By: Cher Tan
Singapore is like a neverending food fest, with bitesized snacks and aromatic curries on every street corner. With roots in Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisine, Singaporean cuisine is a melting pot in the truest sense of the word. Here we present you 5 signature Singapore dishes, that you simply cannot miss out on while you visit Singapore!
1. Laksa – A strong contender for the heavily competed title of Singapore’s national dish, this soupy dish of white rice noodles topped with chopped parsley isn’t for the faint-hearted. At first glance, the soup’s orange colour reminiscent of curry would turn most spice-hating people off. Its base is made up of prawn paste and coconut gravy, with prawns, cockles, and fishcake added to the mix enhancing the flavour. One can decide whether to add a spoonful (or more) of sambal chili if they are so inclined. Behold a bowl of piping hot noodles one can slurp to their heart’s content.
2. Nasi Lemak – With roots in the Malay culture, its name is a Malay word that literally means “rice in cream.” The name is derived from the cooking process whereby the rice is soaked in coconut cream and then the mixture is steamed. This usually is served as a platter of food wrapped in banana leaf, with cucumber slices, small dried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, hard boiled egg, and sambal chili at its core. It is typically had for breakfast. However, it is another one of the many Singaporean dishes one can have at any time of the day (and indeed many Singaporeans do so).
3. Wan Tan Mee – “Wan tan mee” basically means “dumpling noodles” in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect. And that is exactly what it is, with its origins in Hong Kong and modified to suit the local taste. Noodles boiled in water and seasoned with a variety of sauces, topped with vegetables, char siew (barbecued pork), and most importantly, dumplings stuffed with chicken, pork and/or prawn, is usually served dry. However, there is a soup version too, should you prefer a tasty broth. A must-try for every noodle lover.
4. Bak Kut Teh – Fancy a dish centered around pork? Bak Kut Teh is essentially a pork dish eaten with a side of rice: pork organs and intestines in a herbal soup and more of the same thing with tofu in dark soy sauce. One might balk at the mere mention of organs and intestines, but be adventurous enough to try and decide that it was a good idea after all. Dip the bits of pork into a small dish of dark soy sauce and chili before eating it together with the rice for its desired effect.
5. Roti Prata – In Malay, “roti” means bread. This is, however, a South Indian dish that is enormously popular with locals, and ideal for any time of the day, be it breakfast or supper. Roti Prata is a flattened piece of dough spun like pizza and fried on a flat grill usually with ghee (clarified butter) and then served with a side of curry (chicken, mutton, fish, or lentil). There are also variations of the prata fried with egg (typical), mushroom (moderate), or ice-cream (unusual but good for dessert). Roti Prata is an especially common (and well-loved) dish found in practically every Indian food stall or coffeeshop.
You will have no trouble finding any of the abovementioned treats in Singapore. Check out the numerous hawker’s centers, markets and food courts (in shopping malls ) and you will be spoiled for choice 24/7!