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Eat Your Way Through Singapore’s Chinatown

hainanese chicken rice in singapore

Above all else, there is one thing I love to do when visiting Singapore – eat. It’s so deeply ingrained in the Singaporean culture that a common greeting is “Have you eaten?” But there is one neighbourhood that I go to eat more often than others, and that is Chinatown!

Most evenings when I’m in town, I’ll make my way into Chinatown for a meal at a hawker’s stall. These small kitchen stalls, often within a much larger food courts, specialise in one or two dishes, and with a full meal costing between SGD$3-9, it’s a budget friendly food option. But it’s not just the hawkers stalls that offer delicious – and often culturally significant – food; It seems like every other store has something delicious beckoning you to take a bite.

I’m not an expert on Chinese food. In fact, if you want to eat seafood then I’m not the girl to speak to, but I do know what I like and I wanted to share just a few of the tasty morsels I ate. I hope these pictures will leave you tasty and please comment if you have a favourite place or dish to eat in Singapore’s Chinatown (or even a little further beyond!).

Here are a few things you should eat in Singapore’s Chinatown!

Kaya Toast with Eggs in Singapore

Kaya Toast with Soft-boiled (runny) Eggs

Unofficially Singapore’s national breakfast; Kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs is a popular breakfast found throughout the city! The crispy toast is laden with butter before being slathered with kaya – a mix of coconut milk, pandan, eggs and sugar – YUM! While often served alone, soft-boiled eggs are often served as a side.

Kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs is not a meal that is limited to breakfast. Singaporeans eat this meal throughout the day as a light meal or snack alongside a cup of Straits-style coffee (Kopi-C) or tea.

Where to eat Kaya:

  • Tong Heng: 285 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058833 (also, my number one place to eat Kaya!)
  • Good Morning Nanyang Cafe: 20 Upper Pickering Street, Hong Lim Green Community Centre, Singapore 058284
  • Ya Kun Kaya Toast: 109 N Bridge Rd, #01-16 Funan DigitaLife Mall, Singapore 179097 (There are a number of outlets across Singapore!)
  • Killiney Kopitiam: 67 Killiney Road, Singapore 239525 (There are a number of outlets across Singapore and even Australia!)

Singapore-Food-Bean-Curd

Chwee Kway (‘Water Rice Cake’)

Another popular breakfast dish you’ll find at Hawker Centres across Singapore is Chwee Kway. This vegetarian dish is made of steamed rice cake topped with chai poh (preserved radish). For those who like it spicy, locals will add a generous heaping of hot chilli sauce.

Where to eat Chwee Kway:

  • Yishun 921 Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee Smith Street, Chinatown Silk House, Singapore 050335
  • Jian Bo Chwee Kueh: 30 Seng Poh Road, #02-05, Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre 168898

Singapore-Food-Almond-Popiah

Popiah (pronounced “Pȯh-Piá” or Bo-BEE-a”)

A thin, crispy ‘skin’ made from wheat flour wraps ingredients into a delicious roll. Most commonly you’ll find them filled with prawns, egg, shredded turnip, peanuts, lettuce, bean sprouts and Chinese sausage; and served with a sweet hoisin sauce. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or a snack.
If you need, vendors will be able to make this dish vegetarian-friendly!

Where to eat Popiah:

Singapore-Popiah-Stall-Ladies

The gorgeous ladies from the Chinatown Complex popiah store!

Rojak in Singapore

Rojak

The work “rojak” is Malay for mixture, and that’s exactly what this fruit or vegetable dish is! The vegetable rojak was a mixture of potatoes, egg, tofu and prawns, topped with a sweet and spicy chilli sauce.
The fruit rojak combines cucumber, pineapple, peanut sauce, prawn sauce and tamarind. Bean sprouts, ‘taupok’ (deep-friend tofu) and ‘youtiao’ (deep friend sweet dough) are often found in it as well.

