Born and raised in Singapore, I am proud to be Singaporean. Despite living abroad for the past 17 years, I will always consider Singapore home. And regardless of where I travel, Singapore food always holds a special place in my heart.
Singapore food is a vibrant melting pot of flavors from different ethnic groups: a reflection of how multi-cultural we are. And no matter where in the city, there are always plenty of choices when it comes to Singapore food: from traditional hawker food to gourmet heritage restaurants serving authentic Singapore dishes.
To share some of my heritage with you, I’m bringing you on a culinary journey into the world of Singapore cuisine. For those wondering what to eat in Singapore, here are some of the best food in Singapore and the best places to eat in Singapore!
Singapore Food Guide
What is Singapore Food?
Thanks to its geographical location, Singapore is at the cultural crossroads of Asia. Singapore’s population is made up of mainly ethnic Chinese, Malay, and Indian. (I’m ethnically Chinese if you’re wondering.)
In the 1800s, our ancestors came from neighboring China, Malaysia and India, and brought along their culinary cultures. As a result, Singapore food is a beautiful blend of influences from Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines. Some interesting cultural fusion have also emerged, such as Peranakan/nyonya food (marriage of Chinese and Malay food).
We share many similarities with Malaysia, and so our food are rightfully similar. Malaysia and Singapore have always fought over which dishes are uniquely ours and theirs, but I think we should stop arguing and just keep eating!
Singapore Food Culture
In Singapore, eating is our national pastime and obsession. Singaporeans literally eat around the clock: we eat 5-6 meals a day! You will often find Singapore’s hawker centres full of people even after midnight.
Food is a popular talking point in Singapore. We are always arguing about which chicken rice stall is the best or which restaurant serves the best chilli crabs. Also, Singaporeans will travel from one end of the island to the other, or wait in line for an hour just to get the perfect plate of noodles.
As a multi-cultural nation, Singaporeans from different ethnic groups often eat together. Muslims do not eat pork and Hindus do not eat beef, but we are respectful of each other’s culture. In every hawker centre, you will always find Singapore dishes of various ethnicities under one roof.
Where to Eat in Singapore
The best places to eat in Singapore are in hawker centres: open-concept food courts but an institution of their own. They serve what you would call Singapore street food, with each hawker stall specializing in one dish.
Hawker centres are where you will get the cheapest and best food in Singapore. They are where you go to experience the real Singapore and taste authentic Singapore dishes. Prices are really affordable: A plate of noodles costs around S$3 (or US$2), while a full seafood meal sets you back less than S$30 (US$21) per person.
You can find these hawker centres in every neighborhood and residential area. They are clean and organized, and vendors have to adhere to certain hygiene levels by law. There’s a lot of debate of which are the best hawker centres in Singapore; these are my personal favorites.
Best Hawker Centres in Singapore
Best Food in Singapore
There are SO many Singapore dishes that it’s difficult for me to narrow them down. But I have chosen the 30 best food in Singapore to share with you. I have also included the best places to try each of these Singapore dishes. Time to eat!
Singapore Breakfast Dishes
Kaya Toast and Soft-Boiled Eggs
The most traditional Singaporean breakfast dish is kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs, served with coffee or tea. You will find it in almost every hawker centre and food court (usually at the drinks stall). This is a must eat in Singapore, especially if you are a morning person.
Basically, it is lightly toasted white bread lathered with kaya, a a sweet creamy spread made from coconut milk. The toast is accompanied with soft-boiled eggs. Most hawkers use big XL eggs and they serve the eggs with soya sauce and pepper.
Chwee Kueh is my personal favorite Singapore food for breakfast. This traditional Singapore dish is made up of steamed white-flour rice cakes topped with fried pickles. We usually have 6-8 of them in one serving.
They are served on a brown food paper, with a wallop of red sambal chilli. For many, chwee kueh seems too oily for a breakfast dish. My Spanish husband cannot understand my love for chwee kueh. Too bad for him!
Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, roti prata is one of the best food in Singapore to have for both breakfast and supper. I have fond memories of going for roti prata after a night of partying with friends.
