Singapore Food and Drink
Singapore is a gourmet's paradise, with everything from humble street stalls to 5-star restaurants. There are over 30 different cooking styles, including various regional styles of Chinese cuisine, American, English, French, Indian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Russian and Swiss.
The most common, though are Malay, Indian and Chinese cuisines. Malay food is famed for its use of spices and coconut milk; no pork is used, as most Malays are Muslim. The Indian community mostly traces its roots back to South India and their food reflects this, meaning that spicy vegetarian dishes are predominant. To try many small dishes, order a thali (which may be served on a banana leaf). The most popular Chinese regional cuisine is Cantonese, which includes a lot of stir fry dishes as well as dim sum (small dishes, often steamed, which are intended for sharing at lunchtime).
• Beef rendang (coconut milk beef curry).
• Char kway teow (thick rice noodles stir fried in soy sauce and chilli with prawns and clams, often with additional ingredients such as egg).
• Chilli crab (fresh crab with a piquant tomato sauce).
• Gado gado (a fruit and vegetable salad in peanut sauce).
• Hainanese chicken rice (steamed chicken served with rice which has been cooked in chicken stock, along with ginger and chilli dips).
• Ikan assam (fish in a sour tamarind sauce).
• Laksa (a coconut-based spicy noodle soup, usually containing prawns or chicken as well as tofu, fishcake and beansprouts).
• Masala dosa (a rolled pancake filled with a vegetarian curry, popular as a snack or for breakfast).
• Satay (skewers of marinated meat cooked over charcoal, served with spicy peanut sauce, cucumber, onion, rice and coconut).
Things to know
Although the Singaporean authorities have closed most of the individual food stalls which were once common, street food is still very much in evidence in dining areas known as hawker centres. These are often open-air, and always contain an array of stalls specialising in different dishes. Other eating options include kopitiam (literally coffee shops, although they also sell food). There are also food courts in malls, often with excellent food, as well as restaurants with waiter service. Bars/cocktail lounges often have table and counter service. There are no licensing hours.
Officially discouraged in restaurants, hotels and the airport. A 10% service charge is included in restaurant bills.
• Bandung (milk mixed with rose syrup).
• Bubble tea (sweet, milky tea with tapioca balls which can be sucked up through the extra-wide straw).
• Kopi (coffee, served with condensed milk by default but available in a variety of forms including Kopi-O which is black with sugar).
• Sarsi (root beer, which usually comes in cans; ice cream can be added to make a float).
• Singapore Sling (cocktail containing gin, cherry liquor, Cointreau, benedictine, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine and Angostura bitters). It was invented in the early 20th century for the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
• Soya bean milk.
• Sugar cane juice.
• Teh tarik (tea which has been poured repeatedly from one cup to another, cooling it, mixing in the condensed milk used as a sweetener, and leaving it with a frothy top).
• Tiger Beer (ubiquitous local lager brand, although recent years have seen the opening of a handful of microbreweries producing more interesting beers).