After the fourth noodle dish before 3 p.m., I needed some respite. Eating in Singapore carries the constant risk of too much of a good thing, and though I fell for kopi hard, hitting this kind of brick wall demanded something more pure.
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Singaporeans have a sweet tooth, or more accurately, a composite sweet jaw made with teeth from all over East and Southeast Asia. You'll find Hong Kong egg custard tarts, Malay shaved ice, tropical fruit fritters, and Indonesian sugar syrups...to say nothing of the steamed and baked cakes, fresh fruit, and silken tofu that command long queues at hawker centers well into the night.
Is this the story of how Singaporeans eat? No. It's the story of what a clueless American does when there's too much head-spinningly delicious food around him, and he literally has to stack it all on top of each other to eat it all.
Kopi is a dark and full bodied brew, less bitter (and, you could argue, more aromatic) than Vietnamese versions, but with the same subtle caramel-sweetness that comes from canned condensed or evaporated milk. Most importantly: it's good.
Here is a list of 25 dishes to get you started on your eater's journey through Singaporean cuisine. Singapore's food hails from China, Malaysia, India, and beyond—but also, in a sense, from nowhere but itself. The hokkien mee, bak kut teh, and chili crab (among many, many other dishes) will often be totally unlike what you've had elsewhere.
Singapore is a tiny country with a voracious appetite: "we'll eat five or six meals a day," one local told me. "I'm not saying that to impress you—we really do." Learn about this food-crazy country's cultural influences, what you must eat here, the frenetic hawker centers, and more in this beginner's guide to Singaporean food.
From your morning coffee to your afternoon teh tarik, your drinks in Singapore arrive, more likely than not, in real, re-usable cups. So what do you do when you want your drink to go? Get it poured into a bag, tied with lanyard, and stuffed with a straw.
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." 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. 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. Here are the 12 must-try dishes.