Where to eat Rojak:

  • Balestier Road Hoover Rojak: Block 90 Whampoa Drive, #01-06 Whampoa Drive Food Centre 320090
  • Lau Hong Ser: 271 Onan Road #02-14 cSingapore 424768

Instagram-Singapore-Market-Fish-Seller

Be sure to go downstairs to the wet market at the Chinatown Complex to
see a buzz of activity and plenty of fresh seafood available for sale.

Been Hoon (Fish Head Soup) in Singapore

Fish Soup (also known as Bee Hoon)

Bee Hoon, or Fish Head Soup, seems to be incredibly popular in Singapore, or at least amongst my local friends! Considered a healthy dish, Bee Hoon is made from fish stock, water, oil, yam and milk, with a mix of vegetables. Slices of fish – either steamed or fried mackerel is most popular – is added to the dish to present.

Where to eat Bee Hoon:

  • Holland Village XO Fish Head Bee Hoon Restaurant:17 Smith Street, Singapore 058931
  • Jin Hua Fish Head Bee Hoon: 1 Kadayanallur St, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre, Singapore 069184
  • No Signboard Seafood: 414 Geylang Singapore 389392

Instagram-Singapore-Market-Fish-Cleaner

Fried Carrot Cake in SingaporeFried Carrot Cake (also known as Chai Tao Kway)

Singaporeans love their fried carrot cake because I saw it everywhere! Typically served by frying radish cake (made from steamed rice flour, water, and shredded white turnip/dykon) and then stir-fried with eggs, and preserved radish. Enjoyed served with spring onions and dried shrimp, and either sweet black soya sauce or the white sauce that is a little more salty.

Where to eat Fried Carrot Cake:

  • Fu Ming Carrot CakeRedhill Food Centre, Blk 85 Redhill Lane Singapore 150085
  • Lau Goh Teochew Chye Thow Kway: Zion Riverside Food Centre, Stall 26, 70 Zion Road Singapore 247780

Singapore-Food-Tian-Tian-Hainanese-Chicken-Rice

Hainanese Chicken Rice

If you try one food in Singapore, let it be Hainanese Chicken Rice. This dish, considered to be on of the national dishes of Singapore, is a hawker centre favourite.
The chicken, left to boil in stock, is juicy and tender, while a bed of specially prepared “oily rice” is served underneath. Eat served with hot chilli sauce and the dark soy sauce with ginger!

Where to eat Hainanese Chicken Rice:

  • Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice: 1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-10 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore (There are a number of outlets across Singapore!)
  • Ah-Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice: 1 Kadayayanallur Street, #01-07 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore

Singapore Chilli Crab

Chilli Crab

Another of Singapore’s signature dishes and found served across the country, the mud crab is stir-fried in a sweet, savoury tomato and chilli based sauce (it is not spicy dish though!) Usually, people will eat the crab with bare hands and loaves of steamed or fried bread.

Also, consider trying black pepper crab while you’re in Singapore!

Where to eat Chilli Crab:

  • No Signboard Seafood: 414 Geylang Singapore 389392
  • Seafood Paradise: Changi Airport Terminal 2, 60 Airport Blvd, Singapore 819643

Singapore-Food-Husband-Wife-Cookies

Candied Melon Crisp (Wife Cookie)

Not all cakes and cookies are created the same in Chinese culture, and candied melon crisps are one of these different ones. According to ancient folklore, the origins of the “Wife Cookie” began in a remote Chinese village where a devoted husband toiled to bake and sell hundreds of these candied melon crisps to save his beloved wife from slavery. Hence, the “Candied Melon Crisp” has become a symbol of true love and eternal bliss.
These are often presented to couples for weddings and anniversaries.

* This story was shared by the bakers at Tong Heng!

Where to eat Wife Cookie:

  • Tong Heng: 285 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058833 (There are a number of outlets across Singapore!)
  • Tai Chong Kok: 34 Sago Street, Singapore 059026 (There are a number of outlets across Singapore!)

