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Singapore Hawker Centers and upscale restaurants

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Singapore Food recipies

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Yes, eating is one of Singaporeans favourite pastime. Many locals are willing to wait up for hours to eat their favourite dishes at their favourite restaurant/food stalls. Most Singaporeans would not mind less hygienic environment if the food there is great. Taste is their main consideration. This is not to say that eating is a filthy business in Singapore.

Backpackers will be delighted with the variety of food and the price here (Food around the region is cheaper though). There are many eating places to choose from (Singaporeans love good food). From expensive restaurants to coffeshops hawker center that scatters everywhere in the country. The cheap places to eat are food courts, coffee shops (kopitiam) and hawker center. Food court are air- conditioned food courts which is usually located at shopping centre that sells a variety of food. There's no need for reservations (free sitting). Each food court will have at least 10 stalls selling food & drinks. (Australians will find the similarity with this concept)

Coffee shops or hawker centre

In the 60 and 70 most food was sold on the street by the local vendors,that prepared food on the spot.Sometimes hygenic conditions and food quality was not to par.To improve these conditions local goverment decided to create food courts known here is Hawker centers,the only difference between food court is that in Hawker center there is a common seating area for all the restaurants.The restaurants are about 10 sq meters and display kinds of food served.They usually sell depending on location from 75,000-150,000 USD.

Prices range from US$2 - US$7 for lunch or dinner. A typical meal say Chicken Rice for lunch or dinner at a food court in Orchard Road cost about US$2-3. The price is even cheaper at hawker center and coffee shops. Be prepare to pay about US$0.80 for a can of Coke in town. I would recommend that you try eating at a hawker centre at least once for the experience & atmosphere. The food here is clean.

The Ministry of Environment conducts hygiene check regularly. Now, they have implemented a grading scheme base on hygiene. It's graded
A - Excellent
B - Good
C- Average
D - I haven't seen any graded this yet. But If I see the grade, I won't order my meal from the store.

This is not how the food taste but rather graded on the cleanliness of preparing the food. All stores selling food must have this display prominently in their stores.

Tips for Ordering Food

Many locals love chili. So much so that McDonalds & other fast food joint give chili sauce in additional to ketchup. When you order dry noodles, chili is usually added by default. So please say it if you do not want chili.
To avoid hawkers (those in airconditioned food courts are more ethical) adding extra helping to your meal and charging you more, say what you want and the price for fixed price item like "Mee Goreng $3, Fried Noodles $3".

Which stall to buy from? If you are in a hawker center and have no idea which store is good? hang around and observe the local crowd. Stalls with good food typically have longer queues or hawkers busy preparing food. Stalls with not so good food have little or no queue and the hawkers have nothing to do. This trick usually works during peak hours.

Meal Time

No idea of what to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner?

For Breakfast, try things like

· Nasi Lemak (Malay dish. Coconut fragrance rice with fish, eggs and chili)

· Mee Soto (Malay dish. Noodles with chicken in spicy chicken soup)

· Roti Prata (Indian dish. Fried dough with curry)

· Wan Tan Mee (Chinese dish. Noodles with shrimp dumplings)

· The typical chinese breakfast was toast with Kaya (Jam-like stuff made from Coconut, eggs and pandan leaves) and half-boiled eggs. These are usually available in coffeeshops where they sell beverages. The upmarket version of this simple but delicious meal is www.yakun.com, another near Somerset MRT is Killiney Kopitiam @ 67 Killiney Road.

Try these for lunch or dinner

· Mix Dishes with Rice (Look for the sign 'Nasi Padang' for Muslim style or 'Economic Rice' for Chinese Style). Things to try for dishes are spicy food like rendang chicken or beef. The best thing is to go to the store and have a look. S$2-3

· Ban Mee - A handmade thick noodle cooked in soup with mushrooms, minced meat, fried anchovies and egg. S$2.50-3

· Hainanese Chicken Rice - It's fragrance rice with chicken. Please try it with the chili. The chili is a must (Though order a tall cold glass of water first) One of the best is Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, where Anthony Bourdain and Tetsuya Wakuda love it, at Maxwell Food Centre ~S$3

· Murtabak - Indian dish made from flour and filled with chicken or beef or mutton eaten with curry. S$3-5

· Yong Tao Foo - Minced fish paste is spread on Tofu, vegatables and a variety of things to create this local dish which is eaten with noodles. ~S$3

· Nonya Laksa - If you love hot and spicy stuff, try this Chinese/Malay curry noodles. S$2-3

Great food that should not be missed

· Satay - grilled meat dipped in spicy peanut gravy eaten with rice cubes(Satay Club at Clark Quay)S$0.40 per stick (minimum order 10 sticks), rice @ S$0.50

· BBQ stingray (S$10-15), Sri Lankan pepper crab or chili crab (try Newton Circus food centre) ~S$40-50 per crab

· Frog legs rice porridge in Chinatown ~S$8-12. Yes, I am serious, this is a great dish despite its name.

