Singapore’s signature dishes

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.

Indochine Restaurant menu

Indochine Restaurant menu

Chin rolls and a glass of wine at the Indochine Restaurant, Supertrees.

Crispy Vietnamese vegetarian rolls and a glass of white wine at the Indochine Restaurant, Supertrees.

Seafood meal at Yamagawa restaurant, Beach Road, Singapore.

Seafood meal at Yamagawa restaurant, Beach Road, Singapore.

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.

A Persian meal on Arab street, Singapore.

A Persian meal on Arab street, Singapore.

Taiwanese menu, The Rock, Singapore.

Taiwanese Restaurant menu, The Star Vista, Singapore.

Trying to use chopsticks

Mastering the art of eating with chopsticks.

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.

Malaysian food court, Resorts world, Sentosa

Malaysian food court, Resorts world, Sentosa

Maxwell Food court

Maxwell Food court

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

Chicken Rice with vegetables and sugar cane lemon drink.

Chicken Rice with vegetables and sugar cane lemon drink.

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
+65 96914852

2) Chili Crab Sambal

Chili crab

Chili crab

Best places to eat Chili Crab: 

Jumbo Seafood 
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

Wanton Mee noodles

Wanton mee noodles

Best places for Wanton mee noodles: 

Yap Kee Wanton Mee
Holland Drive Food Centre
44 Holland Drive, #02-04
Singapore 270044
+65-8337 3755, +65-9644 3265.

Huang Ji Wanton Mee
Blk 118 Depot Lane
Stall 9
Singapore 109754

4) Fish head curry

Fish head curry

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

Roti Prata with curry

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
Singapore 090011

Any others you could think of to add to this list?



25 replies »

  1. That fifth picture is of naan. Roti prata is never served with mint sauce. :3

    I could think of many other dishes to add to the list but it’s easier to just pick up the Makansutra food guide from amazon. The cross-culture influences have marinated for over a century to produce cuisine found no where else in the world. A book or two is better suited to listing all the culinary gems you can find here for a steal. ^_^

    If you have the chance, there are popular food tours that visitors can join for free here too. You just pay for what you eat. Locals have to pay a fee to tag along. 😉

    Welcome to the food of Singapore. Your journey is just beginning. 😀


    • Thanks for the correction…I realized I am most fond of Indian food when in Singapore, the variety is just awesome, one never runs into a food dilemma when in Singapore.


  2. Happy to help. ^^

    The dilemma tends to just be about where to get which signature dish and who has a preference for which food outlet. The most heated debates are about who does the best chicken rice (I still say Boon Tong Kee does it best) or satay (Geylang, always Geylang for Malay food).

    The story goes that Indians weren’t all that into fish heads until their Chinese customers began asking for it. Thus the fish head curry was born. Other Indian-fusion dishes I recommend: Ikan Bilis Fried Rice, Indian Rojak and Mee Goreng. :D~ I love this melting pot culture.


  3. Yea, if I ever move away I’d be missing the food so bad. 😀

    It’s what all the food show hosts get told to try. Tian Tian is overrated to me; decent but that’s it, where the clueless and tourists are told to go. XD

    That said, it’s a personal thing what version of chicken rice people prefer. I love Boon Tong Kee for being hmm, I guess richer is the world. The rice is so fragrant and tasty, I can eat that on its own with just the chilli sauce. SO good. :D~


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