Ready to take your taste buds on a tour of the Lion City?
Ang ku kueh
This “red tortoise cake” has a sweet filling inside glutinuous rice flour skin and makes an auspicious gift during a baby’s 100-days celebration.
A fluffy bun with meat, bean, or other sweet or savoury fillings that makes for a quick and satisfying snack.
For a light meal, this rice vermicelli is an economic and fuss-free option.
Originating from the Indian subcontinent, this yellow, mixed rice dish is served with different kinds of meat.
This Taiwanese teabased drink with tapioca “bubbles” is all the rage, and there’s always a new variation to try!
Food-centre shorthand for “green leafy vegetables”, choose from kailan (Chinese broccoli), kangkong (water spinach) and more as part of a healthy diet.
Not a cake. No carrots. Instead, in this chai tow kway, you’ll find rice flour and white radish, sometimes fried with dark soy sauce. Try radish cake and yam cake, too.
This delicacy is what you get when you preserve eggs for several weeks or months. The process not only turns the egg white to brown and the yolk to grey, it also turns it gelatinous with a pungent smell and a creamy, earthy-flavour.
This sweet iced dessert comes with toppings like green rice flour jelly, red beans, coconut milk and gula melaka.
For the ultimate in SG comfort food, tuck into some fragrant rice that’s cooked with chicken stock and pandan (screwpine) leaves, and served with chewy chicken slices on top and clear soup on the side. Drizzle on sauce – chilli, garlic or thick black soy – to be extra-authentic. Tip: If you’re tired of chicken, try duck or char siew (barbecued pork) rice.
Love spiced seafood? Don’t miss one of the national dishes, ranked among the world’s 50 most delicious foods by CNN. Less sweet but spicy variations: black pepper or white pepper crab.
Also called grass jelly, it’s found in many parts of Asia. Here, it’s in refreshing desserts and even bubble tea
Many Singaporeans count this humble, lightly-flavoured rice porridge dish as the ultimate comfort food for breakfast or supper.
Popular across Southeast Asia, these savoury pie-like snacks are usually filled with chicken and potatoes but these days, the possibilities for fillings are endless!
A popular Cantonese cuisine, consisting of a variety of small or sharing plates, and traditionally paired with Chinese tea for a relaxing brunch or whenever-meal.
You can’t live in SG and not try this husky, odoriferous king of fruits (at least once!). Sure, it’s an acquired taste but you might just love it.
Get a taste of Nonya (Peranakan) fried chicken and spot the traces of coconut milk and spices on your tongue. Alternate spelling: inchi kabin.
Spot the East-meets- West infl uences in kari debal (devil’s curry), babi assam (pork in tamarind sauce), shepherd’s pie, kueh koci (sweet dumplings) or fluffy, butter and semolina sugee cakes from this important ethnic community.
Served dry or in soup and topped with fried shallots, this is one of the many classic comfort dishes for Singaporeans.
Have you tried this amphibian meat yet? Head straight to Geylang to sample them in spring onion or white pepper sauceggs, or even in porridge, if not!
Fish head curry
The Peranakan, Indian, Malay and Chinese communities in SG have their own take on this sweet-sour dish. Taste them all to figure out your preferred version? We dare you to eat the fish eyes!
These deep-fried banana fritters are best eaten piping hot as an afternoon snack.
You’ll fi nd this palm sugar in various preparations, from a crunchy caramelised paste to a dark syrup, in a lot of traditional snacks and desserts.
Must-try while you’re in Little India: this ultra-sweet dessert – milk-based balls, deep-fried in ghee and drowned in cardamom-infused rose syrup.
Halal – or “permitted” in Arabic – food caters to the Muslim population. Dishes containing pork or alcohol are prohibited.
The Little Red Dot is not short on places for an awesome afternoon tea. Look out for restaurants that include local-inspired bites in the menu.
The SG version of this dish usually refers to stir-fried noodles in a fragrant stock garnished with prawns, squid and pork belly.
Ice cream roti
More commonly called “ice cream bread”, this is a slab of ice cream sandwiched in a folded piece of “rainbow” bread – an iconic cool snack on a hot day. Another popular alternative: a thick slice of ice cream between two crispy wafers.
This colourful “bean ice” dessert made from shaved ice, syrupand condensed milk will leave a sweet aftertaste on your lips.
Did you know this fruit is native to Singapore? Recently popularised as a meat substitute for vegan meals, this sweet and tasty fruit also stands on its own and is sold in slices.
An assortment of nuts and other surprises, this humble savoury snack in a paper cone is an all-time favourite for many Singaporeans.
A spread of sweet kaya (coconut and egg jam) between thin slices of toasted bread, is a traditional brekkie item that is best accompanied by a cup of hot kopi.
