Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Snapshots from Singapore: 12 Must-Try Dishes

[Photos: Chris Hansen]

During my recent visit to Singapore, I asked a native Singaporean why the people of Singapore are so food crazy. His answer was blunt and typical. "It's the only damn culture we have."

Indeed, Singapore is a very young, very diverse city state. Since gaining its independence in 1965, the former British colony has become both a haven for immigrants from all over Southeast Asia, but also a destination for international wealth, boasting a bustling port, the world's second largest gambling market and a global center for banking and capital markets. With such an influx of new immigrants and ex-pats, it's no wonder that food is the unifying factor for all of Singapore's citizens.

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Most of the residents of Singapore are of Chinese, Malay, or Indian descent, but its centralized location has also accepted influences from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines and increasingly Western cuisine. And although many Singaporeans are fiercely protective at preserving the purity of their native foods, the food culture is bound to collide at some point, creating a melting pot of flavors that's uniquely Singaporean

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With so many flavors to represent, Singapore is absolutely clogged with places to eat; everything from the affordable hawker centers and eating houses to numerous high-end restaurants.

During my five-day trip, I beseeched my over-stretched stomach to accept just another bite of food, but I boiled down my limited experience to these dishes that you need to try when in Singapore.

12 Must-Try Dishes in Singapore >>

Jump Straight to the Dishes

Mee Siam
Hainan Chicken Rice
Mutton Steak
Mee Hoon Goreng
Bak Kut Teh
Murtabak
Char Kway Teow
Buah Keluak Nut
Petai Beans
Beef Rendang
Sri Lankan Crab and Mantao
Laksa

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