Author : Kelly-Ann, Singapore
I think I can safely call myself a foodie; someone who is discerning enough to tell a ribeye from a sirloin.
Food gives me comfort and for some strange reason, I feel uberly excited as the clock tick closer and closer to the next meal time.
Singapore is just the place for a foodie like me. The great nationality diversity here means the many different cuisines available for our taste buds. Walk into any hawker centre or kopitiam (literally: a coffee shop – one without air conditioning – that sells food and drinks), and you’ll be spoilt for choice. The majority of races in Singapore make up the kinds of dishes you’ll find there: Chinese, Malay, Indian and simple Western dishes.
I’ll start simple, and give you a low-down of what to expect if you’re on a low budget. Nothing fancy, yet.
There is almost always a kopitiam within a few blocks away from wherever you are, in Singapore. If you’re in a suburban neighbourhood centre (affectionately known as ‘Central’ here), there will be a market, a large complex that sells fresh meats, produce, food and drinks. If you’re in a suburban mall, or a shopping centre in the city, you will definitely be able to locate a food court – which has air conditioning and cleaners who help to clear your trays.
These places are the most affordable ways to dine and are usually open until late.
Almost always, you’ll find the below dishes in some or all of these places.
1.Hainanese Chicken Rice: Steamed chicken with soya and sesame gravy. Served with chicken-flavoured rice. If you dare the spice factor, ask for a side dip of chilli, ginger paste and dark sauce.
2.Roasted Duck Rice: Roasted duck served with white rice. Ask for a side dip of plum sauce and chilli paste.
3.Sliced fish soup vermicelli:
4.Bak Chor Mee (Minced Pork Noodle): Thin yellow noodle doused in a mixture of minced pork, mushrooms and dark soya-based gravy. Served with a side bowl of meatball soup.
5.Wanton Mee (Pork dumpling Noodle): Usually eaten dry. Thin yellow noodle with soya-based gravy and topped with roasted pork and wanton (pork dumplings)
6.Seafood/Beef Hor Fun (Stir-fried flat broad rice noodle): Stir-fried hor fun with a starchy gravy with your choice of meat/seafood. Must be eaten with pickled green chilli for extra kick!
7.Char Kway Teow (Stir-fried flat broad rice noodle in dark sauce): A dry version of the hor fun, this dish is usually done with dark sweet soya sauce, and lots of crispy and fragrant pork lard, tossed with bean sprouts, fish cake and raw clams. Ask for no clams if you’re not used to its raw taste.
8.Fried Carrot Cake: Broken pieces of steamed carrot and starch cake, stir fried with sweet dark sauce and held together with egg. Ask for a non-black version if you’re not used to having a sweet and savoury mix of tastes.
9.Fried Oyster Omelette: Fresh oysters loosely fried with a starchy egg mixture which turns into a yummy chewy paste when done.
10.Popiah: A rice paper-thin roll of stewed turnips, shredded vegetables and Chinese sausage.
11.‘Michael Jackson’ drink: Officially known as “Michael Jackson”, this is a beverage made by mixing white soya bean milk with black grass jelly drink.
1.Laksa: A coconut milk-infused curry noodle dish. Topped with sliced fish cake, bean sprouts and raw clams.
2.Mee Siam: A tamarind-based soupy vermicelli dish. Topped with hard-boiled egg.
3.Mee Rubus: Another coconut-milk infused dish that has a strong peanut taste. Served with yellow noodles, shredded chicken and bean sprouts.
4.Nasi Lemak: Everyone’s favourite. Coconut white rice, topped with an omelette, fried fish, fried anchovies and peanut mix, cucumber slices and a dollop of sambal chilli (savoury chilli paste)
5.Mee Soto: Yellow noodles soaked in a chicken-based soup. Served with hard-boiled egg and shredded chicken.
6.Mee Goreng: Stir-fried yellow noodles in spicy paste. Some stalls use instant noodles to make this dish, good for those who cannot appreciate the taste of yellow noodles.
7.Rojak: A mixture of sliced cucumbers, apples, pineapples, raw mango, deep fried dough fritters tossed in a thick peanut-y shrimp sauce.
8.Bandung: A sweet beverage made with rose syrup and sweetened condensed milk.
1.Roti prata: A pancake bread made of lard, egg, flour and water. Usually eaten with curry. A variety of stuffings available like onion, cheese, eggs, and more.
2.Indian Rojak: An assortment of potatoes, eggs, bean curd (tofu), and prawns fried in batter, served with a sweet and spicy chili sauce
3.Fish head curry: A spicy dish, usually eaten with rice or bread. Fish head cooked in a thick curry gravy with chopped vegetables like lady’s fingers, onions, tomatos and brinjals (eggplants)
4.Nasi Biryani: A set of rice-based foods made with lots of spices, basmati rice, and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables.
5.Teh Tarik: Everyone’s favourite frothy tea! Literally known as “pulled tea”, its name is derived from the pouring process of “pulling” the drink during preparation. It is made from black tea and sweetened condensed milk.