24 Oct 2012 – Happy UN Day
From my birth-town where food is a passion for many of us! Much of the local cuisine is an acquired taste, especially durian!! Had to copy and paste this now incase the link gets taken down! Die die must try all these dishes at the given locations and rate them when back in SIN. Thus this post will be edited with ratings and comments from Dec 2012 – May 2013…
The street food scene in Singapore is now less “street food” and more “food court.” Regulated out of existence years ago, street food vendors moved into government-sanctioned “hawker centers” where they still sell the same dishes. While this may undermine the cuisine’s credibility as street food, it offers those with delicate stomachs the opportunity to partake — strict safety and hygiene regulations make Singapore’s hawker food some of the safest “street food” around.
Hawker centers offer a blend of inexpensive Malaysian, Indian and Chinese cuisines, which combine to offer a uniquely Singaporean eating experience. A strong food culture also means that Singaporeans feel passionately about their hawker centers and the dishes found there, keeping standards of tastiness and authenticity high.
1. Chili crab: one of Singapore’s signature dishes, chili crab was invented in the 1950s when a Singaporean chef steamed crabs in chili and tomato sauce. Since then it’s become the go-to dish for tourists, but locals flock to it as well. Toasted buns called mantou are often eaten with chili crab to sop up the sweet tomato gravy, although it’s virtually guaranteed that you’ll end up with at least some on your shirt. Chili crab has become so popular in the last half century that it’s widely considered the Singapore national dish.
Try it at: Mattar Road BBQ Seafood, Old Airport Road Food Center, Block 51 Old Airport Road, Singapore
2. Kaya toast: often called Singapore’s national breakfast dish, kaya toast is thinly sliced, crisply toasted bread served with a spread made of eggs, sugar and coconut milk that has been flavored with pandan leaves. Hinting at a colonial influence, kaya toast is usually enjoyed with tea or strong coffee (called kopi) and soft-boiled eggs.
Try it at: Hylam Brothers, Amoy Food Center, 7 Maxwell Road, Singapore
3. Chicken rice: Another contender for Singapore’s national dish, this is sometimes called Hainanese chicken rice due to its Chinese roots. Chicken is steamed or boiled until it is just cooked and still a little bit pink near the bone. It’s served with oily rice that’s made with chicken broth and slices of cucumber on the side. Chicken rice’s simplicity belies its deliciousness, especially when eaten with chili sauce.
Try it at: Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, Maxwell Food Center, Corner South Bridge Road and Maxwell Road, Singapore
4. Barbecue stingray sambal: a dish with Malaysian roots, stingray (sometimes called skate in the United States) is coated in sambal, a sauce made from fresh chilies, garlic, tamarind, shallots and belacan, a mild fermented fish paste, then wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. The resulting dish, also called ikan pari bakar in Malay, is spicy and aromatic.
Try it at: Leng Heng Seafood BBQ, East Coast Lagoon Food Center, East Coast Lagoon Road, Singapore
5. Katong laksa: named for an area of Singapore near the seafront, Katong laksa is the Singaporean take on curry laksa. With a base of fresh coconut milk and spices ground into a paste, Katong laksa features rice noodles and shrimp and is served with a scoop of sambal and slivers of laksa leaves. Katong laksa noodles are cut into bite-sized pieces, allowing those who enjoy it to ditch the chopsticks and eat the entire dish with a spoon.
Try it at: 328 Katong Laksa, 216 East Coast Road, Singapore
6. Roti prata: it’s not unique to or even from Singapore, but that doesn’t stopped the locals from scarfing roti prata whenever possible. Roti prata has its roots in Southern India, but you’ll find it being eaten all over the city here. One of the joys of eating this richly textured flatbread is watching it being prepared — flipped repeatedly in the air until tissue thin, then folded over and grilled until it’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Try it at: Prata Saga Sambal Berlada, 665 Buffalo Rd, Tekka Center, Singapore
7. Otah: it’s called Otak-Otak in Malaysian, which means brains, but don’t let the mushy consistency scare you. Otah is a fish paste made from mackerel, chilies and spices, then put into either a coconut or banana leaf and grilled over hot coals. The result, though it may be slightly disgusting looking, is a salty, spicy treat.
Try it at: Lee Wee Brothers, Blk 51 Old Airport Road, Old Airport Road Food Center, #01-79, Singapore
8. Hokkien mee: Hokkien mee is a dish you’ll find all over Malaysia, but the Singapore version is distinctly different from its Penang and KL counterparts. Singaporean hokkien mee includes both egg and rice noodles that are stir-fried and served dry (as opposed to in a soup) with prawns and sambal paste. What makes Singapore’s hokkien mee so delicious is the healthy helping of lard that’s used to prepare every plate.
Try it at: Tiong Bahru Hokkien Prawn Mee, 30 Seng Poh Rd, Tiong Bahru Market & Food Center, #02-50, Singapore
9. Satay: one of the first street foods in Singapore — back when street food was still legal — satay can be enjoyed across Southeast Asia and at hawker stands all over Singapore. Satay consists of marinated skewers of meat, grilled and served with a peanut sauce. Chicken is most common, but you’ll also find beef, mutton and tripe. It’s best to order 10 at a time, because you won’t be able to eat just one.
Try it at: East Coast Lagoon Food Village, 1220 East Coast Parkway, Singapore
10. Chai tao kway: no, it’s not a dessert, and no, there are no carrots in it, but chai tao kway, also known as carrot cake, is nevertheless one of the tastiest dishes that Singapore’s hawkers offer. A mixture of shredded white radish (daikon) and rice flour is stir-fried with egg, garlic and green onions. You can order it white or black — the black version is darker because it includes sweet soy sauce.
Try it at: Heng Carrot Cake, #01-28 Newton Food Center, 500 Clemenceau Ave, Singapore