Pull up a chair, grab your knife and fork and tuck into to the latest foodie adventure. Bon appetit!
I will own up right here and now I did not try fish head soup, a dish which is touted as one of the ‘signature’ dishes of the country. I may have given it a go if we had been in Singapore for longer, but with all the other amazing dishes on offer, eating a fish’s head with its eyeballs staring at me as I refill my spoon, was not on the top of my list.
Having heard great things about the food in Singapore, we had a chat to one of the girls working at the hostel we stayed at and got a list of ‘must go’ places for food and in between other sightseeing we set out to try and much as we could.
On the way into the city from the airport, our bus driver described the general population breakdown in Singapore as 78% Chinese, 12% Malay, 8% India, 2% from other countries. This mix of cultures and nationalities was definitely evident in all the superb food that was available; from Malay to Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Indian, French and Korean.
Not only is Singapore a cultural hub but the country even declares eating as one of its national pastimes!
My top picks for eating out if you are in Singapore:
1. Check out the infamous hawkers markets that are scattered around the city. However, if you are ordering seafood be aware of the price as it is all priced per 100g so make sure you check the total weight of the fish/crab/prawns you want before you order.
A cheaper alternative to the hawkers markets and the street food stalls at Smith Street in China town. This is one of the only areas left in the city where street food can be sold without being in a designated hawkers market.
2. Hainanese Chicken Rice – Garlic-y, ginger-y, tender chicken goodness. Hainanese Chicken Rice is chicken that is poached whole, and infused with ginger and garlic. It is then chopped and served with rice that has been cooked in the chicken stock and topped with and fresh ginger, chilli and kecap manis sauces to taste.
3. Fried Kway Teow – Cooked fresh while you wait. Traditionally the dish is a combination of seafood (prawns and cockles), bean sprouts and chives cooked in pork fat. Most of the stalls sold this combination as well as different variations including chicken, mushroom and Chinese sausage; all cooked up in a wok with noodles, egg and chilli.
4. Satay Sticks – usually available with chicken or lamb, served with cucumber and a rice cake.
Even if you are in Singapore to shop up a storm, there is still plenty of good food to be found in between checking out all the sales. Another testament to Singapore’s national obsession with food is that every shopping centre had multiple levels dedicated to food court stalls, takeaways and restaurants. These food courts were not what I would typically associate with food courts in Australia that tend to serve up the same uninteresting, overpriced food, usually McDonalds, KFC, a kebab shop, pizza and perhaps a sushi bar or sandwich shop. The Singapore food courts had every cuisine imaginable, all the food was cooked fresh as you order and tasted good. Price wise, the same dish was not as cheap compared to if you got it at one of the hawkers markets but given that there are so many shopping centres and they are a major drawcard for tourists and visitors, the food was very reasonably priced.
One interesting thing we noticed was the absence on menus of “Singapore noodles”, a standard dish available at most Asian cuisine restaurants back home. We discovered that in fact, Singapore noodles do not exist in Singapore as they were invented by chefs who lived and worked in Hong Kong.