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Munch 'n' Brunch in "Lion City"
Eat your way around while in Singapore! I did and it was great!
Probably the next best thing to sightseeing is munching and brunching. To me, it was a real adventure!
I tasted various delicacies - including Chinese, Japanese, European... but again, I focused more on eating than on photographing!
On this page, we'll take a look at what you can eat, where and which are the foods you should focus on, when in Singapore. I won't omit the beers either, I promise!
Singapore is a Hawker Food Paradise!
Lau Pa Sat in Downtown Singapore
Hawker food complexes are typical to Southeast Asia - especially Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong...
These are generally cheaper eateries than the more select restaurants. They're typically placed in agglomerated areas, central parts of the cities and tend to share a large number of tables and seats.
Because hawker centres are typical to Singapore as well, it would be a shame to miss out on them.
The main hawker centre in Singapore is the Telok Ayer Market (Lau Pa Sat) - found in historic building.
Another prominent one is in Chinatown on Smith Street, then there are some in the Lavender, Newton Circus, Maxwell Road.
In these centres you will come across separate ethnic eateries, stalls offering from Chinese specialities to Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian...
I walked around a lot in the city, got tired and hungry, then I refilled myself with energy by eating at hawker centres.
Some of the hawker centres were utterly filthy (dirty benches, tables full of spill-overs, food leftovers).
Lau Pa Sat wasn't quite swimming in filth, but they didn't seem to clean the tables frequently enough. Covered with spots, leftovers, spilled food...
The cleaning staff superficially wiped the tables with a dry(!) cloth one-two times. And that was it!
During the late evening hours and during the night, the Lau Pa Sat extends out to the roads, streets around it. Obviously, because the demand is so great that people wouldn't fit into the old building.
The name of the place in Malay is Telok Ayer, which means "water bay". The Hokkien Chinese Lau Pa Sat means something like "old market".
The interior reminds me of old films, old photos...
At the beginning of the 20th century, the port area was still just a few meters from the Telok Ayer market, but land has been reclaimed from the sea and later skyscrapers, roads were built on top.
The market building itself was built on reclaimed area...
The building has a Victorian style cast iron structure - designed by James MacRitchie.
Most of the components were produced in Scotland and shipped from Glasgow to Singapore in 1868.
This market was originally installed on the south bank of the Singapore River, opened in 1823. It was demolished, moved, rebuilt several times. The mentioned Victorian style architecture came into existence only in 1868, after the entire market's location was changed.
So: what you can see today is not the original design of the building, nor was Lau Pa Sat intended as a hawker centre.
The old market building was transformed into a hawker centre in 1973 only and it was last reconstructed in 1980.
I always enjoyed my walks down to Lau Pa Sat... the central area looks and feels great in the evening hours.
At Lau Pa Sat, in order to cheer up the atmosphere, from time-to-time, bands play. But the band that played during one of my visits sounded terrible, but not too bad, so they didn't cut my appetite.
What to Eat and Drink in Singapore?
Few places in the World are as sophisticated from the gastronomical point-of-view as Singapore...
I tried almost everything from simple fast food to traditional Asian foods.
Vast amounts and countless varieties of Asian (especially Chinese) delicacies were served at the conference (see the photos of the foods lower on this page), but when walking in the city, I also jumped at Japanese cuisine specialities - I love takoyaki (octopus meatballs) and gyoza (Chinese cuisine-inspired dumplings, but Japanese style).
While on this first trip to Singapore, I had my first 3 takoyakis, which I bought at and eatery incorporated within the Sim Lim Square shopping centre.
Yes, there are 4 balls in the photo below, but sadly one rolled away and fell down! Yikes! Too bad, so sad... But, eating them with sticks is terribly impractical.
My first takoyaki in more than a decade!
Imagine: I had no opportunity to eat takoyaki in more than a decade! Roughly 12 years had passed and I had the opportunity again: this time not in Tokyo, but in Singapore!
Too bad, this one was served with a piece of human hair on my plate. I know it's disgusting, but it didn't actually touch the meatballs, luckily!
Another sort of takoyaki
Another type of takoyaki I had (seen on the picture above) was sold by a Japanese restaurant inside Raffles City Shopping Centre. It had a weird taste, to be honest. A lot spicier (with horse radish-like spice on top of it) and it tasted like it contained a lot more octopus meat inside it.
I honestly liked the previous recipe more.
Actually, the very first Asian food I tasted was gyoza - another Japanese speciality...
Delicious gyoza dumplings at Lau Pa Sat
Gyoza is similar to the Chinese jiaozi dumplings.
Basically it's a mix of vegetables and meat wrapped inside a thin dough. And it's served with a soy-vinegar (sometimes just soy sauce or soy-vinegar-chili) dipping sauce.
Gyoza is boiled and then fried on a hot oily pan.
Although gyoza recipes can vary, the most common (basic ingredients) include: cabbagge, lettuce, nira (or the green part of the green onion), garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, sake, some meat (either chicken or pork)...
Street food selling in Bugis
There are plenty of traditional foods that are a lot more popular in Singapore than gyoza or takoyaki. Chinese and Indian cuisines are well-represented.
You might want to try the Chinese dim sum dumplings (wide-spread in Southeast Asia), the Malaysian laksa soup.
They're very popular and come in many varieties. You can find them almost everywhere in Singapore.
Then there are things like the bak kut teh (which literally means: "meat bone tea") - basically boiled pork meat soup with spices, there is also the wanton mee - which is a noodle speciality containing slices of pork, vegetables and a sauce on top (it can either be spicy or not).
