5 Things I Ate in Singapore
Singapore’s food is a fusion of ancient recipes, traditional flavours and modern styles. The multi-cultural, diverse population also brings a unique combination of cuisines from across the world. You’ll find a Singaporean take on everything, from south Indian curries to Korean bibimbap and toast. Yes, even toast…
Hawker centres are scattered across the city and offer a glut of international food in one spot (note, this can make for difficult decision-making when it comes to what to eat).
In Chinatown visit its Heritage Centre, pick up some souvenirs, then head to the Chinatown Complex Food Centre, a hawker spot where dishes rarely cost more than a few pounds. Seek out one of the city’s two Michelin-starred stalls here, and indulge with a delicious plate of chicken rice (Singapore’s national dish) at Hawker Chan – open from 10:30am until sold out, so arrive early to avoid disappointment!
Alternatively, head to Lau Pa Sat’s satay street – located in the heart of the financial district and open 7pm 'til late – for a lively street-dining experience. Sip an ice-cold beer and enjoy your mouth-watering satay while soaking up the heady atmosphere and elegant, old-world architecture.
Don’t miss this Singaporean take on toast. Hear me out with this one – it’s worth it. Take two slices of doughy, white toast (crispy on the outside, lovely and light on the inside) and slather it in a creamy coconut jam so it oozes between the two slices. Variations can include a thick spread of butter or sugar too. Head to one of the many Toast Box (yes, an entire café selling the stuff) branches across the city for a cheap snack or dessert.
Being a vegetarian, I didn’t actually try this one, however, everyone I met in Singapore said this is the dish to sample (it’s unofficially the nation’s favourite). Best made with meaty Sri Lankan crabs, the outcome is spicy, rich and filling. Mop up the thick, gravy-like sauce with a steamed bun; make sure you’re prepared for a messy dining experience. The hawker centres mentioned above are a good place to hunt down this dish.
The wonderful thing about Singapore’s cultural combinations is that flavours from different countries have combined to create new dishes. Nasi biryani is just one of these, mixing Indian and Malay styles in one. This fragrant dish is packed full of aromatic flavours, with saffron, cinnamon and fiery chilli. Chicken or mutton often accompanies the thick sauce, but I opted for a medley of fresh vegetables. Mop it up with another Singaporean specialty: roti prata, a fluffy, griddled-fried bread.
Kopi-O (Singaporean coffee)
Ordering coffee from a Singaporean café can be a complicated experience. Forget the lattes or flat whites we know, you’ll get a coffee black (kopi-o), coffee white (kopi), or coffee white with sugar (kopi-c). Problem is, they all sound incredibly similar, especially while you’re shouting among other customers, competing for attention. Once you get it though, the coffee is rich, nutty and full of flavour.
Kopi tarik – or literally ‘pulled coffee’ – is another local specialty, where the coffee is poured from cup to pitcher and back again repeatedly to ensure the ingredients are well mixed (think Moroccan mint-tea style). You’ll find the flavour dark and intense, and a good way to get your morning caffeine shot.
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