My Top Eats in Singapore

While my stint in Singapore was (sadly) short-lived, I still managed to cover a lot of gastronomic ground in four days. Which had no small part to do with my extensive preliminary research- besides grilling Edna, I also devoured as many Singapore food guides as possible.

Once I hit the ground I quickly learned that Singaporeans know how to eat; Singapore’s a nation positively obsessed with food. Which is no surprise- Singapore is a culinary wonderland, a delicious blend of Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisine.

One trick to finding the best grub in Singapore is to follow the lines- The longer the line (or the queue, as Singaporeans would say), the better.

Here are the best things I ate in Singapore.

 

Xiao Long Bao

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My first meal in Singapore was xiao long bao, one of my favorite Asian dishes of all time. Xiao long bao are Shanghainese soup dumplings, thin-skinned dumplings that release a rich, pork-flavored broth when poked.

Here’s how to eat them: mix soy sauce, chili sauce, sesame oil and garlic in a soup spoon, pick up the dumpling with chopsticks, place dumpling on soup spoon, poke dumpling with chopstick to release broth, sip the broth and gulp the hot dumpling down. Repeat.

Where to find it:

Ju Hao La Mian Xiao Long Bao #01-29, Lavender Food Square, 380 Jalan Besar Rd.

 

Laksa

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Laksa is a Peranakan noodle and cockle soup. It’s a spicy yet satisfying dish; I loved the creaminess of the coconut milk combined with the al dente bite of the noodles, all accented by a fiery dollop of sambal belacan.

I ordered my laksa spicy and paid extra for cockles, which were grilled the traditional way over a charcoal fire.

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And what is Peranakan cuisine? The Peranakans descend from Chinese and Indian merchants who settled in Malaysia in the 15th century. To read more about Peranakan culture in Singapore check out my article in the Culture-ist! (That reads like a shameless plug but to be honest I just don’t feel like explaining it again, ha.)

Where to find it:

Sungei Road Laksa (Top 33 Kopitiam Food Court, Stall 01-100, 27 Jalan Berseh 200027, 9am-6pm, closed on first Wed of the month) $2.50 for a bowl of laksa and 50 cents extra for noodles.

 

Bah Kut Teh

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Bah kut teh is a Chinese pork bone broth that literally means, “Pork bone tea” as the pork bones are simmered for hours in an herbal star anise and pepper broth.

To be honest, the meat was a little too fatty for me; I was all about that peppery, fragrant, porky broth. And to my delight the server kept bringing more and more broth around for free! For sides I ordered iced tea, greens, rice and fried tofu.

It’s a shame that Singapore has such a hot climate because bah kut teh would be the perfect soup for a cold day. (Can someone PLEASE bring bah kut teh to Detroit?)

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Popiah

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I think out of everything I tasted in Singapore, popiah was my favorite.

Popiah is a wheat crepe lined with hoisin sauce and stuffed with Chinese sausage, prawns, hard-boiled egg, bean sprouts, caramelized onion and cooked carrot and turnip. During my time in Singapore I returned to the Lavender Food Square daily to get my sweet and savory popiah fix.

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Where to find it:

Miow Sin Popiah & Carrot Cake: 380 Jalan Besar #01-04, Lavender Food Square, Singapore 209000

 

Carrot Cake (Chai tao kway)

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The same stall that serves my beloved popiah also serves carrot cake which bears absolutely no resemblance to American carrot cake. The Singaporean version of carrot cake is made with daikon radish, not carrot, and is fried with eggs and preserved radish (chai poh), and topped with sambal and green onions.

(Basically you could put sambal and green onions on top of anything and I would like it. But still, this is a tasty vegetarian option.)

Where to find it:

Miow Sin Popiah & Carrot Cake: 380 Jalan Besar #01-04, Lavender Food Square, Singapore 209000

 

Roti Prata

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Roti prata is a crispy fried pancake of Indian origin. It’s pleasantly greasy and is filled with egg, and is served with the red curry sauce seen below. I loved the textural contrast of dipping the crunchy roti prata into the thick, flavorful sauce- it was vaguely reminiscent of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Alhough I had roti prata at three in the afternoon I can imagine it being the ideal late-night option.

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Next we had murtabak which I can’t say I enjoyed. Sorry!

Where to find it:

Sin Ming Roti Prata #01-51, Jin Fa Kopitiam, 24 Sin Ming Road

 

Wanton Mee

Wanton Mee are wanton noodles dressed in a light, sweet sauce and topped with pork char siu (barbecued pork), greens and wanton dumplings.

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I loved this dish because when is barbacued pork ever a bad idea? And order your wanton mee spicy like I did- it was extra delicious with a kick of spice.

Where to find it:

Kok Kee Wanton Mee: 380 Jalan Besar, Lavender Food Square, #01-06, Singapore 209000

Chili Crab

On my last night in Singapore I tried Singapore’s signature dish- chili crab.

Though ordering black pepper crab appealed to me more (I adore black pepper), the friend I met for dinner was dead-set on having the famous chili crab.

