Southeast Asians – and Singaporeans in particular – take their food very seriously, and any business that caters to the taste buds probably has a higher chance of success in the region as compared to most others! Someone’s always looking for a good place to eat, and cheap roadside joints and hawkers never go out of business. The city is paradise for foodies, and in terms of cuisine it is truly a melting pot of nationalities, cultures and ethnicities. If you really want to get a taste of the region though, it would be best to stick to the Southeast Asian fares.Singapore’s hawker center is extremely famous, and it’s the best place to sample local cuisines. You’ll be tantalized and lured in with the intoxicating aromas of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and even Italian food! Along with the wide variety of foods within the confines of a single hawker center, you have a bonus – the prices are low. What’s more is the food at almost any of these joints is just as delicious as it is cheap. If you’d like to try out some popular foods in Singapore, don’t just visit the celebrity chef restaurants. Make it a point to sample the food at popular hawker centers like the ones at Old Airport Road Hawker Centre, East Coast Lagoon Food Centre, Singapore Food Trail and Makansutra Gluttons Bay, to name a few.
Here are a few popular dishes that you’ll find at most hawker centers that you should give a try.
It seems almost pointless including this particular dish on any list because it’s impossible to miss when you are in Singapore. It is probably the most consumed food at any of the food courts in Singapore and is now widely regarded as the staple meal for Singaporeans. The dish includes a bowl of oily fragrant rice, topped with roasted, steamed or boiled chicken.
You’ll even find variants with the chicken marinated in soy sauce or other sauces. Sliced cucumber is included on the side, but no one’s really looking for the veggies! There’s also a variety of dipping sauces that you can choose from and experiment with to find the combination that best suits your taste buds. If you’re not comfortable with the hygiene levels or the crowds in food courts, you can try out the chicken rice at Boon Tong Kee.
This dish comes in a close second after chicken rice in terms of its popularity across food courts and restaurants in Singapore. Like the chicken rice, chilli crab is a dish that every tourist should try. While you will find it at almost all sea food restaurants in Singapore, the best place to have it would probably be No Signboard Seafood, on Geylang Road.
Dimsum or ‘Dian xin’ is another dish that is extremely popular in Singapore, and it’s more like a snack than a main course meal. It’s a typically Shanghai/Hong Kong inspired type of food, and you would probably find variants of the dish across the entire peninsula, with them being referred to as Momos in North East India and Dimsum in coastal Southeast Asia. Tim Ho Wan at Toa Payoh Lorong serves the best dimsum, but you could probably enjoy the tasty snack at any food court in the city.
Fried Hokkien Mee
This is one of the most satisfying of all the foods you could try in Singapore. It is made with a combination of egg and rice noodles that are cooked in a rich seafood stock. Prawns, squid and bits of fried pork are thrown in for good measure, adding to the taste and flavor. Another variant of the Fried Hokkien Mee is the Hokkien Char Mee, which comes dressed in a thick dark sauce. It also uses just one type of egg noodle. Chia Keng Fried Hokkien Mee and Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Noodles, both of which are at Kensington Park Road, serve a great fried hokkien mee.
Oyster Omelette (Orh Lua)
This is another dish that’s quite popular with both locals and tourists alike. It’s a dish best avoided if you’re watching your caloric intake, but Singapore’s food courts are not for those on health food diets! Oyster Omelette is an oily fried dish with egg batter forming the base. Potato starch is added to the batter to give it a thicker consistency, and the oysters are only added towards the end to ensure they are not overcooked. A great new development (possibly a disappointment for some people) is that as people are getting increasingly health-conscious, hawkers have begun to adopt healthier cooking practices, using vegetable oil instead of lard.