Answers from Our Experts (2)
Hawker food, the city’s version of street food, used to be the defining cuisine of Singapore, and to a large extent it still is. But the constantly changing landscape, influx of imports and melding of cultural differences and similarities have had a significant effect on the defining food experiences of this city-state. When you dine here, don’t miss these dishes:
1. Chili crab. The chili crab, made with Sri Lankan crustaceans in a thick sweet and spicy gravy, is a food experience that is difficult to re-create anywhere outside of Singapore. Even entry-level local seafood restaurants like Long Beach and Jumbo create smoldering versions. For the full experience, request that a female spawning crab be the dish’s main ingredient, and deep-fried mantou (sweet-dough buns) as sides to sop up the rich gravy. Ming Kee Live Seafood offers the most authentic take on the dish.
2. Grilled sambal stingray. Since Newton hawker center took a turn for the tourists, Chomp Chomp is now the spot to have grilled sambal stingray and a cold giant glass of pressed sugarcane juice. The ray’s fin is grilled over charcoal and served smothered with a slightly spicy and sweet chili paste, calamansi lime on the side. The mug of refreshing green juice soothes the heat and intense surge of the spices in the dish.
3. Chicken rice. A plate of glistening garlic-, ginger- and pandan-laced (screwpine) rice topped with tender gelatinous-skinned chicken is one of the simplest, most heady food experiences in Singapore. Tian Tian Chicken Rice at Maxwell Road Hawker Centre serves its variety with a mound of spring onion, a bowl of soup, some sweet dark sauce and a vinegary chili sauce. The white chicken is the traditional version of this dish.
4. Nyonya cuisine. Fusion cuisine is done superbly well in Singapore, spearheaded by the culinary art form of the Peranakans. Nyonya cuisine, as it is known, is a developed mix of Malay spices with Chinese cooking techniques. At True Blue Cuisine, Benjamin “Baba Ben” Seck serves up his mother’s dishes in the museum-like Peranakan grounds. The ayam buah keluak (chicken stewed with black buah keluak nuts) is a must-try.
5. Celebrity chef joints. Celebrity chefs Mario Batali, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud, Tetsuya Wakuda, Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon come together in — almost — one spot, bringing about an unparalleled concentration of high-caliber culinary experiences. Robuchon holds it down in the Resorts World Sentosa, while the other chefs have restaurants in the Marina Bay Sands, about a 15-minute drive away. Satisfy your craving for a good oven-baked, thin-crust pizza by the orange-clogged chef, move from room to room for Tetsuya Wakuda’s precise Japanese courses, carve up Robuchon’s quail stuffed with foie gras or take all of them in one night. It’s fun to restaurant-hop among the culinary celebs’ spots.
Singapore is a 'foodie' heaven attracting epicureans worldwide to sample its decadent local cuisine. The country represents a diverse mix of southeast asian cultures evident in its fusion of local staples including chicken rice, chili crab, laksa, char kway teow, roti prata and carrot cake. What is the ultimate local food experience and one place where visitors can sample all of Singapore's famous gastronomical pleasures? The hawker center.
Hawker centers are open-air complexes housing a multitude of stalls, each with their own speciality. These centers were first created in the 1950s-60s in urban areas as an inexpensive food option for the less affluent. Fast forward to the present and, while this food alternative is still quite economical, it is acknowledged by locals and foreigners alike that hawker centers offer diners the most authentic, traditional and delicious local Singaporean delights in the country.
Please keep in mind that each local resident will have their own favorite stall and hawker depending on the dish, resulting in quite a lengthy debate. Instead of recommending the best chicken rice stall here, please find the most well known hawker centers in the country worth visiting. At these recommended hawkers, there are certainly enough delicious and satisfying options where you can sample a variety of dishes and choose your own favorite one:
- Old Airport Road Food Centre: Old Airport Road near Mountbatten MRT station and not far from Singapore's Indoor Stadium
- Chomp Chomp Food Centre: located centrally in Serangoon
- Maxwell Road: Maxwell Road near Chinatown
- Hong Lim: Chinatown near Upper Hokien and Upper Cross Streets
- Tiong Bahru Market: Seng Poh Road located in between Tiong Bahru and Outram Park MRT stations
- Golden Mile: Beach Road near Bugis MRT station and Arab Street
- Amoy Street: Amoy Street near Tanjong Pagar MRT station and located near the financial district