If there is one universal truth about Singapore, it is that you can never go hungry in the Lion City. This tiny island state is one of the dining capitals of Asia and you don’t need to wander far for a delicious food experience. Whether it is one of the ubiquitous hawker centres dotted throughout the city or an upscale restaurant renowned for fine dining, Singapore is one of the world’s premier destinations for food travel.
What makes Singapore’s dining scene so special is the dizzying array of choices on offer. So much of Singapore’s food culture is a reflection of its ethnic diversity, as Chinese, Malay and Indian influences meld together to produce a mouth-watering combination of flavours and textures. Boasting a ‘fast food with a difference’ in the form of its unique hawker centres, Singapore’s sumptuous food scene lures thousands of visitors to the Lion City each year.
Hunting for hawker food
‘When in Singapore, do as the locals do’ is the sort of mantra which will invariably lead you straight to a hawker centre. These cheap and cheerful open-air food emporiums are renowned as some of the best places to eat on the island.
“Eating is one of our favourite pastimes and being in a multicultural city, we have a wide variety of hawker food from different cultures,” explains Maureen Ow – one of Singapore’s most popular food bloggers.
“In a hawker centre we can eat Chinese food, Malay food, Western food and Indian food,” says Miss Ow, whose popular blog Miss Tam Chiak – which roughly translates to ‘Miss Greedy’ – was first published in the Hokkien dialect. It’s this diversity which makes hawker centres a hit and today, many visitors to the Lion City are succumbing to their flavour-packed appeal.
Ordering at a hawker centre is easy enough. Simply find a spare seat at one of the communal tables, pick your stall, join the queue and then place your order. You either collect your food from a self-service window or, as is more common, take a seat and wait until it’s brought straight to your table.
Stepping out in style
While Singapore’s hawker centres are renowned for the freshness and quality of their cheap fare, they’re not the only places to offer superb dining experiences in this land of food lovers. Plenty of upscale restaurants have made their culinary mark on Singapore over the years, leading to an influx of visitors eager to experience some of the finer things in life.
“These past few years there has been an evolution in the local dining scene,” Miss Ow explains. “There’s a spur of celebrity chef restaurants in Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa, so we are really spoilt for choice!”
Some of those names include legendary French chefs Joël Robuchon and Guy Savoy, as well as veteran Austrian restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, all of whom have leant their world-renowned expertise to the burgeoning Singapore food scene.
Celebrating a unique cuisine
Singapore may be home to some of the world’s finest international cuisine, but locals like Wild Rocket’s lawyer-turned-chef Willin Low are helping push Singaporean cuisine to the forefront of a ravenous food movement.
Many of the island’s most popular dishes are relatively simple concoctions – the allure of which stems from their burst of tastebud-tingling combinations. Singapore Chicken Rice is virtually a national institution and this iconic fare combines poached chicken and steamed rice with a delicious red chilli sauce.
Kaya toast is a devastatingly simple but equally delicious breakfast favourite consisting of a unique spread of eggs, sugar and coconut smeared lavishly over a piece of toast. It’s often dunked in soft-boiled eggs and typically consumed in one of the countless kopitiam – or coffee houses – scattered among the back streets and alleyways of Singapore’s bustling city centre.