10 Local Foods to Try in Singapore Besides Chicken Rice and Chilli Crab

10 Underrated Singaporean Foods To Try On Your Next Visit

Here’s a checklist for all the foodies out there.

Ask any Singaporean about the country’s must-try dishes and chances are, they’ll mention chicken rice or chilli crab. Ask them when was the last time they had either, and they’ll probably take a few minutes to give you an answer — at least for the latter, because no local can afford to feast on chilli crab regularly.

While dishes such as the aforementioned, or laksa, nasi lemak, and fish head curry receive much love from tourists, they aren’t the only good ones in the local dining scene. In fact, there’s a whole list of underrated foods in Singapore that are absolutely worth trying out on your next visit! Here they are.

1. Yong Tau Foo

Image credit: Kars Alfrink, Alpha

Yong Tau Foo might be the most filling meal on this list. It’s also one of those dishes that can be customised to your liking. At every Yong Tau Foo stall, you’ll get to pick your choice of toppings, which are essentially a variety of vegetables and foods such as hot dogs or tofu, filled with fish paste. Then you’ll go on to pick your choice of noodles, and whether you want them dry or soupy. While it’s not the most popular dish around, it’s very much an old-school favourite among locals.

2. Hor Fun

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Hor Fun is the best comfort food to go for on a rainy day. It’s made of wide, flat noodles soaked in velvety-smooth gravy — often with a choice of meat — and is usually the most ordered dish at a tze char stall. Tze char is a staple food among Singaporeans. It literally means “cook and fry” in Hokkien. At every stall you’ll find a huge selection of dishes, from seafood to noodles to meat, making tze char a common choice for families or big groups of people.

3. Mee Siam

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Mee Siam is a Singaporean Malay dish made up of a sweet, sour, and spicy broth and bee hoon (thin vermicelli noodles). The dish is truly a treat for the tastebuds. Besides the many flavours of the broth itself, you’ll also find tau hu (tofu), scallions, bean sprouts, garlic chives, lime, and an egg in it. While many argue over which variation of Mee Siam (Thai, Peranakan, Malay) is the best, most of us can agree they each have something unique that makes the dish so addictive.

4. Thosai

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Thosai is a Singaporean Indian dish consisting of a thin pancake (made of fermented rice flour and black lentils) served with curry, chutney, and sambar (Indian vegetable stew). It’s a popular breakfast option, but nevertheless an enjoyable meal at any time of the day. It’s crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and best of all, a completely vegetarian dish. If you haven’t tried the authentic South Indian dosa, why not have a teaser with local thosai?

5. Chwee Kueh

underrated foods singapore

Image credit: insatiablemunch

Chwee Kueh is the only dish on this list that’s enjoyed as light breakfast or an afternoon treat — it’s meant to be a snack you can nibble on in between meals! It’s made of steamed rice cakes and Chai Poh, and features a very appetising topping made of preserved turnips. If you have a thing for spicy food, don’t forget your chilli sauce! While eating, you’ll get to enjoy the paired textures of crunchy Chai Poh and smooth Chwee Kueh, which is what really makes the dish so delish.

6. Bak Kut Teh

Image credit: Charles Haynes, Alpha

Bak Kut Teh is a feel-good dish, and one that, as cheesy as it sounds, reminds many overseas Singaporean Chinese of home. The dish is a fragrant peppery broth made from Chinese herbs and spices, and pork ribs. It’s usually served with rice or vermicelli noodles, and is another dish with many variations. The Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese styles all taste uniquely different despite having the same goodness.

7. Cereal Butter Prawns

Image credit: insatiablemunch, Kyle Lam

Cereal butter prawns are another popular dish served at Tze char stalls. The name itself probably already explains why, but if you can’t guess, then here’s what makes it a cult favourite: the combination of crispy cereal bits, fresh juicy prawns, and the heavenly aroma of butter. We understand if your mouth watered just reading that line.

8. Maggi Goreng

Image credit: lysinewf, Chun Yeong Lim

Maggi goreng is Mee goreng (Malay spicy fried noodles) but for the instant noodle lovers out there and more specifically, Maggi lovers. For those of you who don’t know, Maggi is a hugely popular instant noodle brand in Singapore and Malaysia. And as unhealthy as it may sound, Maggi seasoning is simply sedap. You can imagine how wonderful Maggi goreng is now — fried, springy ramen noodles with Maggi seasoning — so just wait till you actually try it.

9. Salted Egg Yolk Crab

underrated foods singapore

Image credit: insatiablemunch

Salted egg yolk has taken over Singapore by storm over the past few years. You’ll find a wide variety of salted egg yolk flavoured food: waffles, chips, cookies, pasta — and the list goes on! But here’s the thing: Salted egg yolk crab has been around before the craze began. And if you’ve already had the quintessential chilli or black pepper crab, maybe it’s time for something new and addictive.

10. Kway Chap

underrated foods singapore

Image credit: Charles Haynes

Kway Chap is a classic Singaporean Teochew dish that somehow did not make it to the list of touristy must-try items but is still a hugely popular choice among locals — and rightfully so. The dish is comprised of a bowl of wide, flat noodles in a dark soy sauce broth, and a plate of assortments including pig offal, braised pork belly, pork rind, pig tongue, duck meat, tau kwa (firm tofu), salted veggies, and hard-boiled eggs.

Some of the foods mentioned may sound intimidating to non-locals, but if you’re unwilling to brave it then, sad to say, you’re missing out. Food is a huge part of Singapore’s culture, with it being more than just a meal or conversation topic. So when in Singapore, eat as we do too — and you’ll understand just why.

Also read: A Three Day Singapore Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

About Author

Teri Anne Tan

If she's not binging on Korean BBQ on a night out with her friends, Teri Anne is most probably at home rewatching Studio Ghibli films or planning her next trip abroad. She loves reading, indulging in clothing hauls, and listening to hits from both K-pop and '80s British Rock. Her ultimate dream? To enjoy a mug of hot chocolate under the Northern Lights in Iceland.

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