Singapore may be one of the smallest countries in the world, but what it lacks in size makes it a culinary diversity. Here are the 10 best street foods not to be missed and where to find them.
1. Curry laksa – One of the best Singapore Street Foods
Where to find it: 328 Katong Laksa, 53 East Coast Road, Singapore
If you are trying a single dish in Singapore, it must be a laksa. The brand of Peranakan cuisine, which mixes Malaysian and Chinese influences, laksa is a creamy coconut sauce filled with vermicelli noodles and tofu. Slices of fish, shrimp and cockles are added for a hearty but healthy meal. Like the fish head curry, it can be enjoyed in a variant of asam filled with tamarind which adds grated mackerel and pieces of mangosteen. All laksa include diced greens like onion, pineapple, chilli and cucumber, as well as Vietnamese mint and bunga kantan (ginger torch) for taste. Some restaurants, especially in the Katong area, serve it with noodles cut into small pieces, which allows it to be eaten as soup. Get yours at 328 Katong Laksa, a street food stand that defeated Gordon Ramsey in a televised cooking challenge.
2. Red snapper head curry – The Singapore Street Food
Where to find it: Gu Ma Jia Food Pot, 45 Tai Thong Crescent, Singapore
There are few delights more disturbing to Western guests than the fish heads, which are often left after eating the rest of the meat. In Southeast Asia, however, it forms the basis of several delicious dishes, the holiest of which is a curry. Originally from the Bengali region but refined in its current form in Singapore, curry is a rich but thin Keralan variety, with brinjal (eggplant) and Lady’s Finger (okra) often added for texture. Dipped in the sauce, the fish head is crisp and aromatic. Street food stalls run by Indians tend to serve more spicy varieties while the Chinese prefer a sweeter version. It is the asam style – with tamarind for a sour finish – that is most unusual. Try it at Gua Ma Jia, which opened in 2011 but is already renowned for serving the best in town.
3. Oh-luak and chai tao kway
Where to find it: Ah Hock Fried Oyster Hougang, Whampoa Makan Place, 90 Whampoa Dr, Singapore
These two dishes, although both are different, share only a single ingredient – the egg. Oh-luak is an oyster omelette, made with fried eggs and potato starch along with delicious shellfish. Low-starch versions can be purchased, but they have a thinner flavor. Originating from Taiwan, the Singapore variant always comes with chili vinegar. Ah Hock Fried Oyster Hougang serves some of the best. Chai tao kway, also misleading as a carrot cake, is often served in the same stall as oh-luak, and consists of turnip fried eggs, turnips and spices. Its name comes from the obvious similarity between carrots and beets, and it is often served for breakfast at many street food stalls.
4. Durian in Singapore
Where to find it: Teo Boon Teck, 175 Albert Street, Singapore
It is not for nothing that the durian is nicknamed the king of fruits. Singaporeans, as well as their neighbors in Southeast Asia, have an insatiable appetite for spicy treats. The famous theater in the Esplanade area was even designed to imitate one. So hard that it is prohibited in closed public spaces such as hotels and trains, durian is something of an acquired taste. When Victorian evolutionist Alfred Russell Wallace said he had “a rich almond flavored custard”, he was probably just polite. Persevere, however, and you will find a distinctly sweet flavor, used in Singapore to create all kinds of desserts and drinks. Buy one from Teo Boon Teck and his daughter, who will guide you through the many varieties.
5. Hainanese chicken rice
Where to find it: Ming Kee Chicken Rice Porridge, 511 Bishan Street 13, Singapore
The responsibility for this delicious combination rests with immigrants from Hainan Island, at the southern tip of China. In Singapore, chicken rice has become an unofficial national dish and is regularly voted one of the tastiest in the world. Following the Hainan tradition, a whole chicken – preferably old and plump, and therefore loaded with oil – is soaked in a broth of pork and hot chicken bone until it is cooked. It is then sliced and presented with cooked rice in its own tank of chicken broth. A hot chili dip is served alongside, garnished with ginger and soy sauce. Alongside the main variant, nicknamed luji, the street food dish can be presented Shaoji (“roast”) or Baiji, where it is dipped in ice for a refreshing and viscous skin. Ming Kee in Bishan District is cooking some of the best, but you can find chicken rice all over the city. And if you get bored, why not try duck rice, a very different plate cooked using the same techniques?
