Top 33 Best Foods In Singapore For A True Local Experience

Top 33 Best Foods In Singapore For A True Local Experience

Easy One-Pot Malaysian Lamb Rendang Recipe Reading Top 33 Best Foods In Singapore For A True Local Experience 22 minutes

Southeast Asia’s Little Red Dot Is One Of The World’s Most Vibrant Food Scenes, But These Are The Best Foods In Singapore For A Truly Delicious Local Experience

Few countries do it like Singapore when it comes to food. This Southeast Asian country is home to one of the world’s most vibrant and diverse food scenes thanks to its status as a hot spot for tourism and business, and its identity as a cultural melting pot.

Similarly to its neighbouring country, most Singaporeans simply live to eat. Which explains the myriad of options when it comes to food, be it your simple local hawker fare, cafes and restaurants offering local eats or fusion flavours, or upscale Michelin-starred restaurants.

But with so many food choices available, the ever constant problem of “what to eat in Singapore?” is sure to rear its confused head.

Which is why we’ve curated a list of the best foods in Singapore you simply must try for a true local foodie experience unlike any other. 

These are the best local eats that can be found in dining establishments throughout Singapore. So even if it’s a street food hunting adventure you’re after, or a more comfortable dining experience, you’ll already know which dishes to look out for!

Top 33 Dishes To Eat In Singapore For A True Local Gastronomic Adventure

Chilli Crab in the Cosmo Wok.

1. Chilli Crab

One of Singapore’s most famous dishes is definitely the flavour-packed chilli crab. This flavourful dish is said to have been created in the mid 1950’s by a Singaporean named Cher Yam Tian, when she added bottled chilli sauce to stir-fried crabs instead of her usual tomato sauce. 

It was then refined in the 1960’s by Hooi Kok Wah, a local chef who created a sourer version of the original chilli crab recipe by adding lemon juice, sambal, egg white, tomato paste, and vinegar into the gravy, giving us what we now know as the delicious chilli crab of today. 

The chilli crab’s key ingredients typically include mud crabs, flower crabs, or blue swimmer crabs, and the signature chilli gravy with ingredients listed above, resulting in a sweet, spicy, and tangy medley of flavours that goes deliciously with mantou (deep-fried golden buns) to soak up the gravy.

Frog Leg Porridge. Photo by Sasha India.
Photo by Sasha India.

2. Frog Porridge

Most baulk at the mention of frog porridge, because who in their sane mind would eat frogs? But hear me out. Frog porridge is a comforting traditional Teochew dish that is popular in Singapore because of its unique taste, texture, and nutritional benefits where it’s rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and more while also being low in fat.

The frog meat’s texture is akin to chicken only that it’s more tender, while the porridge itself is smooth, flavourful and comforting. It has a delicately savoury flavour that sometimes comes with a hint of heat thanks to the addition of ginger and garlic, and the typical condiments of soy sauce, sesame oil, ground white pepper, and spring onions.

Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore. Photo by su-lin.
Photo by su-lin.

3. Hainanese Chicken Rice

Enter Singapore’s unofficial national dish, the Hainanese chicken rice. The humble chicken rice was originally brought over to Singapore by Chinese immigrants from Hainan, China, but it has since become the nation’s most beloved dish.

Hainanese chicken rice comprises poached chicken, and fragrant rice cooked in a natural chicken broth with ginger, garlic, and pandan leaves. It’s then served with a side of garlic-ginger paste, tangy chilli sauce, and dark soy sauce. It’s truly a well-loved local Singaporean dish thanks to its aromatic yet simple and comforting flavours that soothes the soul.

Orh Luak. Photo by Cecil Lee.
Photo by Cecil Lee.

4. Orh Luak (Oyster Omelette)

Known as orh luak in Singapore, oyster omelette is a popular Singaporean street food with Teochew and Hokkien origins that reflects the predominantly Chinese culinary traditions in Singapore. Think fresh oysters cooked in a batter of eggs, potato or tapioca starch, garlic, spring onions, and garnished with coriander and chilli sauce on the side.

It boasts a soft and fluffy texture with the oysters releasing a briny flavour as you enjoy the slight crisp on its exterior from the starch. I recommend enjoying orh luak with a cup of sugarcane juice for a real refreshing finish!

Fried Hokkien Mee with Squid and Pork. Photo by Soon Koon.
Photo by Soon Koon.

