An important global trading port since the 19th century, Singapore is the site of continual cultural confluence, inviting foodies to indulge in a local cuisine that sports influences from around the world.
A signature Singaporean dish you have to try is curry fish head, which is an Indian fish curry recipe with a local twist—it uses only the head of the fish (usually snapper, cod or grouper), whose meat is extra succulent.
Other dishes that define local cuisine include nonya laksa, which is a spicy coconut-based noodle soup that is prepared by the Peranakan*, or “Nonya”, people with more coconut milk to produce a thicker broth and more shredded cucumber garnish.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
Another flagship delicacy that you have to sample is mee siam, a tangy and spicy vermicelli dish of Siamese origin that was popularised by the Malays in Singapore. The Eurasians too prepare a dry version of this noodle.
Perhaps the most famous of Eurasian dishes is kari debal. “Debal” is a Kristang (Malayan Portguese creol) word that refers to the “leftover” meats in this curry, as well as its “devilish” spiciness.
Chilli crab is our world-renowned Singaporean Chinese seafood speciality that is synonymous with our city state. Savour sweet and spicy crab meat bursting with flavours, then dip its accompanying buns in its rich gravy.
A hotbed for nurturing gastronomical talents, Singapore has also empowered many local chefs to pursue their culinary passions, inventing new dishes in the process.
Inspired by Singaporean classics like chilli crab, banker Han Li Guang became a chef to come up with his own interpretations of local dishes. Enjoy them at the Michelin-starred Labyrinth, where bold creations like smoked bone marrow beef rendang (braised meat cooked in coconut milk and spices) and chilli crab ice cream can be savoured.
Another Michelin star recipient is Malcolm Lee, whose restaurant Candlenut seeks to pay homage to his Peranakan culinary heritage by reinventing it. One of his best known dishes is his buah keluak ice cream, a dessert created around this black nut indigenous to Southeast Asia. The nut is traditionally used in savoury dishes like the Ayam Buah Keluak (chicken braised in buah keluak), but now sits in a bed of chocolate espuma, salted caramel and chilli in this daring rendition.
Singapore’s culinary scene has also inspired the founders to A Noodle Story to leave the corporate world to serve their uniquely Singaporean twist on ramen, which has been recommended by the Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand. Popular dishes include their personal take on wanton mee (Chinese dumpling noodles), which indulges you in the best of oriental flavours and occidental treatment.