Singapore is known for its myriad of cultural influences that play an important role in the country’s beloved cuisine. Renowned for its street food, some of Singapore’s best eats have their roots in Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian, and even Indian cuisine. If you want to be close to the culinary action, look to stay in one of the more ethnic neighborhoods, like Chinatown or Little India. While pretty much every local dish you try in Singapore will be amazing, it’s worth making a special detour for the following six.
Sambal Stingray is a local hawker center favorite in Singapore. Just as its name suggests, it’s stingray barbecued in a banana leaf with sambal paste on top. It’s one of the most ordered dishes by locals, and is definitely worth trying at least once.
You’ll want to forego wearing white when you try the popular Singaporean chilli crab. It’s messy but oh so worth it! Crabs are stir-fried in a thick, sweet and savory sauce made with a base of tomatoes and chili paste and ribbons of egg. Most times, it’s not overly spicy, but you can find Chilli Crab that packs some serious heat if you ask. The best part is the Mantou, or steamed buns, served on the side to soak up all the leftover sauce.
Durian is undoubtedly the one food that people either love or hate — there doesn’t seem to be much in between. If you can get past its horrific stench, which has been compared to raw sewage or rotten onions, the flesh is custard-like and somewhat sweet. You can eat it raw, or it’s used in a variety of other ways. One caveat about Durian in Singapore — it’s banned in most public places. You can’t take it on public transportation, and hotels typically have a very strict policy on eating durian in your room.
Chai Tao Kway
Typically called carrot cake on some menus, chai tao kway is actually a fried radish cake. You’ll find two varieties — black and white. The chopped turnip cake is stir-fried with garlic, eggs, and spring onion, and sometimes shrimp (dried and/or fresh). The white version contains no soy sauce whereas the black version has a sweet molasses-based sauce.
This popular dish came from early Chinese immigrants from the Hainan province in Southern China. The chicken is poached and the stock is skimmed off with some fat and liquid. That’s cooked along with garlic, ginger, and even pandan leaves with the rice to produce what’s often called “oily rice.” If you aren’t a fan of deboning the chicken yourself, some food stalls now offer it without the bones.
Ice Kachang, or Malaysian-style shaved ice, is the best way to beat the heat in Singapore. The mound of shaved ice typically has red beans, jelly, and sweet syrup on top. Other toppings include peanuts, or peanut kachang, sweet corn, condensed milk, durian, mango, ice cream, and more.
With these, and so many other delectable dishes to choose from in Singapore, it’s certain you’ll find a dish to call your favorite.
This post was in partnership with IHG Hotels, but as always, all opinions, views, and calories gained are my own!