Kueh (or kuih) can be a snack, dessert, pastry or cake, and these heritage treats come in different forms and flavours to satisfy all kinds of cravings.
Ordering local kopi (coffee)? Start slow with kopi-O (sweet black), kopi-peng (sweet black coffee with condensed milk and ice), or kopi ta-bao (coffee to-go)
before advancing to the rest of the SG kopi-lingo.
A spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup with Peranakan origins, this dish often makes it to the lists of “world’s best foods”.
Originally from Australia, this beloved brand of chocolate malt drink is served hot or chilled. The best thing in the world. Really.
Imagine a pan-fried egg-filled pancake or bread, stuff ed with minced meat and vegetables served with curry.
Want something to munch on your movie nights, other than popcorn? Try this crunchy, savoury Indian snack!
This native Malay fare is a standard and stress-free set-up. Fragrant rice, eggs, cucumber, peanuts and fried anchovies with sambal (spicy sauce), or your choice of meat. Have it for breakfast or any time you want.
There are so many types of noodle dishes here, from stir-fried to soupy! Choose from fishball noodles, laksa, wanton mee and many more. Just please don’t ask for Singapore Noodles because that’s not a thing.
You’ll recognise this green and fluffy sponge cake (made from the extract of screwpine plant leaves), but other pandan-flavoured snacks are also taking over SG.
Also known as Nyonya cuisine, it combines Chinese, Malay and Portugese influences. Try the babi buah keluak (seasoned pork rib stewed with kepayang tree seeds) and cincalok (fermented shrimps). Also, see enchi kabin, kueh, and popiah.
Grab these juicy fresh spring rolls – typically filled with prawns, vegetables and shredded yam bean – when you need a quick snack in between meals.
These itty-bitty eggs are commonly seen and used in several dishes in this part of the world as a side dish, topping or in dishes such as quail eggs and ikan bilis sambal (anchovies in spicy sauce).
Many in Southeast Asia were ready to defend this spicy red meat dish (served with rice) when its
characteristics were challenged on a cooking reality show and we can see why. This beef dish, stewed in coconut milk and spices, is NOT meant to be crispy.
“Mishmash” – that’s what it means, and that’s what you’ll get whether you order the Indian or Chinese version of this mixed salad dish.
A versatile option for breakfast, lunch, dinner or supper, this fried flatbread that’s usually served with curry is definitely worth the calories.
Salted egg yolk
While it is traditionally made by soaking duck or chicken eggs in brine, you’ll also find this savoury ingredient in buns and chips.
In SG, this skewered, grilled meat item typically comes with a special peanut sauce, slices of cucumber and onion plus ketupat (rice cubes), and is popular for communal dining, preferably in an open-air setting.
Another perennial choice for feeding a group, there’s just something about sharing a meal with your loved ones over hot pot. Throw in some prawns, leafy vegetables, sliced meat and mushrooms into the bubbling cauldrons in restaurants or portable hot pots at home.
SG loved soy and tofu before they became a worldwide trend, and there’s always room in our tummy for some tau huay (soya beancurd).
This hot milk tea beverage comes with a show. Watch for how it’s transferred from one cup to another, earning its name as “pulled tea”.
Made from fermented soya beans and served sliced, this is a healthy and nutritious source of protein for vegans.
Hailing from South India, thosai is like a thin pancake dipped in tasty accompaniments. Skip the cutleries and use your fingers.
Ulam is a traditional salad made with steamed or raw vegetables and is served with rice (nasi ulam) in Malay and Peranakan cuisine.
Another Cantonese dish that has found a permanent spot in SG, you can choose dry or soupy noodles (mee) with small dumplings (wantons), barbecued pork and vegetables.
A catch-all term referring to Western-style comfort food found in food centres. It includes everything from chicken cutlet served with coleslaw, to fried chicken wings and fried rice.
Xiao long bao
These steamed Chinese soup dumplings served in signature bamboo baskets are a type of dim sum with a cooler moniker: XLB.
Similar to churros, these doughnut-esqe fried Chinese breadsticks are eaten on their own for breakfast or served as a side dish during other meals.
Yong tau foo
While the main ingredients are tofu and meat paste, this dish can contain fish balls, crabsticks, bitter melon, lettuce, mushrooms and more!
Not sure what to eat? Head to these Chinese food stalls and pick from a wide variety of affordable dishes that could rival home-cooked meals.
In hawker centres, customers will reserve (a.k.a. “chope”) a spot on the table with a packet of tissue paper, small umbrella or other such items. Sorry, those seats are taken.
On SG’s Hawker Culture
The Lion City recently nominated Hawker Culture in Singapore for the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Results will be revealed around the end of 2020. Stay tuned!
By Muneerah Bee, From The Finder Annual Directory 2020 / December 2019