Singapore is well known for being a foodie paradise. Not only is it host to a large number of Michelin Star restaurants, but Singapore also has an abundance of hawker food centres that provide good quality, local food at affordable prices. I was only in Singapore for a week but I tried my best to eat as much as humanly possible. Here’s a list of the best things that I ate and drank in Singapore.
1. Croissants and coffee at Tiong Bahru Bakery
Tiong Bahru Bakery is an artisan bakery that makes seriously good pastries. The coffee is also spot on. While European style coffee isn’t hard to come by in Singapore, it can be very expensive, and if you are buying it from places near major tourist attractions or at hotels the quality can be lacking. You can get your coffee and croissant fix at the original storefront in the charming and trendy neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru, or if you can’t make it to Tiong Bahru (although it’s well worth a visit!) there are outlets in both Raffles City and TANGS Orchard.
2. TIAN TIAN Hainanese Chicken Rice
Hainanese Chicken Rice is one of the dishes that everyone must-try when visiting Singapore. I was a little skeptical about it at first. Chicken and rice? What’s so special about that? I imagined it to be very bland and stodgy. Oh, what a fool I was. It was so tasty! The rice was fluffy and was packed full of flavour. The chicken was also tasty and tender. The Tian Tian Chicken Rice stall is the most famous of all the chicken rice stalls (but not to say that it’s necessarily the best as I’m sure locals will argue). It gained widespread popularity after Anthony Bourdain gave it his tick of approval. If you are going to the Maxwell Centre Tian Tian stall go early to avoid queuing up with all the other tourists.
3. Teh Tarik
Teh Tarik is a hot milk tea consisting of black tea and condensed milk. It originates from Indian-Muslim immigrants in the Malay peninsula. In my opinion, it’s hard for anything to taste bad if it has condensed milk in it. Teh Tarik literally translates to “pulled tea” as it is prepared by pouring the tea repeatedly back and forth between two cups. It’s really cool to see a demonstration of this as the pouring is done from a height and it’s very showy. The process of pulling the tea helps to cool it down to a drinkable temperature and also produces a frothy top. The Teh Tarik stall I visited was located close to the Masjid Sultan Mosque on Arab Street.
4. Carrot Cake
Singaporean carrot cake (or chai tow kway) confusingly does not consist of any actual carrots. This popular hawker centre dish is made by frying up cubes of radish cake, eggs, and chili sauce. You can have either the white or black version with the main difference being the type of sauce used. Black carrot cake is cooked with a dark sweet soy sauce. As MJ said, “it don’t matter if you’re black or white” because both versions are equally as delicious.
5. Katong Laksa
Katong Laksa is a Singaporean style laksa that originated from the Katong precinct of Singapore. What makes it different from your regular laksa is that the noodles are cut up so no chopsticks are required to eat it. This gets a big tick of approval from me because things normally go disastrously wrong if I need to use both a soup spoon and chopsticks to eat a dish. I got my laksa from The Original Katong Laksa at Roxy Square.
6. Mille Feuille Crepe Cake – Lady M
Mille Feuille Crepe Cake is a decadent dessert made up of layers of crepes that are sandwiched together with a thin layer of pastry cream. The Lady M Confectionary boutique is originally from New York but due to popularity they now have stores all over the world. I visited the Orchard outlet of Lady M and was blown away by how delicious this cake was. It definitely lived up to the hype for me. I went with the original Mille Feuille crepe cake (although they offer many variations such as chocolate and green tea) and I loved that it wasn’t overly sweet and the cake was so soft and just kind of melted in your mouth. The caramelized golden top was also delightful. Tip: I would skip ordering a coffee and just enjoy your cake.
7. Murtabak – ZAM ZAM
Murtabak is a meat and egg filled fried pancake that is so freaking delicious. Everyone, rightfully, raves about the Murtabak at the Zam Zam restaurant on Arab Street near the Sultan Mosque. The serving size is really generous but it tasted so good that I forced myself to finish everything. A small price to pay to enjoy the crispy fried dough and fragrant and slightly spicy filling.
8. Singapore Sling – The Fullerton Hotel
You can’t go to Singapore and not have a Singapore Sling. Everyone says that the best place to have this gin-based cocktail is at the iconic Raffles Hotel as according to legend this is where the cocktail was created in 1915. The Raffles Hotel was unfortunately closed for renovation while I was in Singapore so I opted to go to the Fullerton Hotel. The Fullerton Hotel is a beautiful colonial-style heritage building that was Singapore’s General Post Office at one point in history. The Post Bar at the Hotel even has an old red pillar post box in the middle of the bar which is a charming touch to the sleek and modern layout. Cocktails are served with a tray of nuts and popcorn. Warning: the nuts and popcorn are addictive; once you start eating them it’s very hard to stop!
9. Chwee kueh
Chwee Kueh is a steamed rice cake that is topped with a preserved radish and chili sauce that you can find at hawker centres around Singapore. They are served wrapped in wax paper and with wooden skewers that you can use to stab them to pick them up. I actually found them really difficult to eat because they were so soft they kept on falling off the toothpicks. Once I was able to eventually get them in my mouth it was bliss. The rice cake was soft and velvety and the topping was a nice hit of spice and salt to counteract the smoothness of the rice cake. I tried this dish at the Tiong Bahru Food Centre.
10. Durian Ice Cream Sandwich
I assumed that the Singaporean ice cream sandwich would be one of the things I tried just for the hell of it but that I wouldn’t actually enjoy. I mean no one expects that a block of ice cream in rainbow coloured bread is going to be a culinary experience. Yet somehow, it was one of my favourite things that I ate in Singapore. It was that good. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. I took a chance and picked durian flavoured ice cream and my gamble paid off because it was delightful. Other flavours include yam, sweet corn, red bean and raspberry ripple. You can find the street cart selling this delicious treat on Orchard Road in front of the ION Orchard Building. It will be the best $1SGD you’ve spent.
11. Kaya Toast & Eggs & Kopi – Chin Mee Confectionary
If you want to experience breakfast like a local in Singapore you need to have a Kaya Toast set meal. This dish consists of toast with a large blob of butter that is then slathered in Kaya jam (a jam made of eggs, sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves), soft boiled eggs and Kopi (local Singaporean black coffee made with condensed milk). Not only does this meal taste delicious but it’s a ridiculously cheap breakfast.
12. Lor Mee – 178 Lore Mee, Tiong Bahru Market & Food Centre
Lor Mee is noodle dish in a thick gravy, topped with a variety of items such as fish cake, boiled egg and meat dumplings depending on the particular stall you go to. I visited Lor Mee 178 at the Tiong Bahru Food Market. I’m not totally sure what was in my noodles, all I know is that it all tasted fantastic and there were lots of crispy and crunchy things that complemented the silky noodles and gravy perfectly.
13. Mochi Donut & Soft Serve – Brother Bird
Not only are the mochi donuts at Brother Bird Instagram worthy but they also taste amazing. The donuts are made with mochi which gives it a chewier texture than your regular donut. The soft serve is also creamy and delicious. They regularly change up the soft serve and donut flavours so depending on how long you’re in Singapore for you may want to have a repeat visit.
Leave a comment below with your favourite Singapore eats and drinks!