Known for being a cultural melting pot, Singapore’s cuisine reflects her multi-ethnic culture and heritage, resulting in a multitude of distinctive dishes each with unique flavours. Whether you’re craving something sweet, sour, spicy, or hearty, there’s bound to be a dish around any corner to satisfy your palate. Here, we’ll be listing local food not to be missed while on your travels in Singapore.
Arguably Singapore’s favourite and most iconic dish, it can be found in both restaurants and cafes along with almost every hawker centre littered across the country. Served with fragrant rice accompanied by your choice of sliced chicken (either roasted or steamed) and an appetising chilli dipping sauce and crunchy cucumbers, this dish offers you a flavourful, tender experience that can be enjoyed at both lunches as well as dinner. Other side dishes can be added on to enhance the already mouth-watering experience, with crystal chicken skin, chicken gizzard, and braised eggs among those available on the menu.
The king of versatility, this traditionally Malay dish can be eaten anytime during the day. Traditionally served wrapped in banana leaves, the dish boasts coconut milk-infused rice which radiates a sweet fragrance. Typically, the rice will be served with Ikan Bilis (fried anchovies), peanuts, an egg, sliced cucumber, and sambal (chilli paste). Over the years, Nasi Lemak has become so popular that other races have their versions of the dish, resulting in a wider selection of accompanying ingredients such as fried chicken wings, luncheon meat, as well as cuttlefish!
A dish of Indian-Muslim influence, this aromatic mixed-rice meal is primarily made of long grain Basmati rice, distinguishing itself from other rice dishes found throughout Singapore. What’s more, the rice is infused with saffron, which gives it its distinctive orange colour while adding fragrance and flavour to each grain. The rice is further infused with spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and bay leaves, and is served with your choice of meat (either chicken or mutton). It is then served with a bowl of curry which itself comes in a wide variety (fish, mutton, chicken curry). Adding all the components of the dish guarantees a flavour-fest and an irresistible meal not to be missed.
Moving away from rice, Laksa is thick vermicelli served in a spicy broth. Despite there being a variety of different Laksa broths, we’ll be focusing on the most famous home-grown Katong Laksa — a spicy coconut milk-based curry noodle soup. Coming in a vibrant orangey-red broth, the dish’s vermicelli is cut into shorter strips that can be scooped up with a spoon, and is topped off with prawns, cockles, beancurd puffs, fishballs, and fishcakes. Despite originating in Katong, this variation of Laksa can now be found island wide with a multitude of stalls adopting and selling this spicy, delicious bowl of noodle broth.
You’ll not find a more traditional breakfast than kaya toast with its accompanying soft-boiled egg. Two slices of white bread are toasted to a golden brown on the grill, and the insides are then covered with kaya and a slice of butter. The heat from the bread ensures that the butter melts between the slices and ensures flavourful goodness with every bite. On the side, soft-boiled eggs will be served in a separate bowl. Crack them open and season them with light soya sauce along with pepper, and now you’ll have a side/dipping sauce for your toast for an added avenue of flavour to enjoy.
Made up of skewered meat, this originally Indonesian dish can now be found in the heartlands of Singapore. Meat is typically chicken, mutton, or beef, and is marinated with turmeric which is then grilled over a fire. Cucumber, onion, and rice cakes are usual accompanying ingredients, with a spicy peanut dipping sauce topping off this amazingly tasty finger food.
Singapore’s very own “salad” consists of a mixture of bean sprouts, radish, and pineapple. It’s further mixed with You Tiao (crispy dough fritters) and Tau Pok (beancurd puffs). Everything is then finally meshed together in a sweet, yet savoury fermented prawn paste sauce and is topped off with roasted peanut bits to give a crunch with every bite. For a little more kick, chilli can be added to the mixture to spice it up and give more flavour to this already uniquely flavoured dish!