Singapore-Food-Almond-Wife-Cookies

Singapore-Food-Almond-Custard

Chinese Soup Dessert

I don’t know the exact name of these desserts, but they are delicious! Coming in a variety of flavours, the dessert ‘soups’ are typically served hot. Coming in a variety of flavours – such as walnut, peanut, almond, black sesame – this dessert is a delicious, filling dessert had any time during the day.

Where to eat Chinese Soup Dessert:

  • Mei Heong Yuen Dessert: 67 Temple Street, Singapore 058611
  • Tong Heng: 285 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058833 (There are a number of outlets across Singapore!)

Ice Cream Sandwich in Singapore

Ice Cream Sandwich

As soon as the sun comes out these old-fashioned favourites hit the streets. Also known as potong (cut) ice cream, the block of ice cream is served between two wafers or in a colourful piece of bread (the colour made with food colouring). The most common flavours include red bean, tam, sweet corn, durian, honeydew, peppermint, chocolate, and chocolate chip. Best of all, at SGD$1.20 it’s a cheap treat!

Where to find ice cream:

  • Found across the city as soon the sun comes out, but check Childtown and Orchard Road as these are hot spots!

Singapore-Food-Tea-Class

Tea

Drinking tea is a huge part of Chinese culture. Amongst its uses, it’s believed that drinking a cup will help heal and aid digestion. To truly appreciate tea you need to go back to its roots, and my favourite way to do that is to experience a tea ceremony or enjoy a cup from one a teahouse.

Where to drink tea:

Coloured Xiao Long Bao in Singapore

Other food to try in Singapore:

  • Pomelo Salad – this fresh vegetarian dish is made using Pomelo, Thai grapefruits!
  • Bak Kut Teh (lit. Meat bone tea/ Pork Ribs soup) – this popular cheap soup is made from meat bones (usually pork ribs).
  • Dim Sum – dim sum, most commonly eaten at breakfast, are popular across Singapore!
  • Fried Kway Teow – another fried favourite, Kway Teow is made up of flat rice noodles, bean sprouts, cockles, prawns, and sometime even Chinese sausage. Be sure to check hawker stalls for this dish in abundance!
  • Fried Hokkien Noodles – super popular! Head to Smith Street Markets!
  • Laksa – There are so many versions of laksa there is bound to be something for every palate, but for a local flavour try the Katong Laksa that was inspired by the Peranakans.
  • Wanton Mee – Delicious dry noodles are topped with slices of pork, pork-filled wanton dumplings and a portion of soup. Top with the sweet sauce for something delicious!

Let me know in the comments –

What are your favourite dishes and places to eat in Singapore’s Chinatown?

 

What to eat in Singapore's Chinatown
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I visited Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board.
All thoughts and opinions (and added kilograms…) are, as always, my own.

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Jean
    March 25, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    That photo of the Hainanese Chicken Rice…oh my!!! I absolutely love the diverse food of Singapore (and Malaysia). These are food that are worth the extra poundage afterwards. My favourite Singapore dish would have to be Cereal Prawn – Giant prawns lightly fried , coated AND sprinkled with crushed corn flakes 🙂

  • Reply
    De'Jav
    March 26, 2015 at 1:07 am

    Nice list of suggestions as I’ll be heading to Singapore at the end of April.

  • Reply
    Ashley
    March 26, 2015 at 1:38 am

    This post has me drooling all over my keyboard! Everything looks so delicious, especially the chili crab, fried carrot cake, and ice cream sandwich! I need to get to Singapore ASAP!

  • Reply
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    Sandy
    April 11, 2015 at 11:17 am

    What a delightful selection of Singapore dishes – I think the friend carrot cake sounds delicious.

  • Reply
    Sally
    April 20, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Great round-up! Singaporeans do love their food. When I lived there in the mid-2000s, my favourite quick lunch was popiah from the Teochew stall in the Takashimaya food court on Orchard Rd. Went back last year and much to my delight they were still going strong!

    • Reply
      Nicole
      April 27, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment and contribute, Sally!

      YUM! Popiah is one of my favourites so I might have to track down that stall when I’m back later this year. 🙂

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