6. Mud crab – top best Singaporean Street Food
Where to find it: Crab Party!, 110 Yio Chu Kang Rd, Singapore
Chili or pepper? It is a difficult puzzle that has plagued Singaporeans for many years. A hard shelled mud crab is stir-fried, either dry with black pepper or in thick chili and tomato sauce. The older chili sauce recipe, originally from 1956 from a single seafood van, but the pepper version right after 1959. Both are attractive, but in our opinion, the variety of black pepper comes with with fresh jackfruit sauce is unbeatable. Long Beach seafood cooked with original crab and Red House Seafood is known for chili. For the best of both worlds – and many other recipes – come to Crab Party! where you can even choose the geographical origin of your crustacean right at the street food stall.
7. Sambal stingray
Where to find it: BBQ Seafood, 456 Jurong West Street 41, Singapore
Known as Ikan Bakar (“grilled fish”) in Malaysian, sambal pebble is a Singaporean invention. For years, stingray has been considered a cheap and tasteless fish. Then, a member of the local Malaysian community had a new idea: coat it with spicy sambale sauce. The combination of the results is a revelation of street food. The fish is grilled in a banana leaf, retaining its natural flavors. The sambal, a mixture of peppers, belacan (shrimp paste), shallots and spices, is spread on top. Often, often ended with a jar of cincalok (fermented krill) and a touch of calamansi juice (a sour fruit, like lime). At best, the fish should have a crisp exterior that breaks to reveal a moist interior. The simply named BBQ Seafood on the Tamam Jurong market strikes the perfect balance.
8. Bak kut teh
Where to find it: Song Fa Bak Kut Teh, 11 New Bridge Road, Singapore
Developed by Fujian immigrants from China, bah kut teh (“meat and bone tea”) has long been one of Singapore’s most popular street foods. It is also one of the most legendary. The story is full of improvisation by a poor cook who tries to use his scarce resources to feed a hungry beggar. Some say that its name comes from the appearance of brown tea; Others, oolong tea, are used with it to thin the fat. It consists of juicy pork ribs that have been simmered for many hours in a rich herb broth. Sounds simple? The soup is complex and requires the right amount of garlic, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and mistletoe to get the best taste. Other ingredients, such as tofu, youtiao (fried dough) and mushrooms, are sometimes added. Teochew, the most popular variant, has a light color, while the original Hokkaidoien recipe uses black soy sauce for a more salty taste. Try it at Song Fa, specializing in bah kut teh since 1969.
9. Frog porridge in Singapore
Where to find it: Eminent Frog Porridge & Seafood, 323 Geyland Rd, Singapore
Don’t miss that name – frog porridge is one of the cleanest dishes you’ve ever eaten, and is far from an attractive dish that attracts tourists. The frogs are marinated in soy, scallions and wine, with spicy variations of sweet peppers and ginger. Well-cooked, juicy, sweet and delicate frog meat. Rumors that it tastes like chicken may be exaggerated, but there are some similarities. Porridge accompanied is gloomy but light. It is often accompanied with scallion sauce in most stalls.
10. Tau hua
Where to find it: QQ Soyabean, 51 Old Airport Road, Singapore
After all these spicy specialties, make sure you have a choice for desserts. The tau hua is the local version of donhua China, where it is often served as a delicacy. However, in Singapore, it was eaten with a sweet syrup infused with pandan leaves and covered with ginkgo seeds. Formed from bean tofu, it can be served hot or cold. Avoid a recent version of the frozen type, containing huge amounts of sugar. QQ Soyabean serves some of the most authentic dishes, with an almond version for those who prefer a sweeter dessert.