What To Eat In Singapore: 15 Dishes To Try

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Singapore might be best known for its Gardens by the Bay, Changi Airport, and Marina Bay Sands Hotel. However, the country has a mix of Eastern cultures offering diverse cuisines if you’re willing to try them.

Hawker centres provide inexpensive eats or go for a high-end meal on a rooftop with amazing city views.

Breakfast might be the biggest challenge if you’re traveling from a Western country. Few places sell traditional breakfast food. Instead, try the nourishment that locals eat, and you might be pleasantly surprised. Here are some things to eat on a trip to Singapore.

1. Teochew Porridge

Teochew porridge with roasted pork in a blue bowl.
Teochew porridge with roasted pork

While Teochew porridge sounds like breakfast, locals consume it at every meal. The soupy dish resembled traditional porridge, but it’s made from stewed rice.

The dish lacks flavour on its own, so hawker stalls sell it with roasted pork, fish, salted egg, duck, or vegetables.

2. Chicken Rice

Chicken rice is a staple in Singapore, and it can be bought everywhere. The simple dish consists of boiled chicken served over a bed of rice. Head to the Maxwell Centre in Chinatown to find the most sought-after vendor.

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice has earned Michelin Stars and is raved about by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey. Since the small stall has long waits at mealtimes, plan to go in the off-hours.

Chicken rice is an excellent option if you need gluten-free food in Singapore. Order it without the soy sauce and carry a wheat-free version to flavour the meal.

3. Appam

Appam with coconut and orange sugar in a white bowl.
Appam with coconut and orange sugar

Appam is a simple dish made from fermented rice and coconut milk. It hails from India and Sri Lanka. Once the batter has developed a sour consistency, vendors fry it into a lacey bowl, leaving the edges crisp and the middle spongy.

While you can purchase a sweet or savory option, most stalls in Singapore include sweet toppings. So, choose from coconut and orange sugar, hazelnut chocolate spread, egg and cheese, or ice cream.

4. Fish Head Curry

In some cultures, fish heads and tails are discarded as waste. Others use them to flavour soups or sauces. Fish head curry marries the taste of seafood with the tanginess of a savoury sauce, and the resulting dish comes on a bed of Jasmine rice.

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While the bones and carcasses are discarded, the meat in the fish cheeks is packed with taste and vitamins. Head to Yu Cun Curry Fish Head to try an aromatic fish head curry, where customers rave about their cuisine.

5. Kaya Toast

Kaya toast and Kopi coffee on a table in Singapore.
Kaya toast and Kopi coffee

Kaya Toast is a classic Singaporean breakfast found at some small eateries. Instead of butter, the toasted bread is slathered in kaya. The spread is made from eggs and coconut, with the latter providing a touch of sweetness.

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Vendors who sell kaya toast often accompany it with soft-boiled or poached eggs. Locals eat the eggs with a bit of soy sauce. Wash it down with a cup of Kopi coffee, just the way you like it.

6. Fried Carrot Cake

The thought of fried carrot cake might sound weird if you’re from the Western world. However, it doesn’t resemble the traditional sweet cake made from carrots.

Instead, they make the dish from white radish, also known as white carrot. The chopped carrot is fried with eggs and comes in a black or white version.

The black version contains soy sauce, making it sweeter. Vendors fry the white without providing a savory flavour. Both are delicious in their own way.

7. Satay

Many Southeast Asian countries sell satay, a flavourful meat stick grilled on a barbeque. Beef, lamb, mutton, chicken, and shrimp are skewered, with the chicken being the tenderest.

Spices are used to flavour and tenderize the meat, and the spices used vary on whether the satay is Malay or Indonesian-based. Head to Lau Pa Sat in the financial district to sample satay, but be prepared to wait for your custom order.

8. Cheung Fun

Plate of Cheung Fun with Char Siu.
Cheung Fun with Char Siu

Chee Cheong Fun or Cheung Fun is a typical Dim Sum dish. The rolls are usually made from rice paper sheets and stuffed with a filling.

Choose from Char Siu, shrimp, or dried shrimp, and enjoy it with shallots and soy sauce or sweet dipping sauce. Depending on how it’s ordered, this savoury dish suits many diners on special diets, including gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan.

