The city-state of Singapore may be small in terms of landmass, but it is certainly massive when it comes to the history and culture it carries. Located in Asia, Singapore boasts of many different races and nationalities living together as one. Among them are the Chinese, Malay, and Hindi people. With its booming economy, many large companies have set office there, leading to an influx of expats.
But just like anywhere in the world, the best way to get immersed in a country’s culture is through its food.
Singaporean food boasts flavors, spices, ingredients, and techniques from the many cultures it has. In fact, Singaporean food has many segments such as Peranakan, Eurasian, and catch-all Western, to name a few. A cuisine that is ever-evolving yet still steeped in tradition, modern Asian restaurants in Singapore present comfort food with a kick.
While the cuisine has many mouthwatering dishes, here are some classic picks that will make both Singaporean locals and foreigners happily ask for another serving:
The Singaporean relationship with crab has been a long-standing one. Even high-brow tasting menus like to reinvent crab into iterations such as ice cream. But among all of these takes, the Singapore Chili Crab stands undefeated. This iconic dish can be served in two ways. The first is with spicy tomato sauce and the second with black pepper sauce. Both give diners a welcome bit of heat upon the first bite. The relatively newer addition of sambal sauce has made it an even bigger hit.
Chili crabs can be eaten with rice, or in some places, with rice noodles. But a popular way to enjoy this seafood is by dipping mantou (deep-fried bread with fluffy interiors) into the sauce.
This might seem odd at first with its light thick filling, but anybody who has had a bite becomes a believer. Allegedly brought by Chinese migrants, kaya toast was said to be an attempt to replicate jam using the local ingredients available.
Whether this was the intended flavor or not, kaya toast is now a beloved staple. Made from pandan leaves, toasted bread, butter, eggs, and coconut jam, kaya toast is even better served with kopi gu you. Kopi gu you is simply coffee with a pad of melted butter that gives it a rich, almost creamy caramel taste.
This dish is popular even among tourists for its hearty full flavors. It is made of vermicelli, prawns, tofu, blood cockles, and fishcake. This stew is perfect for warming a growling stomach in the cold weather. While in warmer temperatures, the stew remains a mainstay thanks to the zing from its fresh herbs.
There have been different takes on Laksa over the years, but the best ones remain the truest to its origin.
An unassuming spring roll, popiah is a staple in many meals. Considered a comfort food like nothing else, popiah is filled with finely sliced vegetables and sometimes some Chinese sausage or prawn. The wheat flour wrapper itself is just as flavourful with its glaze of sweet bean sauce inside.
What’s most interesting about popiah is that the fillings can actually vary according to preference. Its large size is usually served in crosswise slices, making them perfect starters to a meal or even as snacks to bring on the go.
Next time you’re planning to visit a Hawker centre or you’re looking for a delectable meal, look no further than some modern Singaporean dishes that’ll satisfy you and your hungry stomach.