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A guide to Singapore street food

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

The island nation of Singapore welcomes more than 10 million visitors a year. The city state offers visitors an experience which includes a distinctive amalgamation of Eastern cultures and Western amenities.

Singapore is also a great shopping destination and most locals have a penchant for trawling its many malls and shopping centers. Moreover Singapore attracts hordes of overseas visitors to its shores each year for the annual Shopping festival called the Great Singapore Sale which is usually held between the months of May and July each year.

Apart from shopping another favored past time of Singaporeans is ‘eating’ and this small nation has a well-known street food culture where many local delights are served in establishments called ‘Hawker Centers‘ and Food Courts. These Hawker Centers are clean and hygienic like the rest of Singapore and it’s quite safe to indulge in the many local foods that are served here without fear of being plagued by the dreaded stomach bug.

Almost every shopping complex on Singapore’s main shopping and entertainment drag, Orchard Road has a food court or hawker center located within its environs so it is quite easy to find these delicious indigenous foods and enjoy a new gastronomical experience. Here are some of the famous Singaporean local food that are a must-try for your next trip to Singapore

  • Hainanese Chicken Rice

This simple dish is often called the ‘National dish’ of Singapore and consists of strips of chicken which are boiled in a chicken bone stock and served with a lightly flavored rice which is also prepared in chicken stock. The dish is served with accompaniments which include a bowl of clear soup, some pickled cucumbers and a hot chili dipping sauce. The Chatterbox restaurant located in the Meritus Mandarin Hotel on Orchard Road is world renowned for its chicken rice.

  • Popiahs

Popiahs are fresh spring rolls which are not fried but served as they are. The skin of the popiah consists of a wafer thin crepe which is made of wheat flour. These spring rolls are usually are filled with hoisin sauce, finely chopped and stir fried jicama, beans, carrots, tofu and bean sprouts. The fillings of the popiahs may differ with each hawker center. The popiah is an indigenous dish of Singapore which has its origins in the original ‘Peranakan’ culture of the island.

  • Laksa

Laksa is yet another Perankan dish which has evolved from a simple noodle soup over the years. There are several varieties of Laksa found in Singapore but the two main varieties are Curry Laksa and Assam Laksa. The Curry Laksa consists of thick noodles served in a coconut curry soup while the Assam Laksa refers to noodles served in sour fish soup. Apart from noodles, the Laksa also has fried tofu, fish sticks, shrimp and vegetables in it. A popular variety of Laksa served in Singapore is called Katong Laksa . This dish is named after a residential area in Singapore called Katong, where the vendors of Laksa cut up the thick noodles into bits in order to make the Katong Laksa easier to eat

  • Singapore Chili Crab

Yet another dish which competes for the hotly contested title of the national dish of Singapore is the Chili Crab. The Singapore Chili Crab consists of hard shelled crabs which are cooked in tomato chili gravy. The dish is served with steamed Chinese buns which are used to mop the gravy as you work your way through the crab. The best chili crabs are served in the sea food restaurants located on the East Coast of Singapore.

  • Ais Kacang

Ais Kacang or ABC as it is called, the latter being an acronym for the Malay name for this desert is a refreshing way to end a delicious spicy meal in Singapore. This desert comprises of a mountain of shaved ice which is garnished with many brightly colored sweet syrups and at the base of this heap of ice lies bed of unusual ingredients which include red beans, sweet corn, palm seeds and jelly cubes. The Ais Kacang is an extraordinary desert which is an acquired taste. This icy treat is not only great for wrapping up a meal but presents a perfect way to tackle Singapore’s hot humid weather as well!

Picture of Singapore popiahs originally posted by avlxyz

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer anjeeta nayar

Anjeeta Nayar is a professional freelance writer and blogger based in New York City. She relocated to the Big Apple from Mumbai two years ago. She loves New York City for its incredible buzz and energy. It really is the city that never sleeps and there is always something to do and see here. In addition to being a writer and blogger, she is also an avid traveler with London and cities in S.E.Asia being the places she enjoys visiting the most!

12 responses to “A guide to Singapore street food”

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  1. Sally says:
    May 21st, 2008 at 17:58

    Brief but nice post. I love Popiahs and chilli crab!

  2. anjeeta says:
    May 22nd, 2008 at 01:20

    Thanks Sally.. I usually have to control myself when writing about one of my favorite cities in the world-Singapore or this post would never end!!!!

  3. LB says:
    May 29th, 2008 at 16:29

    Good intro of the city and food!

  4. Shaan Khan says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 04:08

    Could you please tell me where in New York City can one get the best i) Curry Laksa and ii ) Chilli Crabs

  5. anjeeta says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 11:43

    Jaya Malaysian on Bayard and Baxter Street does a good curry Laksa but I have yet to find a good spot for Chilli Crabs like you get on the East Coast in Singapore.

  6. Shaan Khan says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 14:26

    Thank you.

    I will try Jaya Malaysia. Since I asked you for your recommendation, I have also been told told to try New Malaysian @48 Bowery Street (accessed via an alley on Elizabeth St, between Bayard & Canal).

    As far as Chili Crabs are concerned, do not goto Fatty Crabs on Hudson.

  7. Anjeeta says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 15:13

    I too have been told about New Malaysian though I haven’t had a chance to try it as it ..maybe this weekend !!!

  8. Shaan Khan says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 16:22

    BTW a great post, but you missed “Sting Ray Fish”. I think Singapore Street food cannot be complete without the Sting Ray.

  9. Anjeeta says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 16:51

    Thanks to your comment its there now :-)Btw read a bit of your blog on the Big B family et al!

  10. Shaan Khan says:
    July 16th, 2008 at 18:37

    Anjeeta, if you did not laugh reading my blog then you are a Bachchanista :)

  11. Victor says:
    September 15th, 2008 at 10:00

    chilli crab my favorite

  12. Asia says:
    October 31st, 2008 at 20:09

    With Singapore Airlines offering many flight options, I can’t wait to go and try out the local food. Thanks!


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