If you go to Singapore and you can’t find something to eat, you will probably shock a lot of people. It is really one of the best food capitols in the world, and everyone who lives there or who has even been there will be able to give you a pretty solid recommendation for where to eat.
The food industry there has been growing, though it still retains a lot of the same magic and traditional preparation methods. Or you could go somewhere that is completely modern, whatever floats your boat.
Whatever you do, don’t ask a group of people where to get the best anything – you will start an argument that can last for weeks.
Singapore Food Culture
Food is one of the most important parts of Singapore. There are many dishes that are not only important to the culture of Singapore, but the history as well.
Some people will tell you that the stalls are the center of Singapore culture – you can hear gossip, make friendships, and learn about the latest news just by standing in line here.
Foods in Singapore aren’t just from here – they are a fusion of cultures from everywhere. You’ll find fast food restaurants that taste just like your local McDonald’s and you’ll find strange foods that you can’t even identify. The chefs here have travelled all over the world to bring new tastes and preparation methods to the area.
One thing to know is that mealtime is the time of day when many people socialize. It is important to note that people will talk and laugh while they are eating – they won’t hurry through anything.
Singapore Food History
Singapore is located between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. This location, plus the geography of the country, means that it has many different influences on its food history, including a direct line of influence from Thailand, China, Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea, and India. Throughout history, they have traded and worked directly with travelers and workers from these countries.
Like many Asian countries, there is a history of colonialism and direct impact from Britain and Japan.
10 Singapore Dishes Not to Miss
These are the dished to ensure you try before leaving Singapore:
Hainanese Chicken and Rice: For lunch, you can’t beat this rice and chicken meal that has amazing flavor and an aroma that you will never forget. Make sure that you use the dipping sauce generously.
Laksa: This is a rice noodle soup with spice coconut curry, fish cakes, chicken, shrimp, and egg. It might sound a little heavy, but the noodles are absolutely to die for. There are many different variations, so you could try a different one each day.
Char Kuay Teow: Fish cakes, clams, or Chinese sausage are added to this white noodle dish. Then, everything is fried with black soya sauce and bean sprouts.
Satay: Grilled meat (chicken, beef, pork, or mutton) that is service with a rice cake, peanut sauce, and cucumber-chili relish. There is a strong turmeric flavor here.
Char Siew Rice Noodles: Simple: barbequed pork in a thick sauce with noodles.
Oyster Omelette: This is an egg omelette with flour (try it!) and a nice helping of small oysters.
Chili Crab: If you like hard shell crabs and/or chili, you have to try this absolutely tasty dish. Everything is stir fried together with some ketchup and eggs for a unique dinner meal. The bread that comes with it is used to soak up the juices, so save it for the end.
Barbecued Stingray: This is a food that originated in the stalls and has become a delicacy. The classic version is stingray in a sambal sauce (tomatoes, shrimp past, and chilies) that has been wrapped in a banana leaf. You’ll have to leave some time for this to be prepared, but it is worth it.
Hokkien Prawn Mee: If you’ve tried this elsewhere, you’ll have to try it in Singapore. There is a bit of an oily taste, so make sure you use the line to take that away. This is Hokkien noodles stir fried with prawns, slices of chicken, pork, squid or fish cakes. You can also add chili, vinegar, or soy sauce.
Fish Head Curry: This might not look that great, but it is quite tasty. This is a VERY BIG fish head with vegetables cooked in curry. You’ll likely get rice as well. There is a sweet-sour taste here that many people love.
The 10 Best Restaurants in Singapore
While many people will tell you that the best food comes from the food courts, especially if you are travelling with children, you shouldn’t overlook the eateries that are a little more formal.
Char: If you are looking for something that is nondescript and not too formal, Char might just be the ticket. You’ll likely have to wait for a seat, but that is the mark of a true specialty restaurant. Most people will tell you that you absolutely must try the char siew, which is a blackened cut of Cantonese pork with some of the best sauce you’ve ever had.
Burnt Ends: This is definitely the hottest place to eat in town, and with good reason. It is a barbecue place with a four-ton wood burning oven. This barbecue is definitely better than any you’ve ever had before, thanks to Australian chef David Pynt. This is NOT a place for vegans or vegetarians, but meat loves will have a field day.
Immigrants: If you are looking for something that seems a little more familiar, Damian D’Silva’s restaurant might combine the cultures of Singapore with what you already know. They have a lot of heritage dishes like beef cheek and wolf herring, but many things that you probably already have had – like chicken. For the adults, you won’t find a better whisky list.
Lolla: Kid friendly restaurants aren’t hard to find in Singapore, though ones that truly stand out from the crowd are. Lolla is a casual Mediterranean kitchen that has more extreme foods like the famous squid-ink pudding with sea urchin as well as child friendly favorites like sourdough bread with kombu butter.
Morsels: Another location where the atmosphere here reminds you of home while still being food that you can’t find anywhere else. Some of the best dishes include the smoked lamb, which has a fruity barbecue sauce that kids will love as well as the steamed clams in fig broth with kimchi, which adults go crazy for.
Restaurant Andre: This is definitely more a splurge, but it is also one of the most unforgettable places you will ever eat. From snacks that everyone will love – even your kids – to tableside preparation, Andre Chiang, the chef, puts on a spectacular performance as well as cooks fantastic foods. Make sure you set out some time to enjoy yourself here.
No matter where you choose to go – whether it be the food courts or street cars – or you go to a restaurant, make sure to push yourself and your children to think outside of the box. There is so much out there for everyone to try, and going for a basic trip to McDonald’s will just ruin the experience.