If there is one thing that the residents of Singapore love more than a good cup of coffee, it is their food. This has created the thriving street food scene. Flavours from China, India, Malaysia and Indonesia all mix effortlessly to create a cuisine that is bold, unique and amazingly flavourful. However, unless you live in Singapore, there is simply no time to try it all. The question then becomes what is good to eat and where can you get it? Here are some of our favourites...
Congee is a Chinese breakfast staple, but it also gives Singapore a hearty boost during the breakfast hours. This rice porridge is combined with handfuls of minced pork, ginger slices and chives, but visitors should request an egg on top for that extra bit of breakfast protein. Visitors to congee stands can also get variations like raw fish congee in which sashimi is cooked by the heat of the porridge.
The best place for congee is Hong Kee Porridge located in the Commonwealth Crescent Market and Food Centre. They serve up a whole variety of different porridges morning, noon and night. However, for those just looking for a pork congee, it is said that Tian Tian Pork Porridge at the Chinatown Food Centre serves it best because they specialize in it.
Admittedly, chili crab isn't exactly common hawker fare because it is usually far too messy. However, if you are willing to put up with the inevitable mess and can find the hawkers that sell it, chili crab is an unforgettable affair (and not just because of the stains on your clothes).
Most stalls serve the crab without the shell on to stave off unnecessary mess for the visitors, but in restaurants you'll find it shell and all. Be sure to order it with bread buns to help soak up some of that extra lovely sauce.
This great dish can be found as street food in a small stall simply called Chili Crabs in the East Coast Park.
This Peranakan dish has been popular in Singapore for quite some time, but it achieved international acclaim when celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey found it to be one of the most complex dishes he has ever had. It is a coconut curry soup laced with crushed coriander and loaded with all sorts of goodies such as bean curd puffs, bean sprouts, cockles, shrimp, fish sticks and noodles.
The most popular spot is at the 328 Katong Laksa. It has become so popular, that the food stall is franchised all over the city.
Char Kway Teow
They say that the presentation of a dish is almost as important as the flavour. If that rule is true, then Char Kway Teow is probably one of the least appetizing dishes in Singapore.
However, for those who can get past the sight of it, then it is one of the most delicious (and unhealthy) foods ever. Char Kway Weow is comprised of flat rice noodles stir fried in soy sauce with bean sprouts, chives, cockles, prawns and Chinese sausage. All of that doesn't sound too unhealthy, except that it is fried in a liberal amount of pork lard.
The queues in front of Char Kway Teow stands are always a sign of where to get the best version of it. Stall 18 at Zion Riverside Rood Centre is universally known to serve up the best, thus the lines of near insane levels.
In the mood for something sweet? Desserts are not as prevalent at the street food stalls of Singapore, but there are a few gems. Tau huey is a tofu pudding that is served with a sweet syrup. Be sure to pick up some tiao (fried flour sticks) to dip into the pudding.
Rochor Original Beancurd at Short Street serves up the traditional blend while 51 Soy Bean and Lao Ban at the Old Airport Road Food Centre serve up some interesting variations with a milkier texture, more like traditional pudding.
Nasi Lemak is another breakfast treat. It is steamed rice infused with coconut milk served with a fried egg, fried fish, cucumber slices, roasted peanuts, fried anchovies and a spoonful of sambal chili -- all of which is wrapped up in a banana leaf. It has everything you need for energy during the day -- and then some. Selera Rasa in the Adam Road Food Centre is a local favourite.
Ayam Penyet means "smashed chicken" in Malay, and that pretty much describes the dish. Ayam Penyet is essentially chicken nuggets in Southeast Asia. The chicken is fried, smashed with a mallet then covered in delicious deep fry batter crumbs before being dolloped with a bit of sambal chili and then served with fresh cabbage and rice.
This is a dish that can be found in quite a few food hawker centres, like Resto Surabaya in the Far East Plaza.
Hokkien Mee is another Chinese-inspired dish from the Hokkien province. Hokkien Mee consists of a mixture of rice and egg noodles stir fried with egg, slices of pork, prawns and squid served with sambal sauce and vegetables. This is hugely popular among food stalls in Singapore because it can be recreated in a whole bunch of different varieties.
Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee located at Old Airport Road Food Centre was voted as the best purveyor of this unique dish in the city. However, best get there quick -- they close when they sell out and that happens quickly.
Xiao Long Bao
Another Chinese dish, but one that has been thrilling international foodies in many countries in Southeast Asia, is Xiao Long Bao, or soup dumplings. They look like traditional steamed dumplings, but once you bite into them you are greeted by warm soup inside. There is a stunning amount of skill involved in making this street food.
China La Mian Steamed Buns in Chinatown Smith Street Food Centre is an excellent purveyor of soup dumplings in Singapore.
Kaya toast is to Singapore what over-easy eggs on toast are to the West. Not just because they are a popular breakfast, but because that is basically what kaya toast is.
Kaya is a pandan-flavoured coconut jam that is slathered between two pieces of toast with big heaps of butter. It is generally served with a bowl of soft boiled eggs on the side in which diners add soy sauce and pepper. The toast is than dipped in the eggs for a wonderful blend of sweet and savoury in the morning.
Come breakfast time, kaya toast can be found in just about every coffee shop as well as food hawker stalls. Ya Kun Kaya Toast is a popular option, so popular it is franchised around the city.