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30 Famous Local Food To Eat In Singapore
30 Famous Local Food To Eat In Singapore
Singapore is a melting pot of cuisines, incorporating a rich heritage of food dishes consisting of Chinese, Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian influences. If you are a local Singaporean, you would have seen these dishes in the hawker centres below your void deck, in the food courts of shopping centres and in the quaint shophouses that are decades old. These are the real dishes you need to eat in Singapore before you die. I know there are still dozens of dishes in Singapore that are true to our heritage, but if I were to cover them all, this list would take you two years to finish reading. As a Singaporean, there is no excuse not to try these dishes we all grew up with. As a tourist, this is a good check-list of authentic local cuisine in Singapore that you must eat when you visit. Read more: https://sethlui.com/best-local-famous-foods-to-eat-singapore/#ixzz65FHzv6mk
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82 items, updated Nov. 2019
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64 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$ChineseAsianSoups
SethLui.com Being an island port, Singapore used to have many fishermen who would bring their fresh unsold catch to be sold as dishes instead. Teochew Fish Head Steamboat is another result of our geographic situation. The soup typically contains a controlled mix of fried yam, sour plums, fried fish bones and vegetables which add flavour to the soup. Raw fish slices are added in later. Grouper, red snapper or pomfret are the usual choices available in Fish Head Steamboat. Old school steamboat places still use hot charcoal as a heat source, which apparently adds more flavour as compared to just using an electric or fire stove. Be warned – good and popular Fish Head Steamboats in Singapore have fervent customers queuing for more than an hour regardless of how nonchalant the restaurant service is.
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4 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
AsianSingaporean
SethLui.com A Curry Puff is a small baked pie enclosed with either short crust or puff pastry, the former being the more traditional option in Singapore. A common local snack, the filling is usually made with curry gravy, chicken, potato and egg. Other variants include fillings with yam, sardines, otak (grilled fish cake) or even durian.
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2 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com One of the Best Curry Puff Stalls
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10 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
AsianSingaporean
SethLui.com One of the Best Curry Puff Stalls
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15 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
Asian
SethLui.com Char Kway Teow is another signature Singapore noodle dish made with flat rice noodles (河粉) with sweet dark sauce. Stir-fried with egg, pork lard, Chinese sausages and fish cake, Char Kway Teow was intentionally made to be loaded in fats because labourers in the past needed a cheap source of energy, and what better way than to get that from one fatty meal. Cockles are also usually added, as there was plenty of it in Singapore’s port island. A Penang Char Kway Teow variation exists as well, using chives and prawns and lacks the sweetness that is distinctive of Singapore-style Char Kway Teow.
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34 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$AsianSingaporean
SethLui.com One of the Best Char Kway Teow Stalls
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4 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com Sometimes Chicken Rice stalls will sell Duck Rice as well, but the real good ducks are in specialised Duck Rice-only shops. The common version of Duck Rice, influenced by roast meats in Hong Kong, uses plain white rice with ruby red roasted duck, and is drizzled with braised sauce. The other Teochew version uses braised yam rice and braised duck meat, along with some tau pok (beancurd puffs), eggs and peanuts on the side. Teochews just love braised sauce. Both are equally yummy and have distinct taste profiles.
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22 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$AsianChinese
SethLui.com One of the Best Duck Rice Stalls
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480 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$ChineseSingaporeanAsian
SethLui.com More accurately known as Hainanese Chicken Rice, this is one of Singapore’s most well-known and celebrated dishes. No coffee shop in Singapore is complete without a Chicken Rice stall. The whole chicken is steeped in sub-boiling pork and chicken bone stock to absorb the flavours and cook. Some shops will also dip the bird in ice after cooking to create a jelly-like finish on the chicken’s skin. Variations also include roasting the chicken which is called ‘black chicken’ (pictured), in contrast to the ‘white chicken’. The stalls with better service will de-bone the chicken for you. The rice used in Chicken Rice is cooked with chicken stock, ginger, garlic and occasionally pandan leaves for added fragrance. Chilli sauce made with garlic and red chilli is served with Chicken Rice, and the dish sometimes comes topped with sweet dark soy sauce and heaped spoons of chopped ginger.
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25 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$SingaporeanAsian
SethLui.com Singapore Chinese/Malay Rojak is a mixture of of you tiao (dough fritters), bean sprouts, tau pok (beancurd puffs), radish, pineapple, cucumber and roasted peanuts. Everything is then all mixed together with a sweet-savoury black, fermented prawn paste sauce. Chilli is optional. The ingredients in Chinese/Malay Rojak is quite standard. The other distinctive variant is the Indian version. Indian Rojak allows you to pick what ingredients are added and usually doesn’t include you tiao. Red gravy made with potato and spices is used in Indian Rojak instead. It is also tossed in peanut sauce.
