Singapore 's multiculturalism is reflected in its plethora of churches, mosques, Indian and Chinese temples, and places of worship of other religions. Another indication that you are in the middle of this ethnic melting-pot is in one of its two main national past-times - eating! (the other on is shopping). From hawkers centres, to food courts, through to the busy restaurants, if you love food, this is the country to go to.
Hygiene standards are strict here, so eating pretty much anywhere can be done with confidence. The variety of the dishes here is pretty astounding, and is mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese and British (among many others), and is made even more particular by the fact that these were from certain regions of these countries - Southern China, South India (mainly the areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala) In addition the food of the Nonyas (Straits Chinese, originally from marriages between Chinese immigrants to local Malay women in then Malaya), from whom we get the delicious Peranakan cuisine, there is the food of the Eurasians (Eurasian food is a fusion of Malay cuisine with Portuguese and Dutch from the 16 th , 17 th and 18 th centuries). Added to the mix is the influence of the British colonialists, reflected in dishes such as the Singaporean adaptation of the humble chicken pie. Food snobbery is almost non-existent in Singapore, and it is not uncommon to get an executive sitting at the back of a taxi having a hearty discussion with the driver about where the best eating places are.
Fresh fruit is available everywhere, and you can get freshly-squeezed fruit juices in almost every food court on every main street. Exotic specimens such as Jackfruit, Mangosteen and Rambutans abound, or challenge yourself to taste the most popular local fruit, the durian. The big spiky shell is cut open to reveal segments containing creamy flesh surrounding their seeds. It isn't the taste that's the problem for most foreigners, it's the unusual odour emanating from this unusual looking fruit. People always react strongly to it – it's either fragrant or stinky, depending on how much you like durians. There is no in-between. It does help if you were brought up with it. Despite its being so adored by Singaporeans, it has been banned on public transport and in hotels. What an indignity for this unique fruit that is commonly known as the ‘King of the Fruits'!
One of the great loves of the Singaporeans is a dish called Hainanese Chicken Rice , or sometimes simply known as Chicken Rice . There are many eating places you can find it in, from hawkers centres to fancy restaurants, but one of the best is to be found at ‘Chatterbox', located in the Mandarin Hotel. More pricey than the fare you will find elsewhere, but worth it. Look out too for their Lobster laksa and Tau Suan a warm, soupy dessert made with mung beans. Yum…
333 Orchard Road
Tel: (65) 6737 4411
Fax: (65) 6732 2361
Opening hours: Sundays to Thursdays: 5am to 1am - Fridays, Saturdays & Eve of Public Holidays: 24 hours
Lee Tong Kee
Not really Singaporean in origin, the silky smooth haw fun (rice noodles) they serve here originate in Ipoh , a predominantly Chinese part of Malaysia (although the restaurant itself started out in Kuala Lumpur ). Many Singaporeans who work or live abroad make a point of coming to this little restaurant upon their return to enjoy a bowl of their delicious beef or prawn haw fun , which you can order dry or with soup. The tenderest chicken you've ever tasted is to be found here, and they have truly wonderful desserts. A must for anyone wanting to eat great food off the beaten tourist track.
278 South Bridge Road ,
Tel: (65) 62231896
Fax: (65) 62214950
Opening Hours :
Mon - Sun & Public holidays : 10am - 9:pm
A quick word about a must-try local culinary delight – Laksa. Laksa is a noodle dish served in a creamy, spicy coconut soup with beansprouts, prawns and, depending on where you go, fried beancurd, clams and other goodies. ‘Kopi Tiam at the Swissotel The Stamford serves very good Laksa, as does ‘Ah Meng' at Orchard Point. There are also a myriad of hawker centres that serve good laksa for those who like to ‘do as the locals do'.
Singapore Laksa differs from Penang Laksa in that it's gravy has a coconut base, while the one from Penang has an assam (tamarind) base.
A family-run Chinese restaurant since 1929. Consistently good reviews.