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Which I can’t say was a problem- the enormous crabs came out drenched in delicious chili sauce and I swilled them down with icy beer- delicious. The best part was mopping up the sweet, spicy sauce with the pillow-soft mantou buns.

And although I wasn’t even hungry when I ate it (fair, considering how much I had eaten by that point in Singapore), I was still smitten with the sauce-drenched crabs.

Where to find it:

Mattar Road Seafood Barbecue, #01-63 Old Airport Rd, Singapore 390051, closed Tuesday and Wednesday. We paid $35 ($17.50 each) and the crab was $45 a kilo. But it was worth splurging for! 

 

And not on the list of my favorite dishes in Singapore?

Chicken rice.

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I may be virtually crucified for this, but chicken rice was quite literally lukewarm chicken with steamed rice- it reminded me of a meal I might prepare when I’m too tired to cook. Maybe I should give it another try?

 

One great resource in Singapore is HungryGoWhere, which is like the Singaporean Yelp.

And the dishes I wanted to try but didn’t have the time (or stomach room) for include kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs, curry fish head, fish head bee hoon, rojak and BBQ sambal sting ray. Next time!

What’s your favorite thing to eat in Singapore?

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Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is an American travel blogger and freelance writer who moved to Paris at 21 and has been traveling the world ever since. She's usually in pursuit of yoga, languages and perfectly ripe cheese and her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia.
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48 Comments

  1. So beautiful!!!!!!!!! Your laksa orders being my favorite, this all was a very lovely and tasty treat! So fun to see! Cheers! – Leah
    Leah Elisheva recently posted..To Savory Broads & Cephalopods!My Profile

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  2. I love your food posts, you always have such great descriptions of everything. A few of the dishes you highlighted I had heard of but some I had not and they just sound divine as I sit here eating my pitiful pb toast!
    Julie recently posted..Spanish Smackdown-Seville vs. GranadaMy Profile

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    • Thanks Julie, that really means a lot! I definitely enjoy writing about food so I’m glad it shows. And there’s nothing wrong with peanut butter toast, it’s the best! :)

  3. i never had laksa in singapore, but had it everyday in malaysia. it was one of my favorite things to date.

    in singapore i think i ate dinner about 5 times an evening ;) while i thought the chicken rice i had (at tian tian at maxwell) was really good, it didnt hold a candle to the murtabek i had there. literally the best thing ive ever put in my mouth.
    Megan recently posted..Kostanay: Winter in ‘Almost’ SiberiaMy Profile

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    • That was where I had it as well! I should’ve tried murtabak at Maxwell, I had it somewhere else and it wasn’t very good.

    • i had the murtabek in the arab district (i think that is what its called!). the chicken rice was from tian tian at maxwell. gosh i really need to somehow get back to singapore. too much food talk! :)
      Megan recently posted..Kostanay: Winter in ‘Almost’ SiberiaMy Profile

    • Haha I know what you mean! Nowhere else like it :)

  4. I quite like chicken rice, I think it’s all about the sauce, maybe try another place the next time?
    I almost missed out on kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs when I was in SG, but managed to get some at the airport. Kaya sauce is just HEAVEN. (According to some Singaporean friends, it’s also one of the few things that is authentic Singapore)
    Lenny recently posted..[Travel Taiwan] Money MattersMy Profile

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    • I loved kaya jam, I had that on toast at the hostel but I didn’t have it with eggs. Definitely sweet but good! :)

  5. Beautiful, bright, vibrant pictures on this post—lovely! I’m really intrigued by the pork bone broth/tea/soup, as I’m slowly starting to warm to star anise. I’ve always associated anise with more sweet recipes/deserts so it sounds like an interesting combination.

    Also, love all these dishes with spicy sambal hot sauce…yum!!!!
    Trevor Huxham recently posted..Photo Post: Cazorla, Spain, Gateway to the MountainsMy Profile

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    • I couldn’t really taste the star anise in the broth but it was definitely good- and actually pho has star anise in the broth too! Apparently it’s an excellent secret ingredient?

  6. The saucy crab looks and sounds fabulous, I probably never
    will have food in Singapore, but your photos and text
    makes me wish that I could.

    Love, Gamma

    Reply
    • Well up north I could try to recreate a few dishes! That would be fun I think. Love, Ashley

    • The wanton mee was really nice- I loved the sauce as well as the pork on top!

  7. We head to Singapore on the 19th and are huge foodies! Thanks for the heads up on what to look for!
    Simone recently posted..Our First Impressions of BaliMy Profile

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    • You’ll absolutely love it! The food is seriously on another level!

