My Singaporean 15
At a glance: Where to go for the best local Singaporean food
- Hawker centres in order of priority - Lau Pa Sat, Newton Circus, Tiong Bahru Markets, New Bugis, Alexandra
- Food chains - Bangawan Solo, Jolli Bean
If there is one thing Singaporeans love more than designer goods, it is food. In particular street food, served up at Singapore’s many famed hawker centres. You will often find locals tottering into these hawker centres, Ferregamo clad feet, Dior glasses perched on noses, Gucci bags in hand, all in search of that legendary fried noodle or chicken rice. So here’s my pick of my favourite Singapore street food / hawker centre fare. Note, I have a sweet tooth, and am often surrounded by vegetarians, so my taste may be biased!
Six Mains to get you started
1. Satay – Yum yum yum! Small chunks of your meat of choice; covered in a delicious peanut sauce and barbequed over coal. Eat up! Try at – Satay by the Bay, Satay Street (Lau Pa Sat)
2. Chicken rice – Arguably Singapore’s national dish; tender blanched chicken, accompanied by the most delicious rice, cooked till perfection in chicken broth. Try at – Newton Circus, Lau Pa Sat
3. Nasi Lemak – a traditional Malay breakfast, rice cooked in coconut milk, served with sambal, boiled egg, anchovies, peanuts and a small cooling salad of cucumber. Try at – Newton Circus, Lau Pa Sat
4. Mee Siam - thin rice vermicelli, fried and served with spicy gravy made from fermented bean paste, dried shrimp, sugar and tamarind. Spicy, sour, and just slightly sweet –delectable. Try at – Newton Circus, Lau Pa Sat
5. Rojak – literally meaning “mixture” or “eclectic mix”, rojak is a Malay dish that to me represents Singapore in a bowl – an unusual, yet flavoursome mixture. It can be best described as a salad of sorts, with various textures (boiled, fried and crispy, tender and cripy) covered in a sweet and sour dressing.
6. Kaya toast – Staple Singaporean breakfast; crusty slices of bread, lathered with butter and spread with the most delectable coconut jam aka kaya. You haven’t had breakfast in Singapore till you’ve had kaya toast, accompanied with kopi and soft boiled eggs. Try at – Toast box
Four for something sweet
1. Ice kacang / Ice cendol – Singapore’s version of a Royal Faluda, except with more of the Lorde factor. Usually consists of shaved ice, assortment of jellies, beans and colourful, sugary syrups. The ultimate brain freeze in the sticky tropical heat. Try at – Tiong Bahru Markets
2. Ondeh ondeh – Where do I start? Pandang flavoured sticky ball, which bursts delicious liquid palm sugar when bitten into. Try at – Bangawan Solo outlets
3. Ice-cream sandwich – You know a slice of ice cream sandwiched between two biscuits? Boring. Singapore’s version of an ice cream sandwich (found on Orchard Rd) is a slab of your favourite flavour ice cream placed in a multi-coloured-marbled slice of bread. Try at – The uncle on Orchard Road, usually somewhere between Ion and Takashimaya
4. Peanut pancake – Crispy, or moist, filled with a crunchy mix of sugar and crushed peanuts. Try at – Jollibean outlets
And five to sip …
1. Ice Milo – Singapore’s non-alcoholic national drink (Singapore Sling being the sinful alcoholic national drink). If you are feeling extra indulgent, get an Ice Milo Dinosaur i.e. an additional spoonful of powdery Milo goodness sprinkled over the top of your drink.
2. Ice Horlicks – As above, but Horlicks flavoured.
3. Sugarcane juice – Remember that time your mother told you that you’ll get jaundice if you drank sugarcane juice! Well lucky thing that Singapore food hygiene standards will (hopefully) preclude any such risks. Yum yum yum!
4. Ice lemon tea – Ultimate pick me up in the heat. Pretend like you didn’t just see all the liquid sugar they poured into your drink.
5. Teh / Kopi – Singapore’s caffeine hit of choice. Remember to have this with your kaya toast.
Try at – Most hawker centres have specialist drink stalls, so you should be able to find these drinks with ease. My personal favourite is the drink stall at New Bugis Food Village.
- Carry a small pack of tissues and place this on your table of choice to reserve it while you suss out the best fare at hawker centres. This is a popular, and well respected local tradition. No one (read no one) will try to steal your table if there is a pack of tissues on it.
- Stalls at hawker centres have a food grading (A to D) representing how they fared at their previous food inspection. I have never had an issue with food in Singapore; however, if you are sensitive to stomach bugs, keep this in mind when choosing where to get your lunch from.
- If you are short on time and can only visit one hawker centre, I would recommend Lau Pa Sat. It is an institution. Amazing architecture, great selection of stalls. Yes, it is on the pricey side (owing to its popularity with tourists and the CBD crew) but it is worth a visit.