Spring Court Restaurant Pte Ltd
52-56 Upper Cross Street
Singapore 058348(across from Chinatown Point car-park)
Tel: (65) 6449-5030
Fax: (65) 6535-6609
Lunch: 11.00am to 2.30pm / Dinner: 6.00pm to 10.30pm
The Eastern Restaurant
Simple decor belies the sumptuousness of the cuisine. Look out for their melt-in-the-mouth Eastern Yi Ping Steamed Pork Dumplings , or challenge yourself to eat like a local with their Egg Puff with Durian Paste
176 Orchard Rd
Tel : 6736-2638
Fax : 6736-0571
Rather difficult to get to by car (the parking's terrible and the restaurant can be difficult to find), Hillman is known less for its service (which is not what you come here for) than for it's scrumptious Paper Wrapped Chicken, known here as ‘Chicken in a Paper Bag'. Also known for their claypot dishes.
(Another place known for it's paper wrapped chicken is the Union Farm Eating House in Clementi, although the reviews it's received of late haven't been as favourable as they used to be)
Block 1 Cantonment Road
Tel: (65) 6221 5073
Opening Hours: 11.30am - 2.30pm & 5.30pm - 10.30pm daily
Indochine Madame Butterfly
Beautiful decor combines with simple yet exquisite dishes from Laos.
3A River Valley Road #01-02
(Located @ Clarke Quay)
Tel: (65) 65576266
Fax: (65) 63374358
Chili Padi Nonya Restaurant
Delicious Peranakan cuisine born of its Malay and Chinese ancestry. Full of flavour and found predominantly in certain parts of Singapore and Malaysia . The ‘Chili Padi' has won numerous awards for their authentic renditions of these delicious dishes.
11 Joo Chiat Place #01 - 03
Tel: (65) 6275 1002
Lunch: 11.30pm - 2.30pm
Dinner: 5.30pm - 10pm
A gem of a restaurant. The first outlet was so successful they opened a second in Upper Thompson.
IVINS @ Binjai Park
19/21 Binjai Park
Tel: (65) 6468 3060
Fax: (65) 6467 3371
IVINS @ Jalan Leban
No. 2/4 Jalan Leban
Upper Thomson Road
Tel: (65)6451 4622
If you really want the low-down on what and where to eat, check out these websites where contributions are made by Singapore foodies share information with other. Be prepared for a lot of ‘Singlish', the local variation of conversational English, and for names of dishes you've never ever heard of! (By the way, makan is short for eat)
(This website even gives you a glossary of local terms!)
*Just a note to say that Boat Quay and Clarke Quay are two of the best known places among tourists who want to eat ‘local', but in actual fact more tourists than Singaporeans actually go there. The food is good, but at tourist prices, and the vendors rather more pushy than in other less touristy eating place(apart from Newton Circus, where they can be pushier). There are exceptions, of course. A couple of restaurants are very good (Indochine, for instance), and this is where the Satay Club relocated to some years ago, so great satay is to be found here. Come here for a lively atmosphere and nice surroundings (it is, as the name suggests, on the riverside), but just be aware that there are so many other great culinary gems to be found if only you look in the right places.
Chijmes is a National Heritage site that is popular with Singaporeans and tourists alike. Built out of an old girls' convent school and chapel, there are shops and boutiques that are open until 10 at night, and places to eat and drink and take in live entertainment until the wee hours.
30 Victoria Street .
Tel: (65) 6337 7810
Ink Club Bar
A relaxed and trendy bar with modern decor.
80 Bras Basah Road
Tel: (65) 6431 5314
A sophisticated hang-out for those seeking something more than just a noisy bar, One Rochester is a large converted bungalow set against a lush leafy backdrop and offers tasty food to go with their large selection of wines and other drinks.
1 Rochester Park
Tel: (65) 6773 0070
Located in the Fullerton Singapore, a grand hotel converted from The Fullerton Building, which was built in 1928. The Post is sitting under the ceiling that used to be the General Office, while The Exchange, the Chamber of Commerce and The Singapore Club used to occupy various other parts of the building.
The Fullerton Singapore
1 Fullerton Square
Tel: (65) 6877 8135
The 1 Nitestand Bar & Comedy Club
Famous for its comedy nights held in the last week of every month, many of the comedians fly out from the UK to provide unparalleled stand-up comedy.
2 River Valley Road
Block A #01-04
While in Singapore , one of the things on most people's ‘must do' list is a trip to the Long Bar in the famous Raffles Hotel. The Long Bar was the birthplace of the ‘Singapore Sling', that most famous of cocktails.
1 Beach Road
Tel: (65) 337 1886