Food was a big highlight when I visited Singapore. So much so that I couldn’t fit it all into my first post on Singaporean food! Here are a few other food items that are not to be missed:
Hainanese Chicken Rice
Typically, this is a lightly flavoured chicken dish served on a bed of aromatic rice. There is a robust fragrance with hints of ginger and lemongrass and its all served with a sauce made of ground ginger, oil and green onion. Now I got to say that my mom still makes this dish the best (of course), served in a Korean bibimbap stone bowl for all the crispy rice bits in the bottom , but the ones available at the Singapore hawker stalls come pretty close. One of the neat things about this dish in Singapore is that you get the option of having the chicken roasted. In some stalls they even have roasted duck instead of chicken. Either way this is a delicious and nutritious meal and usually no more than $4CAD!
Being a port city, Singapore gets a plethora of seafood options, each a blank slate for the different cuisines that are popular in Singapore. From the Indian fish curries to the various Chinese dishes, its all good eats. Some of the best prawn dishes were from here. Various fried shrimp dishes are crispy, spicy, saucy, each having a robust flavour. We had a particular dish of fried whole fish, dunked in the fryer while in a U-shape. This spectacular dish was served with a sweet sauce that made it look like the fish was jumping from the plate! This was by far the crispest fish I’ve ever had. Contrarily, milder flavours in steamed fish with soy, ginger and green onions conjure memories of home.
One of the most unique dishes I had here was sambal stingray. Stingray might sound weird to eat but let me tell you its a very tender fish. The bones are in long sheets and the meat is on either side of it. You take a spoon and scrape the white meat along the bone and it practically falls off! The flakes are long and very tender. Have each bite with a pile of sambal and lime juice and you’re set! One try and you’ll be hooked! We had our’s at East Coast Lagoon Food Village, a very large hawker stall with tons of other goodies.
Get Your Crabs
One of Singapore’s most famous dishes is their chili crab. The large crabs (around the size of the west coast dungeness crabs we’re use to), are stir fried with aromatics and a sweet chili sauce. It was not as spicy as I thought it would be and overall I found this quite a sweet dish. We had this with fried buns, and despite it not being what I expected, I quite enjoyed it. For those who want to have crab on the spicier side, try the black pepper crab for a kick. I didn’t get a chance to try it but Joey, our local guide, tells me the best is at Eng Seng Restaurant, where you might have to go early to avoid them selling out.
Singapore is unlike the rest of SE Asia in that, on average it is more expensive than surrounding Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. The prices you would pay for these ritzier crab dishes will be slightly cheaper, or the same as you would pay in west coast Canada.
Snacks in Between Meals
Food is everywhere in Singapore. It is ingrained in their culture, so when in Singapore, eat your meals and snack in between! Whether it is fried chicken wings, fried turnip cake, oyster/shrimp egg scrambles, ice cream sandwiches (literally ice cream inside bread), fresh fruit or satay skewers, eat to your heart’s content. Keep in mind the portion sizes are smaller than N. America so its possible to have a bit of everything. Just think tapas style dining VS the conventional entree meals.
Part of experiencing the Singaporean culture is by eating everything in sight. Not too hard right? What are some of your favourite Singaporean snacks? I hope you get to try some of these dishes in your travels. Happy eating!
Travel Notes for Singapore Dining
- I challenge you to try everything once. Not necessarily for the sake of trying everything but simply because if you don’t get something different every time, you might not get to eat everything!
- Don’t order western food. Did you seriously fly across the world for a mediocre burger? Same goes for pop. Why not try a local soda or drink (refer to my previous post for beverages)? Or a local brew (Tiger!)
- Stick to hawker stalls. Both delicious and budget friendly there is little reason to venture into a brick and mortar establishment unless you KNOW you’re going for a specialty dish
- As always, ask a local if you aren’t sure about something