Best Singaporean Food: 12 Dishes You Should Have Tried by Now

12 Best Singaporean Food that You Should Have Tried by Now [UPDATED 2021]

This garden city is also an incredible food haven!

Not only is Singapore recognised for being home to one of the most beautiful airports in the world; its vibrant culinary scene also turned our Little Red Dot into a food haven. To successfully savour Singapore’s flavours, we rounded up our picks of the best Singaporean food!

1. Chicken rice

Chicken rice (also known as Hainanese chicken rice) is the quintessential Singaporean classic that is loved by locals and tourists alike. The beauty of this local favourite lies in its three distinct elements; chicken, rice, and chilli are inseparable. Each of these ingredients has an essential role to play in creating chicken rice’s unique flavour profile.

Picture this — succulent, steamed chicken plated alongside fluffy rice grains coated with a glistening layer of chicken oil. Furthermore, its aromatic fragrance is bound to make your mouth water! 

This local delight is often accompanied by a tangy, garlic chilli dip. However, not many are aware that this blend of spiciness and sourness was inspired by local Cantonese influences. Feel free to drizzle dark sauce over the tender chicken, and enjoy with a side of ginger paste. We daresay that these are the perfect complements to a winning plate of chicken rice!

On where to go to savour this local classic, Wee Nam Kee, Boon Tong Kee, Five Star Chicken Rice are just but a few of our top picks. Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice has also been voted as one of the best chicken rice stalls in Singapore by local foodies! Rest assured, this is one of the best Singaporean food; Singapore’s tourism board highlights it as a must-try, too. It’s filling and affordable to boot!

Fun fact: Hearsay that Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice even won a culinary showdown against international culinary icon Gordon Ramsay! 

2. Carrot cake

Not to be confused with the dessert, carrot cake is one of the best Singaporean food for those who love light fare! Carrot cake or chai tow kway, as locals have affectionately coined it, was brought over to Singapore by Teochew immigrants. Today, it can be found in almost every hawker centre across the heartlands. In addition, this hawker classic sports two versions. The black carrot cake is fried with dark soy sauce if you prefer a sweeter version, while the original white carrot cake is stir-fried with beaten eggs. 

Fun fact: This savoury carrot cake has no carrot, contrary to popular belief. At least, not of the typical orange variety!

We can almost taste the mild caramelisation of the crunchy egg crust, and the springy texture of its carrot cake chunks! Made with chye poh or radish bits, every mouthful promises a melange of flavours and textures. Topped off with a dash of spring onions, this local delicacy gets a thumbs up from wandering foodies!

3. Kaya toast

Start the day on a good note with kaya toast, an old school breakfast staple! This rustic breakfast experience can’t quite be replicated anywhere else. 

Kaya is a traditional spread made from coconuts and eggs. Imagine crisp toast which crumbles with every mouthful, slathered with a generous helping of kaya oozing from beneath slabs of cold butter that melt in your mouth. This comfort food goes especially well with a cup of steaming hot local kopi or coffee. It’s a nostalgic treat for most Singaporeans.

Complete this traditional Singaporean breakfast by pairing it with soft boiled eggs, and drizzle dark soya sauce and pepper. This is definitely a breakfast worth waking up for! 

4. Chilli crab

How could we forget chilli crab? This is indisputably one of the nation’s favourites, and among the best Singaporean food you should devour more than once on your visit! But did you know that this dish started from a pushcart run by a couple in 1956? The wife experimented by stir-frying crabs in tomato sauce, but decided to take the heat up a notch by adding chilli sauce. Thus, the chilli crab was born!

Although crab is a vital element, the star of this signature dish is arguably its sweet yet spicy sauce. Feel free to dunk fluffy mantous into the tangy gravy; this is undoubtedly the winning combination! 

We could go on and on, but you will have to taste this for yourself! All we can say is that this local delicacy certainly flies the Singaporean flag high.

