The question of what to eat in Singapore is like unveiling an endless puzzle of multi-sensory, multi-flavored culinary adventures. Being a successful country of many cuisines, it is best to explore food at affordable restaurants in Singapore which are hidden gems and only known to few.
Let’s forget about the imported foods that many other countries can also boast about. Let’s talk about the local foods, the cuisines that are a direct reflection of the ethnic and cultural makeup of the country.
I got in touch with Food Blogger and Chef, Azlin who was raised in Singapore and knows the country like the back of her hand! She tells us all about food to try in Singapore and more details about how Singapore cuisine has developed over the years.
What is Singapore Food?
Let’s first talk about the people, the Singaporeans, of which, I am one. Singapore has a very varied local population which is reflected in what is known as the local cuisine.
Once upon a time, the island of Singapore was inhabited by only the Malays, whose history goes back to the 13th century, when the island was literally a fishing village.
Now forming over 80% of the population, the big Chinese influx took place in the early 19th century, from China, naturally.
Check: Visit this food tour and visit the biggest center for hawker food Singapore in Chinatown. Click here for more details.
The Indians and Pakistanis
Like the Chinese, the mass migration took place in the early 19th century.
The term covers any children of European and Asian mix, although much of the Eurasian cuisine in Singapore has a Portuguese heritage.
The Nyonyas (Babas for the men) are a unique group. Ethnically Chinese, they have, over the years, taken on Malay characteristics, right down to the language spoken. Their cooking is a reflection of this mix.
Phew, are you still with me?
So you see, when one says good food in Singapore, one may be talking about Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian or Nyonya food!
And just to deviate slightly, while English is the first language, Singapore has 4 official languages reflecting the local population mix. All our road signs are written in 4 languages. All the festive occasions celebrated by the different cultures are public holidays: Christmas, Easter, Chinese New Year, Eid, and Diwali.
So, back to our question at hand then:
What to eat in Singapore: Affordable Restaurants in Singapore
Where do I even start?
1.Singapore Chilli Crab
Consistently making CNN’s top food to eat in Singapore, the Singapore Chilli Crab wants a statue built in its honor! Maybe next to the Merlion on the Singapore River?
All the top chefs in the world profess to want to try this sweet, sour and spicy dish, as soon as they touch down on this buzzing tropical island.
Best places to eat Chilli Crab in Singapore
Definitely one of the best chili crabs I’ve ever tasted. They’ve been around since the 70s, and I used to be a regular customer when still living in Singapore. With 3 locations now, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Another old favorite, this restaurant serves many other delicious treats, some traditional, some very contemporary. This should be a must if you want the best local food in Singapore.
Tip: If you want to try your hand at making Singapore local food like Chilli Crab sauce and Pandan Chiffon Cake, sign up for this cooking class with a local Chef! See more details here.
2.Hainanese Chicken Rice
Another iconic dish always mentioned in the world’s favorite foods, the Hainanese Chicken Rice is very much Singaporean, via Hainan in China. Subtly flavored rice served alongside moist lightly cooked chicken, with the ubiquitous chili sauce, this is a dish I could eat every day for the rest of my life!
Best places to eat Hainanese Chicken Rice in Singapore
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice
1 Kadayanallur St, #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre, Singapore 069184
Located at the Maxwell Road Food Court, this is probably on everybody’s list of things to eat in Singapore. Or almost everybody’s! The chicken rice is served with a homemade secret dressing which just takes it to another level.
Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice
101 Thomson Road, #01-08 United Square, Singapore 307591
These guys have about 4 outlets around the country, but my favorite one is situated at Marina Square. Fluffy, aromatic rice accompanied by the most delectable chicken – perfect after all that shopping!
Tip: Check out this Private Food Tour where you can get to try the best hawker food in Singapore!
Next on the Singapore food guide is Beef Rendang. It may have originated in Indonesia sometime in the 15th century, but it has long been considered a local Malay food. It’s a curry with meltingly tender beef that’s been slow cooked in a rich, aromatic and highly spiced coconut gravy that will keep you coming back for more. And more.
Best place to eat Beef Rendang in Singapore
20 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427357
I love this place! Its tagline is “tantalizing quality kampung cuisine. And that’s exactly what you get, village food at its best. With the odd adventurous dish like the snail lemak, which is snails in a coconut curry!
The beef rendang is amazing though, thick, full of aroma, meltingly tender beef, this, are going to want seconds for!
Laksa is a bowl of rice noodles in gravy, which can be a light coconut curry style broth or a hot and sour one without coconut milk. There are many, many different types of laksa, which you can read more of on my blog. Laksa in Singapore is always in coconut gravy.
Laksa is served with a variety of condiments, ranging from eggs, tofu, chicken, and most definitely, some sort of sambal. Sambal is a spicy condiment.
Laksa is a dish that is claimed by both the Malays and the Nyonyas and is one of the best food in Singapore.
Best places to eat Laksa in Singapore
51 East Coast Road, Singapore 428770
Hands down, everyone’s favorite laksa! The fact that the chef here beat Gordon Ramsay at his own game only catapulted this place to legendary status. Now, this is one of the best places to eat in Singapore. This is laksa as my mum used to make it. Perfect spiced, with a light hand on the coconut milk.
928 Yishun Laksa
#01-155, 928 Yishun Central 1, Singapore 760928
This is a must visit for me when I’m in town and visiting my aunt who lives only minutes from it. I just love the fact that it serves cockles with its laksa, not something you find everywhere.
When it comes to Indian food in Singapore, there is only one thing that springs to mind – Banana Leaf! Banana Leaf restaurants are of south Indian origin, and serve the food on fresh banana leaves, instead of plates.
Probably one of my all-time favorite childhood foods. You’ll find rice with an assortment of side dishes, from curries to vegetables to lentils.
Best Banana Leaf Restaurant in Singapore
Banana Leaf Apolo
54 Race Course Rd, Singapore 218564
This place has been around for as long as I can remember. I’ve spent many a lunchtime there, after various sporting events in the area, as well as weekend visits with the family.
You cannot possibly visit Singapore without trying out our Eurasian food. I cook many recipes at home and have them on my blog too. From the popular Devil Curry to the less well known Singgang Serani, there is only one place to try out real Eurasian cuisine in Singapore.
Best place for Eurasian food in Singapore
139 Ceylon Rd, Level 1 Eurasian Community House, Singapore 429744
Bottom line is, Singapore is a food haven. There are so many other different types of delicious dishes to be enjoyed and the Singapore street food is worth traveling for. For example, we have a seemingly endless array of noodle dishes belonging to every single ethnic group. Then there’s satay, the much-loved street food of grilled meat on sticks that’s also found all over South East Asia.
What and where to eat in Singapore? I’ve given you a taste of what you can expect. So pack your suitcase, jump on a plane, and go tantalize your taste buds!
About Azlin from LinsFood:
Azlin is a Chef, culinary teacher, and blogger at LinsFood. She has more than two decades of experience in South Asian, Middle Eastern, and British cooking. Born and raised in Singapore, Azlin knows her food well and is the best source to ask for hidden gems in Singapore that will not burn a hole in your pocket.
Currently, she lives on the south coast of England with her husband and four kids.
Until then, happy eating! xx
P.S. If you want to save and read later, here’s a pinnable version 🙂