5. Fried Hokkien Mee

Don’t confuse Singapore’s hokkien mee with its darker Malaysian counterpart! Singapore’s hokkien mee is an adaptation of the traditional hokkien mee from the Fujian province in China that delivers a tantalising, savoury smokiness of the wok hei from the stir-frying process.

Hokkien mee’s key ingredients include yellow egg noodles and rice vermicelli (yes, two different types of noodles are used!), complete with prawns, squid, sliced pork belly, and garlic, which are all stir-fried in a rich seafood stock. This delicious Singaporean street food is then served with a side of sambal sauce and lime to give you options of an added spicy and/or tangy kick.

Char Kway Teow. Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

6. Char Kway Teow

If there’s a consistent argument in this part of Southeast Asia, it’s whether Singapore’s char kway teow or Malaysia’s char kway teow is the real powerhouse. Char kway teow is essentially a noodle dish of flat rice noodles (kway teow noodles), Chinese sausage (lap cheong), prawns, eggs, bean sprouts, chives, and dark soy sauce which is stir-fried in pork lard in a wok over high heat.

Char kway teow is then typically topped with fresh cockles and fish cake slices, ultimately getting you a dish with a rich, savoury smokiness from the wok hei and sweetness from the soy sauce.

As for whether the Singaporean or Malaysian char kway teow is the better version, I’ll let you be the judge of that. ;)

Fish Head Curry. Photo by ccdoh1.

7. Fish Head Curry

Fish head curry is a unique fusion of South Indian and Chinese culinary influences that is said to have been created in Singapore by Indian chefs to cater to the local Singaporean’s taste for fish heads.

What goes into a hearty pot of fish head curry includes a large fish head (typically red snapper), tomatoes, okra, eggplant, long beans, and sliced onions, cooked in a curry broth made out of curry paste, tamarind, coconut milk, and a blend of spices such as turmeric, coriander, and cumin. This results in a spicy, tangy, and creamy stew that goes best with steamed rice.

Roti Prata with Chicken Curry. Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

8. Roti Prata

Roti prata is hugely popular amongst Singaporeans as a delicious and versatile flatbread. It’s essentially a round or square flatbread with a chewy interior and crispy exterior that is served with a side of fish curry, chicken curry, or dhal.

How it’s made involves pan-frying a kneaded, tossed, and stretched dough of flour, water, sugar, salt, and ghee in a giant oiled griddle. Some delicious versions enjoyed by Singaporeans include the classic egg prata and cheese prata. It’s best enjoyed fresh from the griddle with a cup of teh tarik or Milo.

Bak Chor Mee

9. Bak Chor Mee

One of Singapore’s most loved daily fare is the humble bak chor mee. You get the choice of having the dry bak chor mee with a small bowl of clear soup on the side, or the soupy bak chor mee. Bak chor mee literally translates to minced meat noodles because its key ingredient is minced pork.

It’s then typically served with sliced mushrooms, fish cakes, pork liver, and mee pok noodles, mixed in a sauce mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and topped with crispy pieces of lard for the dry version, while the soupy version is at its most basic level, pork noodle soup with the addition of shaoxing wine in the rich pork broth.

Bak Kut Teh. Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

10. Bak Kut Teh

Bak kut teh translates to meat bone tea and with good reason. It’s a soupy dish that consists of pork ribs, garlic bulbs, white pepper, soy sauce, in a blend of Chinese herbs and spices. While the lighter, peppery Teochew style is more popular in Singapore, there is also the richer, dark Hokkien version of bak kut teh that is more dominant in Malaysia.

Singapore’s bak kut teh is a comforting, peppery pork rib soup that delights the senses with its peppery aroma and robust, spicy flavour. Bak kut teh is typically enjoyed with steamed rice, a side of youtiao (Chinese dough fritters), and additional condiments such as chopped garlic and soy sauce. Locals also usually order a side of braised peanuts and braised tofu for a complete meal.

Fun Fact: Most bak kut teh restaurants allow you to refill the broth at no additional cost - all you have to do is ask! :)

Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake). Photo by Alpha.
Photo by Alpha.

11. Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)

Most locals love a hearty plate of freshly cooked chai tow kway for breakfast. If you guessed that chai tow kway is fried carrot cake - you guessed right! Despite its name, it actually contains no carrots, but rather radish, which is known as white carrot in the Chinese culinary scene.

Think radish cubes made from a mixture of steamed rice flour, water, and shredded radish, stir-fried in a wok with eggs, garlic, bean sprouts, preserved radish (chai poh), and soy sauce. Some hawkers even stir-fry their chai tow kway with sweet dark soy sauce for a bolder kick.

