With a culinary heritage that boasts dishes from across a range of cultures, it’s no surprise that Singapore’s food paradise is home to novel new tastes for the adventurous eater.
Take the time to explore our city, and you’ll be rewarded with a smorgasbord of bold flavours and exotic dishes—Here’s a guide to get you started on your culinary adventure.
Bak Kut Teh
A dish that traces its origins back to the 19th century, bak kut teh (peppery pork soup) was brought to our shores by Fujian migrant labourers.
This humble dish—which comprises pork ribs stewed in an herbal broth—has since evolved into a beloved local comfort food, served alongside rice, you tiao (dough fritters) and an array of side dishes.
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh. 11 New Bridge Road #01-01, Singapore 059383. +65 6533 6128.
Sin Heng Claypot Bak Koot Teh. 439 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427652. +65 6345 8754.
Legendary Bak Kut Teh. 154 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218431. +65 6292 0938.
A staple ingredient in nonya* cuisine, buah keluak (black nut indigenous to Southeast Asia) was brought to Singapore by Peranakans from Java and Sumatra.
Fun fact: this black nut is poisonous in its raw form, but is made edible through a rigorous method of boiling, fermenting and soaking. When prepared in this way, buah keluak imparts an earthy, aromatic taste to the dish it’s used in.
To discover how it’s used in traditional Peranakan dishes, drop by traditional restaurants like Guan Hoe Soon or National Kitchen by Violet Oon to sample their ayam buah keluak (braised chicken in a gravy of tamarind with buah keluak nuts).
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant. 38/40 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427764. +65 6344 2761.
Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, 6-9.30pm; Sat & Sun 11am-3pm, 5.30-9.30pm.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon at National Gallery Singapore. 1 Saint Andrew’s Road #02-01 (City Hall Wing), Singapore 178957. +65 9834 9935.
Mon-Thu noon-3pm, 6-10.30pm; Fri-Sun noon-3pm, 3-5.30pm, 6-10.30pm.
*Nonya cuisine is also known as Peranakan (meaning "local born") cuisine. The cuisine comes from people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
You’ve not really visited Singapore until you’ve tried durian. Dubbed the ‘king of fruits’ by locals, this spiky-shelled delicacy is known for its custardy texture, sweet flavour and distinctive aroma.
First-timers may find the smell of durian a tad pungent for their sensibilities—as such, we recommend sampling this iconic fruit in a dessert.
Keong Saik Bakery. 33 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089140. +65 6909 3199.
Mon-Fri 7.30am-8pm; Sat & Sun 8am-8pm.
Sinpopo Restaurant. 458 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427671. +65 6345 5034.
Mon-Thu & Sun noon-10pm; Fri & Sat noon-1am.
Fish Head Curry
A local favourite and true-blue Singaporean staple, fish head curry was first invented in 1949 by chef M.J. Gomez to appeal to the tastes of his Chinese customers.
With its mix of South Indian and Chinese influences, this iconic dish epitomises Singapore’s multicultural culinary landscape—the head of a red snapper is drenched in a pool of spicy gravy, alongside a mix of vegetables like okra and eggplant, and served with a side of white rice.
While Chef Gomez’s restaurant is no longer in operation, his legacy lives on—you’ll be able to find this spicy seafood dish at a whole range of establishments like Muthu’s Curry, Zai Shun Curry Fish Head and Samy’s Curry.
Muthu’s Curry. 138 Race Course Road #01-01, Singapore 218591. +65 6392 1722.
Zai Shun Curry Fish Head. 253 Jurong East Street 24 #01–205, Singapore 600253. +65 6560 8594.
Mon–Tue, Thu–Sun 7am–3pm.
Samy’s Curry Restaurant. Block 25 Dempsey Road, Singapore 249670 +65 6472 2080.
Mon, Wed-Sun 11am-3pm, 6-10pm.
Frog Leg Porridge
You don’t have to travel to France to partake in cuisses des grenouilles (frog legs)—this exotic ingredient has long been a staple part of Chinese cuisine, and is served with porridge at hawker stalls all across Singapore.
Foodies who can overcome their initial squeamishness will find a lot to appreciate about frog leg porridge, ranging from the unique texture of the meat to the variety of flavourful preparation methods used to create this dish.
For sheer variety, we recommend visiting Eminent Frog Porridge along Geylang Road. The eatery serves up a range of signatures, including frog legs with garlic and white pepper and frog with dried chilli.
Eminent Frog Porridge. 323 Geylang Road, Singapore 389359. +65 9842 2941.
While you may not be a fan of offal, kway chap (pig innards and meat, served in soya sauce with flat rice noodles) could well be the dish that wins you over.
With its rich, savoury flavour and velvety texture, this hawker classic of Teochew Chinese origins is bound to tantalise even the most finicky foodie. Braised pig meat and intestines are served with silky rice noodles, drenched in a gravy made from soy, meat stock and herbs like clove and star anise.
Old Airport Road Food Centre is home to To-Ricos Guo Shi, which has been serving up kway chap for over three decades. If you’re visiting during lunch, be sure to head down early to beat the queue.
Old Airport Road Food Centre. 51 Old Airport Road #01–135, Singapore 390051.
Wed–Fri & Sun 11am–3pm; Sat 10.30am–3pm.
There’s no polite way to partake in sup tulang (bone soup), but this Indian-Muslim dish is so delicious that meat lovers probably won’t mind the mess.
Comprising lamb bones stewed in a spicy red soup of mutton stock, tomatoes and chilli, the dish is commonly served with slices of bread on the side, as well as a straw to suck the marrow out of the bones.
The creator of this delicacy still has stalls in operation, and you’ll be able to try this unique culinary creation at Haji Kadir Food Chains in Golden Mile Food Centre.
Haji Kadir Food Chains at Golden Mile Food Centre. 505 Beach Road #B1-13/14, Singapore 199583. +65 6784 8313.