12 Singapore Local Dishes That You Need to Try!
Singapore is often known to be Asia’s food paradise and a true taste of our food culture starts with street fare from humble hawker stalls that have gained celebrity status amongst the locals. The easiest way to spot a good pick: Long queues, multiple newspaper clippings of media coverage or photographs with famous individuals. For those travelling to Singapore for the first time, add these 12 local dishes to your must-try list!

1. Chilli Crab

chill crab singapore
Chilli crab is undeniably Singapore’s national dish and we have its inventor, Madam Cher Yam Tian to thank. First sold from a humble pushcart in the 1950’s, it now graces the menus of many seafood restaurants across the island and has even gotten traction overseas in restaurants like the popular Harry’s Singapore Chilli Crab in Sydney. The iconic dish consists of a whole crab in thick, sweet and piquant gravy. Pick the pincers if you’re a beginner and crack the shell open with the seafood cracker provided. Then, mop up the remaining gravy with deep fried mantous (Chinese steamed buns) and make sure none goes to waste! It’s a messy affair indeed, so restaurants often provide bibs and gloves to prevent you from dirtying your clothes, as well as wet towels and a hand-wash bowl on your table to clean up after. We recommend: Red House Seafood Restaurant The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay #01-14 Singapore 238252 68 Prinsep Street Singapore 188661 Jumbo Seafood Restaurant East Coast Seafood Centre, 1206 East Coast Parkway #01-07/08 Singapore 449883 Riverwalk, 20 Upper Circular Road #B1-46/47/48 Singapore 058416 11 Dempsey Road #01-16 Singapore 249673 Riverside Point, 30 Merchant Road #01-01/02 Singapore 058282 SAFRA Resort, 10 Changi Coast Walk The Poolside Café Singapore 499739 Roland Restaurant Blk 89 Marine Parade Central #06-750 Singapore 440089 See: 5 Best Chilli Crab in Singapore (Image: Red House Seafood Restaurant Facebook Page)

2. Hainanese Chicken Rice

chicken rice singapore
Another one of Singapore’s national dishes is the humble Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is a staple in hawker centres but can also be found in restaurants and even hotels. Crowned with coriander, tender soft chicken – roasted or steamed – is served with fragrant rice and cucumber with condiments such as ginger paste, garlic chilli and dark soy sauce on the side. Tip: Complement your plate of chicken rice with a tea egg for an extra 30 to 50 cents. The chicken is prepared by traditional Hainanese methods – blanched in chicken stock before it is soaked in cold water to maintain its tenderness while the rice gets its unique flavour and sheen from being cooked in chicken stock, pandan leaves, and ginger. We recommend: Wee Nam Kee Chicken Rice United Square, 101 Thomson Road #01-08 Singapore 307591 Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street #01-10/11, Singapore 069184 Hainanese Delicacy Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road #05-116, Singapore 228213 See: 12 Must-Try Chicken Rice Stalls in Singapore (Images: OpenRice users chubboy, cptslowyeo, Jescelin Poh, spherepiece, iicepetals, JingYuan)

3. Chwee Kueh

chwee kueh singapore
Chwee Kueh (steamed rice cake) literally translates to “water cake” and amongst Singaporeans, is usually eaten during breakfast or as a light snack for tea. Made from rice, flour, corn starch and water, the glue-like mixture is poured into lightly greased metal moulds, and then steamed for approximately 15 minutes. The perfect chwee kueh is light, moist and not too starchy. To top it all off, you’ll want generous dollops of chai por (preserved radish) and sambal chilli to go with. We recommend: Bedok Chwee Kueh Bedok Interchange Food Centre, Blk 207 New Upper Changi Road #01-53, Singapore 460207 Clementi 448 Market & Food Centre, Blk 448 Clementi Ave 3 #01-32, Singapore 120448 Ang Mo Kio 628 Market, Blk 628 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4, #01-96, Singapore 560628 Jian Bo Shui Kueh Tiong Bahru Market, 30 Seng Poh Road, #02-05, Singapore 168898 Tiong Bahru Tian Bo Shui Kueh Albert Centre Market & Food Centre, 270 Queen St #01-72, Singapore 180270 See: Best Chwee Kueh in Singapore (Image: Peh Yi Wen)