  8. I am a firm believer that food is the best way to learn about a culture and I feel like I learned so much through your post. I love countries who love their food. We have good friends who just moved to Singapore for 3 years so we will definitely be visiting and I will be referencing this post when it is time to eat there!
    Bridget @ A Traveling B recently posted..Skiing in SugarbushMy Profile

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    • That’s great you’ll have some locals to show you around- that’s always the best way! :)

  9. Your Top Eats series are the coolest thing, I LOVE reading them! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Jess! I don’t write a ton about food but maybe I should write more? :)

  10. Ha! I wrote the same thing about my lukewarm response to Chicken Rice (see what I did there?) and how I didn’t get why anyone would devote any stomach space to it when virtually every other food dish in Singapore is a million times more flavorful. There were some passionate rebuttals, but for the most part people respected my choice.

    Otherwise we pretty much loved everything that you listed here, with the exception of bah kut teh, which we didn’t get to try. Next time!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..A Traveler’s PrerogativeMy Profile

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    • That’s a great way to describe it- a waste of stomach space! Especially in a country with some many other delicious things to try. And I remember reading your food coverage on Singapore, especially the chili crab- you two are some of the best food reviewers out there! :)

    • As someone who lives in India it might be fun for you to cross-compare! I’ve never been to India myself so I don’t know if what I had was good… but I did enjoy it! :)

  11. We just got back from Singapore as well…they sure do know how to eat! I loved it.
    Corinne recently posted..Winter in VietnamMy Profile

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    • It was such an amazing city! I have a post coming up later this week about what else I did in Singapore besides eat. Though eating may have been the most fun! :)

    • I’m sure you’ll be back! And I can’t wait to see your photos once you do make it over there! :)

  12. Chicken rice seems to depend on the place. The first time I was in Singapore I had great versions but the last time I went, 2 out of 3 were blah. The other one though… delish and definitely worth stomach space!

    I’ll have to go there for a third time one day as I’ve only tried half this list! Bah kut teh especially looks like a perfect choice when you want a good, filling meal.
    Ruth Elisabeth recently posted..Unmissable Language Links – December 2013 & January 2014 (Bumper Tết Edition)My Profile

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    • I know what you mean! I would do anything to have popiah again!

  13. Your post is really watering my mouth and makes me hungry, Ashley. I have been to Singapore three times so far and love the food over there. I have tried out a few of the dishes you mentioned. My absolutely favourite is the laksa which I really adore. I always order my food extra spicy as well. I am a huge fan of the asian spicyness and also tend to cook very spicy at home, so that I have to watch out that it doesn’t get too spicy for the people around me as the only one who eats almost as spicy as me is my boyfriend.
    Vanessa recently posted..2014: Ringing in the year of the horseMy Profile

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    • I have that problem too! My family hates spice. (They can’t even have black pepper, no joke!)

  14. Currently back from a quiet night out in Phnom Penh with about 5 gin and tonics in my stomach and now all I am craving is a laksa…

    Damn you Ashley…
    Jimmy Dau recently posted..The colours of Valparaiso: Photo EssayMy Profile

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    • Haha take the overnight bus to Saigon! You’ll eat well there :)

  15. I have dreamed of Singapore ever since Edna did her best Signapore meals countdown and now I want to go even more, if that was possible. I look most forward to the Xiao Long Bao and the Chili Crab!
    Alex @ ifs ands & butts recently posted..sunshines & siestas in seville.My Profile

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    • That series was amazing… hence why I got the same chili crab! And I’d love to learn xiao long bao at home though I bet it would be super difficult.

  16. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything I didn’t like in Singapore! I do love chicken rice, but I must say I’ve had some that weren’t so great. The best I’ve had, completely blew my mind but I have no idea where it came from, my singaporean friend’s grandmother brought it home as take out! I’ve lost track of her so I guess I’ll never know… :(
    Sarah recently posted..Torajan Death RitualsMy Profile

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    • I will definitely have to give chicken rice another try then! I’m sure it depends so much on the recipe :)

  17. oh. my. goodness. I WANT IT ALL! Char siu is the bomb.com, so I know anything with it in it will be delicious. And soup dumplings? my fave. Looks like you had a wonderful trip! I really need to get to Asia soon.

    Reply
  18. Great post also love the link at the top to top 30 foods to eat in singapore before you die. Last time I was in lavender i ordered the same thing from the popiah lady. Love the food in singapore and cool pics.
    kevin recently posted..In Search of Eddie Huangs Taiwanese TreasuresMy Profile

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  19. Love your post. Next time when you have a chance to go back to SEA, visit Penang, Malaysia. It’s foodie food haven!

    Reply
  20. A very in-depth write up Ashley! You definitely take more risks than us in the food area of travel. Is there one place you have been to and regret not trying the local cuisine?
    Stephen & Jess recently posted..Our Top 5 Cities So Far – 2014 EditionMy Profile

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    • Hm… well when I was 15 I roasted a guinea pig on a stick in Ecuador but was too chicken to try it. I kind of wish I had given it a taste just to be able to say I’ve had guinea pig! :)

  21. Your post is definitely great. I like all the foods you ate, I wanna try it someday! “Laksa” I love to taste that and the Carrot Cake, I love that. Hmmm.. Thanks Ashley!!

    Reply
    • The carrot cake was awesome! As was almost all the food I hate in Singapore :)

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