This is the seventh blogpost in our series Singapore & Malaysia food trail 2013. Check out our previous blogposts in this series:
- Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Singapore
- Teh tarik, Rafee’s Corner, Singapore
- Chinese New Year of the Snake 2013, Singapore
- The Scarlet, a boutique hotel, Singapore
- Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
- Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine, Singapore
Mysaucepan and I are on a 3-week eating spree and will be blogging about our street food adventures with lots of photos and tweets about hawker favourites and local delights that will also cover Chinese New Year 2013 – The Year of the Snake.
We would love your feedback on which are the foods you love and would also welcome any suggestions and recommendations that we should try during our trip in Singapore and Malaysia.
After spending more than a week in Singapore, Mysaucepan and I have sampled so much deliciousness that we still know that we have merely scratched the surface in this beautiful island city as far as food is concerned.
Singaporeans are wildly passionate about their local cuisine and perhaps rightly so with so much good food that is so readily available during all hours of the day and night.
In my previous six blogposts, I shared with you some dishes which I believe that visitors to Singapore owe it to themselves to try at least once. This place is truly a melting pot for food lovers where one can find a host of Asian to Western cuisine as well as local street food that is tasty yet affordable. We have always enjoyed our trips to Singapore and will always return for more.
In this final blogpost of our recent trip to Singapore, I wish to share with you some of my personal favourites as well as those of Mysaucepan whose childhood memories growing up in Singapore are fondly etched in her mind at the mere mention of some of these all-time favourites.
So here they are, in no particular order, our take on some of Singapore’s best!
1. Hainanese Chicken Rice, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Maxwell Food Centre
Although originating from Hainan island in China, Singapore has laid claim to the iconic Hainanese Chicken Rice as one of their national dishes.
As we are staying at The Scarlet, a boutique hotel just next to Maxwell Food Centre which houses this most popular chicken rice stall, I just had to have this chicken rice among so many other mouth-watering dishes. I ate here twice, each time ordering a half chicken with a small bowl of rice. Chicken made in heaven!
Be sure to get there early as the queue starts to form way before lunch.
Read my full review of Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice here.
2. Chai Tow Kway or carrot cake, Maxwell Food Centre
There are two different versions of chai tow kway in Singapore. I love the savoury style which is “lighter” in colour.
Another version which I dislike is the “black” style which uses sweet black sauce when stir-frying. To me, this version is awful with its sickly sweet taste.
Always go with the “white” style above.
Singapore can be humid at the best of times and you cannot afford not to try an icy cold, freshly squeezed sugar cane juice that is so refreshing especially when having spicy local fare.
3. Beef ball noodles, Tiong Bahru Market
I have never quite found a fond favourite despite having been to Tiong Bahru Market food centre many times.
On this occasion, I have met my match in having the beef ball noodles, with tripe and brisket.
You can also choose plain beef balls and it also comes in a “dry” version that is laden with a thick, gooey black sauce. I definitely prefer the soup version as it is fragrant with star anise and other herbs.
Dipped into a heady chilli sauce that is tart with lemon juice, this bowl of noodles is awesome if you are looking for a hangover cure after a few drinks the night before. But hangover or otherwise, this bowl of awesomeness is my definite choice at Tiong Bahru.
4. Chee Kwei or rice cakes with chilli sambal, Tiong Bahru Market
Chee kwei or rice cakes with chilli sambal is Mysaucepan favourite and the stall at Tiong Bahru is pretty famous for dishing out these half cup cakes that are drizzled with that spicy tangy chilli sambal.
This dish doesn’t do much for me though. At best, I think it’s a less tasty version of a ketupat dunked in a good spicy peanut sauce that you would normally get when having tasty Malaysian satays.
5. Fresh sugar cane juice, Tiong Bahru Market
When in Asia, I tend to drink a lot of fruit juices because it is so plentiful everywhere and it seems to go so well with street food.
You know it’s fresh when you can see the food vendors squeezing all the juice out from fresh sugar cane when you place your order.
This sugar cane juice is as sweet as it can be with all the natural sweetness without any added sugar.
6. Ikan bakar or grilled skate, Lau Pa Sat
Staying within walking distance of Lau Pa Sat markets we ventured into this massive food centre one evening in search of a late night feast.
This place is open 24-hours although many stalls may be close late at night. If you are after some smoky grilled satay or ikan bakar fix, then this is the place to go to.
The ikan bakar or BBQ skate is pretty sublime – beautifully seared to a golden brown on the outside with chilli and curry powder and with a drizzle of calamansi juice, you just need to dip the strands of firm flesh into a spicy tangy sambal sauce for an explosion of taste sensation in the mouth.
