore, as I feel that our local hawker fare is what makes us uniquely Singaporean. Well, that and the fact that I didn’t want to make it harder on myself to choose just 10 types of food from the smorgasbord of food available here.

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So, without further ado, here is Foogo’s Top 10 Must-Tries in Singapore:

I listed them by the type of food, rather than a particular stall since we have so many amazing hawkers around, and the best version would be subjective to your personal tastes and preferences. I did, however, take the liberty to name a few hawkers for you to choose from. Enjoy!

1. Chicken Rice

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Funny thing is, I don’t have a photo of chicken rice, despite the countless times that I have eaten this local dish. I suppose I don’t exactly find it very picturesque. My tastebuds think otherwise though. Chicken rice is essentially boiled or roasted chicken with fragrant rice. A word to the health conscious, the rice tastes so good because it is cooked in chicken fat. Nonetheless, this is a dish you have to try!

As simple as it sounds, this dish is not just about the chicken and the rice. The side dishes also play an important role in creating the perfect chicken rice meal, and it is often a combination of good quality ingredients, and well defined flavors that differentiates the best chicken rice from the rest. What side dishes, you may ask? The chili sauce, the ginger, the soup and sometimes the gravy poured over the chicken.

Every stall offers different side dishes, and have added their own unique touches to this common dish.

  • Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice

Maxwell Road Food Centre

1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-10, S069184

11am to 8pm, closed on Mondays.

-The highlight of this dish is the powerful gravy that is poured over the chicken. It is bursting with flavor and complements the tender chicken extremely well. I love their chilli and ginger as well which gives a nice kick to the chicken rice.

  • Sin Kee/Xin Ji Famous Chicken Rice

Mei Chin Food Centre, 159 Mei Chin Road, #02-22, S140159,

11am to 8pm, closed on Mondays

-Equally tender and robust chicken, the strength of this stall is their chilli which is sweet, spicy and sour all at the same time. I love it!

2. Nasi Lemak

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Credits to the Pleasure Monger.

Coconut rice served with fried chicken, otah, cucumbers, ikan bilis, fried egg, fried fish (you choose what to add.. but there’s usually fried egg and fried chicken wings) and of course the most important sweet sambal chilli! This is a Malay dish that is very popular for breakfast, lunch or dinner in Singapore. Of course, I only have one recommendation, cause I love love love their sambal chilli… do check them out!

  • Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak

No. 2 Adam Road Food Centre

I have been a loyal customer of their nasi lemak for many years now, and I will never grow tired of their delicious Sambal chilli which is delightfully sweet and spicy at the same time. I could just eat it with the rice. Ah, one thing to note though, their rice is not always consistent and you might get some undercooked grains, or parts that aren’t well mixed with the coconut milk. Nonetheless, they do have one of  the best Nasi Lemak’s in Singapore.

3. Roti Prata

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Essentially a fried flour-based pancake. Doesn’t sound very appetizing? Well, when you receive a plate of freshly made plain Roti Prata, served with some curry and sugar, you’ll understand why I included this in my must try list of Singapore food. Sometimes simple is the way to go. I love to eat this fuss free meal with both curry and sugar, at the same time! Most people choose either curry or sugar to dip their prata in, but I find that eating both at the same time creates a really unique flavor. The sweet crunchy sugar complements the smooth spicy gravy so well, making your roti prata even more enjoyable.

You can order your roti prata in different variations too, egg, banana, chocolate, and even tissue prata which is served in a cone!

While most Indian hawker stalls sell Roti Prata, if you want to try the very best roti prata..

  • Casuarina Curry Restaurant

136 Casuarina Road, S9579524)

A casual restaurant with an open kitchen so you can watch them make your prata! I love their banana prata which is HUGE. It’s actually a dessert prata, but I like to order it as my main course. Do order a Milo Dinosaur (milo topped with extra milo powder) as well, as that’s often the go-to drink to pair with prata.

  • Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata

7 Crane Road, Poh Ho Restaurant

6.30am-1.30pm

Closed Tue/Wed 3rd week of the month

A nice place for breakfast in a local coffeeshop.. what makes this place unique is that they have 3 types of curry for you to choose from! (Dhal, Fish or Mutton)

4. Kaya Toast and Soft boiled eggs

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Kaya Toast, Kopi and soft boiled eggs.. now that’s local breakfast for you! Kaya is a coconut jam, often freshly made by the better coffee shops like Yakun and Chin Mee Chin. The sweet kaya, rich butter and crispy toast combine to form a mouthwatering and extremely affordable breakfast.

  • Ya Kun Kaya Toast18 China Street

Probably the pioneers of kaya toast, Ya kun has managed to uphold their standard as one of the best kaya toast makers in Singapore. There are many outlets all over Singapore, but do head down to their first outlet if you have the chance!

  • Chin Mee Chin Confectionary

204 East Coast Road

The kaya toast here is served on round buns rather than the usual toast.. but it is still equally delicious. The kaya here is deliciously eggy and sweet.

5. Chilli/black pepper crab

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Another local delight! I like to dip freshly fried mantous into the chilli crab gravy.

Just one place to reccomend.. my all time favorite JUMBO SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

  • Jumbo Seafood Restaurant

East Coast Seafood Centre
Blk 1206 East Coast Parkway #01-07/08, East Coast Seafood Centre, Singapore 449883
Tel:             6442-3435      , Fax: 6444-5373 

Mon – Sat
:
5pm – 11.45pm (last order at 11.15pm)
Sun & P.H.
:
12pm – 12am (last order at 11.15pm)

They have a few outlets, but this is my favorite outlet cause it is by the sea, so the ambiance is pretty amazing. If I’m not wrong, this is their biggest outlet as well.

