Singapore…Asia 101. The no brainer introduction to the vast continent.
Most foodies would acknowledge a perfect world to be one where fast food is good food and that food is found in abundance. Singapore may be considered the culinary capital of the world in that respect.
With food in Singapore being the result of one dish specialist who has been doing what they are doing for generations; specializing and perfecting the one dish, the local cuisine being defined by what is borrowed and how those pieces of a puzzle are assembled into something tastefully profound, it’s no surprise that the city state is considered foodie-heaven.
What makes the food in Singapore so magical is that beyond the incredible mix of influences, the individual ingredients possess the ability to open up the nether regions of your palette which hitherto you never knew existed. The food screams from the plate.
Singaporeans not only love to eat, but are experts on their food; each meal taken and personalized as one’s very own. The energy and devotion they have to local cuisine is second to none. A way to tap into the heart and soul of the culture is through food; food is a conversation starter, a form of introduction and a greeting.
“Have you eaten?”
In many other places, such zealous adherence to ritual over food may elicit concern; but in Singapore, this level of obsession is experienced from the country’s top tables and exclusive restaurants to the vibrant hawker centers that dot the city-state. The hawker centers are quite distinctive, offering limitless varieties of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian dishes.
Chinese cuisine represents one of the main players in the country’s gastronomy. The Chinese believe in an adherence to the philosophy of yin and yang in their dishes, as such there is always a balance in colour, flavours, textures and heat. Certain foods are thought to have yin or cooling properties, while others have warm, yang properties. The challenge is to consume a diet that contains a healthy balance between the two. Food as well is important symbolically; for example, the noodles for longevity, oysters for good fortune, ducks for fidelity, fish served whole for prosperity; and oranges and tangerines for wealth, good fortune and abundant happiness.
When it comes to Indian dishes, one is spoilt for choice between dishes from the south and the north of India. The first features vegeterian thosai, seafood dishes and fiery curries enriched with coconut milk. The second includes milder curries, creamy yoghurt based dishes, tandoori offerings and fluffy naan breads. Most Indian dishes are infused with flavoured spices such as cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander and chillies. You can also get a taste of popular local Indian-Muslim dishes such as roti pratas, murtabak – (prata stuffed with minced meat, eggs and onions) and nasi biriyani, a saffron rice dish with spicy chicken or mutton.
The Malay cuisine in Singapore will give you a chance to savour an array of spices and herbs including ginger, tumeric, galangal, lemon grass, curry leaves, shrimp paste and chillies. And if you are thinking of a healthy fruity dessert, there are 24-hour fruit vendors up and about in a couple of street areas, lit up with bright fluorescent tubes.
In food-obsessed Singapore, there are signatory dishes having excessive popularity in the city-state.
The top five are:
1) Chicken Rice
Best places to eat chicken rice:
Boon Tong Kee
401 Balestier Rd, Singapore 329803
+65 6254 3937
Tian Tian Chicken Rice,
#01-10 Maxwell Food Centre,
1 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore
2) Chili Crab Sambal
Best places to eat Chili Crab:
Blk 1206 East Coast Parkway #01-07/08, East Coast Seafood Centre Singapore 449883
Tel: +65 6442-3435
Long Beach Seafood
Address: 25 Dempsey Road Tel: +65 6323-2222
or 1018 East Coast Parkway Tel: +65 6445-8833
3) Wan ton mee noodle soup
Best places for Wanton mee noodles:
Yap Kee Wanton Mee
Holland Drive Food Centre
44 Holland Drive, #02-04
+65-8337 3755, +65-9644 3265.
Huang Ji Wanton Mee
Blk 118 Depot Lane
4) Fish head curry
Best places for fish head curry:
Zai Shun Curry Fish Head
Blk 253, Jurong East St 24,
#01-205, Singapore 600253
Samy’s Curry Restaurant
25A Dempsey Road
Tanglin Village (Dempsy Hill Green)
+65 6472 2080
5) Roti prata with curry
Best places to eat Roti prata with curry:
Sin Ming Roti Prata
#01-51, Jin Fa Kopitiam,
24 Sin Ming Road
Al-Amin Food Stall
Telok Blangah Crescent Market & Food Centre
Blk 11 Telok Blangah Crescent #01-95
Any others you could think of to add to this list?