Variety of Food Here

The food variety here is unbelievable. And I can't list everything here. My advice is eat a different kind of food every meal, if you travel with friends, share several dishes. There are Chinese, Nonya, Malay, Indian, Thai, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese eating places here. Muslim travelers should find no problem in finding halal food. Even McDonalds, KFC, Burger King serve halal food, certified by MUIS. I once received an email from a Muslim from Malaysia berating me for incorrectly stating here that BK serves halal food when they sold burgers with bacon (it was actually stated clearly in BK it is turkey bacon not pork) while she was here. She had the audacity to called me ignorant, insensitive and told me to get my facts right first or shut this website down when she was the one who was mistaken. Being a nice gentlemen that I am :), I replied with a polite explanation and pardoned her rude conduct which I believed was caused by a bad case of PMS. Oh well, that's me sidetracking and being mischievous.

Vegetarian should not find too much problem as there are quite a few vegetarian restaurant and food stalls. There are also for the homesick, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Delifrance, Taco Bell and the likes (Safe choice for the unadventurous). There are also numerous places for Italian, French, American, Mexican and Brazilian food.

If you must do McDonalds (you unadventurous %&*@!), it cost about S$6 for a value meal. ie burger, fries and drink

Some places with cheap food

An average of US$8 for food ought to keep you happy for a day if you are on a tight budget and know where to eat.
Here are some cheap places to eat near town.

Best Hawker centers by specific dishes

One of the largest and the best Hawker centers is on the east coast it is outdoors and it has a roof,has a lot of fresh ,fish,seafood and of course satay

· If you have finished shopping at Scotts (near Orchard MRT), dropped by the basement of Scotts Shopping Centre and enjoy inexpensive meals in an airconditioned food centre. You will find chinese, malay, indian & thai food sold here.

If you are near the Istana (near Dhoby Ghaut MRT) just dropped by Meridian Hotel and you will see a large food centre at the basement with huge variety of food. Here you will find cheap food with samplings from Chinese, Muslim, Indian and many others. This is a clean and airconditioned place to eat.

· 2 hawker centers beside Allson Hotel (near Cityhall MRT) offer you another place to sample local dishes. This hawker centre is a open air one. You will find some variety of food here not offered in airconditioned places.

· If you are done at looking at the Raffles Hotel, dropped by at Westin Stamford next door for an airconditioned food centre.

· If you are around Singapore World Trade Center (about to visit Sentosa) there's a typical hawker centre beside the Bus Interchange.

· Although not that cheap but still inexpensive, Newton Circus Hawker Centre next to Newton MRT offers great Seafood and local dishes. Some hawkers are agressive in promoting their food but touting, not only to tourists but to locals as well. Be courteous declining them and have a walkabout first. Decide on the dishes before patronising any stores. If someone offers to find you a table, chances are you will have to order something from his/her store. (I can get very irritated with the touting even as a local, there are times I acted like a uncouth hooligan to get them to back off)

  • Newton Hawkers are infamous to mark up their price for foreigners (esp Japanese). At stores that display prices, e.g. "Mee Goreng" at $3, say your order this way "Mee Goreng $3" ie food name and price. Otherwise, some assholes will put half a chicken in it and charge you $10.
    If you are getting seafood that cost by the kg, agreed on the portion and the price before hand. Sri Lanka Chilli Crabs shouldn't cost more than $40-50 per crab. Sri Lankan Crabs have pincers about 8-10cm long.

· And if you are really on a tight budget, I guess buy some instant noodles (US$2 for a pack of 5) or go to Carrefour at Suntec City or any supermarket where they sell roasted spring chicken for around S$5 that comes in a microwavable bag.

Additional Food Lists

Here are some more dishes that you might want to explore.

· Bak Koot Teh is a chinese dish. It's pork ribs cooks in herbal soup and eaten with plain rice. The herb is pleasantly fragrance with a touch of bitterness. For some reasons Japanese love this dish

· Chinese Roasted Duck, Roasted Pork Rice is something we love eating. Once you finish looking at Raffles Hotel, Talk a five minutes walk along Beach Road towards the direction of Arab Street & you will find a good coffeeshop selling these dishes. It's called 'Alex Eating house'. The roast pork or 'char siew' is really good. A dish with rice cost only about S$3. li>

Fish Head Curry. As the name implied, a huge fish head is cooked in curry eaten with rice. Don't be disguted, the meat around the head is especially tender. Some locals even eat the eyeballs of the fish. A good place to try it is Muthu's Curry Restaurant @ 138 Race Course Rd (Little India). The smallest portion enough for 2 cost about S$18.