Roti means ‘bread’, and prata means ‘flat’ in Hindi. Roti prata is a South Indian flat bread made by frying stretched dough flavored with ghee(Indian clarified butter). It is usually served with fish or mutton curry.
While the classic versions are served plain or with eggs as a filling, there are now many modern variations such as cheese, chocolate and ice cream.
Fried Carrot Cake
Singapore’s version of the carrot cake is nothing like its British or American counterparts. The Singapore carrot cake, also known as Chai Tou Kway, is a salty fried dish made from steamed radish cakes. It is fried to crispy perfection, and sprinkled with spring onions.
There are two versions: black or white carrot cake. The black carrot cake is sweeter and made with black sweet sauce, while the white version is crispy and oily. This authentic Singapore dish has become so popular that it is eaten not just for breakfast, but throughout the day.
Singapore Noodle Dishes
Originally from China’s Fujian province, Hokkien Mee has slowly evolved over the years to become a uniquely Singaporean platter.
Hokkien Mee is now one of the best hawker foods in Singapore and can be found in almost every food centre. It is basically a mixture of rice noodles and yellow egg noodles, fried in a wok with egg, seafood and slices of pork belly.
If you are going to travel Malaysia, you will notice that Hokkien Mee in Malaysia is very different from ours. The Malaysian Hokkien Mee is cooked in a sweet black sauce and the noodles are really fat and thick.
Originally from Canton (Guangzhou) in China, Wanton noodles is a Cantonese noodle dish popular in many parts of Asia. Wanton noodles are essentially springy egg noodles drenched in a black savory sauce and topped with char siew (roast pork), leafy vegetables and wanton (Chinese dumpling).
There are different versions of Wanton noodles: from Malaysian Pontian style to Hong Kong version and Thai style. Singapore has given it its own spin by adding green chilli (and sometimes the bright red balachan chilli sauce) to create this authentic Singapore dish.
The humble prawn noodle, also known as “hae mee” in Hokkien, is a noodle dish that is both savory and flavorful. Giant shrimps are served with slurpy rice noodles in a rich and flavorful broth.
It is all about the broth: the soup needs to be cooked for hours with a combination of pork bones, prawn heads and a whole myriad of condiments. A good broth should be brimming with seafood-goodness and a tinge of sweetness.
Yong Tau Foo
A traditional Hakka Chinese dish, yong tau food is a comfort food for many. My mum is Hakka (an ethnic group from China) and this dish ties in with her cultural identity.
Yong tau food is actually more of a tofu dish than a noodle dish. The main ingredient is tofu stuffed with ground meat mixture or fish paste. Variation of this food include vegetables and mushrooms stuffed with ground meat or surimi. In Singapore though, Yong tau foo can be ordered with rice noodles, soup or with a red sweet gravy.
Beef Hor Fun
This is my husband Alberto’s favorite Singapore dish and we always make sure to have this when we’re in Singapore! Beef hor fun is not quite as commonly found in Singapore as the other dishes on this list. You’ll find it in many hawker centers but only few hawker stalls give it justice.
Braised with tender beef slices, this savory dish of flat rice noodles is drenched in a thick, flavorful black gravy. The gravy is made of black beans, oyster sauce, chilli and Chinese herbs. You can easily tell that the gravy is made from hours of cooking, using only the best parts of the cow.
Singapore Rice Dishes
A ubiquitous sight in hawker centres across the country, chicken rice is one of Singapore’s national dishes. Chicken rice is a simple dish of tender braised chicken, served on a bed of fragrant rice cooked in stock. We eat it with a ginger paste and a special chilli.
The traditional dish originated from Hainan Island, off the southern coast of China. Today, it is still cooked in the Hainanese way, by blanching the chicken in boiling water till it is fully cooked. In a local twist, the chicken can also be roasted or braised in soya sauce for a different flavor. A must eat in Singapore!
Braised Duck Rice
This is another traditional Singapore dish that is more popular among locals than foreigners. As its name implies, it is a dish of thinly sliced duck meat over a bed of brown rice and drenched in a thick herbal braising sauce.
What makes this dish special is the uniquely Singaporean flavor of star anise, galangal and molasses-like soy sauce that the duck is cooked in. As a result, the braising sauce has a subtle herb flavor that I love. Combine this with some steamed peanuts, tofu and braised egg (plus a homemade ikan bilis chilli sauce), and you get the perfect duck rice.
