Singapore: What to eat, and where to eat it

I’m slightly {OK, a lot} embarrassed by sharing these photos. In my head I’d planned to take photos of the beautiful food before we’d eaten it. That was the plan. I’d be that annoying person at the start of the meal, keeping everyone’s pesky hands away and pleading, “Please don’t eat yet! I haven’t taken a photo!”

Instead we all got caught up in the eating moments, and the trip seriously moved so fast {we were jumping from one thing to the next} that I just darn forgot almost every single time to take photos BEFORE the eating began. And, well, one of the main reasons for the aftermath photos are… that the food in Singapore is seriously good. Like, good enough to go back to just for the food.

Singapore has various influences when it comes to food. You’ll see food from China, Malaysia, Western countries, India, Singapore itself and various other places. We had a guide for the whole trip named Toon Hee. He was a dad of two kids, who worked as a magician in his spare time. And by spare time, I mean every waking moment that he wasn’t working. As we traveled along he’d show us the places he busks on the weekends, and while we had a rare 30 minute of waiting time, he performed a few tricks for us with things he had in his pockets. Lacey was so mesmerised.

Toon Hee took us to a range of places to eat, and we discovered one or two on our own too. And usually he’d just order for us, picking traditional or favourite meals and we’d just taste away.

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1. Food Republic Vivo City
After flying into Singapore and arriving in the late afternoon we were determined not to have room service. We wanted to explore, and make sure we were tired before getting started on the trip the next day. So we took a shuttle to Vivo City {one of the main shopping centres in Singapore}. We were told to try the food court. Now to me a food court is filled with fast food eateries, but I think in Singapore a food court is totally something else. The Food Republic is a market with permanent stalls. It’s really funky in layout, with each stall made to look like a food stalls. So you wander around selecting various dishes and bringing them back to your table.

I sent Hubby off to get drinks, 2 beers and an apple juice, while Lacey and I wandered around to get food. Food Republic isn’t big in size, but it is big in variety. So we took a while. Hubby in the meantime was totally freaked out that he’d lost us, and with no way of communicating via phone {as we had no reception} he managed his ‘freak-out’ by downing the two beers {mine and his} and ordering himself a prawn dish. Boys!

I don’t think you could really go wrong at Food Republic, but we ordered pork belly with chicken rice, xiaolongbao {little dumplings that are filled with pork and soup – that pop in your mouth}, and finished with some fried mantou {little fried buns} with a condensed milk dipping sauce. We loved it all, particularly the dumplings. Oh, and I think Hubby liked the beer.

2. Singapore Food Trail
Just before getting on the Singapore Flyer {the tallest ferris wheel in the world} we stopped for lunch at the Singapore Food Trail. Again, it was lots of little stalls selling food {known in Singapore and other Asian countries as Hawker fare} but with a little bit of a nostalgic feel. This time we had Toon Hee with us so he went around selecting dishes while we patiently waited and wondered what we were about to eat. If you’re traveling with your family, friends or even alone or as a couple – this is seriously the way to eat. You get so much to choose from, it’s not expensive, it’s clean and it has a great atmosphere. We tried so many dishes, some included Hokkein Mee {a noodle dish with prawns and calamari which was AMAZING}, Bak Ku-teh {a soup with pork ribs – a little peppery for my liking}, Ngoh Hiang {assorted fried fritters}, and a pork pancake {delicious!}. Having just traveled to Malaysia I was keen to try another Chendol, which is a crushed ice treat with palm sugar, condensed milk, and other little bits and pieces. Mostly I wanted Hubby to try it and fall in love with it. Unfortunately, he didn’t. But my love affair continues.

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3. Yet Con, Chinatown
If you like restaurants with mood lighting and waiters dressed in fancy outfits, this place isn’t for you. If you like good, authentic food with loads of flavour and a dash of tradition thrown in – this place is where you need to be. Their specialty is chicken rice {Hainenese Chicken} which is a beautiful dish that I would happily eat once a week or more. I haven’t found anywhere in Australia that does it, and I’ve looked. A lot. The roast pork is a must try too, and I loved the green vegetables as well. Lacey loved everything, especially the broth that comes with the chicken. When we go back, we’ll be visiting this one. Definitely.

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{Toon Hee ordering the dumplings. He insisted we leave him to it, and who were we to argue?}

4. Din Tai Fung, Resort World Sentosa

When I spotted this dumpling place while we were visiting Resort World Sentosa I asked Toon Hee if we could perhaps have lunch there. I’m kerazy about dumplings. He said we could but he’d rather take us into Chinatown for something more authentic. He said it was good food, a little more modern and really cheap. We ended up too short for time to leave the area and stayed for lunch there anyway {winning!}. It was quite busy when we visited, so you take a number and wait your turn. The line moves really quickly, so it’s not too bad. Best of all there is a huge menu {with pictures} outside the restaurant, so you’re encouraged to tick off on your order list what you want and then as you walk in the door you hand in your order. It speeds things up, and the food is on the table in no time. The chefs work behind glass windows so you can see everything being made. Every single dumpling was worth raving about, as were the beef noodles. This might have been my favourite place of all!

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{Image courtesy of Singapore Seafood Republic}

5. Singapore Seafood Republic
And now for the fancy. If you like a little bit more upmarket, then this is your place. But it’s not too fancy that you shouldn’t take the kids. After a day of dumpling eating, and adventure-seeking this was a much-welcomed escape, a peaceful, waterfront restaurant with air-conditioning and beautiful food. Lovers of seafood, put this on your must-visit list. I was still so full from the dumplings at lunch that I couldn’t do the food justice. It just kept arriving and arriving. Singapore Seafood Republic does a mean Singapore Chilli Mud Crab. And I’ll give you a hot tip: Order the fried mantou {the fried bun I spoke about above} and dip it into the sauce of the crab. Oh, and bring your appetite.

