A melting pot of cultures that range from Malay and Peranakan to Indian and Chinese, Singapore’s food landscape is a multi-ethnic tapestry of flavours. And there’s no better way to experience the culinary diversity that the Lion City has to offer than through its range of traditional desserts.
Savour the moment by sating your sweet tooth, as we bring you a sample of Singapore’s sweetest treats.
Beat the heat or cool down from a spicy meal with this local favourite. The Singapore variant of this sweet treat typically includes shaved ice, green rice flour jelly, adzuki beans, coconut milk and gula melaka (palm sugar). The latter two ingredients provide the dessert with a refreshing fragrance that many locals love.
Where to get your fix: We recommend visiting Old Amoy Chendol in the neighbourhood of Chinatown to sample this dish, followed by an exploration of the wealth of murals and local experiences in the vicinity.
Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre. 335 Smith Street #02-008, Singapore 050335.
+65 8748 7590.
A much-beloved comfort food for many Singaporeans, tau huay is a soya beancurd dish that pairs silky-smooth texture with subtly sweet flavours. This dish is often served with you tiao (fried dough fritters), so we recommend requesting for less syrup if you happen to be counting calories.
Where to get your fix: This dish is normally consumed for either breakfast or supper. Regardless the time of the day, we recommend visiting Yong He Eating House, a 24-hour eatery in the bustling enclave of Geylang.
Yong He Eating House. 458 Geylang Road, Singapore 389417. +65 6745 5682.
Daily 24 hours.
Named bubur pulut hitam (black glutinous rice porridge) at some establishments, this dessert is served with a generous dollop of coconut milk, which provides it with a sweet fragrance. Black glutinous rice has great nutritional value, so health buffs shouldn’t be too worried about digging in!
Where to get your fix: Grab a serving of pulut hitam from Hajjah Fatimah. The dessert store is located at Tekka Market and Food Centre, in the bustling enclave of Little India. Enjoy this sweet treat alongside a wide range of local staples at the food court, and then take a multisensory tour of the wet market within the same building.
Tekka Market and Food Centre. 665 Buffalo Road #01-221, Singapore 210665.
Made with brightly-coloured syrup drizzled onto a mountain of finely-shaved ice piled atop red beans, sweet corn and atap chee (palm seed), ice kachang is a great way to cool off in Singapore’s tropical climate.
Many Singaporeans have fond childhood memories of this visually striking dessert, making it a great pick for those looking to flaunt their Singaporean foodie escapades on Instagram, or to delight the little ones.
Where to get your fix: To expand your culinary horizons—and taste more scrumptious hawker fare—drop by Jin Jin Hot/Cold Dessert stall at ABC Brickworks Food Centre. The hawker centre offers an array of local staples, including Michelin Bib Gourmand worthy dishes from hawker stalls Ah Er Soup and Tiong Bahru Yi Sheng Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee.
ABC Brickworks Food Centre. 6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-21, Singapore 150006.
Mon, Tue & Thu-Sun 12.30-10pm.
Gulab jamun is a traditional Indian dessert made from deep-fried powdered milk balls and soaked in a sinfully sweet syrup (often rose-scented). Remember to eat your way through the neighbourhood of Little India before ending off with gulab jamun to complete the experience!
Where to get your fix: Learn about the intricacies of South Asian culinary technique with a meal at The Banana Leaf Apolo, and then round off your experience by ordering this dessert. If this dish left you craving for more Indian desserts, the Moghul Sweet Shop at Little India Arcade provides a wide variety of traditional Indian sweets.
The Banana Leaf Apolo. 54 Race Course Road, Singapore 218564.
+65 6293 8682.
Moghul Sweet Shop at Little India Arcade. 48 Serangoon Road #01-16, Singapore 217959.
+65 6392 5797.
Containing ingredients found in traditional Chinese medicine, cheng teng is a light and healthy dessert soup with gingko nuts, lotus seeds, longans, red dates and white fungus. There are cold and hot variants of the dessert, so feel free to try both and figure out which you prefer.
Where to get your fix: A dedicated dessert stall housed within the popular Newton Food Centre, 88 Shan Ren Cold & Hot Dessert serves up a variety of traditional local treats at an affordable price range.
Newton Food Centre. 500 Clemenceau Avenue North #01-05, Singapore 229495. +65 8157 1905.
Bubur Cha Cha
This vibrant-looking Peranakan* dessert is made with coloured translucent tapioca jelly cubes in a fresh coconut milk soup, and accompanied by steamed sweet potato. There are several variations that add a range of ingredients such as agar agar (jelly), jackfruit and sago into the mix.
Where to get your fix: A laidback eatery that serves up authentic Peranakan fare, PeraMakan is a great option if you’d like to deepen your understanding of nonya culinary tradition.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
Keppel Club. 10 Bukit Chermin Road Level 3, Singapore 109918. +65 6377 2829.
Daily 11.30am-3pm, 6-10pm.
Sugee is an Indian word for semolina flour, which is a key ingredient in this classic local Eurasian dessert. The semolina affords the cake a rich texture, a pleasant accompaniment to its buttery taste. You can either get a plain version, or a sweeter option drenched in icing.
Where to get your fix: Singapore’s Eurasian community is rightfully proud of its unique cuisine, which blends the flavours of both East and West. Expand your culinary horizons at Quentin’s Eurasian Restaurant, housed within the Eurasian Community House.
Eurasian Community House. 139 Ceylon Road, Singapore 429744. +65 6348 0327.
Tue-Fri 11.30am-2.30pm, 6.30-10.30pm; Sat & Sun 11am-2pm, 6.30-10.30pm.