It is no secret that Singapore is a foodie’s paradise with a vast array of offerings from its high-end posh restaurants down to their hawker fare which is just as vibrantly delicious and satisfying. It allows one to relish in an experience that draws in many to come or visit yet again. It is no wonder why tourist arrivals hit a record high in 2016 with a whopping 16.4 million visitors where 12% came with the intent of enjoying Singapore’s culinary culture. If you are among those food enthusiasts searching for good eats in the Lion City, here are the top 7 that should be on your list!
1. Kaya Toast
Either eaten at breakfast or enjoyed as a snack, this simple dish is considered as the comfort food for the sweet tooth. It is a warm and crispy toasted bread that treats you to a nice layer of aromatic kaya jam that is made from eggs, coconut milk, sugar and a heady scent of pandan leaves. It makes for a beautiful start to your morning as it gives an explosion of sweet and creamy. A cup of strong coffee suits this morning treat best.
One of the most loved specialties in the Peranakan cuisine, Laksa is the kind of dish that would have you craving for another as it is flavourful and rich. It is traditionally a Malaysian dish, but as cultures meld together, Singapore now boasts of serving the best bowls of laksa. It comes in two types, the sour Asam with its tamarind tang or the creamier Sarawak laks that is based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk. Don’t leave Singapore if you haven’t tried Singapore’s slurp-worth version!
3. Wanton Mee
Another perennial favourite in Singapore is these time-perfected wanton noodle recipe. It originated from Guangzhou as a meal for the rich. Hong Kong style come with larger sized wontons, while dryer versions are served locally with a mix of leafy greens, char siew, and some soup on the side. The difference between a Malaysian-style wanton-mee and our local version is that the former lends more saltiness, while the latter tends to be sweeter mixed with some ketchup. What makes a bowl of wanton mee is that it is not just a simple dish. It has different elements that must come at a right balance to produce a great dish.
4. Bak Kut Teh
This Chinese soup is a staple on the streets of Singapore and Malaysia with a history that traces back all the way to World War II. The Bak Kut Teh culture in those days was not as well developed as it is today. It was a simple bowl of soup made mainly from pork bones complimented with a cup of Chinese Tea balance the out he large amount of fat. It comes with spice like star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds, garlic and pepper. The Teochew version of the dish was developed in Singapore with a more garlic and peppery taste. Another variety is the Hokkien style, with its robust taste with a more cloudy soup boiled with rock sugar and copious amounts of dark soy sauce. The third popular variety is Cantonese which contains more medicinal herbs to the mix, and it is less salty with some additional ingredients like Chinese cabbage and dried tofu.
5. Chilli Crab
Considered by some as Singapore’s national dish, the chilli crab is definitely a must try if you want home-grown cooking. It was created in way back in the 50’s by Singaporean chef, Madam Cher Yam Tian and her husband, Mr. Lim Choon Ngee. Using mud crabs, they stir fry these in a sweet and savory tomato and chilli-based sauce. It is packed with so much flavour, you wouldn’t mind getting down and dirty eating it with your hands, or mopping your plate! It has gotten so popular that there is even such a thing as a chilli crab pasta and a chilli crab ice cream!
6. Nasi Lemak
This is a tasty rice dish that is infused with coconut cream and pandan leaves to give it that robust flavour and fragrance. If plain old white rice doesn’t cut it anymore, you can turn to this dish as it delivers you that extra zing! You can find two versions of this dish today, the Malay and the Chinese version. The former is served with nuts, ikan bilis, cucumber slices, and fried fish, while the latter comes with luncheon meat, fishcakes and fried chicken drumsticks. What elevates this dish to something definitely worth trying while in the country is its spicy sambal sauce that is made from shrimp paste, garlic and chilli peppers.
7. Dim Sum
Singapore is also a haven of good dim sum, in its hand-made version! This is not just one dish, but a collection of small dishes all with their own special twist and story which is meant to be shared in a traditional Chinese dining and sharing custom. Dim sum is among the best comfort food that offers you with a variety of options that is only made better when you pair it with the right tea. Places like Chinatown is a paradise of traditional dim sum owing to many early Cantonese migrants who brought these little dishes and their style of cooking to the country.
The heat is right at Singapore’s food scene to cater to your voracious appetite for great food. Enjoy the sights and sounds with a happy stomach to go with it! Come to Tak Po today for the traditional dim sum cooking worth every penny. Reserve your seats ahead if you want to beat the long lines!
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