Nasi lemak is an ethnic Malay dish featuring fragrant rich cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. It is usually accompanied by ikan bilis (anchovies), otah (grilled fish paste), roasted peanuts, fried egg and cucumber slices.
Singaporeans have given it a local twist by adding more side dishes to the nasi lemak. You can get anything from crispy fried chicken drumsticks to luncheon meat and an assortment of vegetables with your nasi lemak.
It is not just the ingredients that make a good nasi lemak. Pandan leaves and coconut milk play a huge role in enhancing the fragrance and richness of the rice, complemented by the spicy sambal chilli sauce that you can’t miss out on.
Hugely popular in Singapore, Nasi Briyani is a traditional Muslim-Indian rice dish mixed with meat, vegetables and a gravy or curry. The long grain basmati rice is cooked with garlic, yogurt, aromatic spices, onions and sometimes with ghee or butter.
The word ‘biryani’ is derived from a Persian word, birian, which means fried before cooking. In Singapore, the are local take of the dish comes with tender mutton or lamb. Head to Little India for the best nasi biryani in Singapore!
Singapore Seafood Dishes
Another one of Singapore’s national dishes, chilli crabs are spicy, tangy and finger licking good. Nothing else represents my country better than this spicy, flavorful and traditional Singapore dish.
Seafood restaurants usually use fresh Sri Lankan crabs for this dish and cook them to a bright red color before dousing a rich, piquant chilli gravy over them. It is usually served with man tou (deep fried buns) to dip in this flavorful gravy.
This is a must-eat in Singapore, and one of Singapore’s famous foods. It’s not cheap of course, but it’s something we eat for celebrations or special occasions like Chinese New Year. If you are not a fan of spicy food, there are other options like pepper crab, crabs in salted egg cream, or crab vermicelli soup.
Commonly found in most hawker centers in Singapore, sambal stingray is a popular dish served in tze char stalls. Tze char is a type of food stall that offers a wide array of Chinese dishes from kongpao chicken to fish head curry.
This dish is prepared by grilling a slab of stingray on a banana leaf, then drizzling some raw onions and an abundance of sizzling sambal chilli over it. It is always served with chinchalok (a pink murky sauce with fermented shrimps, onions and lime juice given as a dip for your stingray.
Some of you might find the idea of eating stingray appalling. I understand it is a rare marine animal in other parts of the world, but here in Singapore it is bred in farms and commonly eaten as a local dish.
Typically found in hawker centres, the sambal lala (clams) is a spicy and tangy dish cooked with chilli, spices and a pungent shrimp paste. You will find this dish at seafood stalls that also sell chilli crabs and stingray.
The ingredient that can make or break this dish is of course, the sambal belacan chilli sauce. A popular condiment in Singaporean and Malaysian food, sambal belacan is made from toasted shrimp paste, chillies, sugar and kalamansi lime.
Another hawker food you need to try in Singapore is the oyster omelette, known among Singaporeans as orh jian. It is one of my favorite food in Singapore: the crunchy bits of the omelette combined with the fresh oysters from Korea are to die for.
What makes Oyster Omelette so special is the batter that is used. Starch is mixed into the egg batter while whipping up the omelette, hence giving it a thick consistency. Dip all that into a sour chilli vinegar sauce for the best experience!
Singapore Meat Dishes
Bak Kut Teh
Bak Kut Teh literally translates to Pork Bone Tea (in Hokkien) and is a Singapore traditional soup dish believed to be introduced into Southeast Asia in the 19th century by Chinese workers. It was traditionally served for breakfast, but has since evolved to become a main meal.
With a slightly medicinal taste, the broth is infused with Chinese herbs and spices like cinnamon and star anise. The pork ribs used to cook the soup is the star of the show, but the soup is also loaded with dried shiitake mushrooms, tofu puffs, and garlic.
Every hawker centre in Singapore will have a stall or two selling Cantonese roast meat. This refers to the holy trinity of roast meat – Char Siew (barbecued pork marinated with a sweet sauce), Siew Yoke (roast pork belly), and Siew Ngap (roast duck with a crispy skin).