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15 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com One of the Best Rojak Stalls
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10 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$AsianSingaporeanChinese
SethLui.com What originally started as Fish Head Bee Hoon in the 1920s has slowly advanced to using fish slices or chunks of fish meat in this age of abundance. In the past, meat was scarce and food sellers had to maximise every part of the fish including the head. The fish head was fried to mask the fishy odour after a few days, as back then refrigeration wasn’t as accessible. These days, boiled fish slices are now an available option. The Fish Bee Hoon Soup broth is made from fish or pork bones that have been boiled for several hours, and some stalls might add evaporated milk for a fuller taste. Variants include adding XO cognac or brandy.
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89 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$IndianAsianSingaporean
SethLui.com Yet another cross-cultural dish that has been popularly adopted by Singaporeans is the Roti Prata. Roti Prata is of Indian origin, has a Malay name, and is eaten by the Chinese! That’s what Singapore racial harmony is all about. A fried flour-based pancake, popular Roti Prata variants include adding cheese, eggs, mushroom, onions or even chocolates and strawberries to the batter. The dough is tossed, flipped and stretched multiple times into a large thin layer before folding the edges inwards. Some outlets also stretch the dough so thin that it turns crispy when fried on the metal pan. These are called ‘paper’ or ’tissue’ prata. Prata is served with fish or chicken curry while some people like myself like to sprinkle sugar onto it.
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Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com Popular among the Muslim community as well as the Chinese, Mee Siam has been absorbed into Singapore’s Nonya culture. Mee Siam means “Siamese noodles” and is vermicelli soaked in a sweet and spicy gravy flavoured by tamarind (assam), dried shrimp and Tau Cheo (fermented bean paste). It usually comes with a boiled egg, beansprouts, tau pok (beancurd puff) and is garnished with chives.
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237 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$AsianSingaporeanMalaysian
SethLui.com Nasi Lemak is a very versatile dish and what was once a breakfast item, is now eaten during lunch and dinner too. Traditionally wrapped in banana leaves, Nasi Lemak is a deeply-rooted Malay coconut rice dish. The rice is steamed with coconut cream to give it a sweet fragrance. A typical Nasi Lemak set comes with Ikan Bilis (fried anchovies), peanuts, egg and sambal (chilli paste). A good sambal is arguably the mark of a good Nasi Lemak. Nasi Lemak is so popular in Singapore, the other races have adopted this dish in their own variations and offer a wide selection of additional ingredients like fried chicken drumsticks, luncheon meat and sotong (cuttlefish) balls.
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15 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$AsianMalaysian
SethLui.com One of the Best Nasi Lemak Stalls
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17 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$AsianMalaysian
SethLui.com One of the Best Nasi Lemak Stalls
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94 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$AsianSingaporean
SethLui.com One of the Best Nasi Lemak Stalls
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2 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com Biryani (or Briyani, Biriyani, Biriani and Birani) is a mixed rice dish of Indian Muslim influence made using distinctive long grain rice, usually Basmati rice. A little bit of saffron is added to give the dish its distinct colour. Meats like chicken, mutton, beef or fish is often included. Spices used are also heavy in flavour like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and bay leaves. The resulting rice grains are usually very dry and can be accompanied by curry or chutney.
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9 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$
SethLui.com One of the Best Biryani Stalls
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38 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Attraction
Speciality & Gift Shops
SethLui.com Widely regarded by many as the ‘King Of Fruits’ in Southeast Asia and the national fruit of Singapore, our country has even modelled a building after one (The Esplanade). Most foreigners are turned off by the strong ‘pungent’ smell, while locals adore the flesh so much that they turn it into desserts, cakes, tarts and even shakes. Many expensive and popular varieties of durian have surfaced like D24 or the Mao Shan Wang (猫山王), which are even stronger in fragrance. There is a taste preference for either the more bitter variety or sweeter flesh. Whether you love it or hate it, you can always smell it when it’s in the room, leading to bans in many public areas like on trains and buses.
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33 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$Asian
SethLui.com Another breakfast dish seen regularly in both Singapore and Johor, most stalls selling Chwee Kueh only open in the morning and close by lunch time. Rice flour and water are mixed together to form the rice cake, then put into little saucers and steamed to produce the typical bowl-like Chwee Kueh shape. It is topped with chai poh (preserved radish) and chilli. Making Chwee Kueh is a dying trade that the young generation does not want to carry on, so try it before it’s gone forever.
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4 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
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SethLui.com One of the Best Chwee Kueh Stalls
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20 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$Asian
SethLui.com One of the Best Chwee Kueh Stalls
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463 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$Asian
SethLui.com A grinding machine is used to produce the mountain of shaved ice on top of a bowl of assorted ingredients like red bean, attap chee (palm seed), agar agar jelly, chendol, grass jelly or any other filling desired. Evaporated or condensed milk is then drizzled on top, along with red rose syrup and Sarsi syrup to produce the multi-coloured effect. Variations may include drizzling with gula melaka (palm sugar), adding ice cream or other novelty toppings like durian or chocolate syrup.
