Within an hour of landing in Singapore, we are greeted by an army of Tessa’s family members and whisked off to a hawker center for a late night snack. Our 2 weeks in Singapore is filled with every delicacy imaginable, from Chinese to Singaporean and every degree of fusion in between. Here are a few highlights.
So I fancy myself a bit of a laksa connoiseur. Laksa is a creamy, spicy, fish based soup served with noodles and toppings. I find the best is homemade but honestly, with the long list of ingredients and labour intensive process of making from scratch, most people use the packets (they’re not bad!). The 2 major laksa varieties are Singaporean and Malay. Both vary in their toppings (a mix of egg, fried anchovies, shrimp, bean curd, fish cake, veggies etc) but the biggest difference for me is the broth. Malay laksa is soupier and generally spicier while Singaporean laksa tends to have a thicker broth fortified by coconut milk.
After service at the megachurch City Harvest (wasn’t my cup of tea), we made our way to Katong Laksa, an establishment with Anthony Bourdain’s stamp of approval. Laksa broth here is very creamy and coconut milk based. If you’re into rich, creamy broth this is definitely the place for you. I tend to go more for the spicier, liquidier soup, but Katong Laksa’s had great depth of flavour and I enjoyed (scarfed) it nonetheless.
Parata in India, parantha in other parts, I know it as tasty flat bread. Making prata takes skill and, what I can imagine, years of practice flipping and pressing the paper thin dough into flaky discs. Crispy and brown on the outside, perfect amount of chew on the inside, these very affordable delicacies are most commonly served with a side of robust fish or chicken curry for dipping.
However, there are a multitude of variations you can try in the Singaporean hawker stalls. Murtabak is a large prata stuffed with sauteed ground meat, served with the same curries. I had murtabak mutton and it was very flavourful. Got a sweet tooth? Give the delicate (and theatrical) tissue prata a try. A thin, single layer of prata is formed into a tall cone and drizzled with syrup. Fingers get sticky breaking pieces off the cone until it is all sadly gone.
I really wish we had some prata stands around Vancouver. I imagine they’d be very popular with the post-clubbing crowd (who’s with me?!). It’d definitely be a nice change from the overpriced pizza!
When in Singapore (and I guess in many SE Asian countries) where many meals are taken in open air hawker stalls, the drink and food vendors are often separate. You just go around the stands, picking what you want to eat and drink and finding a table somewhere nearby. I’m proud to say I didn’t order a single soda whilst traveling in Singapore!
Milo was definitely my favourite. This malty chocolate drink is much more common around the world than it is in North America (Or Canada at least). Thick, rich and chocolately, its kind of like iced, malted hot chocolate. A Milo dinosaur means they take another heaping spoon of Milo mix and cover the top of your mug with it.
Teh tarik (tek=tea, tarik=pulled) is a delicious milk tea made of black tea, condensed milk and evaporated milk. Named for the “pulling process while making it, this originally Indian drink is commonly available in stalls across Singapore and Malaysia. Its quite different from the Taiwanese or Hong Kong style milk tea we’re use to having in Vancouver. The best way to describe it is less creamy than Taiwanese style, more tea flavour but not with the “tanin” sensation of HK style. Its definitely worth a try!
Have you had lime-ade before in Canada? Well this is completely different. I think Fiona really liked this one in particular as it was the first drink she got. Lime juice, as it is called, is made of tiny limes the size of a bouncy ball, ice, sugar and God knows what else. All I know is that its refreshing and gives a good pucker.
There is so much more food to talk about! Be on the lookout for part 2 of food in Singapore.