22072016 street food singapore gettyimages

Street food, or “hawker food” as the locals call it, is a Singaporean national treasure and a melting pot of regional cultures and cuisines including Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian.

To help navigate the overwhelming number of options when eating your way through Singapore, we've compiled a list of our eight must-eat dishes and the best places to enjoy them.  

 

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Don’t write off this deceptively simple dish, Hainanese Chicken Rice has a depth of flavour that will surprise you. The recipe originates from Hainan Island at China’s southern tip and involves poaching an entire bird in pork and chicken stock at sub-boiling temperatures to create an incredibly soft and juicy texture. It’s served with rice that is cooked with chicken stock, ginger and garlic, a chilli and dark soy sauce, and cucumber and minced ginger.

Where to go:

Almost every vendor serves the dish, often with their very own unique twists, so it’s hard to narrow down the best. Anthony Bourdain has raved about Tian Tian and its particularly fragrant rice, which has lead to an influx in tourist customers. Many locals and travellers recommend vendors like Wee Nam Kee and Hua Kee Chicken Rice for a dish that’s just as delicious.

 

22072016 hainanese chicken rice gettyimages

Image Credit: Getty Images

 

Sambal Stingray

This often-overlooked protein is mouth-watering when cut into a steak sized piece and covered in a sambal marinade (made from chillies, shallots, cane sugar, shrimp paste and spices), wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled.

Where to go:

Chomp Chomp Food Centre (Stall #1) does an excellent version or head to BBQ Seafood in the Taman Jurong Market and Food Centre.

 

22072016 sambal stingray gettyimages

Image Credit: Getty Images

 

Bak Kut Teh

Translated to meat bone tea, this humble dish involves juicy pork ribs simmered for hours in a broth with a perfect balance of white pepper, lots of garlic, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and dang gui.

Where to go:

Song Fa has specialised in this tasty soup since 1969 and Heng Heng serves up a great version as well.

 

22072016 bak kut teh gettyimages

Image Credit: Getty Images

 

Chilli Crabs

Enjoying this dish does involve a bit of work, but it is certainly worth it. Whole crabs are cooked in a sweet and spicy tomato based sauce and finished with coddled eggs for extra texture and thickness. They’re served with fried mantou, a slightly sweet white bread, to soak up all of the excess sauce.

Where to go:

Long Beach Seafood and Jumbo Seafood are both renowned for their offerings.  

 

22072016 chilli crabs gettyimages

Image Credit: Getty Images

 

Char Kway Teow

This decadent dish, a local favourite, is composed of flat rice noodles stir fried in pork fat and a thick, sweet soy sauce with shrimp paste, chives, Chinese sausage, bean sprouts and egg.

Where to go:

Brave the enormous queues at Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee or Zion Riverside Food Centre because both of their versions are stellar.

 

22072016 char kway teow gettyimages

Image Credit: Getty Images

 

Curry Fish Head

Another signature Singaporean dish with ambiguous origins, this moreish curry features the head of a red snapper stewed with assorted veggies like okra and brinjal. Indian-run stalls serve a spicier variety while the Chinese vendors do a sweeter one.

Where to go:

Head to The Banana Leaf Apolo or Muthu’s Curry for outstanding versions.

 

22072016 curry fish head gettyimages

Image Credit: Getty Images

 

Chai Tow Kway

Commonly referred to as carrot cake, this snack is nothing like the cream-cheese frosted variety and it actually doesn’t contain any carrots. Chai tow kway is made with rice flour and shreds of daikon (which in a Chinese dialect can refer to both daikon radish and carrots) that are formed into rice cakes and fried in pork lard and eggs. It’s salty, crispy, greasy, and delectable.

Where to go:

Pick one up at Song Zhou Luo Bo Gao.

 

22072016 chai tow kway gettyimages

Image Credit: Getty Images

 

Laksa

There are a few variants of this Peranakan dish, but most use vermicelli, coconut milk, tau pok (beancurd puffs), fish slices, shrimp and cockles to form a spicy soup.

Where to go:

Sungei Road Laksa is famous for their laksa and the story for the recipe behind it, which involved a mysterious customer sharing his knowledge before disappearing. Another great option is 328 Katong Laksa, which serves the version that beat Gordon Ramsay in a televised cooking challenge.

 

22072016 laksa gettyimages

Image Credit: Getty Images