Breakfast in Singapore is something of a fluid concept: if a hawker or eating house is serving it in the morning, there's no reason it can't be breakfast, and no one will look twice if you get a big plate of prawns for your morning meal.
That said, there are some dishes eaten most commonly or exclusively for breakfast, served by certain hawkers and at kopitiams, the coffee houses as common in Singapore as Starbucks is in the U.S.
What can you expect for breakfast? Noodles, both stir fried and in broth, are common options. As are rice dishes like porridge and chwee kueh, steamed rice cakes topped with preserved salted radish. But the real national breakfast is a plate of pandan-scented kaya toast with some runny-yolked soft-cooked eggs topped with white pepper and dark soy sauce. If you're the type of person to spend your mornings dragging toast through pools of egg yolk, this is the thing for you.
Traditionally, breakfast is a sit-down thing—no Egg McMuffins to go, please—but a quick one. Your morning coffee is short and drunk quickly; eggs are sometimes slurped right from the dish.
Western influences are beginning to change that; chain kopitiams like Toast Box (an offshoot of the international bakery Bread Talk) sell coffee and breakfast to go. But if you have a few minutes to spare, sit down to enjoy your kaya toast or morning noodles. Mornings at hawker centers and kopitiams afford some of the best people watching in the country.
You're going to see some overlap between this list and the 25 Singaporean Dishes You Should Know, because as I said before, most dishes in Singapore can be eaten at any time of day. Take a look at that list for a more extensive glossary of the country's cuisine; these are just 10 options to get your day started right.
- Kaya Toast
- Soft-cooked Eggs
- Nasi Lemak
- Lor Mee
- Carrot Cake
- Fish Ball Mee
- Chwee Kueh
- Mee Goreng
- Rice Porridge
- Roti Prata
View all the dishes in the slideshow »
More on Singapore
- An Introduction to Singaporean Food »
- Snapshots from Singapore: 25 Singaporean Dishes You Should You Know »
- Snapshots from Singapore: A Must-Try Pork Jerky-Kaya Toast Sandwich Hack »
- Snapshots from Singapore: The To-Go Bag »
- Snapshots from Singapore: A Guide to Singaporean Coffee »
Note: Max's recent trip to Singapore was arranged by the Singapore Tourism Board. Special thanks to our awesome guide, Garry Koh.