Singapore: A true melting pot of cuisine

What to eat in Singapore? A traveler's guide to food everyone should have when vising Singapore.

Singapore was once simply known as a fishing village and nothing more. Yet, visiting the southeastern Asian city-state today, visitors would have little inkling of its past. Singapore is a thriving nation with one of the world’s best economies. Fifty-three years ago, when Singapore gained its independence, few politicians around the world believed the country could be transformed into a first-world powerhouse. That is if they even knew where Singapore was on a map. However, it did just that in one generation and today skyscrapers make up its horizon.

Compared to other southeast Asia travel destinations, Singapore isn’t city of backpacker haunts and hostels. It is a city of wealth, colorful architecture, and culture. One of the most popular reasons to visit Singapore is for its food. The country has welcomed a variety of cultures to its shores over the decades and the peoples who call it home have brought the foods of their homelands with them. Singapore’s food scene is incredibly unique and few major tourist destinations feature such diverse restaurant menus.

Visitors to Singapore will uncover dishes from all over Asia. But it isn’t just Asian flavors that adorn the menus of the country’s restaurants. Foods from Europe and the Americas have also inspired the tastes of Singapore. A CityPals guide can lead travelers on an unforgettable trail of tastes while visiting the country. It is a journey well worth taking and one found nowhere else in the world.

Singapore's skyline at night.

Singapore’s skyline at night.

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak is a perfect example of the food influences other countries have had on Singapore. The dish originated in Malaysia and is considered the national meal in the country. Nasi Lemak is a dish that can be eaten throughout the day. Many food insiders call it a versatile dish as Singaporeans eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The Singapore version isn’t as spicy as variations eaten in other Asian countries. This gives diners the chance to truly savior the meal. Nasi Lemak is made up of fragrant coconut rice with various sides. Crispy fried chicken, fried prawns, a fried egg, and green beans are all options.

Nasi Lemak can be relatively cheap or expensive depending on the restaurant visitors dine at. A Singapore CityPals guide will know where all the best Nasi Lemak locations are across the city-state.

a picture of Nasi Lemak served in a traditional way on a banana leaf. Singapore

Nasi Lemak served in a traditional way on a banana leaf.

Yong Tau Foo

Yong tau foo is another example of the food cultures that have descended on Singapore. Yong tau foo is a variation of the Chinese dish known as Hakka. Stalls around Singapore sell young tau foo and it is simple to order. Visitors select from a variety of items including bean curd, fish balls, tofu, meat, and vegetables. The ingredients are then cooked in a broth and served with rice or noodles. It is topped off with chili sauce. Travelers on a budget can find young tau foo very reasonable priced at stalls around Singapore.

a picture of Singaporeans in line for some Young Tau Fu at the Chinatown Complex Food Centre.

Singaporeans in line for some Young Tau Fu at the Chinatown Complex Food Centre.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of the most popular dishes in Singapore. Visitors will find restaurants packed with diners eating the chicken and rice dish every day as it is extremely filling. Hainanese Chicken Rice is made with steamed chicken served with rice cooked in chicken stock. It is incredibly simple, yet delicious.

A picture of a shop selling Hainanese Chicken Rice in a Singapore neighborhood eatery.

Hainanese Chicken Rice is as much about the quality of the rise as it is about the quality of the chicken.

Chili Crab

An icon of the Singaporean culinary scene, chili crab can be found all across the country. Surprisingly, chili crab isn’t spicy, so diners wanting to avoid extremely hot dishes won’t be turned off by this one. According to a CNN article from 2011, chili crab is the 35th most delicious meal in the world. It is also one of Singapore’s national dishes.

Chili crab is cooked with hard-shell crabs in a tomato chili base semi-thick sauce. The steamed crabs are lightly stir-fried in a chili, ketchup, and egg paste. Restaurants serve bread with the dish allowing diners to soak up the mouthwatering sauces.

A picture of Chili Crab which is one of Singapore's signature dishes.

Diners can often pick a live crab from an aquarium to have their Chili Crab cooked to order.

Laksa

Laksa is traditionally eaten at lunch time in Singapore and it delivers a rich, spicy blast of flavor in the middle of the day. The spicy coconut curry soup comes with rice noodles, shrimp, fish cakes, egg, and chicken. Once again, the dish shows the cultural fusions of Singapore as laksa combines Malaysian and Chinese cuisine. There are different varieties of laksa in Singapore and a CityPals guide can help travelers find the one to suit their taste buds.

a Picture of Singapore Laksa served at Ah Meng Kitchen located in the Singapore Zoo

Singapore Laksa served at Ah Meng Kitchen located in the Singapore Zoo

Wanton Mee

Wanton mee has become a favorite food of Singapore. It was most likely brought to the country from Hong Kong, but Singapore’s cooks and chefs have adapted it to their own standards. Wanton mee is noodles topped with slices of pork and pork-filled wonton dumplings. A sweet sauce is lightly poured over the dish. Often times, chilies are mixed into wanton mee to give it a spicy kick. Many restaurants will also serve a bowl of soup on the side. Malaysian influenced restaurants may serve a slightly different version of the same dish. It contains a darker sweet sauce and the noodles have a slightly sweeter taste.

Picture of the Singaporean Wanton Mee Dish

One of the many version of the Singaporean Wanton Mee Dish

Singapore is truly a melting pot of culinary flavors. It is a country with an incredible array of food stalls, markets, and restaurants that can be overwhelming to say the least. A CityPals guide can transport tourists to the best food destinations in the country and unlock an entirely new gastronomic experience.

Use the comments section below to add recommendations for Singaporean dishes and eateries that travelers should visit.

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Comments (2):

  1. Anthony

    January 15, 2019 at 8:30 am

    Everything looks so good!

    Reply
  2. John

    January 16, 2019 at 6:12 am

    After living 6 months in Singapore, Wanton mee is my favorite food now.

    Reply

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