The following are my 5 must-eat local foods when in Singapore:
1) Hainanese Chicken Rice
I believe this one needs no further introduction. Hailed as the Lion City’s national dish, chicken rice is something that should not be missed while in Singapore. Although it originated from the Hainan province of China, hence the name, this dish has already become synonymous with Singapore. It is cooked primarily by steeping a whole chicken in pork and chicken bones stock, while the rice is flavored with pure chicken stock, ginger and pandan leaves. The dish actually has a very subtle flavor, I guess that’s why it comes with 3 kinds of dipping sauces: ginger paste, chili sauce and hoisin sauce.
2) Char Kway Teow
Now this noodle dish is something I really, really like. Char kway teow (spelling variation: char koay teow) refers to this stir-fried flat rice noodles tossed with a variety of flavorful ingredients such as prawns, Chinese sausage, fish cakes, bean sprouts, egg, chili sauce, soy sauce and chives. It is regarded as a very unhealthy dish because of its high saturated fat content. But who cares when it tastes so good? I love it.
3) Or Luak
Another dish of Chinese origin, or luak (or simply, oyster omelet) is also a favorite of mine. Made with small oysters, starch (usually potato or tapioca starch) and eggs, the omelet is a bit sticky and chewy. The briny flavor of the oysters lends a delightful taste of the sea. Mmmm… love!
4) Kaya Toast
Sure, I’ve eaten kaya toast here in Manila a few times before, but during our Singapore trip I went absolutely crazy for this Singaporean breakfast staple. I had it for breakfast 3 days in a row. Kaya refers to the delicious spread made of coconut milk, egg, sugar and pandan. It’s like coconut jam only less sweet. It’s sandwiched between toasted bread, sometimes with slabs of butter, and is traditionally enjoyed during breakfast or snack time. A kaya toast set usually comes with two soft-boiled eggs and a cup of warm teh tarik or pulled tea with milk. I miss this everyday. But no worries, there are a few Ya Kun and Toast Box branches in Metro Manila.
5) Ice Kachang
Also known as ais kacang, which literally means “ice beans” this colorful dessert looks familiar to us because of its resemblance to our very own halo-halo. Ingredients include finely shaved ice, red beans, corn kernels, grass jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup. It’s very sweet and very refreshing. A great way to beat the heat in Singapore.
As they say in Singapore, “Shiok!!”