Food, glorious food! Every nook and cranny seems to be filled with it in Singapore. Serving up a never-ending feast for your eyes and your belly, this foodie hub will excite, delight and completely overwhelm you. So, we’ve come up with five tips to help you sidestep the disappointments and uncover the best, must-eat treats.
TIP #1: VENTURE INTO THE UNKNOWN
Don’t limit yourself to the pristine, tourist areas. Ask a local where the best authentic food experiences exist – they’re worth hunting out. We highly recommend a night tour of Geylang. Tourists tend to avoid this hot spot, as it’s a bit gritty and the menus are quite “exotic” (Oyster Omelette with a side of Sambal Stingray and Frog Porridge anyone?). However, the locals love it! By night, Geylang is heaving with Singaporeans looking to line their stomachs with delectable dishes before an alcohol-fuelled night of karaoke. They’re on to something. So, follow suit, step outside of your comfort zone and enjoy.
TIP #2: ENJOY POSH NOSH
Due to the copious amounts of cheap, tasty eats in Singapore, it’s hard to justify and expensive meal. However, it’s worth splashing out on the odd occasion. We headed to Marina Bay Sands for date night and kicked things off with cocktails at the Infinity Alfresco Café & Pool Bar. The views were extraordinary, taking our minds off the steep menu prices.
We then headed into Ku Dé Ta restaurant and enjoyed, quite simply, our best meal in Singapore. The dishes were surprisingly hearty (we thought they’d come out looking like posh little pimples on a giant plate). The desserts were works of art and shouldn’t be missed. So, arrive with an empty stomach, splurge a little and enjoy the good life – Singapore style.
Tip #3: FIND THE SPECIALISTS
In Singapore, many of the food stalls and smaller restaurants seem to specialise in a key food group (e.g. soups, satay or vegetarian). They’re not trying to be everything to everyone; they want to be the masters of their niche market. So, when you have a particular craving, ask a local about the best place to eat that particular dish. We’ve been staying on Joo Chiat Road and the following kitchens quickly came up on our radar:
- Katong Laksa for laska
- Chin Mee Chin Coffee & Cake Shop for pastries and coffee
- The Loving Hut for vegetarian food, juices and smoothies
- Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice for Chicken Rice
- Long Phung Vietnamese Restaurant for Vietnamese
TIP #4: EXPLORE THE MAIN CULTURAL PRECINCTS
Visiting Little India, China Town and the main Singaporean Hawker Centres may seem like you’re ticking off a typical tourist checklist. Surprisingly, however, these precincts are less Westernised than you might expect. There’s a plethora of authentic, mouth-watering food experiences on offer. Just make sure you follow these two rules before tucking in:
- Be patient; don’t rush into the first restaurant you lay your eyes on. Wander the streets for a while and ask around. Eventually, you’ll stumble across the special pockets, which offer the best traditional food experiences.
- If a restaurant isn’t packed (especially with locals), forget about it. We strayed from this plan at one point. Our decision backfired on us. No more feeling sorry for the quiet stores!
TIP #5: TAKE TONY’S FOOD TOUR
You can’t visit Singapore without joining one of Tony’s food tours. Run out of Betel Box Backpackers, it regularly attracts guests from other hotels (including 6-star resorts). The experience really is that good.
Firstly, you get to gorge on over 30 of Singapore’s signature dishes, from fresh chilli crab and fried frogs legs to technicolour desserts. Every possible space in your belly will be filled. So, pace yourself and enjoy the button-bursting ride.
Thankfully, the food stops are broken up with walk ‘n’ talk tours around Joo Chiat Road. The running commentary is second to none. Tony’s scope of local knowledge is borderline ridiculous. You’ll quickly find yourself spellbound by his stories about everything from cat community groups, clubbing and cars to politics, employment and local laws. Before you know it, it’ll be 1am and time to sleep off your food baby.
Due to the wide range of cultural influences in Singapore (Malaysian, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian etc), it’s impossible to get bored on the food front. Treat every meal as an opportunity to try something new, take our tips on board and tuck in. Happy eating!