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17 of Singapore’s foodie favourites

Spices, sweetness and sizzling skewers, Singapore’s multicultural roots flavour its colourful menu

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice

An island treat that’s made it big on the mainland

Comforting and easy to whip up, these slices of poached chicken sit next to a pile of soft white rice, steeped in aromatic pandan leaves, ginger and garlic. A broth flavoured with the meat and wedges of succulent cucumber completes the picture.

Local tip: You’ll also see the chicken roasted till it’s golden and crispy.

Chai Tow Kway

Chai Tow Kway

Chai Tow Kway

A carrot cake with a mystery ingredient

Contrary to the name, this savoury rice cake contains a white radish that’s often referred to as ‘carrot’. Chopped into fine cubes, it’s fried with garlic and herbs until they're all crispy and golden.

Local tip: You can request a ‘black’ version, smothered in sweet soy sauce, or a ‘white’ omelette-like platter.

Chilli Crab

Chilli Crab

Chilli Crab

Sweet and succulent shellfish with a spicy undercurrent

Hunks of sweet crab meat come plated up still in their shells and doused in a chilli sauce that contains garlic, tomato and ginger. Fish out the filling to savour flavours including lemongrass, coriander, lime and soy sauce.

Local tip: Head to the stalls and hawker centres by Clarke Quay for the best catches of the day.

Fish Head Curry

Fish Head Curry

Fish Head Curry

Nothing goes to waste in this tangy fish curry

Cheeks of sweet red snapper soak up a scrumptious sauce of fragrant curry spices and cooling coconut milk, all served on a sweetly scented banana leaf. A distinctive and much-loved flavour, it’s said to be the tastiest part of the fish.

Local tip: Locals will recommend you try the eye balls – soft, yet chewy, they may not be to everyone’s liking!

Hokkien Mee

Hokkien Mee

Hokkien Mee

A bundle of noodles taking inspiration from the land and sea

A hawker-centre-stall staple, egg and rice noodles are swirled into a blend of juicy prawns, squid, pork belly and lardons, all heavily scented with garlic. Chilli and a zing of lime set the taste buds alight.

Local tip: Some stalls will steam the noodles in an open leaf for extra smoky flavour.

Laska

Laska

Laska

A broth that creates a fine balance of spices and textures

A hot, steamy soup that’s equally as warm in flavour swims with vermicelli noodles, shrimp, prawns, cockles and fish cakes. Coconut milk takes the spice down a notch.

Local tip: The noodles are cut before cooking, so there’s no need for chopsticks — just a spoon for scooping up all the tasty additions.

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

A beloved blend of flavours

A national dish, this pleasantly perfumed plate is a sensory sensation. Coconut-cream-soaked rice sits alongside a boiled egg, while on top, you’ll tuck into a dollop of paste made from anchovies, chilli and peanuts. Cucumber and a banana leaf give a fresh edge to the combination.

Local tip: The dish is so engrained in the country’s culinary culture that it’s even been made into a cookie flavouring.

Kaya Toast

Kaya Toast

Kaya Toast

Toast sweetened up in time for tea

Perfect for a snack, or a somewhat sugary breakfast, crispy slices of bread are stacked on a plate and smothered in coconut and egg kaya jam. Peanut butter, soy sauce and soft-boiled eggs are some of the extras that may also make an appearance.

Local tip: Start your day the Malaysian way and pair your toast with some kopi tea — unless a milky coffee is more to your taste.

Rojak

Rojak

Rojak

A salad that’s suitably diverse

Literally meaning ‘mixture’ in Malay, this bowl comes laden with a changing medley of ginger, apple, bean sprouts, tofu, pineapple and peanuts. A sticky sauce binds the fillings together with undertones of chilli, lime and prawn.

Ice-Cream Roti

Ice-Cream Roti

Ice-Cream Roti

A real ice-cream sandwich

This sweet bread is used to complement a multitude of ice cream flavourings. Crispy and warm, it can be pancake-thin, or a sturdy piece of sugar-filled, brioche-like bread. It’s a quick snack to grab from a street-food stall.

Popiah

Popiah

Popiah

A soft spring roll encircling tasty ingredients

Thin, crispy pastry encases a crunch of bean sprouts, lettuce and turnip. Sweet sauce provides the perfect accompaniment. Lightly fried, the roll is sliced up into bite-sized chunks.

Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh

Herby or peppery — decide how you take this alternative tea

Pork bones brew in a broth of water, garlic and pepper. The flavours are left to stew in a clay pot, or transported into a bowl. When you’re ordering, state how mild or lively you want the flavours to be and soak up the juices with some youtiao fried bread sticks.

Local tip: Most stalls will give you free refills.

Char Kway Teow

Char Kway Teow

Char Kway Teow

A sweet spin on a noodle dish

Ribbons of flat rice dough sizzle alongside garlic, chives, Chinese sausage and prawns. A caramel cooking sauce and spicy sambal paste create the dark, sticky coating the dish is known for.

Ice Kacang

Ice Kacang

Ice Kacang

A colourful snow-cone flurry

Shaved ice is piled on top of jelly, hungrily soaking up a drenching of evaporated milk and sweet, flavoured syrups. Refreshing and light, you can add to your helping with a scattering of mango, durian fruit, basil seeds or peanuts.

Roti prata

Roti prata

Roti prata

A spin on ordinary bread

A Singapore take on a popular Malaysian snack called roti cana, this pancake-like bread is light enough to snack on, yet sturdy enough to soak up a good helping of curry sauce. Buttery yet sweet, it’s deliciously moreish.

Local tip: Some varieties are filled with egg and onion, or even banana, to create an omelette-like dough.

Nasi padang

Nasi padang

Nasi padang

Take your pick from this string of dishes

Small plates of spicy fish and meat curry, sizzling sambal sauce, rice and potato fritters make up this feast. Depending on the party size, around 12 plates make their way to the table, laden with a tantalising selection of different platters, perfect for sampling among friends.

Satay

Satay

Satay

A timeless South-East Asian snack that sticks around

Found smoking above coals at wet markets, these skewers are loaded with roasted chicken, lamb, beef or pork. Slices of crisp onion and cool cucumber add a fresh note to the meat, and it wouldn’t be true satay without a generous helping of peanut sauce on the side.