5. Laksa

Many are familiar with this well-loved soupy dish, which packs an intensely rich flavour. This particular Katong laksa was inspired by the Peranakans who reside in the Katong area. Its creamy broth is flavoured with coconut milk and dried shrimp. More often than not, it is topped off with ingredients such as fishcakes and juicy prawns.

Besides its signature soup base, the thick vermicelli would be the defining trait of this dish. The flavours of this Singaporean classic are bound to keep you coming back for more! If you haven’t tried this, you are definitely missing out! 

6. Bak Kut Teh

Translated to braised pork ribs soup, a bowl of piping hot bak kut teh is the ideal dish for the monsoon season, certain to warm up even the chilliest (however rare that may be in Singapore) of days. This has been coined among one of the best Singaporean food as it stands apart from its neighbouring version, the Malaysian bak kut teh. While the Malaysian version is full of herbs, one sip of the Singaporean version, and the aroma of white pepper and garlic will hit you! It’s best to pair the soup with a bowl of rice.

If you want to continue enjoying the pork journey, why not get a side of braised pig trotters too? Sitting in a rich, dark stew, the meat is unbelievably tender, and the stew is equally flavourful. One will wonder why these pig trotters don’t get enough praise as its counterpart.

Pair your meal with a side of kiam chye (salted vegetables) and braised peanuts. These work as palate cleansers from the strong flavours, which will thankfully leave you wanting to eat more! Also, order a side of you tiao (fried dough), and soak it in the rich, meaty broth. You can thank us later.

Some of the best places to enjoy this flavourful meal are Song Fa Bak Kut Teh and Founder Bak Kut Teh. With over 10 locations islandwide, you’re sure to find an outlet thats closest to you.

7. Hokkien mee

hokkien mee

Image credit: Soon Koon

One of our favourite Singaporean dishes, Hokkien mee is an amalgamation of yellow noodles and white vermicelli stir-fried together with pork slices, beansprouts, and seafood like prawns, squid, and fish cake. What makes this dish taste so good, however, is the pork fat or deep-fried lard, which is combined with its cooking technique to give the dish its fragrant wok hei flavour!

You can find both a more gravy-like and dried version on the market as each hawker has their own cooking method. Feel free to squeeze some fresh lime over top for a hint of citrusy goodness, and dont forget to garnish the dish with some fried onions and cut red chilli for extra crunch!

KL hokkien mee

Image credit: Alpha

Some of you might be familiar with the Malaysian version of this dish instead, known as KL Hokkien mee. The main difference between the two is the Malaysian versions signature black colour, which is thanks to an abundance of dark soya sauce. Regardless of which version you prefer, were sure most of us can agree that Hokkien mee is among the best Singaporean food (and undeniably one of the most sinful)!

8. Char kway teow

char kway teow

Image credit: m4sh.3d

I like to refer to Char kway teow as the sister of Hokkien mee. If were craving a plate of fried Singaporean noodles but we arent feeling like Hokkien mee, well happily dig into a plate of Char kway teow instead. Directly translating to fried flat rice noodles, both Char kway teow and Hokkien mee have the same wok hei and base ingredients. However, not only does Char kway teow have a darker colour, we also cant forget the key (and might we say, star) ingredient: lap cheong, or Taiwanese sausage. A cured, dried sausage that is both sweet and smoky, youre certainly missing out if you have yet to try a bite of this!

I constantly encounter the debate of people ordering the dish with or without cockles, depending on what they prefer. Singaporeans usually specify this order in Hokkien where we say mai ham,  which directly translates to no cockles.  Regardless of what you prefer, Im sure most of us can agree that Char kway teow is one of the best Singaporean dishes out there.