Kaya Toast and Soft Boiled Eggs. Photo by Bella L.
Photo by Bella L.

12. Kaya Toast & Soft-Boiled Eggs

The signature duo of kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs is perhaps Singapore’s most popular breakfast dish alongside a classic cup of traditional kopi. It’s a traditional breakfast set that reflects the local adaptation of British colonial influences combined with Southeast Asian flavours.

Kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs need little introduction as it is what it is; slices of grilled Hainan toast slathered with kaya (a jam made out of coconut milk, sugar, and eggs) that sandwiches thick slabs of cold, salted butter. The soft-boiled eggs are enjoyed as it is, with a dash of soy sauce and ground white pepper, or as a creamy dip for the kaya toast.

Sambal Stingray. Photo by 水泳男.

13. BBQ Sambal Stingray

BBQ sambal stingray, also known as ikan bakar, is a hawker centre and seafood restaurant staple that originated from the Singaporean Malay and Peranakan communities. It is essentially stingray grilled in sambal (a paste made from ground chillies, shallots, and belacan) on banana leaves, resulting in a tender piece of barbecued fish with a spicy, smoky, and aromatic depth of flavours.

BBQ sambal stingray is best enjoyed hot, straight from the grill with a side of freshly steamed rice and a squeeze of fresh lime over the fish for a light, tangy kick.

BBQ Chicken Wings on the roaster. Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

14. BBQ Chicken Wings

One of Singapore’s most popular hawker dishes makes the list and it’s none other than the humble BBQ chicken wings! Here, chicken wings are marinated with a marinade made of soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, and a blend of spices to give it its signature sweet, savoury flavour.

It’s then grilled over charcoal for an added layer of smokiness while also lightly crisping its skin for delicious multi-textured, umami-packed bites.

Kway Chap assorted offals. Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

15. Kway Chap

Kway chap is a favourite comfort food for the locals that reflects the Teochew community’s influence in Singapore’s culinary tapestry. It has a rich, savoury flavour with a hint of herbal sweetness from the soy-based sauce used to braise the dish’s array of meat and offals such as pork belly and pork intestine.

What’s found in the dish includes silky flat rice noodles, tender meat, offals, braised tofu, and braised eggs, along with a side of spicy chilli sauce.

Chwee Kueh. Photo by Ruth Ellison.
Photo by Ruth Ellison.

16. Chwee Kueh

If you’re on the hunt for a traditional local snack, then you’ll definitely want to try chwee kueh. It’s a savoury rice cake made from a combination of rice flour, water, garlic, and oil that is pressed into little metal bowls and steamed to create small, soft cakes in the shape of little bowls. The cakes are then topped with the savoury preserved radish mixture to complete the dish.

You’ll then have little bowl-shaped rice cakes with a soft and slightly chewy texture and delicious savoury flavour from the preserved radish mixture.

Ice Kachang. Photo by Alpha.

17. Ice Kachang

Ice kachang, also known as “ais kacang”, is one of the best treats for Singapore’s hot and humid tropical climate. Think of it as a coarse version of the silky Korean bingsu.

It’s an icy local treat that consists of shaved ice, red beans, sweet corn or creamed corn, grass jelly, attap chee (palm seeds), various syrups such as gula melaka or rose syrup, and condensed milk. Some modern variations even include scoops of ice cream and fruit toppings! You’ll commonly find ice kachang in Singapore’s many hawker centres and kopitiams.

Satay with peanut sauce. Photo by K Azwan.
Photo by K Azwan.

18. Satay

Hailing from Indonesia is the classic satay, marinated skewered meat that is grilled over charcoal. The meat used is usually chicken, beef, or lamb, and it’s marinated in a blend of spices that include turmeric powder, ground coriander seeds, cumin, and lemongrass.

Satay is best enjoyed with the accompanying peanut sauce that complements its sweet and savoury smokiness, rice cakes (ketupat), and additional raw sides of cucumber and onions. 

Curry Laksa. Photo by Alpha.
Photo by Alpha.

19. Curry Laksa

Curry laksa is a traditional Peranakan dish that combines Chinese and Malay culinary traditions to bring you a rich curry noodle soup dish. It’s a comforting dish that locals enjoy during cooler, rainy periods thanks to its rich and spicy flavours.

A traditional bowl of curry laksa consists of thick rice noodles or yellow egg noodles, a spicy coconut milk-based broth, lightly boiled prawns, poached chicken, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, and a garnish of laksa leaves. 

