With fancy hotels and shiny skyscrapers, I was expecting Singapore to be one of the more expensive parts of my big trip. However, not only is local food obscenely cheap, it is also unbelievably good. Hawker centres are imperative to every day live for Singaporeans, with a handy bus advert informing me that locals eat at them 6 – 7 times a week, and I basically followed suit during my stay.
It is the best way to sample authentic food and I made my way around a whole heap of them so you don’t have to (although you really, really should).
Hawker Centre: Satay by the Bay
Dish: Satay from Sri Geylang Sate
Satay by the Bay is located in the famous Gardens by the Bay, so it’s perfect to stop by once you’ve seen the famous Supertrees all lit up at night. I chose to sample the eponymous satay and got a combination of chicken, mutton and beef sticks. They were all marinaded in a sticky, sweet sauce and had a crunchy peanut sauce to use for dipping that I may have licked clean…
Hawker Centre: Gluttons Bay
Dish: Chicken Rice and Carrot Cake
This was the closest hawker centre to my hotel and had a great view over to Marina Bay Sands hotel. I met up with Kristabel to sample some local dishes and first up was the Chicken Rice. It’s a very basic dish in principle, but it’s about the balancing of flavours that makes it special. The chicken is poached with ginger and spring onions in very salty water, so the skin isn’t crispy at all. The rice is boiled in the chicken broth and there’s a chilli sauce to throw over the top. It’s not mind-blowing flavours, but it is special.
The Carrot Cake doesn’t have carrot in it at all! Instead it’s rice flour mixed with white radish (or white carrot), steamed into cubes and fried with garlic, egg and preserved radish. I had the black version which is when it’s fried with sweet dark soy sauce. I loved the saltiness with the egg and it was soft with a slight crisp to some of the pieces. It was almost like a cake-y omelette and I actually really enjoyed it.
Hawker Centre: Amoy Street Food Centre
Dish: Nasi Goreng from Bismillan Muslim Food Stall
I couldn’t believe the portion sizes in hawker centres, especially for the price. This huge plate of Nasi Goreng (Malay for ‘fried rice’) was less than £3 and was so filling. It’s essentially an egg fried rice but the chilli and tamarind used with it makes it different to the standard one you’d get from a Chinese takeaway. With soy sauce, shallots and garlic, it is a meal in itself rather than a side dish, and I mopped mine up with an egg roti dipped in chilli sauce.
Hawker Centre: Rasapura Masters
This is what I was most excited about eating in Singapore and it didn’t disappoint. Rasapura Masters is in the cavernous Marina Bay Sands mall and the hawker stalls there are a tad more expensive than those out in the street. I was expecting it to be lacklustre and owned by chains, but the laksa I had was gloriously spicy. A coconut milk curry with turmeric, coriander, lemongrass and garlic, I slurped up the rice noodles and nibbled on the fish and prawns that had soaked up all the flavour. I made a total mess of my white top but it was worth it.
Hawker Centre: Tekka Centre
Dish: Murtabak from Ar Rahman Royal Prata
This was hands down my favourite dish in Singapore. The dough was thrown about, stretched out and repeatedly folded over so that it had the consistency of a paratha. It’s filled with minced mutton, potatoes, garlic, egg and onion so it ends up like a filled flatbread. It was flaky and every layer was filled with the spicy filling. Served with a curry sauce to dip it into, it was so incredibly delicious and I am on a mission to find one in London. Send recommendations my way!