10 local dishes you must try in Singapore
You’ve not been to Singapore until you’ve tried at least these 10 dishes. The great thing is, most of them are incredibly affordable, and can easily be found at most neighbourhood coffee shops and shopping mall food courts, and mid-range restaurants. Remember to give each dish a try when you are here in Singapore.
1. Chilli Crab
One of Singapore’s unofficial national dishes. Fleshy Sri Lankan crabs are stir-fried in a semi-thick, sweet-spicy gravy concocted out of a tomato and chilli base. This dish is usually served with crisp fried mantous (Chinese style buns) which are perfect for mopping up the addictive gravy.
2. Chicken Rice
Another unofficial national dish, and one of Singapore’s most celebrated noms. Tender, succulent roast chicken or steamed chicken is paired with fragrant, fluffy rice cooked in chicken stock. For extra shiokness (Singaporean slang for satisfaction), dip your chicken into the fiery garlic chilli sauce or the dark soy sauce heaped with chopped ginger if you prefer non-spicy food.
3. Soft-boiled Eggs and Kaya Toast
This is now considered a traditional Singaporean breakfast. Bread is toasted on a grill and lathered with kaya (coconut and egg jam) and butter. To enjoy the wobbly eggs like a local, sprinkle a dash of pepper and soy sauce into the runny yolks before slurping them up from the saucer directly.
4. Curry Fish Head
Half or one whole head of a Red Snapper is stewed in a slightly sourish curry that is moderately spiced, and accompanied by assorted vegetables such as lady’s finger and brinjal for added sweetness and texture.
A spicy noodle dish inspired by Peranakan (Straits Chinese) cuisine, Laksa consists of thick rice noodles in a rich curry gravy flavoured with coconut milk, and typically topped with cockles, prawns and slices of fishcake. For spice fiends, heap on additional chilli paste to make it extra fiery.
6. Bak Chor Mee
This traditional noodle dish is available in two versions: dry and soup. The dry version is where the noodles are tossed in vinegar, minced pork, sliced pork, sliced pork liver, sliced braised mushrooms, meat balls, and crunchy bits of fried pork lard croutons. Old-school hawkers sometimes throw in some crispy sole fish to add a tinge of smokiness.
For the soup version, everything remains except vinegar is replaced with a savoury pork-base broth. Chilli is optional for both versions, and you can choose your preferred noodles, from the popular mee pok (flat egg noodles) or mee kia (thin egg noodles) to bee hoon (thin rice vermicelli) and kway teow (flat rice vermicelli).
7. Nasi Lemak
A traditional Malay dish where fluffy rice is infused with the flavours and aroma of coconut milk and pandan leaves. It is typically eaten with deep-fried ikan kuning (yellowtail scad), egg, ikan bilis (anchovies), peanuts, sliced cucumber and spicy sambal chilli paste. Other toppings include deep-fried chicken wings, otah (grilled fish paste) and even sausages.
8. Roti Prata
Roti means 'bread', and prata means 'flat' in Hindi. But before you tuck into this South Indian flat bread, a visual treat awaits in how it is made. The ‘chef’ will pick a ball of ghee-flavoured dough and stretch it till it is paper thin by skilfully slapping and swinging it. The dough is then folded and pan-fried till it is crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and served with fish or mutton curry.
9. Char Kway Teow
Made from flat rice vermicelli or kway teow, this savoury dish is stir-fried (traditionally in pork lard) over very high heat with added cockles, egg, Chinese sausage, bean sprouts and dark soy sauce which gives it its dark-brownish shade. The dish is usually served with crisp croutons of pork lard for added aroma and texture.
10. Fried Carrot Cake
You won’t find any carrot in this cake. Instead, grated radish (which has the same pronunciation as carrots in Mandarin) is added into a mixture of flour and water, before being steamed into chunky radish cakes. These are then diced and pan fried with eggs and crunchy preserved radish. Available in two versions: black (with black sweet sauce) or white (without sweet sauce for a more savoury flavour).
You can find some of these dishes in Resorts World Sentosa too, so don’t forget to try them when you visit.