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Singaporean Cuisine

Nonya is Singapore's best showcase for cross-cultural foods. When Chinese settlers moved to Malaysia, their methods of food preparation underwent a slow evolution as they incorporated local ingredients and cooking styles. Simple Nonya snacks include poh piah, soft spring rolls stuffed with such components as bean sprouts, pork, and minced prawns. Other cross-cultural meals include the spicy Indian-style mee goreng (fried noodles), noted for its tomato-derived reddish color, and the fish-head curry, a celebrated local classic, neither of which originated from India. Spicy and simple sop kambing (mutton soup) is an Indonesian spin on an Indian dish. The Chinese food-derived Peking/Beijing duck isn't native to China. Hokkien mee (fried noodles) in the style of the Fujian people from China, packed with prawns, and the Malay curry laksa, a.k.a. laksa lemak (coconut-milk curry), are also unconventional options. Don't wear white to munch on the fiery, crunchy, messy chili crab, a meal of which inevitably ends with cracked shells scattered around your table.

Singaporeans love chili, but their concept of "mild" may not match yours. Pungent sambals (chili-based pastes), such as sambal belacan (chili with pungent, fermented prawn paste) may not be to everyone's taste.

Keeping healthy can be difficult when many local foods are fried, sugar is used liberally in drinks and desserts, and most Asian dishes comes with rice, noodles, or bread. A light and nutritious lunch that you can control is yong tau foo, a Chinese dish where you select such ingredients as quail eggs, Asian vegetables, and soybean curd to mix in a clear soup (noodles are optional).

Note: Wine isn't always the best accompaniment to local cuisines—whiskey or beer is often preferred. If you're dining on European fare, consider Australian wines—they seem to survive the tropics better than do the French labels. If you want wine with Cantonese fare, check the wine list for Chinese wine (be sure that it's made from grapes and not rice).

Updated: 02-2014

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