Singapore isn’t just a gift to foodies, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone who loves their chow.
The country’s cultural mix has created a culinary haven where food is guaranteed to be a highlight of any trip. In his The One Thing blog for 1Cover, Ben Groundwater even goes so far as to claim that food is the number one reason to visit Singapore.
With that in mind, here are five ways of planning a trip to Singapore that revolves around the food.
Focus on those foodie influences
There are several distinct and delicious influences on Singapore’s cuisine, and you can happily dedicate a day or two to each one. The three biggies are Indian, Chinese and Malay cooking, though others such as Indonesian and Western food are also growing in popularity.
Here’s where it can get really interesting if you are into your food. For example, rather than simply having a day where you eat meals with their roots in India, you could seek out dishes only from northern India such as Aloo Ghobi (potato and cauliflower), or only from southern India such as dosa (lentil and rice pancake).
It’s a great excuse to delve into these food cultures, and you can learn all the basics online to help you out.
Take a tour
Food tours are a big thing in Singapore. They’re a great way of learning more about both the food and the culture of this city-state and hooking up with fellow food fans as well.
Many of the tours are themed—you can go on a food and street art tour, for example, or a more tongue-in-cheek tour themed around the recent popular movie Crazy Rich Asians. There are tours of Chinatown, street food tours, walking tours, bicycle tours… you really won’t be struggling for choice. And the food will be good because Singapore takes its food very seriously indeed and there’s no place for second-rate offerings.
The must-try dishes
Be warned, researching Singapore’s must-try dishes can be addictive, and you may end up with rather a long list. Here are a few to get you going…
CHILI CRAB is one of Singapore’s favorite dishes. Mud crabs (tastier than they sound) are cooked in a tomato sauce with mild spices. If you’re smart, you’ll get some mantou (Chinese steamed bread) as well, because you won’t want to waste any of that sauce.
BAK KUT TEH is a breakfast broth touted by some as a hangover cure. There are a couple of popular variations—Hokkien style, which is fragrant and herby, and Teochew style, which is lighter and peppery.
DURIAN is a divisive fruit, whose smell—nay, stench—has been likened to rotting flesh or ‘turpentine and onions garnished with a gym sock’. If you are brave enough to give it a go, Singapore is said to have the best durians. Take breath freshener and lots of it.
ES POTONG is simply an ice cream sandwich. A dollar will get you a cooling block of ice cream, wrapped in white bread. Sweet and savory heaven on a hot day.
FISH HEAD CURRY is a Singaporean dish that combines Indian, Chinese and Malay influences. Yes, it’s the head of a fish (red snapper) stewed in coconut milk and tamarind curry with vegetables.
By Michelin star
What’s this, a street hawker stall with a Michelin star? More than one, in fact. If you use Michelin as your guide, you can certainly enjoy fine food at venues such as Les Amis, Odette, Shisen Hanten, Shoukouwa and Waku Ghin. They’re all two-star venues, and Singapore’s only three-star place, Joel Robuchon, closed down in 2018.
But it’s the one-star list that’s really interesting because it features two hawker stalls – Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, and Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle.
Seriously, you can get Michelin-star food for a couple of bucks and, yes, it is good. Why wouldn’t you try this
Follow your nose
Street stalls, posh restaurants, cheap eateries, craft beer stands… in Singapore, you can just wander and see what takes your fancy. Ask the hotel staff for their personal favorites, take a taxi to the driver’s restaurant of choice, or fire up Google and do an alphabetical eating challenge.
Whatever you decide to do, you will have wonderful food and mouth-watering memories. Your taste buds will never forget.