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Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com One of the Best Ice Kacang Stalls
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53 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$Chinese
SethLui.com Tau Huay is a Chinese dessert made with beancurd tofu that is sweetened with sugar syrup. The traditional type is very soft, slightly grainy and soaks in syrup to be eaten together. This Tau Huay can be eaten hot or cold, sometimes with Tang Yuan (glutinous rice balls), grass jelly or soya bean milk added as well. In recent times, a popular and more gelatinous, jelly-like version of Tau Huay has surfaced and for a period of time, drove Singaporeans to queue like ants to sugar. This version is smoother and can incorporate pretty much any flavour like mango, melon or sesame. The texture is distinct from the traditional types and some camps advocate against it due to unnatural stabilisers used. This version is only eaten cold as heat would break the structure.
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171 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$Asian
SethLui.com One of the Best Tau Huay Stalls
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9 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$
SethLui.com Satay is a dish of skewered, turmeric-marinated meat that is grilled on an open fire. It originates from Indonesia but has become a common hawker dish in Singapore. Stalls are not restricted to any race and may be operated by the Chinese, Malays or Indians. Typical meats include chicken, beef, mutton and even pork which is sold by the Chinese stall owners. Ketupat (rice cake), onions and cucumbers usually accompany Satay. A spicy peanut dip is also provided for the Satay and sides as well.
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11 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com One of the Best Satay Stalls
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8 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com Singapore Hokkien Mee features a combination of fried egg noodles and rice noodles in a rich prawn stock with cubes of fried pork fat, prawns, fish cake and squid. Some vendors add pork strips as well to add more flavour. This dish was the creation of post-war Hokkien noodle factory workers who would gather along Rochor Road and fry any excess noodles they had. Another version easily confused by the same name is called Hokkien Char Mee, which is covered in a signature thick dark sauce and uses only one type of egg noodles.
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2 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
AsianSingaporean
SethLui.com One of Best Hokkien Prawn Mee Stalls
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2 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
Asian
SethLui.com One of the Best Hokkien Prawn Mee Stalls
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8 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
Seafood
SethLui.com Popular in Singapore hawker centres as well as in Taiwan night markets, this is a dish that many foreigners and locals love. Stalls that sell Carrot Cake typically also sell Oyster Omelettes as it’s a similar cooking process that also utilises a common ingredient: Eggs. Potato starch is usually mixed in when frying the egg and gives a thicker, fuller taste. Variants include a version without the starch, which is priced slightly higher due to more eggs needed instead. A special vinegar chilli is also paired exclusively with Oyster Omelettes in Singapore.
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5 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
Asian
SethLui.com One of the Best Bak Chor Mee Stalls
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610 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$IndianAsianSingaporean
SethLui.com Is it Chinese, Indian or Malay? This is another ambiguous dish which probably has a South Indian origin, but has been heavily influenced by the various ethnicities in Singapore. What I do know, is that it’s delicious. Either half a head or the whole head of a red snapper is stewed in curry with assorted vegetables like lady’s finger (okra) and brinjal (aubergine). The Indian-style of curry has heavier spices and flavours, while the Chinese-style is lighter and sweeter. Variants include the Assam-style fish head curry, which has an added tinge of sourness from tamarind fruit (assam).
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36 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$ChineseSeafoodAsian
SethLui.com One of the Best Curry Fish Head Stalls
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31 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$ChineseAsianSingaporean
SethLui.com One of the Best Curry Fish Head Stalls
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5 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com Laksa is a dish created from the merging of Chinese and Malay cuisine, otherwise known as Peranakan culture. There are two main types of Laksa – Curry Laksa and Asam Laksa. Curry Laksa is more predominant in Singapore, while Asam Laksa is more commonly found in Malaysian regions like Penang. In fact there are loads of variants of Laksa, differing in the type of fish used, broth and even noodles. Traditional Singapore Curry Laksa uses vermicelli, coconut milk, tau pok (beancurd puffs), fish slices, shrimp and hum (cockles). Due to cost-cutting or taste preference, some stalls might opt out of shrimp and cockles. A unique Singapore variant known as Katong Laksa features vermicelli that’s been cut into short pieces and is eaten only with a spoon. There is much debate on which establishment is the original Katong Laksa, but most bowls are delicious in their own way.
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67 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$ChineseSeafoodAsian
SethLui.com The two most famous styles of cooking crabs in Singapore are with a sweet, spicy tomato-ish chilli sauce, or with black pepper sauce. Chilli crabs are usually eaten along with fried mantous (buns), which are dipped in the luscious chilli sauce. To achieve a delicious texture, the crabs go through a two-step cooking process; they’re first boiled then fried so that the meat doesn’t stick to the shell. Recently, many new popular styles of cooking have surfaced as well, like salted-egg crabs or crab bee hoon.
