10 Local Food one must try in Singapore

by Carol Ranas
15 minutes read
Singapore is a melting pot of culture which comprises of a lot of different races. With that, you can see a lot of different cuisines offered here. In Singapore, it’s either you go big or go home. Meaning, food here are yummy (well, almost all). A business will not thrive here if their food is not good. So most of the cuisines here are done good or almost near authentic.

But before I delve further into the food scene, I want to share with you some of the local food you can try. These are food that you can see anywhere, from hawker centers, food halls and restaurants. I have tried all these, and I also included some honorable mentions which I haven’t tried yet, but worth trying as well.

Here are some local Singaporean food you must try (I know I did!!)

  • Chicken Rice

Chicken Rice (Hainanese Chicken) is a food staple here in Singapore. It is a moist chicken steamed in herbs and spices paired with rice that has been cooked in the stock used in cooking the chicken. It is served with soy sauce and chili on the side.

In all places you’ll go in Singapore, this is one dish that you’ll definitely see. Almost all chicken rice I had here are comparable. Chicken Rice can be served steamed or roasted. Somehow, I liked both.

If you want to know where to get the best chicken rice, try Maxwell Hawker Center. It houses the famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice, which is the best I’ve tried so far. It was juicy and uber moist (some may find it too oily). Unfortunately, Tian Tian Chicken Rice sold out fast and be prepared to queue for long minutes. If you missed out on Tian Tian, you can try the other chicken rice stalls in Maxwell as well. They are also notable.

*Soya Chicken is also quite famous here being the first hawker store to earn a Michelin star. Don’t forget to drop by Hawker Chan at Chinatown Complex for their soy chicken rice which is delicious and at the same time affordable.

  • Char Kway Teow

This is one of my comfort food here in Singapore. Char Kway Teow is a stir-fried noodle dish made with either seafood or chicken. It is stir fried noodles on a soy sauce concoction with a bit of leafy veggies, sprouts and cockles.

I haven’t tasted a bad char kway teow yet, though each dish from different locations differ in flavour. I learned that I liked mine with charred bits and a more pronounced ‘wok hei’ flavour.

  • Ba Chor Mee

If  I’m taking a break from Char Kway Teow, Ba Chor Mee is another dish I always order. This also can be found in almost all hawker stalls and food halls. Ba Chor Mee (Minced Meat Noodles) is made of noodles mixed with chili sauce and has a soup as a side. The noodles can be customized based to your liking, I like the Mee Pok (flat type) but there are others like Mee Kia, U Mian, etc..

The soup is just where the meat and other ingredients boiled to cook. You can order it dry or with soup, they will just combine them. The sauce is simple, it is either chili sauce or tomato sauce with vinegar. I usually order the tomato one (created for children’s consumption) because I can’t seem to tolerate the spicy one. After pregnancy, it seems I cannot tolerate anything spicy anymore, which is sad.

  • Laksa

The first sight of Laksa when I arrived here, I thought that it is just curry noodle soup. I don’t like curry so I avoided the dish. But one rainy afternoon, my stomach was craving a savory soup and tea. The nearest option I have is Toastbox’ Laksa. When the auntie let me try the soup to check the spiciness, I was shookt! It was good and the heat was bearable.

There are two types of Laksa here in Singapore that I tried, Nonya Laksa and Assam Laksa. Toastbox sells the Nonya type which I liked because it is creamy with a kick. I also tried Laksa in hawker centers and sadly most of them sells a watered down version. The best Nonya Laksa I tried is the 328 Katong Laksa, Toastbox Laksa came in as a runner up.

Assam Laksa on the other hand is different. It is more spicy, made with fish and veggies. It taste quite different than the Nonya Laksa. It has a fishy and sour taste, with a bit of a crunch from the vegetables. It is equally good but the fish scales and bones swimming on the broth just kinda bothers me so I prefer to order Nonya Laksa.

  • Kaya Toast
A typical Singaporean breakfast consists of toast, soft boiled egg and coffee/tea. Kaya Toast is one of the popular breakfast fare here in Singapore. Kaya spread is similar to the Filipino coconut jam, but with a more eggy taste. The Kaya Breakfast Set is made up of toasted bread with kaya and slab of butter. I sometimes find that the slab of butter is too much so I opt it out in some occasions.

