Food Paradise on This Red Dot (Singapore): Which Are the Must-Try Food in Singapore for Both Tourist & Locals?
While Singapore, also known as the Little Red Dot is a tiny country, it is a mighty boiling pot of cuisines that incorporate a rich heritage of food dishes that consist of Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian and Chinese influences.
If you are a local Singaporean, chances are you have seen these dishes in hawker centers, food courts, shopping malls, quaint shop-houses that have served Singaporeans for decades or even below your void deck. There is an amazing dicing choice at every turn in Singapore.
Whether you are a Singaporean or a tourist, here are the top 3 must-try dishes in Singapore, and where to get them:
1. Chili crab and black pepper crab.
Crab is a big deal in Singapore; It is no wonder that Singaporeans take their crab and sauce selection seriously. Singaporean chili crab is exceptionally popular for its sweet and savory flavor.
It can be found in almost any Singaporean corner and is popular across the board from hawker street food stalls, takeaway counters to high-end restaurant menus. Singapore’s chili crab, one of world’s 50 best foods featured by CNN, is an award-winning dish that is also part of their richly flavored culinary history. Despite its name, it is rich and not overly spicy.
Chili crab consists of a large, succulent piece of crab meat that is stir-fried and coated with a hint of sweet, spicy and savory tomato-based sauce. This sauce is delicately prepared so that it brings a nice balance that does not overpower the natural flavor of the freshly cooked crab. Chili crab is a must try food if you are looking to complete your culinary exploring journey of Singapore.
Along the chili crab, is the black pepper crab version which is also a Singaporean staple. The black pepper crab has been described by many as simply divine. This dish is first deep-fried and then smothered in a thick, rich oyster sauce that is spiced with loads of chilies, ginger, and peppercorns. It is traditionally eaten with bare hands to allow you to truly savor the juicy and spicy crab meat and its sweet and spicy chili sauce.
My favourite place to get it:
- Jumbo Seafood Restaurant
The Jumbo Seafood restaurant is located on the East Coast, overlooking the magnificent Singapore river, which helps create a refined ambiance. This restaurant is renowned for preparing classic chili crabs. The one thing that defines the taste and style of chili crab is the chili sauce. Jumbo Seafood Restaurant lives up to this reputation. It prepares a classic version of chili crab that includes a thick, sweet and slightly spicy sauce. Its spiciness level is one of the lowest compared with its counterparts and is especially great for Western palates.
- No Signboard Restaurant
No Signboard Restaurant’s chili crab is loved for its varying levels of spiciness. At this restaurant, you will be served with chili crab that is tailored to meet your preferred level of spiciness. What’s more, it keeps its prices reasonable so that everyone can have a taste of the restaurant’s culinary skills.
2. Hainanese Chicken Rice
This is another iconic Singaporean dish with Chinese origin that makes for a quick and deeply fulfilling lunch. It is loved for being extra succulent (practically melts in your mouth) and simple. While it may seem simple, it is one dish that you’d cross continents to eat. The Hainanese chicken rice is a dish that contains juicy steamed chicken, cut into long thin pieces. The chicken is served with aromatic rice, light soy sauce and topped with sesame oil and cilantro, which is accompanied by a garlic-chili sauce. The rice is boiled in the chicken broth with pandan leaves and ginger which gives it its unique fragrance.
My favourite place to get it:
- Tian Tian
This is a 30-year-old food stall that is renowned for its Hainanese chicken rice. Due to its fame, expect to find long queues at their flagship outlet located at Maxwell Food Centre almost all day every day. Both locals and tourists love Tian Tian’s Hainanese chicken rice for its firm chicken slices, fragrant rice, and delicious sides.
- Chin Chin Eating House
This eatery has been around for more than 80 years and serves up some truly authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice. Although it can sometimes get crowded, it is certainly worth the wait.
Satay is wonderfully skewered iced meat that will have you gnawing on it all day. It is a ubiquitous snack found in most street food stalls in Singapore and loved for its convenience and tastiness. Originally from Java Indonesia, Satay is an adaptation of Indian Kebabs, only now, it is leaner and with fewer fillings, which have made it find its way into the hearts of Singaporeans. Although there have been several renditions of the dish since it crossed borders, the Singapore Satay dish includes skewers of grilled meat, sliced onions, sliced cucumbers, and pressed rice cakes. It is served with a heavy sweet, spicy, peanut sauce and is usually accompanied by rice dumplings (ketupat) and onions.
My favourite place to get it:
- Haron Satay
Haron Satay is located on the East Coast Lagoon Food Village and has been in business for close to 4 decades. It is surrounded by a long sandy beach and greenery trees that provide diners a pleasurable and serene ambiance. It is one of the favorite destinations to enjoy Muslim-style Satay. Its Satay is always grilled to perfection, making its meat very tender and succulent. All their sauce and rice cakes are homemade.
- Kwong Satay
Kwong Satay is a gem of a stall. It offers, by far, the juiciest and spiciest Satay in Singapore. Each of its Satay sticks is smoky, with charred edges and dripping with savory juices. Kwong Satay marinades its meat using saffron, which makes it more aromatic than the skewers you will get elsewhere.
Singapore is, without a doubt, a multi-ethnic culture and heritage that presents itself in a multitude of colorful cuisines, each with its own distinct flavor. We are truly blessed to be living in Singapore.
While there are still dozens of dishes in Singapore that are true to our heritage, these three dishes are definitely must-tries.