From claypot chicken rice to fish-head curry, Singaporean cuisine bubbles with influences from the rest of Asia and beyond.
A rising force of the international culinary scene, Singapore offers a range of cuisines that reflects the city’s diversity. Add excellent service, a growing line-up of star-studded venues, and a hungry generation of local chefs, and you get a culinary destination that promises one-of-a-kind tasting adventures.
A taste of tradition
Homegrown cafes, hawker centers, and casual restaurants offer flavors from the city’s many influences. Look out for Peranakan cuisine, as well as regional ingredients and cooking techniques. Discover Peranakan culture in Katong as you pass colorful shophouses, and visit hip cafes and old-world shops serving traditional laksa (Malaysian coconut curry noodle soup). For an energizing caffeine fix, head to Wave Cafe & Wine Bar (50 East Coast Road) in the heart of Katong.
Indians are among the main ethnic groups that comprise Lion City—and a trip to Little India is unmissable. Make a culinary stop at Khansama Tandoori Restaurant (166 Serangoon Road), which specializes in Punjabi cuisine and tandoori dishes, or Muthu’s Curry (138 Race Course Road), where south Indian-style fish-head curry has been a go-to since 1969.
A trip to Singapore isn’t complete without a hawker center experience, and Malaysian Food Street (Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Waterfront, Level 1) feature a variety of Malaysian hawker dishes, like Penang hokkien mee (shrimp noodle soup) and claypot chicken rice. Another staple of local hawker culture is Native Kitchen (10 Artillery Avenue), which specializes in Singaporean classics like laksa and nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, served with sambal chili paste).
Five must-try dishes
Look out for these local favorites as you explore Singapore’s hawker centers and restaurants.
Hainanese chicken rice
Considered a national dish, this boiled chicken is served over rice cooked in the chicken stock with ginger and pandan leaves, and can be found in cafés, restaurants, and hawker stalls across the island.
This local staple features crab simmered in a chili sauce, sweetened with tomato paste and thickened with egg whites.
Consisting of sweet coconut jam and pandan leaves spread between two slices of toast, this classic breakfast dish is best enjoyed with a soft-boiled egg and a cup of kopi—strong black coffee with sugar or condensed milk.
This mixed vegetable and fruit salad features a unique sauce made of fermented shrimp paste, chili, lemon, and sugar.
A combination of stir-fried egg and rice noodles served with a shrimp and pork stock, Hokkien mee was brought to Singapore by the Hokkien community from Fujian (China). Singaporeans like it with a big scoop of chili paste on the side.
A taste of the future
Singapore’s history of high-rise buildings began in 1939 with the opening of the Cathay Building, the tallest building in Southeast Asia at the time. Today, guests are invited to enjoy international cuisine and panoramic vistas throughout the city. One of the most iconic rooftops is CÉ LA VI (1 Bayfront Avenue, Marina Bay Sands SkyPark Hotel Tower 3), where you can sip on cocktails served with tapas-style bites and skyline views from the 57th floor.
Big-name chefs—many from Europe—are a staple of the city’s five-star hotels and revitalized heritage buildings. One is the French chef Julien Royer, whose three-Michelin-starred restaurant Odette (1 St Andrew’s Road) ranked as Asia’s best restaurant in 2020. Chefs like Royer continue to add new flavors to the region and cater to Singapore’s growing number of discerning foodies.
Before you head back home, be sure to visit Bengawan Solo (#026-096-01 Changi Airport, Terminal 2) for a chiffon cake, a Singapore favorite featuring pandan—a native southeast Asian plant, often hailed as the region’s answer to vanilla.