My go to breakfast place is Toastbox. Though there are also a lot of breakfast spot that sells this combo like Ya Kun Kaya, Coffe and Toast, etc.. Toastbox introduced me to drinking hot milk tea. I was so used to Iced Milk Tea with pearls. Hot Milk Tea is good that it can easily replace my coffee in the morning. Unfortunately, with my diet restrictions, I switched back to coffee. I do miss a hot milk tea in the morning.

  • Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is one of those dishes here in Singapore that doesn’t make sense because the dish itself does not have any carrots in it. It is made of stir fried raddish cake. The flavour profile of this dish is quite similar to char kway teow. The texture is quite different and has more eggs.

The best one I tried was the carrot cake place in Maxwell Food Center. for its flavour profile is more wok hey compared to others. This is also one of the dishes I gave up eating due to diet restrictions(too much egg).

  • Hokkien Mee
It is another noodle dish that can be widely seen in Singapore. Most of the time stores that offer Char Kway Teow also serves Hokkien Mee.

Hokkien Mee is a saucy seafood noodle. The sauce has a distinct seafood flavour which is delicious. You may see how different food places cook Hokkien Mee, some with sauce and combination of egg noodle and mee sua, some just pure egg noodles.

  • Nasi Lemak
Nasi Lemak is the counterpart of the Filipino silog meal, but much simpler. Nasi Lemak comprises of rice cooked with coconut milk, fried anchovies (dilis) and peanuts, sambal and a main viand. Usually the viand are fried stuff like chicken wings, chicken cutlet, fish but can also be savory dishes like rendang.
What I really liked about the Nasi Lemak is the sambal. The sambal that it comes with is spicy and savory at the same time. It reminds me of “Alamang” but more on the chili side. I don’t mind the spicy kick of sambal because the spiciness and savory umami flavour kind of marries the sambal together. My favorite Nasi Lemak is from Crave for I love their sambal.
  • Tutu Kueh

Kueh are my go-to snack when I’m craving for rice cakes. Tutu Kueh is a steamed rice cake with a sweet filling. I liked the coconut or gula melakah filling in my tutu kueh. When I’m craving for a snack and I don’t like dimsum or pau, I usually go for their kuehs.

There are  a lot of types of rice cakes which can be found in Singapore (some similar to what we have in the Philippines). But since I am on a dairy-free diet, Tutu Kueh is my best option. I have yet to try the others but most of it has egg.

  • Chili Crab

Trying Chili Crab is one of the touristy thing you’ll ever do in Singapore. Almost all people who come here tries the Singaporean Chili Crab. I can’t blame them for it is quite good. A fresh catch crab cooked in that fiery sauce, you won’t mind getting your hands dirty trying to eat the crab.

If you can’t tolerate the heat of the chili crab, you may opt to try their black pepper or white pepper crab. A fair warning, this dish is best consumed with friends for the price is quite hefty. Crabs are expensive, usually sold by the gram and the crabs here are big and heavy.


If you observe, most of the dishes I mentioned are noodle type. I guess Singapore does noodle dishes quite well and with a lot of variety. I have yet to try local dishes from restaurants, for hawker centers are just darn cheap and delicious. Don’t get me wrong, there are A LOT of good restaurants here, Michelin Stars included but it’ll cost you a bit of an arm and leg.

Above are the 10 local dishes I’ve tried and loved. It was hard to narrow it down to ten since most of the dishes here are good, and the variety of dishes are endless. There are still a lot of local food that didn’t get on my list but are equally good as well like the Prawn Mee, Oyster Omelette, Chili Ban Mee, Rojak and more. There are also dishes that did not appeal to my palate but have been on every must-try list you can see on the web like Bah Kuh Teh, Roti Prata, Fish Head Curry, BBQ StingRay and more.

With the restrictions in my diet (as a breastfeeding mom with a kid that is allergic to dairy) I have stopped eating chicken and eggs (it is kind of a sad thing). But hey, you do what’s best for your child, so this momma has to make amends or find alternatives to satiate my food cravings.

What local dishes have you tried here in Singapore?

This is not a sponsored post. I paid for all the meals stated above. All of the photos above were taken using my Iphone, otherwise, proper credits were cited in the photo. Everyone has different preferences and opinions. All opinions expressed are based on the my experiences and palate. Indulge at one’s own risk. ^_^

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