Singapore Country Guide

Eat

 
 

Nyonya Cuisine

Peranakan or Nonya cuisine was born from the mixing of the Chinese community with the Malays that once lived in the British colonies of the Straits Settlements to form modern-day Singapore, Penang and Malacca (Melaka). Thus, Peranakan cuisine is strongly influence by the Malay style of preparing and cooking dishes (often hot and spicy) but with a distinct flavour of its own. The Peranakans are also known for their kueh or snacks, which are somewhat different from the Malay versions due to stronger Chinese influences. 

 
 
 
 
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Chilli crabs by megawatts86

Chile Crabs
Chilli crab is a whole crab ladled with oodles of sticky tangy chilli sauce. It's spicy at first but the more you eat, the better it gets. Notoriously difficult to eat, so don't wear a white shirt, just dig in with your hands and ignore the mess. The seafood restaurants of the East Coast are famous for this.

Kaya
A Singapore favourite, Kaya is a jam-like spread made from egg and coconut, an odd-sounding but tasty combination. Served on toast for breakfast, canonically accompanied by runny eggs and strong, sweet coffee (kopi). Exists in two distinctive styles i.e. the greenish Nonya version (coloured with pandan leaf) and the brownish Hainanese version.

Laksa
Laksa (in particular the Katong laksa or laksa lemak) is probably the best-known Singaporean dish. Comprises of white noodles in a creamy, immensely rich coconut-based curry broth, topped with cockles or shrimp. Be warned that the common style found in hawker centres is very spicy, although you can ask for less or no chilli to dial down the heat. The Katong style is much less spicy and is generally found only in Katong itself.

Mee Siam

Mee siam is rice flour noodles served in a sweet-sour soup (made from tamarind, dried shrimp and fermented beans), bean curd cubes and hard boiled eggs. Though the Chinese, Malays and Indians all have their own versions, it is the Peranakan version that is most popular with Singaporeans. You will largely find this at Malay stalls.

Popiah
Popiah (spring rolls) comes fresh or fried, consisting of a filling of vegetables (such as bean sprouts, cabbages and turnips), fried tofu, shrimps and a slew of condiments, wrapped in a thin crepe smeared with sweet dark soy sauce and eaten like a fajita. They are related to the lumpia and runbing of other Chinese communities in Asia.

Satay Bee Hoon
Satay bee hoon is rice vermicelli (bee hoon) served with the same peanut and chilli sauce used for satay, hence the name. Usually see hum (cockles) and dried squid are added.

Ice Cream
Ice cream is just as it is in Western countries. However, in Singapore, there are various local flavours such as durian and red bean which are not available outside the region and are certainly worth a try. To impress the locals, try asking for ice cream in roti (bread).

 
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