Beer & Cigarettes

My overseas friends always complain about the expensive cigarettes and alcoholic drinks like beer. You can bring limited alcohol in but not cigarettes. Cigarettes in Singapore (pack of 20 sticks Marlboro) cost S$9.50 (this is heavily taxed and cost rise by at least S$0.10 every 6 months). A Jug of draft beer at Boat Quay cost around S$36 (S$18 during happy hour). From 7-11, S$3-5 a can depending on brand. If you drink during happy hours at pubs (approx 5pm - 8pm), it will cost cheaper at around 50% discount. In some pubs and on some nights, ladies get to drink for free throughout the night. Someoffer guys the same thing on a limited duration. Entry to such pubs may incur 'cover charges'

Try the local Tiger Beer also all the other imported beers are also aviable

Fruits & Desserts

You should guess by now that there are many fruits & desserts. Tropical fruits are plenty here. The problem is that some fruits are seasonal and you might not get to taste them while you are here. Of course, when Singaporeans talk about fruits, none is as favoured as the King of Fruits called the Durian. This fruit has a very pungent smell but durian worshippers will tell you it's taste is heavenly. So go ahead, pinch your nose & try it. BTW, durians are seasonal fruits. One should not leave Singapore without experiencing the durian.

Other stuff includes Rambutan, Jambu Air, Mango, Jackfruit, Mangosteen ,Guava. Try Durian ice cream ,delish

Many food courts have desserts shops that sells local desserts like Ice Kachang, Ice Jelly & etc. This are usually cold dessert (shaved ice with fruits & sweets). Just go to the store look at the menu & choose what you like or ask for a recommendation. It usually shouldn't cost more than S$2-3 per serving. My favourite is something called the Red Ruby

Chewing Gum

Yes, sad to say that the sales or import of chewing gum is somewhat banned here. Not that it is illegal to chew gum here. One reason for the ban is that people tend to dispose gum by sticking it somewhere & this cost quite a lot of money to clean up. The government's expensive toy, the MRT was littered with gum and door sensors made unworkable because of gum on them. It cost delays on trains and money to clean or repair. The recent FTA with the US allows import & sales of chewing gum for medical reasons such as nicotine gum, teeth whitener gum. Wrigley lobbied for this during the negotiation of the FTA.

Food Culture

If you step into a food court or hawker centre or any free sitting restaurant (including McDonalds), you will observe one culture that may looks rude or uncivil to you. Westerners tend to buy the food first before looking for seats. Over here, unless you are alone, you will look for tables first, get someone to 'reserved' the tables before embarking on buying your food. So, if you find locals reserving seats for their friends, please do not find it rude. It is a way of life here. We find it a more practical way, Imagine standing there unable to find table to sit for 10 mins, your food will turn cold spoiling your enjoyment of your meal. You will find that Singaporean in general view practicality more important than courtesy. The worst case of 'table reservation' is putting a pack of tissue paper, umbrellas etc on the table. So if you find such items on a table, it means that the table is 'reserved'. Yes, weird.

Oh, ignoring this culture may lead to a health hazard. I have seen some tourists ignoring this fact due to ignorance or 'it's my right' attitude, they have no idea that if you chose a wrong table with the wrong crowd, that particular crowd could have welcomed him to Singapore with a tour to a local hospital or the mortuary.

Dining Upmarket.

If you have money to spare, you should try eating at a restaurant here. The dishes are more authentic and some not found in food court or hawker center or food court.

Chinese Cuisine
Drunken Prawns (live prawns drown in wine or XO) and steamed
Shark Fins Soup - An expensive delicacy (Try Rama Thai Sharkfins Restaurant, 81/81A Tanjong Pagar Rd ~S$50/pot)
Kung Pow Fried Frog Legs - Those who haven't tried frog legs will find them tasting like chicken.
Stirred fry veggies with Abalone

Peranakan Cuisine
The Peranakans is basically Chinese or Indian with Malay Ancestry. This unique culture has it's own customs & tradition, cuisine, costumes and food etc. Learn more about Peranakan. Blue Ginger Restaurant (97 Tanjong Pagar Rd)

Will add North Indian & Cuisine later

Singapore Food Festival

Held during July, this promotional gimmick tries to lure tourist this way. But locals knows that you don't need a festival to have a feast everyday. For us, the feast is a everyday affairs.

Please see this official page for more details - about the most up to date information.


Makansutra (Makan - to eat in Malay ...Sutra from the word karmasutra). Here you will find a list of places to eat. Just go to the Makan TV link and check out the dishes.

1 komentarz:

Anonimowy pisze...

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