Even though the roast meat traces its roots back to the Canton region of China, it has evolved into this local version in Singapore. Really good char siew should be char grilled to perfection, while siew yoke should have a crunchy skin. Roast meat is always served with a savory braised sauce and white rice, and a small bowl of broth on the side.
Of all the food in Singapore, satay is probably the most popular in Singapore among all ethnicities. Originally from Indonesia, satay actually developed from the Indian kebab brought by the Muslim traders. Beautifully grilled and charred skewers of tender marinate meat are dipped in sweet peanut curry sauce and eaten with steamed rice cakes wrapped in pandan leaves.
What makes the Singapore satay different from its counterparts in Malaysia and Indonesia is that it is much fattier. Our satay also features smaller pieces of meat on the skewer, so they are almost always juicy and tender.
It’s a must eat in Singapore, not just for the flavors but also for the atmosphere you’ll often find at satay stalls. Because satay is grilled on open charcoal, it is usually found in open-air food centres and street markets (like Lau Pat Sat).
Singapore Snacks and Appetizers
Rojak literally translates to mean “mix” in colloquial Malay, and the dish sure lives up to its name. The traditional Singapore dish reflects the cultural diversity of Singapore, including both Chinese and Malay ingredients in one dish.
It is essentially a salad of mixed vegetables, fruits, and dough fritters covered in a sticky black sauce. Then it’s garnished with chopped peanuts and finely-cut fragrant ginger flowers for a piquant taste.
The mark of a good rojak is its sauce, made up of fermented prawn paste, sugar, lime and chilli paste. It must be an appetizing mix of sweet, sour and spicy.
If you are planning to visit Arab Street (Singapore’s Muslim quarters), you’ve got to try murtabak. Originally an Arab dish, murtabak has become a popular street food in Singapore.
Murtabak is made by stuffing thin sheets of dough with minced meat, eggs, and vegetables. The dough is then wrapped up and fried in oil until it is crispy on the outside. The lamb meat is often marinated in a myriad of spices, giving murtabak an explosion of flavors.
In the Netflix special “Street Food”, putu piring was the lead story in their episode on Singapore. Many Singaporeans argued that putu piring isn’t a reflection of Singapore food at all. I loved it as a kid and still have fond memories of eating this snack from streetside stands.
Putu piring (or some of us may know it as kueh tutu) is a steamed rice cake filled with melted palm sugar and topped with shredded coconut. Making it by hand is hard work, so there are not too many stalls selling handmade putu piring these days.
Singapore Fruit & Dessert
Without a doubt, this fruit is the pride of the nation. Durian is known as the King for Fruit, unique for its strong aroma and unmistakable flavor. Commonly found all over South East Asia, it is extremely popular here among Singaporeans. The D24 species is the most sought after durian species. The brightly-lit stalls along Geylang Road have a wide selection to choose from.
Ice kacang translates to mean “bean ice” in Malay. It is basically iced shaving topped with all kinds of colorful ingredients like red bean, jelly, syrup, sweet corn, condensed milk, and gula melaka (palm sugar). Originally from Malaysia, the dessert has gone through many changes over the years. Traditionally, an ice shaving machine is used to churn out the shaved ice by a hand cranking system.
Chendol is popular all over Southeast Asia and feature different ingredients depending on where you are. In Singapore, we like our Chendol with red beans or kidney beans, gula melaka (palm sugar), coconut milk and shaved ice. Chendol actually refers to the green jelly “worms” made of rice flour. You can find this is almost any dessert stall in hawker centres and food courts.
Soya beancurd, or known locally as tau huay, is the most ubiquitous dessert in Singapore. There are even soya beancurd chains like Mr Bean and Lao Ban all over Singapore.
Soya beancurd is basically made by boiling soya bean milk with sugar and a coagulant. When it’s cooled, it forms a smooth silky pudding that resembles custard. You can have hot or cold. Traditionally we have it with dough fritters for breakfast, but these days it’s more common as a dessert.
Do you think these are the best Singapore dishes? Did I miss out any Singapore food that you love? Leave a comment below to let me know!
Inspired? Pin it!