Even if you lunch at your neighborhood hawker centre every day, can you really say “been there, done that” to the complete Singaporean foodie experience?
Full time family doctor and part time gastro-geek Dr Leslie Tay blogs about his culinary adventures on ieatishootipost.sg and has authored four books on Singapore food.
He shares his top tips on enjoying Singapore’s diverse food culture.
One of the best ways to get an overall feel of Singapore’s food scene is to visit a hawker centre. Some of the best ones can be found at Maxwell Road Food Centre, Lagoon Village Food Centre, Smith Street Food Centre and Old Airport Road Food Centre.
But be sure to go at off-peak times to avoid the queues: have breakfast at 10am, lunch at 2pm and dinner at 8pm.
NEXT: Explore the food in the heartlands →
Get a feel for the heartlands. This is where Singaporeans live, eat and play.
Visit old public housing estates like Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio, Bedok or Tanglin Halt. These estates all have their own food centres and coffee shops (above) where some of the best food can be found. They’ve even got quaint cafes and eateries peppered all around!
NEXT: Eat at a cooked-to-order stall →
Hawker stalls aside, make sure you also have a meal at a zi char (cooked-to-order) stall.
Some of the classic Singaporean dishes that can be found at these stalls are prawn paste chicken, sambal kangkong (water convolvulus), cereal prawns, coffee pork ribs and of course, chilli crabs. Some of my personal favourite places for a zi char fix are Keng Eng Kee Seafood and Good Chance Popiah.
NEXT: Visit the wet markets, where locals do their grocery shopping →
Make time to visit the wet markets in the morning to get a feel for local ingredients. Most of these markets are connected to a hawker centre so you can also grab breakfast there.
Pro tip: you can haggle! For the uninitiated, take note of how much the seasoned market-goers are paying for their groceries to get a sense of how much you should be paying.
NEXT: Splurge on a high end restaurant →
Don’t forget that Singapore is more than just about local dishes. We also have some of the most authentic Japanese (I like Tatsuya at Goodwood Park Hotel and Hashida Sushi at Mandarin Gallery), French, Italian and Korean restaurants.
Pro tip: tables at some of these restaurants are in hot demand. Make a reservation on Chope in advance!
NEXT: Try Singaporean cuisine reinvented in restaurants →
NEXT: Visit the hawker centres… the clever way →
Finally, before you come, make sure that you start conserving your calories – because you are about to enter a foodie’s paradise!
By Olivia Lim, SilverKris, additional reporting by Pinky Chng, April 2017
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