What are the best food gifts to buy in Singapore?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Jamie L.T. Mapa

Singaporeans love their daily gastronomic staples and are happy to share these goodies in easy-to-pack gifts as souvenirs for visitors.  Below you will find a few food items worth bringing home - or indulging on the flight back - which can be found in both standard groceries and specialty shops:

Bak Kwa: its literal translation is "dried meat" in Chinese and it is very similar to beef jerky in western cultrure.  The fragrant aroma of candied dried pork, the "traditional bak kwa", from a Bak Kwa shop is hard to miss, especially in Singapore's Chinatown.  These specialty shops do a great job of packaging these square meat slices into containers and vacuum sealing them to ensure the smell and freshness are retained: Kim Hock Guan Bak Kwa - 金福源肉干, 150 South Bridge Road, Chinatown; Kim Hwa Guan, 32 New Market Road, People's Park Food Centre, Chinatown; Bee Cheng Hiang, 28 outlets in Singapore including a stall in Changi International Airport, Terminal 2.

Kaya Jam: is a light green spread consisting of coconut, eggs, sugar and pandan flavor.  Kaya and toast is as much a staple to any local Singaporean as peanut butter and jelly is to any American.  Here it's served at coffee shops with slices of toast and coffee or milktea and often a side of soft boiled eggs.  Kaya jam is also sold in plastic and glass containers in any Singaporean grocery or food mart including large grocery chain NTUC Fairprice and Cold Storage.  For those who can't wait to try it, you can also visit these popular chains to fulfill your Kaya breakfast needs: Killiney Kopitiam, Ya Kun Kaya Toast and Good Morning Nanyang Cafe.

Kopi and Teh: these two beverages retain their Malay and Hokkien roots but are more commonly known as coffee and tea outside of Singapore.  Kopi locally is a darker roast with a buttery caramel taste and is thicker than what is served at well-known international chains like Starbucks.  Listed below are a few basic tips to ordering your brew at a local Singaporean coffee shop and brands that offer instant kopi at the aforementioned groceries.

Kopi: this is the default cup of coffee and is made with sweetened condensed milk (this is already sweet and does not come with additional sugar)
Kopi C: unsweetened coffee with evaporated milk and sugar (milkier and still sweet, but less than the above option)
Kopi C Kosong: coffee with evaporated milk, but no sugar
Kopi O: coffee with no milk, but with sugar
Kopi O Kosong: coffee with no milk and no sugar
Brands for purchasing instant kopi: Owl, Gold Kili, 434 Kopi

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