I’ve always said that Singapore is one of the greatest eating cities in the whole world. It’s a place where food and drink is a national obsession. So, quite rightly, it wins my foodie fangirl heart. Why? Because eating and drinking there is like nowhere else, from cultural flavours and traditions passed down through generations through hawker centres and family eateries (it even has its own annual food festival to celebrate its diverse and delicious flavours). But then turn the corner and you’re at one of the world’s best bars, or pondering which Michelin-starred restaurant to sample next. This country has always pulled me into its unique approach to food and drink. So come with me on the best Singapore food tour, from the high-end to the hawker. It’s going to be delicious.
Beach Road Prawn Mee Eating House
So, it’s breakfast time. And it’s a hard no to soggy cereals and avo toast; what better way to start the day than with a bold and beautiful noodle soup? I headed for Beach Road Prawn Mee Eating House (370/372 East Coast Road) for a bowl of its wares – the recipe has been going strong for more than 90 years. Hello, good thing.
Bonding over the best breakfast ever on my Singapore food and beverage tour.
The soup itself is made from the broth that the prawns are cooked in the day before. You get this epic seafood-spiked liquid that, the next day, is mixed with pork broth to impart this delicious hit of porkiness, prawniness and a whole heap of extraness. The result is a popular breakfast among the Singaporean community – and now me. One slurp and I’m fully under the spell. We’re talking ENCHANTED.
Tekka Centre, Little India
Tucking into tasty Indian food… in the heart of Singapore.
Why have one breakfast when you can have two? The next step of my tour was the Tekka Centre in Singapore’s Little India. It’s got a wet market for all your fresh ingredients and shops to lose yourself in for decades, but my destination, quite rightly, was the food court, where my plan was to seek out as much amazing Indian food as I could muster. My quest was bountiful: I filled my table with fragrant fare, and washed it all down with a Milo dinosaur, a milk drink made with a chocolate-flavoured malt powder. Cheers to that.
No Singapore food tour is complete without frequenting the many hawker centres.
What to try first on the food front? That would be Indian rojak at Haji Johan Indian Muslim Food, a 3rd-generation hawker stall. The word ‘rojak’ means ‘mix’, which is exactly what this dish is. The idea is that you choose all the little bits and pieces you want, such as potatoes, eggs, deep-fried prawn fritters, tofu and fishcakes. You pile them up on your tray, then the aunties (that’s a respectful name for an older woman in Singaporean and many other Asian cultures, by the way) who work on the stall fry them up so they get all nice and hot and crispy again, then chop, chop, chop and there you go. Your mixture of choice is then slathered in a rich and luscious sauce, and you just get stuck in like your life depends on it.
The ladle of lusciousness.
Of course, no trip to Little India is complete without sampling a cheese prata. I picked one up from Prata Saga Sambal Berlada, which is an absolute hidden gem – from the outside, it looks like any other hawker stall, but this was the prata to end all pratas. It was light, flaky, fluffy and crispy all at once… and ridiculously cheesy.
Beach Road Scissors Cut, 229 Jalan Besar
Now THIS place was a total destination. Beach Road Scissors Cut is a unique restaurant where the food is cut up by scissors, piled on top of fluffy, soft rice, and then drenched in the most savoury deluxe curry sauce ever. But back to those scissors.
Chop, chop. I’m hungry.
The story goes that originally the restaurant staff used cleavers for chopping up the motley crew of ingredients, but then apparently local gangsters would come and steal the cleavers… and start chopping each other up. Nice. So now they use scissors instead (the restaurant, not the gangsters). Regardless of chopping utensil, the main thing is the food on offer here is seriously delicious. You start with the main order of rice, and then you have an assortment of adds-ons, such as pork chop, cabbage, fish cake, prawn fritters, chicken wings and so on to pick from. Choose your own adventure, pile it on. Then watch as it all gets covered in curry sauce and gravy.
I would swim in that sauce if given the chance
It’s definitely what you call ugly delicious (and messy delicious) but that curry sauce is absolutely outstanding. And it represents the crossover of cultures that is uniquely Singaporean. This is where Chinese braised pork, Western pork chop and Nyonya-style (aka Peranakan) curry sauce all make friends on the one plate. It’s the most amazing mess of food and yes, it feels almost a little bit naughty, but that just adds to the enjoyment factor IMHO.
The Oyster Bank, Duxton Hill
From curry puff to quaffing oysters and champagne – that’s how i roll.