Be sure to wash this all down with an icy cold Singapore Tiger beer.
7. O-chien or oyster omelette, Old Airport Road Food Centre
Another cracker of a dish when it comes to street food, I never fail to seek out a good O-chien or oyster omelette when in Singapore.
This one at Old Airport Road food centre is pretty good – smoky wok aromas with a slight crisp of the omelette on the outside.
Dip a plump oyster into a spicy tangy chilli sauce and you will experience Singapore street food at its best.
8. BBQ chicken wings, Old Airport Road Food Centre
I love BBQ chicken wings because when done well, the skin is very crispy on the outside while the strands of meat is succulent and juicy inside.
Squeeze some calamansi juice onto these wings and be sure to dip each mouthful into the special chilli sauce.
This is another one of my death-row meals if I must.
9. Black pepper mud crabs, Long Beach UDMC
When you are in Singapore, you cannot afford not to miss the chance of sampling one of its local favourites – black pepper mud crabs or chilli mud crabs.
The black pepper mud crabs at Long Beach UDMC is reputed to be the best in Singapore. Indeed, the restaurant claims to be the home of the first black pepper crab.
I have taken a liking to like this style a lot more recently. You know it is extremely tasty when you find yourself licking the specs of black pepper and salt from the crab shells.
10. Chilli mud crabs, Long beach UDMC
Not to be outdone, Singapore’s chilli mud crabs are world famous and tucking in with your hands is the only way to go with this dish.
You can be sure you will be licking your fingers at the end as every bit of sauce is tasty and precious.
11. Nestum prawns, Long Beach UDMC
Nestum prawns is a firm local favourite where the prawns are cooked with cereal or oatmeal to give it the extra crisp and crunchy texture.
Fresh curry leaves add a beautiful aroma to this dish and we find ourselves tucking in with our fingers. There is no other way to eat these delicious prawns.
12. Mee goreng, Long Beach UDMC
When there is so much good seafood at these seafood restaurants, it is good to finish the meal with a some carbohydrates and the usual favourite would normally be a house fried rice.
But I have found that these seafood restaurants such as Long Beach UDMC and Jumbo Seafood do come up with a pretty awesome mee goreng in the mamak or Indian Muslim style that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia.
Expertly tossed in a hot wok, the aromas of chilli and curry powder are distinctively fragrant and the noodles firm. I like the finely shredded iceberg lettuce garnish on the top because it is one of the rare few garnishes that is an edible complement to the noodles although this is more a Chinese style mee goreng rather than the mamak style ones at hawker centres.
13. Peking duck, Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine, Marina Bay Sands
On our previous trip to Singapore, we were treated to one of the best Peking duck experiences at Imperial Treasure Super Duck.
On this trip, we decide to try the Peking duck again at its restaurant at Marina Bay Sands.
The theatrics are part of the salivating process when the Peking duck is expertly sliced by the chef by your table as it should be.
Read my full review about this Peking duck at Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine here.
14. Kaya toast with butter, Rafee’s Corner, Amoy street Food Centre
Kaya toast is one of my all-time favourite breakfasts whenever I am in Singapore or Malaysia. The bread white bread is toasted over a charcoal grill although I suspect this cumbersome grilling method is a dying trade.
The hot toast with gently melt the kaya or coconut jam inside and you have the option of thick slices of butter for some added decadence which I normally opt for.
Read my full review of Rafee’s Corner here.
15. Soft boiled eggs, Rafee’s Corner, Amoy street Food Centre
For me, I cannot go past the quintessential Asian breakfast of two soft boiled eggs with a dash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of white pepper.
Runny egg yolks are the sign of cooking perfection and the kaya toast is the best mop to ensure every bit of delicious gooey egg is wiped clean from the bowl.
Read my full review of Rafee’s Corner here.
16. Teh tarik, Rafee’s Corner, Amoy street Food Centre
Read my full review of Rafee’s Corner here.
17. Lor mee, Yuan Chun Famous Lor Mee, Amoy street Food Centre
Lor mee is another local favourite and Mysaucepan couldn’t resist a bowl at the Amoy street Food Centre.
“I used to eat this at least once a week when I was working here and my office used to be just up the road from here” she tells me enthusiastically as she tucks into a spoonful of hokkien noodles laden with its signature thick gooey brown sauce that is made from pork stock.
This lor mee is not quite my cup of tea but by the looks of it, the vendor of this dish has taken up two stalls in the food court so I guess it must be a popular item during the lunch time rush hour.
