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Curb Your Cravings with the Top Singapore Traditional Food

Curb Your Cravings with the Top Singapore Traditional Food

Without any bias, it’s undeniable that Singapore stands out as one of the rare destinations globally where you can savour Michelin-starred cuisine without the hefty price tag of a fine dining experience

This phenomenon underscores the profound influence of Singaporean traditional food on the global culinary stage.

For first-time visitors to Singapore, immersing yourself in the local food scene is highly recommended to truly absorb the cultural essence of the Lion City. So to help with that, we’ve curated a list of quintessential Singaporean dishes just for you!

Hainanese Chicken Rice

From loykeebestchickenrice

Hainanese chicken rice is always associated with Singaporean cuisine and it’s almost impossible to not find it in hawker centres. If you step into a Singaporean restaurant or kopitiam (cafe), you will likely find this fragrant and juicy dish on their menu. 

Hainanese chicken rice comprises blanched chicken, cooked in a flavourful broth before being sliced into strips and served on top of fragrant rice. 

The star of the dish isn’t really the chicken (as some claim), but it’s actually the fragrant rice and the sauce. The rice must be soft and completely infused with ginger, and pandan, and then cooked in the flavourful chicken stock. 

Where to Try: 
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, 1 Kadayanallur St, #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore 069184

Loy Kee Chicken Rice, 342 Balestier Rd, Singapore 329774

Average Price: $5 to $12 

Chilli Crab

From jumboseafoodsg

Another ubiquitous item in many hawker centres in Singapore is the chilli crab. Owing to the island’s numerous coastal towns and seaside restaurants, the chilli crab, over the years, earned the unofficial status of Singapore’s national dish. 

The most popular crab used for this dish is the mud crab, which is usually farmed in seaside restaurants in the East Coast Region. The crabs are wok-fried in a tangy, sweet, and spicy paste, giving the crab its distinct red-orange colour. 

Many restaurants make their own versions of the chilli crab, but locals still love to pair it with steamed or fried buns, no matter the version. Over the years, flavours like salted egg and black pepper have gained popularity and even won the hearts of tourists!

Where to Try: 
JUMBO Seafood, 2 Orchard Turn, #04-09/10, ION Orchard, Singapore 238801

Keng Eng Kee Seafood, 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-136, Singapore 150124

Long Beach Restaurant, 25 Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249670

Average Price: $50 to $120 per 100 grams 

Bak Kut Teh 

From founderbkt

When translated to English, bak kut teh or pork bone tea doesn’t sound very appetising. But, if you ever get the chance to try it out for yourself at a hawker centre, make sure to load your bowl up with lots of toppings! 

Bak kut teh also does not contain any tea, despite its name. It’s a type of beef-based clear soup, cooked for several hours until the broth softens the meat and marrow. The soup is mildly seasoned with garlic, pepper, and salt––very simple but very flavourful. 

Popular pairings with bak kut teh include rice, spring onions, and steamed vegetables like bok choy, potatoes, and carrots. 

Where to Try: 
Founder Bak Kut Teh, 347 Balestier Rd, Singapore 329777

333 Bak Kut Teh, 325 Balestier Rd, #01-01 J W Building, Singapore 329754

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh, 176 Orchard Rd, #02-29/30, Singapore 238843

Average Price: $5 to $14

Fish Head Curry

From thebananaleafapolo

Fish head curry is a whole fish head, stewed in thick curry soup of South Indian origin. It’s that simple, but the variations and toppings make the beloved dish a crowd-pleaser for all types of palates. 

If you’re not a fan of spicy food, fret not, there’s a fish head curry recipe out there that might suit your taste. But the original Assam-style fish head curry is definitely something you should try out at least once. 

The curry soup is usually rich and packed with lots of vegetables like peas, carrots, potatoes, and lots of cilantro. The red snapper is the most common fish used for this dish, but some restaurants may use bass, trout, or tilapia!

Where to Try: 
The Banana Leaf Apolo, 54 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218564

Ocean Curry Fish Head, 92 Lor 4 Toa Payoh, #01-264, Singapore 310092

Yu Cun Curry Fish Head, 147 Upper Paya Lebar Rd, Singapore 534849

Average Price: $22 to $35 

Kaya Toast

From yakunkayatoastsg

Early birds will know that the best way to start your day in Singapore is to get a serving of kaya toast in a kopitiam. It’s often considered one of the most Singaporean dishes you can get in the city, and it won’t cost you a lot either. 

Kaya is a sweet coconut-based jam made with pandan leaves. The jam is usually spread on two pieces of toast and served with soft-boiled eggs and a cup of kopi (coffee). 

Although usually enjoyed this way, other locals like to pair kaya toast with dark soy sauce and pepper. Others like their bread extra toasty or soft like sponge cake––to each his own! 

Where to Try: 
Ya Kun Kaya Toast, 290 Orchard Rd, B1-38, Singapore 238859

Killiney Kopitiam, 67 Killiney Rd, Singapore 239525

Average Price: $1.50 to $3

Katong Laksa

From janggut_laksa

Laksa boasts diverse variations, yet its quintessential components include a rich creamy coconut broth, rice noodles, and dried shrimp. The Katong laksa, a Peranakan rendition, stands out as a prime example of this beloved local dish.

Locals usually pair laksa with lots of seafood toppings like shrimp, fish, fishcakes, and cockles. Spice levels are usually high, but people can always set aside the chilli or ask a local hawker to adjust it for them. 

The noodles are cut up into smaller sizes in the Katong laksa, thus locals usually eat the dish with spoons rather than chopsticks.  

Where to Try: 
328 Katong Laksa, 51 E Coast Rd, Singapore 428770

Janggut Laksa The Original Katong Laksa, 331 Upper Paya Lebar Rd, Singapore 534949

Average Price: $6 to $10


From goodchancepopiaheatinghouse

A popular snack you’ll find lots of vendors sell in Chinatown is popiah, a Teochew-style spring roll filled with shredded radish, peanuts, and shrimp. It’s usually served drizzled with a sweet and salty sauce. 

Popiah is also heavily associated with family, as Chinese Singaporeans usually prepare the snack with family members. Each member will choose what fillings they want and build their popiah just the way they like it. 

There are many variations of popiah, but aside from radish, a popular alternative is turnip, bean sprouts, and lettuce. You’ll also come across people enjoying popiah with fried egg, pork, and even tofu at hawker centres. 

Where to Try: 
Ann Chin Popiah, 335 Smith St, #02-112, Singapore 050335

Good Chance Popiah Eating House, Silat Ave, #01-58 Block 149, Singapore 160149

Average Price: $2 to $5
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