I love a local haunt, but because this is Sinagpore and because it makes total sense here, it was time to go from curry rice to champagne and oysters. As you do. Destination: The Oyster Bank in Duxton Hill.
This area is a really cool part of the city that’s known for its high-end, Michelin-starred restaurants, Instagram-worthy eateries and bars that dominate the world’s best bars charts.
And this eatery was phenomenal. Refined yet casual, and with the tastiest seafood in town. If you haven’t tried oysters in your lifetime, try them here. There’s a variety of toppings you can add to your freshly shucked oysters, and it would be rude not to try them all…
LeVel 33, 8 Marina Boulevard #33-01
Luxe shellfish – it’s thirsty work. So continuing the theme (I understood the assignment), I headed for LeVel 33 to quench. It’s a rooftop bar and restaurant with sweeping views of Marina Bay. In actual fact, it’s the world’s highest urban microbrewery and is known and loved for its small-batch brews and sustainably produced beers.
Champagne taste, beer yeast. I’ll drink to that.
I escaped the humidity outside and headed in to try a beer that is brewed with the same yeast used for champagne, making it a brut beer. Fancy. And delightful, all at the same time. The restaurant also takes pride in rustling up dishes that use different beers and beer-related ingredients, and overall it makes for a cheers-worthy experience. But there’s no time for me to partake in the culinary offerings. There’s somewhere I need to be…
Smith Marine Floating Restaurant, Pulau Ubin Coastal Area
You can’t get any fresher.
Wow, my friend. Just, wow. Smith Marine is a unique experience. It started off life as a fish farm back in 2006 then, a couple of decades and a steel pontoon later, became Singapore’s first floating restaurant, where the focus is on sustainable seafood production.
I sampled the lobster custard, which was like eating silk sheets it was so smooth, and a Singaporean specialty: cereal prawns (I have my own recipe for this and yes, you need it in your life). It’s kind of biscuity, kind of oaty and totally divine.
Salted egg crab: equal parts funk and fabulous.
I also tucked into salted egg crab because, you know… when in Singapore. It’s a big flavour there and you’ll find it everywhere from curry puffs to snacks and potato chips. And at Smith Marine, it has the perfect edge of funk but a salty umami flavour that works so well with the sweet and delicate crab. Get your claws into this one, live a life of zero regrets.
Hortus, Gardens by the Bay
Tea break… but make it fancy.
Is there anywhere else on the planet where you can be eating seafood on a pontoon in the middle of coastal waters, and then enjoying a fancy high tea in a tropical garden setting the next? It was time to head to Hortus.
Located within the Flower Dome at the horticultural wonderland that is Gardens by the Bay (the Supertrees night show is a MUST), Hortus feels like an idyllic location for a delicious high tea. And, also: free-flow prosecco. Nuff said.
True Blue Cuisine, 47/49 Armenian Street
Learning all about Nyonya amazingness at True Blue Cuisine.
After all the delicate finger sandwiches and sweet treats, it was time to take it back to the old school and up the traditional ante. True Blue Cuisine in the heart of Katong is where it was at, which serves up wonderful Peranakan food. It’s a beautiful mix of Chinese and Malay flavours and it’s really quite unique.
Everything I tried was incredible, but the standouts for me were the kueh pie tee (little crispy eat-in-one-mouthful cups filled with shredded turnip and prawn) and the ayam buah keluak, a traditional dish where chicken is stewed with this black nut, which I’d never tasted before. The nut itself almost had a black bean flavour and honestly? It was a delight.
Taiga at Conrad Singapore Orchard
Now THIS place can only be described as a gastronomical experience. Taiga is a dark, peaceful and contemporary dining room that only seats 13 diners, so you know you’re in for something intimate and utterly special from the talented hands of master chef Taiga Kanekuni. The fact we had to find this VIP space ‘behind a painting’ was my first hint that this was going to be an otherworldly dining event. Utterly beautiful.
There’s only so much food I can eat in one brief, jam-packed trip – but wow, what an assortment. I feel like I’ve been to so many cool places in Singapore, although truth be told i’ve only just scratched the surface. It is truly a global culinary city, with everything from Chinese and Malay and Indian to Michelin-starred eateries and hawker stalls, as well as world-class bars. And it absolutely never fails to impress.
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The 30th Singapore Food Festival runs from 19-30 July 2023, featuring Singapore’s diverse food and beverage culture, culinary traditions and innovation, as well as the creative talents behind it.