The coconut milk-based broth is commonly made from a blend of spices and herbs that include lemongrass, galangal, and chilli paste, resulting in a truly comforting yet spicy kick that isn’t overbearing. It’s also often served with a side of sambal sauce and lime for an extra spicy and tangy kick for those who enjoy heavier flavours.

Tutu Kueh.

20. Tutu Kueh

Tutu kueh is an adorable looking traditional Chinese snack that is often enjoyed by locals as a nostalgic treat. It’s a soft and sometimes chewy cake made from a mixture of rice flour, grated coconut, and fillings such as gula melaka or ground peanuts. 

The rice flour mixture is steamed in small metal concave bowls to create little delicate, flower-shaped steamed cakes, which are then served on a piece of banana leaf for added aroma.

Nasi Lemak. Photo by Suhairy Tri Yadhi.
Photo by Suhairy Tri Yadhi.

21. Nasi Lemak

Nasi lemak may be Malaysia’s national dish, but it has also become a beloved staple in Singapore as the Malay community’s traditional dish that is enjoyed often as a hearty breakfast or lunch in Singapore’s hawker centres, Malay food stalls, and nasi lemak specialty restaurants.

Nasi lemak is a complete meal that includes fragrant coconut rice (jasmine rice cooked in coconut milk), spicy sambal, fried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, hard-boiled egg or fried egg, cucumber slices, and a choice of protein that is either fried chicken, fried fish, beef rendang, or chicken rendang. Some food vendors even offer squid sambal!

Wanton Noodles with Wanton Dumplings. Photo by Reuben C. J. Lim.
Photo by Reuben C. J. Lim.

22. Wanton Noodles

Wanton noodles is a traditional Chinese dish of Cantonese origins that is well loved by Singaporeans as part of their daily comfort food. Its key ingredients are thin yellow egg noodles, wanton dumplings filled with minced pork and shrimp, slices of char siu (barbecued pork), and a few stalks of vegetables like choy sum or bak choy. All of these are then served in a flavourful sauce made from soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sesame oil.

That said, there’s also the soupy version of wanton noodles. Instead of the flavourful soy sauce-based sauce, the noodles and key ingredients are all served in a bowl of clear pork-based or chicken-based broth.

Dim sum breakfast in Singapore. Photo by Van Thanh.
Photo by Van Thanh.

23. Dim Sum

Dim sum is not a single dish, but rather an umbrella term for a variety of bite-sized dishes such as har gow (crystal shrimp dumplings), siu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), char siu bao (barbecued pork buns), chee cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), classic egg tarts, stir-fried dishes, and more.

A dim sum breakfast or lunch is typically a family-affair that gathers the family around the table to enjoy various bite-sized dishes together alongside a pot of Chinese tea. You’ll have a variety of tastes and textures, from sweet to savoury, or soft dumpling skins to flaky pastries. It’s a medley of exciting flavours and textures that always delights!

Orh Nee. Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

24. Orh Nee

Orh nee may sound odd to non-Chinese speakers, but this delicious traditional Teochew dessert is a comforting delight and a popular treat for celebrations and family dinners. It is a sweet yam paste that features a greyish-purple hue thanks to its key ingredients of yam or taro, sugar, and water or sometimes coconut milk, with a bit of oil. You’ll also usually find a piece of gingko on top.

This particular treat has a creamy, smooth texture with a mildly sweet flavour that also contains the earthiness of taro. The best ones typically prepare orh nee with coconut milk for extra creaminess and richness, making it truly comforting and satisfying.

Tau Huay (Soy Bean Pudding). Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

25. Tau Huay (Soy Bean Curd)

Simple, sweet, smooth, and silky. That’s how I’d describe tau huay, a popular Singaporean street food treat. Tau huay is also known as soy bean curd or tofu pudding, and it’s a highly affordable and delightful dessert found in many hawker centres, dessert shops, soymilk stalls, and soy dessert specialty cafes.

It’s made by mixing soy milk with water and a coagulant such as gypsum powder or lactone, then allowing it to sit and firm before having it served in a cup or a little bowl with sugar syrup, gula melaka, or ginger syrup. Tau huay tastes best when it’s chilled or enjoyed at room temperature, but personally I highly recommend enjoying it chilled. ;)

Mee siam in Singapore. Photo by Alpha.
Photo by Alpha.

26. Mee Siam

Mee siam is an interesting noodle dish with mixed Malay and Peranakan influences. It’s a spicy, tangy dish of vermicelli noodles soaked in a semi sweet yet spicy gravy that’s made from a combination of dried shrimp, chilli paste, tamarind, and fermented bean paste.