6. Yum Cha, Chinatown
Ah, sweet Dim Sum. I miss you. This little place is down a street and up a sneaky staircase, where we found a modern, bustling Yum Cha restaurant filled with locals. I say ‘found’ when really this is a favourite of Toon Hee’s and he knew exactly where he was going. Feeling a little bit cheeky, I took the menu and said to Toon Hee, “Let me pick for you. Let me show you a good time.” We laughed and then he let me pick, adding in his favourites and approving my choices. We added in chicken feet on Toon Hee’s request and of course we made Hubby try it too. Everything was deliciously perfect and we left satisfied. Except perhaps Hubby and his chicken feet encounter. I don’t think he’ll try that again.

What’s your favourite type of cuisine? Are you partial to a dumpling or two? Have you ever tried chicken feet?

Lacey and I traveled as guests of Singapore Tourism Board. We paid for Shane to come along for the ride.

24 thoughts on “Singapore: What to eat, and where to eat it”

  1. Plenty of places in Chinatown in Sydney do chicken rice, and a few of the BBQ restaurants in Burwood serve it too. Might be worth a trip to Burwood next time you’re in Sydney?

  2. Yum that sounds delicious!! I have a Korean friend who is very well traveled and one day he took me and a friend visiting from Canada to a dim sum restaurant in Washington, DC. He efficiently ordered all sorts of things from the little menu and helped us select things off the cart (i believe this is said to be Hong Kong style)…all wonderful…except for the deep-fried ducks feet. Even he wasn’t a fan! He said he’d looked at the characters and guessed (wrongly) what it was.

  3. Oh, thank you!! We seem to go to Singapore quite a bit (a stop over on the way to England where my in-laws live) and never get very far as far as food is concerned. I love asian food, so next visit we will have to go further afield! Now I read this I will try and remember to have another look before we stop in Singapore again. So deliciously written, I want to go there right now!!

    • Can I tell you that this post took me 5 hours to write, and I had to stop every hour to get something to munch on? I was so hungry taking the trip down memory lane.

      And I just learned on Facebook that there is a few Din Tai Fungs in Australia – so now I’ve even more hungry.

      I hope you can fit in some food stops next visit. It feels like such a shame that you’ve missed a few opps already. Next time. 🙂

      • Yes, silly really, and kids in tow is never an excuse in my book!! You can always get rice and noodles, which are in high demand when we’re in Asia with my two little ones! Maybe I’ve just gotten used to Singapore meaning a pool and a sleep!!

  4. yum..will not be trying chicken feet however will be trying several of these …have had frogs legs and snails..liked xD

    • I have to tell you, I have been thinking all week how envious I am of you going! What a sap I am. I’ll write the post next week of all the things we did – so that you can add any of them to your to-do list. x

  5. I always forget to take the pretty photo first and end up getting one of something half eaten while trying to hide the big bight at the back. It doesn’t work. I lived in Thailand for a while and just love Asian food. I’m heading back to Malaysia soon and can’t wait to try some new dishes. But now I’m dreaming of a stopover in Singapore.

  6. I’m pleased I’m not the only one who makes everyone wait at the table while they photograph the food! Although, lately I’ve been so hungry and/or excited that I’m half way through dinner before I remember my camera! Dumplings are probably my best food ever, I eat so many of them, I am sure to start looking like one! I’ve made Hainanese chicken in my thermomix (recipe on the blog) and it was soooo good. I can’t wait to try the real in Singapore! We’re planning a trip there later this year, and we’re going on a FMS food tour! Have you tried the chicken feet – I think the bony bits take a bit of getting used to,.. I tried them when I was about 10 and chucked up in the car on my way home. Needless to say I haven’t tried them since!

  7. I’ve come to the conclusion that I might be a picky eater. Last year when we were in Shanghai for 5 days I lost over 5 pounds. I could not eat anything. If the scent wasn’t recognizable I walked away. Ha! There were even some restaurants that I had to walk out of. I know I missed out on a lot of good food.

  8. Hi Chantelle, I was so excited to see that you went to Singapore but was sad to see that you didn’t get to try some of Singapore amazing non-chinese food! Malay and Indian food are mind blowing in Singapore! Maybe when you ever visit Singapore next time, I’ll send you a list of places to visit……or I might be there feasting with you! ; ) Love the blog by the way!

  9. I miss Singapore! The food is so amazing and when I’m lucky enough to visit, I usually spend most of the time discovering all of the amazing food there is there. I love the hawker’s markets the most though! Nothing like eating something amazing and enjoying a icy beer in the humid evening air!

  10. great article – however would like to point out that Vivo City is not the main shopping centre in Singapore!!

  11. Thanks so much for sharing your great food finds, it all sounds amazing!! I’m jotting it all down to take with us when we visit next month.

  12. There is a Malaysian cafe at Robina Town Centre (near or next to Kamikaze the Japanese restaurant) which serves Chicken Rice. Also, if you are venturing up to Brisbane you should try any of the Malay places at Market Square in Sunnybank. Little Singapore in the city also serves it.

  13. I LOVE SINGAPORE! Especially the food! I’m a born and bred Singaporean and still everyday I crave local food. I’ll take you places the next time you decide to visit! (:

  14. Will it make you jealous if I tell you I live less than a 5min walk to Yum Cha in Singapore. You certainly got to see some of the harder to find and less obvious greatness in Singapore. Making the most of it while we’re here.

  15. Love Singapore. We spent almost 10 years there & both my kids were born there. Our favourite dish is Hainanese chicken rice. Not much like it here in Brisbane so my son cooks his own, it is amazing, he does it all from scratch and his broth is out of this world. Lucky me!!

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