18. Roti prata, Hong Hock Eating House, South Bridge road
Staying at The Scarlet, Hong Hock Eating House is just a 5 minute stroll down South Bridge road.
This place serves an assortment of Chinese dishes such as chilli crabs as well as local hawker favourites like mee goreng, bak chor mee, fish ball noodles and a host of other popular dishes.
However, I just could not resist the roti prata (Singaporean term as this same item is known as roti canai in Malaysia)
At Hong Hock Eating House, it is a minimum order of two pieces of this flaky and crispy roti prata that comes with a plate of chicken curry sauce for just S$2.
This minimum order of two pieces is never a problem for me because whoever eats just one piece of roti prata when it is this good?
I have ordered this roti prata five times over our seven days stay in Singapore. So, ten pieces of delicious roti is only the beginning of our food safari.
Honestly, dipping this crispy bread into the curry sauce is a simple yet delicious mouthful and your Singaporean food adventure will not be complete if you do not tick off a good roti prata on your eating list.
When you are in a hot and humid tropical environment, nothing beats some of the local drinks such as coconut water, sugar cane juice, ice kacang and chendol. These drinks are simply a match in heaven with the spicy local food.
And I have found a favourite in a Sagiko calamansi juice. Tangy with just a sweet tinge, I must have had at least a dozen cans over the last few days.
19. Katong laksa, 328 Katong Laksa
Singapore’s laksa is a little different from those in Malaysia. Besides, laksa is one of those street food which can be quite subjective since there are so many different variations.
Malaysia has its own version and each state in Malaysia also has its very own style of laksa.
Singapore’s Katong laksa is obviously made famous because of an “original” stall located at the Katong district.
This Katong laksa is less fiery than the curry laksas or curry mee because it does not have the dominant chilli and curry powder flavour.
Instead, it is a more subdued version of a nyonya soup that is redolent of kaffir lime and lemongrass. Fat rice noodles and prawns come with this laksa.
Personally, I find this style of laksa a little meek and prefer the curry style or a curry mee.
20. Dosai with potato masala, Zaffron Kitchen
A dosai with potato masala at Zaffrom Kitchen is paper thin and crispy.
Dunked into a spicy chilli sauce, dahl, chutney or yoghurt, this is one of the many favourites among the locals.
Singapore food courts are normally packed with diners during peak dining hours and vacant seats at these places always seem to be difficult to come by.
Most locals resort to some form of tactics to reserve their seats while they stand in long queues for their hawker favourites.
The local seat reservation language might be an item that is relatively inexpensive since the owner could be queuing at a fair distant from his table and may not be able to keep an eye on the item left on the seats.
Leaving your mobile phone or wallet will be far too risky so the items used for seat reservations are usually a pocket umbrella or the most popular being a packet of hand tissues.
So there, you may lose a packet of tissues if you decide to go down this road to reserve a seat – the hazards of a food safari in Singapore!
So dear readers, what is your favourite food from Singapore?
A selection of places we went to during our food safari in Singapore
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
Stall 10/11, Maxwell Food Centre
Tel: + 65 9691 4852
Business hours: Every day, closed on Mondays
Tiong Bahru Market
30 Seng Poh road
Lau Pa Sat
18 Raffles Quay
24-hour hotline 1800 226 6121
Old Airport Road Food Centre
51, Old Airport Road
Long Beach UDMC
01-04 East Coast Seafood Centre
Tel: +65 6448 3636
Business hours: Monday – Thursday 2pm – 12.15am, Friday 1.30pm – 1.15am Sunday & Public holiday 11.30am – 12.15am Eve of Public holiday 2.30pm – 1.15am
Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine
The Shoppes, Atrium 2, L2-04
Access via The Shoppes Bay level
(L1) lifts at UOB & Grand Colonnade North
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Tel: +65 6688 7788
Business hours: Monday – Saturday 11.30am – 10.30pm, Sunday & Public Holiday 11.00am – 10.30pm Daily Dim Sum (Yum Cha) 11.00am – 4.00pm
Amoy street Food Centre
7 Maxwell road
Hong Hock Eating House
211 – 217 South Bridge Road
(Opposite Sri Mariamman Temple)
Tel: +65 62270302 / +65 9895 6707
Delivery service 5pm – 6am
Business hours: 11.30am – 7am, Sunday 6pm – 7am
328 Katong Laksa
51 East Coast road
Tel: +65 9732 8163
135 – 137 East Coast road
Tel: +65 6440 6786
Business hours: Monday – Thursday 1130am – 10pm, Friday, Saturday and eve of Public holiday 1130am – 11pm, Sunday and Public holiday 1130am – 1030pm
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