6. Dim Sum

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Rather like a chinese version of Spanish Tapas, you can choose from many small individual portions of food served in small bamboo baskets or plates. The items range from dumplings, to paus (steamed bun with fillings) and even to heartier fare like noodles.

  • Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant

183/185/187/189/191 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208882

Opening hours: 6pm – 10am, closed on tuesdays

I suggest that you go to this alleyway eatery at night since they are sold out for most items in the morning. Plus, the lively atmosphere at night will definitely enhance your experience. Not sure what to order? Check out my review on Swee Choon.

  • Red Star Restaurant

54 Chin Swee Road, Singapore 160054

This is probably Singapore’s largest dim sum restaurant. With servers pushing around carts of dim sum, and the noisy atmosphere from the perpetual crowd, the ambiance here is hard to beat. Have fun trying to flag down the push cart women in a bid to get your dim sum.

7. Popiah

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I’d describe this as the healthy asian version of a burrito. A chockful of ingredients (veggies like lettuce, cooked radishes, turnips, carrots, bean sprouts even shrimp, crabmeat and tofu at times…) are wrapped up in a thin paper like crepe to form a popiah. Sauces like chilli and sweet sauce are spread on the popiah skin before adding the filling, and you can customise your order by choosing from the variety of toppings available (ground peanuts, mashed eggs, fried pork lard, chinese sausage..)

Popiah can be found in most hawker centres, but for a good popiah, I’d recommend the following places.

  • Old Long House Popiah 

Blk 22, Lorong 7 Toa Payoh, #01-03

Toa Payoh Food Centre

6am – 5pm, Closed on Mon and Tue

The popiah skin here is sturdy enough to hold the generous fillings together so that they won’t fall out on the arduous journey from the plate to your drooling mouth.

  • My Cosy Corner 

587 Bukit Timah Road, Coronation Plaza, #02-02

Opening hours: Mon-sat 10am – 7.30pm, Sun: 11am-3pm

If you can take spicy food, ask for extra chilli for an added oomph! It can really numb your tongue.

  • Good Chance Popiah

149 Silat Avenue, #01-58, Singapore 160149

Opening hours: Lunch- 11am to 2.30pm, Dinner – 6pm to 9.30pm, Closed on Mondays

For the fun of it, if you want to have a go at rolling your own popiah, do head down to Good Chance Popiah to put your nimble hands to the test. Simple, homely fare in a cosy old restaurant, just sit back, relax and roll some popiah!

8. Char Kway Teow

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Ooh, that looks appetizing. A piping hot plate of brown slop which vaguely resembles earthworms and squished slugs. Delicious. Kidding aside, despite its looks, Char Kway Teow tastes pretty amazing. Kway teow (flat rice noodles aka the flattened slugs) and egg noodles (the earthworms) are fried together with a unique blend of sauces, eggs, beansprouts, chinese sausage and cockles to create a dish of gastronomic proportions. Each plate is often cooked to order, so you are assured of a steaming plate of noodles. This is one dish that tastes better than it looks.

  • Outram Park Char Kway Teow

Hong Lim Market and Food Centre, Blk 531A, Stall 02-17

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 6am-4.30pm, Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays

This is my personal favorite because the char kway teow is slightly on the sweeter side. The portions here are slightly smaller than usual though, so a lone plate may not suffice.

  • Meng Kee Char Kway Teow

Blk 22, Havelock Road, Beo Crescent

Opening Hours: Mon – Sat: 10.30am to 7pm, Sunday: 10.30am – 4pm

What makes this plate of Char Kway Teow stand out is the smoothness of the kway teow which makes it even more palatable than usual.

9. Tau Huay

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The traditional tau hway (soya beancurd) can be eaten hot or cold, and is served in a sweet syrup. If you like, you can dip freshly fried dough fritters (you tiao) into your tau huay for a unique experience of savory meets sweet.

  • Rochor Beancurd

432 Balestier Road, Public Mansions, #01-436

Opening Hours: Mon – Sun : 9am- 12am

I love their hot tau huay with a fresh you tiao to go with it. Their soya bean drinks and sides (other fried doughy goods) are good as well.

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Lately, there has been a craze for this new modern version of soya beancurd. It is more like a soy pudding, and is only eaten cold. The texture is extremely smooth, and it is much lighter than the traditional beancurd. Honestly, it is hard to differentiate a good version of this beancurd from another because they are mostly factory made unlike the traditional beancurd. I decided not to recommend a particular stall since they taste quite the same to me, just head down to any hawker centre, and you’re bound to see a stall selling this in various flavours. (durian, strawberry, almond, coffee, chocolate..)

Call me boring, but I’ll still choose the traditional beancurd over these factory made ones.

10. Durian

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Last, but definitely not the least… THE KING OF FRUITS! Presenting, the almighty Durian. I am sure you’ve heard of this famous or infamous fruit, the spiky fruit that you either hate or love. To the haters, the smell is probably the worst part of eating durian.  I used to hate durian, but I have grown to love the rich, creamy taste of durian. There are various kinds of durians available, but I recommend D24 and Mao Shan Wang as they tend to be fleshier and creamier than most. Mao Shan Wang has a sweet note to it, while D24 has a hint of bitterness.

A quick tip before I end this post.. wash your hands and gargle your mouth with water that has been washed down a durian husk. It helps to get rid of the strong odor. I’d love to hear about your first experience with durian, so do leave a comment below if you happen to try it in Singapore.

I don’t have a particular stall to recommend, so just look out for a makeshift kiosk with the spiky fruit on display and try your luck!

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Finally, I hope that you have an amazing food and fun-filled experience in Singapore! There are so many more types of food for you to try, but if I wrote everything down, I would not need to sleep for days. My suggestion? Just follow the queues. If the queues are long, the food SHOULD be good.

Happy holidays!

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