Six Things to Drink and Eat in Singapore, Singapore
The city-state of Singapore is not only a cultural and financial hub of Southeast Asia but a budding food Mecca. With cultural ties to Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Vietnam and many other countries, Singapore is a true melting pot, filled with every flavor you can imagine. Singapore’s variety of residents have created a unique food fusion unlike anywhere else. This small island is filled with tropical cuisine, fresh seafood, fruity cocktails, and delicious street food. But don’t be fooled by its laid back tropical vibes, this island is not cheap – a cocktail alone can go for $20 USD! This is in part because alcohol is heavily taxed there.
Singapore has become one of the wealthiest areas in Asia and the food prices in traditional restaurants reflect the rich population. That being said, most of the dishes are tasty enough to make you forget the price tag and there are a few ways to get amazing food on a budget. One of the most authentic and fun ways to eat in Singapore is to head to a “hawker center.” What’s a hawker center, you may ask? Basically, a big un-air-conditioned food court where all your food dreams can come true – for a very affordable price. Grab a friend, a beer, and a spot at the table.
With many traditional and national dishes, it’s hard to only pick a few for this article, but alas, we must share what we love to eat in Singapore since it’s amazing! Below is a list of what we think are the top five foods to try while visiting this amazing country.
The national dish of Singapore is fabulous and one of the most well-known dishes to locals and tourists alike. This is why Chili Crab needs to be on your must eat in Singapore list. Chili Crab lives up to its reputation as a must try dish while traveling to Singapore. At first waft, it does have a small aroma of fish, but after the first bite, that smell is soon forgotten. With an option of mild to very spicy, chili crab is crab doused in a specialty chili sauce made from chiles, tamarind paste, soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic and more. The marinated crabs are then cooked in the stir-fry style. The dish pairs perfectly with Mantou, steamed or fried buns, ready and able to soak up all that extra saucy goodness. If chiles are not your thing, or you are feeling lazy and don’t want to de-shell your own crab, order the pepper crab fried rice instead.
Now, there are about five restaurants that claim to be the first to create this iconic dish but one thing is for sure – if you choose to eat at any restaurant that claims to be the ‘original Chili Crab’, get ready to drop some serious coin- we’re talking double the price of everywhere else. That’s why you should ditch the list and check out some of the more economical choices around town. A local favorite is called Momma Kong’s.
Soya Chicken Rice (or Noodles)
Chicken Rice, or chicken noodles, is a staple ‘cheap eats’ dish in the local community of Singapore. This stock-enriched rice and supple boiled chicken covered in a soy sauce blend can be found at many hawker centers around town. Finding the best version of this iconic dish seems to be a bit of a debate amongst food enthusiasts, but no matter where you try it, you won’t stop eating it. For this one, it might be best to do your own taste test around town but be sure to include Hawker Chan, which boasts about being the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world. The chicken rice here really does stand up to its reputation and is one of the best dishes to eat in Singapore for under $10. When you’re done, you will probably need a walk, so head over to the tin stick temple and pagoda street located a few blocks away. If you are going to eat in Singapore, eat this.
Not only is there a lot to eat in Singapore but there is also a lot to drink! Although not featured in the video, the fruit juice in Singapore is quite pleasant. Since Singapore is a tropical island, it has a wide variety of fruits growing all over the country that make for amazing juices. This simple snack on a humid tropical day is the perfect way to brighten up that 2 pm funk. Although there are many flavors to choose from, a nice combo is passion fruit and dragonfruit juice. Let’s be honest, dragonfruit doesn’t have that much flavor but if you combine it with passion fruit you get a lovely texture. There are plenty of places around town to grab a refreshing, fresh squeezed juice but if you want to get a little trendy, head to Arab street and take your pick from the vast array of local cafes.
This historic Malay noodle dish has a chili paste, coconut base with a kick. The dish is generally topped with shrimp but can also be served with other fish or meats, depending on the chefs. Side note… chiles are a clear theme of Singaporean cuisine, so if you are delicate when it comes to spice, make sure to mention mild as many times as possible when ordering. But be careful, not all mild options equal not spicy when you eat in Singapore. Whatever spice you choose, Laksa is addictively good. Although you can find this at all the local hawker centers, you could also learn to make your own! Food Playground, a cooking school employing local moms, can guide you through it. These small-group cooking classes, let you eat in Singapore like one of the locals. It runs Monday through Friday and will teach you the history of the dish. By the time you leave the class, you’ll know how to prepare it like a pro.
Who knew satay skewers are a Singaporean dish as well?! Traditionally considered Thai street food, Singapore gives the Thai people a run for their money. Apparently, the difference is in the peanut dipping sauce. While a Thai sauce has a sour-based peanut sauce, enhanced with vinegar, Singaporeans choose to have a sweet-based peanut sauce, enhanced with sugar. Word on the street is the best place to check out your choice of beef, chicken or prawn satay sticks is at the Lau Pa Sat hawker center, where after 5 pm they close off the street, pop up some family-style tables and the eating frenzy commences. But be warned, each merchant is territorial about their tables and won’t give you a chair until you commit to a few sticks. When you’re done, if you still have some room, head inside for some shaved ice with some..unique… topping choices.
Top off your journey to Singapore with the classic, Singapore Sling. Is this cocktail cliche? Oh, indeed. Overrated? Maybe. Delicious? Yep. This fruity, world-renowned cocktail was originally created to mask the alcoholic smell, so a woman could secretly drink in the bar without being frowned upon… Oh, how far we have come! The original cocktail was crafted at the Raffles Hotel in Long Bar, but today it’s a whopping $31 without tax… now the drink is good, but not $31 dollars good. So we suggest a little cheat: go in, take a look, maybe snap a sneaky picture and don’t get a drink. When you’re done, walk 10 minutes over to the national gallery and head to the rooftop bar called Smoke and Mirrors. This spot is also pretty swanky but you save $10 and gain a view of the city. While you’re there, be sure to check out some of the other awesome drinks, including our favorite: the Rainforest, which is served out of a ceramic planter. Basically, it’s pretty dang cool up there. We repeat, there are lots of things to eat in Singapore but don’t forget to have a few drinks!
Overall, Singapore is a city of eating. The options are endless and the city is rich in history and culture. These are just some yummy highlights to get your pants stretching.
Check out this Video on 5 Things to Eat in Singapore, Singapore!
If you are a visual learner like us here at Stretchy Pants, here is a short video on what to try on your visit to Singapore.
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