This noodle dish is typically served with firm tofu, sliced onions, tofu puffs (tau pok), a boiled egg, bean sprouts, and a garnish of chives. One thing to note about mee siam is that the gravy shouldn’t be in a soupy amount. It should be just enough to lightly soak the noodles on a plate for flavour-packed bites.

Cendol. Photo by Aiman Baser.
Photo by Aiman Baser.

27. Chendol

The traditional Southeast Asian dessert makes its home as one of Singapore’s best local street food desserts. Think pandan-flavoured jelly noodles, heaps of coconut milk, a drizzle of gula melaka, and kidney beans over a bed of shaved ice.

It’s a real refreshing treat in Singapore’s tropical weather that imparts a deliciously sweet, rich, and creamy texture many simply cannot get enough of.

Rojak. Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

28. Rojak

Adapted from the Malay and Indonesian communities of Singapore is the infamous rojak. You’ll either love it or hate it. Rojak is essentially our local fruit and vegetable salad consisting of cucumber, pineapple, jicama, and bean sprouts, alongside savoury items such as fried tofu and dough fritters (you tiao).

All the ingredients mentioned above are then tossed in a large mixing bowl with a thick, dark, and sweet-spicy sauce made from shrimp paste and tamarind, before being garnished with ground peanuts. It’s a medley of flavours and textures which locals enjoy in hawker centres and street food stalls as a snack or appetiser instead of a main meal.

Ice Cream Bread Sandwich. Photo by Albert Jonathan.
Photo by Albert Jonathan.

29. Ice Cream Sandwich

Ask any Singaporean what their favourite childhood dessert or snack was and most of them would likely say “ice cream sandwich”. This classic Singaporean treat is a popular dessert that is typically sold by street vendors on busy shopping streets.

It’s essentially a block of ice cream sandwiched between a folded multi-coloured bread, usually called the rainbow bread, or ice cream sandwiched between two pieces of wafers. The ice cream flavours usually come with a choice of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, yam, sweet corn, coconut, durian, or coffee. Some even opt for the neapolitan; a mix of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry in a scoop (or in this case, a block)!

Roast meat rice.

30. Roast Meat Rice

Roast meat rice is a simple but ever popular dish that locals enjoy daily in their nearest hawker centre, food court, or Chinese roast meat shop. 

Think char siu (barbecued pork), siu yuk (crispy roasted pork belly), and roasted duck or roasted chicken, served over a bed of steamed white rice with cucumbers and a dipping sauce. Some food vendors even serve it with flavoured rice!

Popiah with prawns. Photo by Choo Yut Shing.
Photo by Choo Yut Shing.

31. Popiah

Some locals enjoy popiah as a snack, some as a main meal. But this versatile dish can actually be enjoyed both ways! Popiah is a fresh spring roll that contains a filling of shredded turnip, jicama, carrots, bean sprouts, lettuce, and sometimes shrimp or pork, all wrapped within thin wheat flour crepes.

Popiah is often served with hoisin sauce either on its side or drizzled over it, along with chilli paste and a garnish of coriander and crushed peanuts. This gets you a bite of fresh veggies as you savour the slightly sweet but mostly savoury bites of your popiah roll.

Ban mian. Photo by Alpha.
Photo by Alpha.

32. Ban Mian

A truly beloved comfort food that many Singaporeans have memories of especially during their younger years. Ban mian is a bowl of handmade flat wheat noodles in a clear anchovy broth that is served with minced pork, vegetables like choy sum or spinach, mushrooms, and sometimes a poached egg.

Ban mian typically comes in two ways; you can opt to have flat, rectangular ban mian noodles which is known as mee hoon kuay, or the longer, thin you mian noodles.

Fish Noodle Soup. Photo by Alpha.
Photo by Alpha.

33. Fish Noodle Soup

Fish noodle soup is a popular local fare that is enjoyed especially more so during rainy periods. There are two versions of this popular comfort food; one is a milky fish noodle soup, whereas the other is a clear fish noodle soup.

The milky fish noodle soup consists of fish slices, rice noodles or thick vermicelli, tomatoes, tofu, and coriander in a fish bone broth that is then topped with evaporated milk to give it the highly favoured creaminess. The clear fish noodle soup is essentially all of the above, only without the addition of evaporated milk.

Both dishes taste similar with its somewhat clean, warm, and mild tangy flavour, with the only exception of one version being creamy compared to the other.

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