Getting Spicy in Singapore
By Shawn Low / Oggl @shawnlow
When the British turned Singapore into a thriving port circa 1819, food was probably low on their list of priorities. Yet, fast forward almost 200 years and a combination of the melting pot of culture, innovation, and the constant influx of new residents has now made food an indelible (and quite edible) part of the Singaporean DNA. Today, Singapore’s hawker food is the stuff of legend — Anthony Bourdain was a keynote speaker at the 2013 inaugural Street Food Congress here, and more recently bad-boy chef Gordon Ramsey threw down the gauntlet in a cook off against Singapore’s top three hawkers.
Of course, there technically isn’t any ‘street’ food to be found in Singapore — some time ago, the government decided that gritty authenticity went hand-in-hand with food poisoning and subsequently moved all the street vendors into custom- built “hawker centers,” coffee shops, and food courts. Though somewhat sanitised, the food is no less flavorful!
Cheap eats can be found in most outdoor hawker centers and coffee shops dotted around the island. Menus are in English and if you have no idea what you’re ordering, just ask — most vendors speak English. If you’d rather not sweat buckets over your meal, air-conditioned food courts are the way to go.
Some ubiquitous dishes include Hainanese Chicken Rice, fried kway teow, chilli crab, Malay curries such as rending, and Indian briyani. There’s of course everything in-between – you’ll find stalls selling Asian-ised burgers, steaks, chops and fries next to one hawking fishball noodles. An increasing amount of regional migrants means that one can now easily find cuisines such as tongue-numbing Sichuan, Hong Kong dim sum, and mouthwatering vietnamese pho. Paralysed with dining indecision? Tack yourself at the end of the longest queue…and don’t forget the Tiger Beer.
-Fried kway teow
-Hainanese chicken rice
-Hong Kong dim sum
-Malay curries such as rending
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