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54 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$SeafoodSingaporean
SethLui.com One of the Best Singapore Crab Stalls
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755 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$ChineseSeafoodAsian
SethLui.com One of the Best Singapore Crab Stalls
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770 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$CafeAsianSingaporean
SethLui.com The one and only traditional Singaporean breakfast – Kaya Toast with Soft-Boiled Eggs. The traditional bread is an old school rectangular white loaf, toasted on a bread grill, lathered with coconut or egg kaya, then slapped with a thick slice of SCS butter that slowly melts within two slices of warm bread. This is the classic kaya toast. Variations include using thinly-sliced brown bread, round buns or ‘Jiam Tao Loh Tee’ (like a French baguette). For the eggs, they’re usually placed in a large hot water metal pot and covered with a plate. Then you time it and take out the eggs when they’re ready (about 7 – 10 minutes depending on how well you like your eggs). Trying not to scream like a little girl, crack open the eggs with your bare hands onto one of the two plates given and throw the shells onto the remaining plate. Season with pepper and dark/light soya sauce. Dip the kaya toast into the eggy mixture for extra deliciousness!
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311 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$Singaporean
SethLui.com One of the Best Kaya Toast Stalls
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71 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$ChineseAsianSingaporean
SethLui.com Another Hong Kong/ Shanghai-inspired type of cuisine available in Singapore is Dim Sum or ‘Dian Xin’. This is not exactly one dish, but a set of small dishes to be savoured in a group – a typical Chinese dining sharing custom. Popular Dim Sum dishes include BBQ Pork Buns, Xiao Long Bao, Siew Mai, Chee Cheong Fun and many more.
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5 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$
SethLui.com No, this isn’t the Western dessert. This is far from it. The Singapore Fried Carrot Cake is made with eggs, preserved radish (chai poh) and white radish flour cake, which resembles a ‘white carrot’, thus giving rise to the dish name. This is a Teochew dish popular in both Singapore and Malaysia. Variants include the ‘black’ version, which has sweet sauce (molasses) added, or a crispy version with the cake fried on top of a beaten egg to create a crust and chunks of cake. Most commonly seen in Singapore though is the chopped up version with individual radish cake cubes.
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3 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
SethLui.com One of the Best Fried Carrot Cake Stalls
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14 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$ChineseAsian
SethLui.com This Singapore wanton noodle dish was probably influenced by Hong Kong cuisine, but has become entrenched in our culture over the years. The Singapore version is typically eaten ‘dry’, drenched with some light sweet sauce, slices of pork char siew and wanton dumplings filled with pork, with a small bowl of soup on the side. Auntie will also ask if you want it spicy or not. The spicy type sees chilli mixed into the noodles, while the non-spicy kids version will have tomato sauce mixed in. The wanton dumplings may be either deep fried or come in the form of soup dumplings. The Malaysian variant uses a darker-coloured sauce and sweeter tasting mee (noodles).
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22 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$ChineseAsian
SethLui.com One of the Best Wanton Mee Stalls
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102 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$$ChineseSoupsSingaporean
SethLui.com One of the many stories of the invention of Bak Kut Teh is that during the olden days of Singapore, a poor, starving beggar came by a roadside pork noodle store to beg for food. The stall owner was in poverty but wanted to help him. He boiled some of the leftover pork bones and added whatever cheap spices he had to flavour the soup, including star anise and pepper which created a soup that resembled tea in terms of colour. Thus, pork bone tea was born. Another story claims that it was a tonic invented to ‘reinvigorate’ the Chinese coolies who worked in the Clark Quay area. Bak Kut Teh has been around in Singapore since we were still a developing country and deserves its recognition as a simple, humble dish. Most of the Bak Kut Teh here are of the pepper variety with mild use of herbs like star anise. Choose pork rib meat in your soup for a more tender bite. The other variant would be the Klang Bak Kut Teh, a dark and highly flavoured herbal soup originating from Malaysia.
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14 reviews
Singapore, Singapore
Restaurant
$Fast foodAsian
SethLui.com And finally, the last dish on this list to eat in Singapore before you die: Popiah. The Teochews call it 薄餅仔 (thin wafer) or 薄餅 in Mandarin, which in the Teochew dialect reads as ‘Bo-BEE-ah’, thus resulting in the English name Popiah. The round Popiah skin is a thin paper-like wheat crepe that encases all the ingredients. A sweet sauce called hoisin is lathered onto the laid-out flat skin before fillings are added. Ingredients within a Popiah typically include small prawns, boiled eggs, Chinese sausage, lettuce, bean sprouts and primarily filled with cooked carrot and turnip strips.
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