Fried carrot cake - made with eggs, radish, carrots, various green vegetables and sauces are added. This too has several variants.
Crabs and fish are often fried and dipped in spicy hot sauces.
Curry fish head is rather a soup with a fish head boiled in it. Chinese-Indian-Malay, no-one seems to know exactly where it originates from, but most likely it's of South Indian origin.
It comes assorted with vegetables, swimming in a heavily spiced curry sauce/soup. The Indian recipe is spicier, while the Chinese variants are lighter and sweeter.
Oyster omelette (orh lua) contains eggs, potato starch, oysters, vinegar, chili, green vegetables.
Sushi is almost everywhere - of course. And all you've read above is just very little from what you can find in Singapore.
A simple bacon sandwich that gave me a lot of energy
Sometimes the most humble, simple foods are the best to eat for travelers.
Salads can refresh you, but because Singapore has to import most of the agricultural products required, the salads I found were small, poor and very expensive!
Subway and a number of other fast food restaurants sell warm sandwiches - like the one on the photo above.
My first meal in Singapore was actually a humble McDonald's meal. Too bad they had no "all veggie" salads and that huge piece of meat tasted terrible!
The central area is full of more sophisticated restaurants with fine western-style products.
Of course, you can find (my beloved!) delicious, colourful macarons in Singapore too!
There's almost nothing you can't find in Singapore...
While walking in the Bras Basah area, I had come across a small eatery, which was sort-of a fast food seller. They had a variety of fruity products, hot dogs, sandwiches - some of which were waffle-based.
Delicious smoothies, fruity cocktails and it seemed like most of what they were selling was totally natural and fresh! So, I had this...
"Tango Ice" fruit smoothie cocktail with a warm ham and cheese waffle sandwich
The Tango Ice was a cold icy cocktail made from banana, green apple, honeydew, kiwi, lychee, mango, peach and watermelon...
Gosh, that tasted like... like...
...like nothing else I've ever tasted before and, but was electrifying delicious!
Part of their "line of products"...
Singapore proved to be a great place for tasting fresh fruit smoothies.
Some of the most exotic and most unusual combinations were on sale. Never before did have I come across such a wide variety of smoothies.
You can find them in many places: Bugis, Chinatown, Bras Basah or at smaller shops in the City Hall area.
Fruit smoothies in Bugis
Could I leave a good pizza out? No, of course not...
It's interesting to note that I could not find any pork-containing pizzas in Singapore. Maybe I didn't dig deep enough, but beef pepperoni and vegetarian pizzas were among the most popular recipes that I could find.
Pizzas are expensive. This meal cost me over 20 SGD, but it sure was delicious and large...
The Pizza Hut restaurant was hidden deep in the Raffles City Shopping Centre.
A vegetarian pizza at Pizza Hut
I know most of what I presented above isn't at all traditional in Singapore - I just wanted to give you a glimpse of the options for travelers. From budget travelers to those who have thicker wallets, the possibilities for eating and drinking are almost endless...
It slammed me with its 8.8 % alcohol concentration!
Of course, I had to check out the beers as well, I never leave the local beer tours out, wherever I travel.
And, Singapore's shops are full of Chinese, Japanese, Singaporean beers: Tsingtao is Chinese, Chang is from Thailand, Raffles and Tiger are Singaporean and Asahi, Kirin are famous Japanese beers.
I'd add Baron, which is brewed in Singapore by Asia Pacific Breweries-Heineken, company partly owned by Heineken. Honestly, Baron tasted a lot better than Heineken!
Seen on the photo to the left of this text is a can of Baron Strong Brew.
When I bought it, I thought 8.8 % concentration isn't that high, it's like drinking two 4.4. % beers (tolerable).
At first glimpse - it's like two "normal beers" and after all, this was a small 0.323 L can...
I sipped it up while still at my hotel, after having my in-room dinner.
But, of course, I got fooled by thinking it's a and the alcohol kick came a few minutes later.
Didn't feel a thing for 10-15 minutes after drinking the strong 8.8 % beer. Anything unusual. In fact, I thought it was weaker than a standard beer.
About 15 minutes after leaving my hotel for a basic shopping tour, the 8.8 % mega bomb detonated inside my brain.
The "roar" cam almost suddenly, as I got further away from my hotel. It felt like I had 5 beers or so...
Slammed me like a hammer, I could barely walk straight. Hilarious...
My favourite Singaporean beer was Raffles (see the photo higher on this page with the gyoza at Lau Pa Sat; there's also a Raffles beer can on the table). Clear taste, light, not too bitter.
Food Served at ad:tech
A two-day conference and expo had to include food and drinks. Also because of the spicy ticket price I paid and because the listening, taking notes and networking had drained most of my energy away, so I ceased the opportunity to check taste unusual new delicacies.
See the photos below...
I had my first meal at ad:tech on top of a piano(!). The very few seats and tables had already been taken.
The white creamy sandwich in the middle had a suffocating glue-like content. Barely edible.
Just a mix...
Raw shrimps with some caviar on lettuce
Simple dumplings (like jiaozi or gyoza). These weren't that good.
A lot of movement, long waiting lines and food simply wasn't enough for all bellies!
These were kept warm. Many were various noodle specialities.
I prefer fresh groceries, so I kind-of skipped these...
Sliced fruit, pastry started appearing towards the end
All of these were barely sweet, the design was a lot more appealing than the taste, but they were good...
Food at the after party
These half eggs were especially delicious, I could barely stop from munching them
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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