4. Fried Carrot Cake

fried carrot cake Singapore
We clearly can’t get enough of steamed rice cakes in Singapore. Fried Carrot Cake, also known locally as chai tow kway, presents steamed rice cakes in another well-loved form – in cubes, stir-fried with garlic, eggs and preserved radish. Despite its name, no carrots are used in this dish and neither should you confuse it with the cream-cheese-covered carrot cake. Instead, white radish is used in this dish, which is available in “white” and “black” versions, where sweet dark soya sauce is added to the latter. We recommend: Fried Carrot Cake Albert Centre Market & Food Centre, 270 Queen St #01-59 Singapore 180270 He Zhong Carrot Cake 51 Upper Bukit Timah Rd, Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre Singapore 588172 Fu Ming Carrot Cake Blk 85 Redhill Lane, Redhill Food Centre #01-49 Singapore 199583 See: Best Fried Carrot Cake in Singapore (Image: Rachel Wong)

5. Fish Head Curry

fish head curry singapore
There are many variations to the iconic Fish Head Curry in Singapore, each with a slightly different flavour and intensity in spiciness. Typically consisting of a fish head marinated in curry sauce and assorted vegetables such as okra and eggplant, it’s a robust dish to savour and it goes spectacularly well with a bowl of steamed white rice. The Chinese version is great for those who would prefer a curry that is milder while the Indian version cooked with a multitude of spices is not for the faint-hearted. The Peranakan version, on the other hand, has a more sour and spicy take as it features Assam curry gravy. We recommend: Ocean Curry Fish Head Blk 92 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 #01-264 Singapore 310092 Muthu’s Curry 138 Race Course Road #01-01 Singapore 218591 Hooked on Heads Sin Ming Plaza, 6 Sin Ming Road #01-01/02 Tower 2 Singapore 575585 See: 10 Best Curry Fish Head in Singapore (Image: Muthu’s Curry Facebook Page)

6. Fried Hokkien Mee

fried hokkien mee singapore
You’re bound to find at least one stall selling Fried Hokkien Prawn Me in every hawker centre here and the variations, once again, are aplenty. The dish essentially comprises thick yellow noodles with thick or thin white bee hoon, prawns, squid and a fiery-red dollop of sambal chilli on the side. While some versions are purposefully drier, others are prepared ‘wet’ in a rich and aromatic stock made from pork bones and prawn heads – gooey but ever so delicious. We recommend: Kim Keat Hokkien Mee Blk 92 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh #01-264 Singapore 310092 Nam Sing Fried Hokkien Mee 51 Old Airport Road Food Centre, 51 Old Airport Road #01-32 Singapore 390051 Swee Guan Hokkien Mee 549 Geylang Road Singapore 389504 See: 10 Best Hokkien Mee in Singapore (Image: OpenRice user OhMyTofu)

7. Kaya Toast

kaya toast Singapore
Kaya toast, half-boiled eggs, and tea or coffee make up a common breakfast or tea set that Singaporeans often enjoy at old-school coffee shops or household chains like Ya Kun Kaya Toast that are often found in shopping malls. What you get between two slices of brown toasted bread is a thick slather of kaya – a sweet pandan flavoured coconut jam – and an equally thick slab of butter. We recommend: Heap Seng Leong Coffee Shop 10 North Bridge Road #01-5109 Singapore 190010 Tong Ah Eating House 36 Keong Saik Road Singapore 089143 Ya Kun Kaya Toast See full list of outlets here (Image: Ya Kun Kaya Toast Facebook Page)

