Strictly: Singa Style – Part #3: Surviving

We’ve finally made it to the final part of my epic Singapore trilogy, and for this we’ll be focussing on the one thing you can’t survive without: food. I have a feeling that, way back in one of my first posts, I mentioned that I was going to do a blog dedicated solely to Singaporean food one day and then, typical me, never got around to it. So here is me getting around to it. As a general rule I don’t like photographing food so I think this’ll be a little light on pictures, but you can just use the suspense to add to the excitement of the day when you finally eat all these wonderful dishes at all these glorious places.

One of the things I’ll be saddest about when I finally leave Singapore will be saying goodbye to the ridiculous variety of food on offer. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to another country where you can get so many different cuisines for so little money, and they’re almost always guaranteed to be good (unless we’re talking about Western food, you need to go to an actual cafe and fork out actual money for that to be in any way decent). Generally speaking, if you’re eating out and you’re on a budget then you’re going to want to head towards either the local hawker centre or food court. I’m sure this isn’t universal but, generally speaking, food courts are inside shopping malls while hawkers tend to be outside. Apart from this they’re both more or less the same, a collection of stalls selling different cuisines, sharing a load of tables and generally costing less than the price of the journey to actually get there. I’m not even kidding, it’s not only possible but actually really easy to get tasty food for a mere few dollars pretty much across Singapore. Of course the price will change depending on where you are, in the centre and main tourist areas it’s likely that food from all sorts of outlets will be a bit more expensive, but we’re still only talking a few dollars difference which is pretty damn crazy in this day and age.

My local hawker throughout the majority of my time in Singapore, and therefore by default my favourite, is Newton Food Centre. I don’t know why but they serve an awful lot of seafood there, I’d even go so far as to say that one in every four stalls sells it exclusively. I actually don’t think I’ve even eaten seafood at Newton, bar the odd Hokkien Mee (a spicy noodle dish served with prawns) here and there. What I have eaten a lot of from Newton is curry. I’ve also eaten a lot of curry just generally in Singapore but Indian Palace at Newton is still up there with my favourites. And before you say anything, I know that I can get Indian food just as good a lot cheaper in and around Little India, but trust me when I say that sometimes sticking with what you know is totally worth it.

This is going to go on and on indefinitely if I keep banging on about all the hawker food I love in Singapore, so let me give you a quick run down of some must-visit places and some must-eat dishes. For a thoroughly random night out head down to Geylang and eat pretty much anything you see. There are a lot of fruit stalls along the main road so you’ll probably have to contend with the horrific smell of durian while you try to find your meal, but I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything bad down here before. There are a lot of places selling Chinese ‘scissor’ curry which is a massive selection of different curries, of all varieties, served with rice and a whole host of vegetable dishes for less than $5, and I hear that somewhere in Geylang does very good nasi lemak (a Malaysian dish of fragrant rice generally served with fried chicken, egg, sambal, fried anchovies, toasted peanuts and cucumber) although I can’t vouch for that (but nasi lemak is pretty much always good so I reckon that’s solid information). Also in Geylang is probably one of the best chilli crab restaurants in Singapore. From what I understand No Signboard Seafood is a pretty famous establishment, and I can confirm that their chilli crab is tasty. They also serve crab a myriad of other ways, as well as prawns and countless other types of seafood, and I’m fairly confident that this will all be as good as their chilli crab.

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If one random night out isn’t enough for you then head to Golden Mile for great Thai food and a lot of weird sights. It’s a favourite spot amongst some of my friends thanks to the great food and the cheap beer, but you’re also pretty likely to run into prostitutes, lady boys and all manner of weird goings on while you’re there. If you do make it inside the Thai supermarket is also great, and stupidly cheap.

I can’t think of any more must-try spots, but if you’re on the look out for more must-eat hawker foods then I recommend laksa, satay, black pepper beef, katsu curry, any type of dish with the words ‘bee hoon’, ‘goreng’ or ‘mee’ in the name, the classic Singaporean char kway teow, the even more classic fishball noodles, the quintessentially classic chicken rice and any stall with ‘hong kong roast’ in it’s title. Lots of people would say add fish head curry into this list but I’m not going to because I really don’t know how I feel about eating something while its cold dead eyes stare up at you. I probably have missed some classic and tasty dishes from this list but, the truth is, there’s so much awesome, cheap food in Singapore I could waste days talking about it all.

Before I finish it’s only right that I talk briefly about the other foods that I truly love and that are a bit pricier in Singapore. I say other foods but I’m pretty much just going to focus on my two favourite places in the whole of Singapore. Of course there are other nice places to go, but if I could only eat from two restaurants for the rest of my life it would be these. The first is Wild Honey, a cafe that does probably the best brunch food in the world. It’s not cheap but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t fantasise about at least one Wild Honey dish in the time between their visits. The second is Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese dim sum chain that I could happily eat until I explode, a la Mr Creosote. I know that Din Tai Fung do a lot of different dishes but all anyone should worry about are the bao buns (with pretty much any filling), wantons, fried rice and garlic spinach. If I could eat only those for the rest of my life I think I’d be pretty happy.

The last important thing to say about food in Singapore is that there’s more than one way for it to make you fat. It’s cheap and tasty, obviously, but it’s also ridiculously easy to order in. Of course this does depend a little on where you live, but if you’re anywhere central then the odds are there are 200 plus restaurants at your fingertips ready and waiting to take your order. Also, McDonald’s do 24 hour delivery which is important. Life in Singapore doesn’t half make you lazy.

And so concludes my great tour of Singapore for anyone who rocks up at Changi Airport without a clue of where to go, what to do or where to eat. I’ve probably missed out heaps of stuff that I love, and I know that I’ve missed loads that others love, but half the fun of your arrival in Singapore, once the terror has finally abated, will be discovering new and wonderful places, things and foods for yourself.

Leah Out X

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