When in Singapore eat like the… Malay, Malay Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Koreans and of course the Thai. And thankfully I have a much long list to share than the one place, one dish list I got from anyone who has ever been to Singapore and wanted to give me a recommendation – Newton’s Circus for Black Pepper Crab (and ‘btw’ I am yet to try that).
Before I proceed any further with my food escapades, let me just warn you’ll that this is a ‘pure’ non-vegetarian post. In my defense, in most of Singapore if you order a vegetarian rice or noodles it will have seafood in it or at least egg and will be served with a spicy shrimp paste/chutney.
Makansutra Gluttons Bay:
Near Esplanade at Marina Bay, this is an open air food court with stalls that serve different cuisines and dishes. There are tables and chairs which are always full. So feel free to share space with a half occupied table. There’s obviously no reservation system… this is a street food market. As for the food, we tried the Chilli Crab and Stir Fried Pork Cheeks with Fried Bau aka fried bun. Let me just say the Singaporean Chilli Crab is sweet and spicy so don’t be fooled by the name. It is quite yum though. And the Fried Bau is a must with it. That too is slightly sweet as it’s the fried version of the usual stuffed steamed bun without the stuffing. Don’t bother trying any desserts unless it’s ice cream. Singaporeans seem to love jello in all flavours and frankly it’s overrated. You will end up spending about $50 between three people here.
Lau Pa Sat or Telok Ayer Market:
This one is created in a recycled space; an old British market complete with a clock tower. It’s a bustling reminder of the architecture of a different era. The stalls serve Chinese, Malay, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Singaporean dishes and just outside the structure on one side is a row of street food stalls too. These stalls on the outside serve some of the city’s best satays and seafood preparations. The broad aisles are lined with tables and chairs for diners to eat comfortably. You can either pick up your food from any of the stalls inside the market or place an order with one of the stalls on the outside and grab seat where you will be served.
My recommended menu is served from the street food stalls on the outside. Stingray Sambhal style, Bamboo Clams, Prawn Satay, Steamed Kailan and Sticky Rice. You will have to mention how many pieces of Prawn Satays and Bamboo Clams you would like. One portion of Stingray is enough for two people if you are ordering multiple dishes like we did. The Sambhal paste is tangy and spicy and it goes very well with Sticky Rice. Steamed Kailan is their staple green leafy vegetable similar to Pok Choy. A meal for two would cost $40. Also try the Lemon (not lime) juice at Lau Pa Sat. It is quite sour but a fun drink to try. If you like your drinks sweet have the sugarcane juice.
This corner restaurant in Haji Lane is the best way to try some local flavours. Try the soupy noodle bowls with either seafood, beef or chicken. Mee Soto is a local favourite. It’s a spicy broth noodles and choice of meat. Meen Bandong is a thick, reddish color soup with noodles and meat. This one is a sweet and spicy mix. The More familiar Tom Yum is also worth a try. However, it’s not for people with low tolerance to chilli. Apart from the soupy meals give the Maggie Goreng a try. It’s a fun version of our favorite 2 minute Maggie with traditional Indonesian flavours. Again, you can have this with seafood, beef or chicken. Now for the good news – one portion of any of these dishes cost only $4 to $5 and the portions are pretty big.
This is a popular Thai cuisine joint inside the Golden Mile complex. There is nothing fancy about this place apart from the fact that it has won many awards for the delicious food. From all the things we tried, I recommend the Tom Yum soup with seafood. It comes in a pot with an attached burner that holds a tea light keeping the soup hot. The seafood Pad Thai is another dish to try. Feel free to add the crushed peanuts and crushed chilli flakes that’s kept on the table in tall plastic glasses. The food is full of flavour and the portions come is three sizes – small, medium and large. If you are one or two people stick to the small size, 3-4 people can try the medium. But if you are ordering a soup, noodles, rice, a gravy and salad order everything in the small portion size. There will be enough to go around the table.
The vegetable stir fry in oyster sauce was quite nice too. Avoid the raw mango salad or if you do order it make sure you sprinkle it with a teaspoon full of sugar to balance the tanginess. All in all between 4 people you will end up spending approximately $100.
If you are a pork eater make sure you try the Bak Kuh Teh at Hwa Ji. It’s a broth with pork chunks best enjoyed with fried bau (fried bun pieces). Also try the Char Siew Bau or local steamed bun stuffed with pork available at many Seven Elevens or from Bread Talk. The Pork Floss bun at Bread Talk is also quite yummy. And in desserts make sure you try sweetened sticky rice served with mango and coconut cream.
One place I am yet to try and have heard loads about is the restaurant in the Pernakan museum. It serves authentic Pernakan cuisine and is expensive but apparently worth it. So that goes on my ‘to-do’ list for my next trip to Singapore. Another such place on my list is NOX, a restaurant on Beach Road where you dine in the dark. The entire menu is a surprise and you are served by blind people.