9. Wanton mee

wanton mee

Image credit: Cassandra Nerva

The perfect way to highlight the deliciousness of charsiew is in a plate of wanton mee. Charsiew is pork belly thats been braised and caramelised till it achieves a char thats full of flavour. Wanton mee, which directly translates to dumpling noodles, are egg noodles tossed in a dark soya sauce blend. Topped with crunchy, deep-fried wantons and caramelised, charred charsiew, dont forget to pair the ensemble with a side of juicy soup wantons. With so many elements to the dish and all of them equally mouth-watering, its no wonder that wanton mee has clinched a spot on our list as one of the best Singaporean dishes!

best singapore dishes

Image credit: Pandora Voon

Whether youre tucking into the dried or soup version of these noodles, were sure that the aroma and delectable flavours of the dish will only leave you wanting more.

10. Bak chor mee

best singaporean food: bak chor mee

Image credit: Lynn Chan

Bak chor mee, which translates to minced meat noodles, are egg noodles tossed in vinegar, soy sauce, pork lard oil, and chilli. Though its base might sound similar to wanton mee (see #9), the distinguishing factor of bak chor mee is its toppings of minced pork, meatballs, pork plus liver slices, and braised mushrooms. Truly a simple dish that’s one of the best Singaporean food.

When ordering this dish, dont forget to tell the auntie or uncle the type of noodles youd like: Mee kia are the standard noodles which are round and skinny, while mee pok noodles are flat. We suggest trying both to see which you prefer (don’t worry, both are delicious)!

Fun fact: An ‘Uncle’ / ‘Auntie’ doesn’t have to be relational – we usually call anyone substantially older than us, usually a friend’s parents or older people in the coffee shop ‘Uncle’ / ‘Auntie’. 

11. Nasi Lemak

The beauty of Nasi Lemak starts with its fragrant coconut and pandan infused rice. Pair it with the usual: ikan billis (fried anchovies), fried mackerel, and a fried egg. Now, get ready to dig into one of the cheapest meals in Singapore (some places sell it for as low as $1)! Of course, you cant forget to add a dollop of sambal belacan (dried shrimp chilli paste) to your Nasi Lemak. Its a sweet and spicy sauce thatll coat every grain of your rice, making it that much yummier!

Why not add on ingredients like a fried chicken wing, a begedil (fried potato cutlet), and more? While you can find Nasi Lemak at most hawker centres like the famous Ponggol Nasi Lemak, many shopping malls have Nasi Lemak stalls as well, with franchises like CRAVE and Qi Ji.

12. Roti Prata

Best Singaporean food: roti prata

Image credit: Alpha

The go-to for breakfast or supper, Roti Prata is a piece of flatbread thats fried to crispy and golden perfection. Watch its cooking process as the Roti Prata is tossed in the air to achieve its fluffiness and lightness!

The most basic way you can order your Roti Prata is kosong, or plain. However, all Roti Prata places in Singapore have various toppings you can add to it: From the savoury options, like egg, cheese, or onion, to the sweet options, like chocolate, milo, and ice cream. Pair your Roti Prata with a side of curry or sugar, or be a daredevil like us and try mixing the two together! We know it sounds weird, but if you appreciate a sweet and savoury combination, you might find yourself enjoying this.

Our personal favourite is whats called Prata bomb: A thicker Roti Prata thats stuffed with the sinful goodness of condensed milk. Truly a treat, its no wonder that the variation of this dish makes it one of the best Singaporean food.

Also read: Here Are The Top Singapore Food Choices We Missed During The Circuit Breaker!

There’s more that the Fine City has to offer, but our picks of the best Singaporean food will surely jumpstart your love affair with our cuisine. Let the cravings begin!

About Authors

Jaime Lee
Jaime Lee

Golden hour adventures are Jaime's favourite kind of adventures. She hopes to see all the sunsets in the world one day.

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Cassandra Nerva
Cassandra Nerva

Cassandra seeks comfort in warm blankets, period dramas, and all things hazelnut. If she's not getting carried away with a wartime novel or decorating her house with plants & fairy lights, she's uncovering hidden gems around her as she continues to embrace her keen sense of adventure.

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