8. Laksa

A must-try dish while you’re in Singapore is a spicy noodle soup – Laksa, which blends Chinese and Malay styles of cooking. You’ll find various types of Laksa here: a coconut milk-heavy Curry Laksa, a sour and clearer soup-based Assam Laksa and the all-famous Katong Laksa. The latter consists primarily of cockles, prawns, fish cake and dried shrimp in a soup stock that includes coconut milk to produce that cloudy finish. A unique characteristic of Katong Laksa is its thick white vermicelli noodles, which are cut into shorter pieces so that it can be devoured easily with a spoon. We recommend: Sungei Road Laksa Blk 27 Jalan Berseh #01-100 Singapore 200027 328 Katong Laksa 51 East Coast Road Singapore 428770 See full list of outlets here Depot Road Zhen Shan Mei Claypot Laksa Alexandra Village Food Centre, Blk 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-75 Singapore 150120 (Image: OpenRice user misstamchiak)

9. Nasi Lemak

nasi lemak singapore
Speaking of coconut, here’s another sinful and aromatic dish that uses coconut milk for its richness – Nasi Lemak. The rice is infused with coconut milk and pandan leaves for a fluffy and fragrant result and is often enjoyed alongside deep-fried chicken wings, fish, anchovies, peanuts, egg, cucumber and sambal. Malay and Chinese versions differ slightly – the former usually features rice with a tinge of green (from the pandan leaves), while the latter comes with more varied side dishes like luncheon meat, fish fillets and sausages. We recommend: Boon Lay Power Nasi Lemak Boon Lay Place Food Village, 221A/B Boon Lay Place #01-106 Singapore 642221 Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak Adam Road Food Centre, 2 Adam Road #01-02 Singapore 289876 Nasi Lemak Syed Alwi 196 Syed Alwi Road Singapore 207728 See: Best Nasi Lemak in Singapore (Image: Nasi Lemak Syed Alwi’s Facebook page)

10. Rojak

rojak singapore
This local salad isn’t one to include in your diet plan. Rojak means ‘mixture’ in Malay and is a colloquial expression for ‘an eclectic mix’, often used to describe Singapore’s multi-ethnic character. Under a sour, spicy but mostly sweet and sticky black sauce and chopped peanuts lies a tossed mix of raw cucumbers, sliced pineapple, toasted beancurd, Chinese turnip and dough fritters. Order it as a side to share. We recommend: Soon Heng Rojak HDB Hub, Blk 480 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh #B1-01 Singapore 310480 Balestier Road Hoover Rojak Whampoa Makan Place, 90 Whampoa Drive #01-06 Singapore 320090 Brothers Rojak See Lam Hern, Blk 449 Clementi Avenue 3 #01-211 Singapore 120449 (Image: OpenRice user skohhg)

11. Roti Prata

roti prata Singapore
Singaporeans are known to enjoy a warm, fluffy and crispy Roti Prata at practically any time of the day. It’s one of our top supper picks as most prata stalls stay open till the wee hours of the morning and is also often a breakfast choice on the weekends. This Indian flat bread starts with a dough that is skillfully stretched, fried and flipped a few times over – available plain, with egg or in a wide range of fillings like cheese, durian, and chicken floss. It also comes with a choice of curry to slather your prata with – go fish curry! We recommend: Mr and Mrs Mohgan's Super Crispy Roti Prata 7 Crane Road Singapore 429356 The Roti Prata House 246M Upper Thomson Road Singapore 574370 R.K. Eating House 1 Kensington Park Road Singapore 557253 See: Best Roti Prata in Singapore (Image: OpenRice user HungryBytes)

12. Durian

durian singapore
Durian – you either hate it or love it, regardless whether you’re a local or not. Banned on public transportation, hotels and airline cabins, the “King of Fruits” is best indulged in and sought after when it comes into season from June to August. During that time, most roadside stalls display a glorious display of the green and thorny delight – a sight and smell that’s hard to miss. Sold by the kilogram, popular types of durian include Mao Shan Wang, known for its bright yellow flesh that’s creamy and bittersweet and D24 that is pale-yellow in colour, creamy and bitter. We recommend: Ah Seng’s Durian Ghim Moh Road Market and Food Centre, Blk 20 Ghim Moh Road #01-197 Singapore 270020 Agrobazaar Malaysia 37-43 Sultan Gate Singapore 198485 Combat Durian 249 Balestier Road, Singapore 329714 (Image: Peh Yi Wen)
Written by Peh Yi Wen
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