9. Barbecue Stingray

Barbeque stingray on a banana leaf on a plate.
Barbeque stingray

Hailing from Malaysia and Singapore, Sambal Stingray consists of a barbequed stingray filet served on a banana leaf with spicy sambal paste.

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Stingray has a very mild seafood flavour on its own. The sambal sauce, made from lemongrass, chili, and spices, adds the spiciness that Singaporeans like.

10. Oyster Omelette

Oysters and eggs might seem like an odd combination of ingredients. However, Oyster omelettes are a popular food in hawker centres. Along with eggs, a thin batter of tapioca flour, rice flour, and salt adds a chewy texture.

The egg mixture is flavoured with garlic and fish sauce, and sometimes, vendors serve the finished dish with sambal sauce. If you’re a fan of oysters, this is a must-try dish.

11. Durian

Durian for sale in Singapore's Chinatown.
Durian for sale in Chinatown

Known as the “king of fruit,” there’s a love-hate relationship with this spiny-looking fruit. The thick-shelled fruit emits a strong odor that most find offensive, so much so that the MRT (mass rapid transit) doesn’t allow it on trains.

Those who love it enjoy the custard-like flesh, which has a touch of sweetness. If you can’t get past the smell, vendors combine it with chocolate or mochi. Oh, and you can even get durian ice cream!

Alternatively, opt for lychee, a sweet, fresh fruit ideal to eat as a fruit or refreshing as a drink on a hot day.

12. Biryani

There’s no better place to try biryani than Little India. The neighbourhood of Little India offers one of the best self-guided Singapore walking tours. Visitors can enjoy the colorful Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and taste the culture’s food.

Dunlop Street has several restaurants serving biryani if you prefer to enjoy your meal slowly. Alternatively, the Tekka Centre on Buffalo Road has two floors of vendors selling all kinds of Indian food, including biryani.

A spot here is best for those in a hurry or wanting an inexpensive meal. Expect to pay around SGD 5 for a tasty biryani dish that tastes as good as an upscale place.

13. Nasi Lemak

The Malay dish Nasi Lemak combines aromatic rice with chicken, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies, peanuts, and fresh sliced cucumber. The entrée is full of flavour, whether you order the chicken deep-fried, roasted, or cutlet.

Depending on where you try it, the dish has many variations. One variation could include rendang, a vegetarian option, or fish cake instead of chicken.

Many hawker centres serve Nasi Lemak, which is also available at the Gardens by the Bay’s food court. If you like it spicy, request the sambal sauce with an extra kick.

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14. Hot Pot

A Hot Pot meal is one best enjoyed slowly and with company. Unlike traditional foods that arrive ready to eat, at a Hot Pot restaurant, guests cook the ingredients themselves.

The meal starts with a soup base, usually chicken, spicy, or tomato. Then, there are the ingredients, from meat and seafood to noodles, vegetables, and eggs.

Once cooked, add dipping sauces to flavour the food. Since Hot Pot is a sit-down meal, it’s not available in hawker centres.

15. Lontong

Another popular dish in Singapore is Lontong, known for its flavorful rice cakes served in a rich vegetable curry. This traditional meal often includes tofu, hard-boiled eggs, and sambal. It’s a beloved breakfast and lunch choice.

Head to Queenstown Lontong in the Margaret Drive Hawker Center for the best lontong experience in Singapore. It’s off the beaten path from downtown. This vendor has been in business for over 60 years, and judging from the lines, it’s a hit with the locals.

Wrapping It Up

Singapore offers a variety of food from different cultures, and there’s something for every budget. There are high-end buffets charging over SGD 200++ per person to hawker food for under SGD 5.

However, I don’t think the inexpensive options serve less quality, for many have earned awards from the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand and are sought out by foodies around the world.

By trying something unknown, I discovered Masala Thosai, a dish that wasn’t visually appealing but made up for in taste. Maybe you’ll find a new food favorite.

About Karen of Forever Karen

Smiling lady with hand under her chin.
Karen

Karen is a Canadian traveler and content writer at ForeverKaren. Born in Singapore to a military family, she grew up moving around the world and never lost her desire to travel. An avid cruiser with her husband Brian, she continues to explore the oceans and far away lands. You can find her on Instagram, and Facebook.

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