When it comes to culinary delights, Singapore is a true food lover's paradise. From humble street food stalls in bustling hawker centres to luxurious Michelin-starred restaurants, this vibrant city-state offers a wide range of gastronomic experiences. If you're planning a trip to Singapore and want to eat like a king, we have a few tasty tips to help you navigate the city-state’s world-renowned culinary landscape.
Start Your Day with a Singaporean Breakfast
Begin your day like a local with one of several traditional Singaporean breakfasts. While there is a wide selection of local breakfast options, the most iconic one has to be kaya toast (toasted bread with coconut jam), soft-boiled eggs in white pepper and soy sauce, and a cup of aromatic local coffee. Alternatively, you can go for a plate of nasi lemak, a heavier traditional dish of coconut rice served with a variety of accompaniments including fried chicken, fried fish, ikan bilis (anchovies), peanuts, sambal (spicy chilli paste), and a boiled egg.
Seek Out Michelin-Starred Restaurants
(Putien Restaurant in Jewel, Changi Airport)
Singapore is home to several Michelin-starred establishments — the most of any country in Southeast Asia. What’s more, a lot of Singapore’s Michelin-starred restaurants are quite affordable, offering a fine dining experience at very reasonable rates.
You can probably sample some of these restaurants mere minutes after you arrive in the country. Several Changi Airport restaurants have Michelin stars, so there is no reason you can’t indulge in exquisite dishes while you’re in Singapore.
Explore the Hawker Centres
You should never leave Singapore without paying a visit to one of its iconic hawker centres. Hawker centres are bustling food courts that offer a vast array of local dishes at affordable prices. Classic hawker centre dishes include Singapore’s own version of Hainanese chicken rice, laksa, char kway teow, Singaporean chilli crab, and roti prata.
Hawker centres offer more than full meals! They’re also known for delectable street snacks. If you’re feeling a bit peckish but aren’t ready to demolish a heavy meal, you can still treat yourself to a small plate of crispy deep-fried carrot cake, satay skewers, or wonton noodles.
Make Reservations in Advance
The more popular restaurants tend to get rather crowded. If you just show up without any reservations, you might be turned away or find yourself waiting for up to an hour. Given this, it's advisable to make reservations before dining at any popular or hyped-up restaurants.
Discover Peranakan Cuisine
The dishes we’ve mentioned so far falls within Singaporean’s mainstream. However, locals know that the country is home to a wide array of culinary traditions. Singapore’s Chinese, Malay, Tamil, and European culinary influences have all merged in interesting ways, with some dishes becoming unique to certain communities within Singapore.
Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine, is one of these unique culinary delights. Peranakan cuisine is a fusion of Chinese and Malay flavours that originated after Southern Chinese settlers intermarried with the local Malay women. Peranakan culture—has evolved over the centuries to become distinct from both Southern Chinese and native Malay, with the culture producing some dishes that could only truly be appreciated in Singapore and Malaysia. If you have the time, make sure to try classic Peranakan dishes like laksa lemak, ayam buah keluak, babi pongteh as well as traditional Peranakan desserts called kueh-kueh.
Visit Singapore’s Ethnic Enclaves
Historical districts such as Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam offer a glimpse into the lives of the country’s founding peoples through their architecture and, of course, their culinary traditions. These neighbourhoods offer a treasure trove of authentic culinary experiences, where you can sample a wide array of localised Chinese, Indian, and Malay specialties.
Experience High Tea
Singapore was ruled by Britain for 144 years and its legacy could be felt in virtually every walk of life. But as with the country’s Indian, Malay, and Chinese traditions, Singaporeans have put their own twist on their British influences.
If you’ve got the afternoon off, you owe it to yourself to indulge in the quintessentially British tradition of high tea — Singaporean style. Several hotels and tea houses offer luxurious high tea experiences, featuring a delightful array of sweet and savoury teatime treats.
Explore Night Markets
(Image credit: Nurul Azliah)
If you enjoy bargains as much as you enjoy eating, Singapore’s night markets, known as Pasar Malam, are right for you. Not only do these markets offer a wide range of street food, but they’re also places to score unique finds at great prices. Immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere and indulge in local night market favourites like fried sweet potato balls, vadai, kebad wrap, kueh tutu and more.
Singapore has a dizzying array of food options for every palate. Whether you prefer humble street food or can’t help but indulge in gourmet creations, it’s possible to eat like a king in Singapore, even on a tight budget. Follow these tips above and prepare yourself for a gastronomic adventure that will leave you craving more!