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, traveled the world for a year and now lives in Denver. She's usually in pursuit of skiing, languages and perfectly ripe cheese. Her writing has been featured in National Geographic, Viator and Jetstar Australia.
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