Singapore is a chowhound’s heaven. A land harboring a multi-racial society and having a diverse culture means that there’s a lot of intriguing victuals waiting to be tasted by foreigners and locals alike. From Chinese cuisine, to Malay, to Thai, to Indian – food is definitely found in every corner of the country.
Though you can easily run into a myriad of interesting goodies anytime, it’s not a cinch to spend a great amount of converted currency on food alone. If you only brought enough cash, you will have to think of other things where you will allot your money on like the place where you will sleep; EZ Link card load; souvenirs; and pasalubongs.
We obviously know that the cost of living is high in SG. But with a profuse chunk of keen observation and guts to ask questions to the genial citizens, you can find the right places where you can shell out a little qián but still be appeased big time.
In Singapore, there are “Eating Houses” or “Coffee Shops” or “Kopitiams” as they call it. A Kopitiam is an open-air food court filled with stalls where you can choose from a wide variety of already-cooked dishes.
[Coffee Shop? Yes, they serve different kinds of local coffees and beverages too. But let me discuss that on my next post.]
It is the Singaporean version of the Philippines’ “karinderya” or “turu-turo”.
Basically, a mandatory cup of steamed rice is served and you got to pick one, up to how many semi-greasy grubs that you want to go along with it. A two-meal combo is good enough but a three-meal medley (or more) is definitely for the win.
Mostly Singaporean, Chinese, and Malay cuisine, you can expect Sweet and Sour (pork, fish, and anything that can be sweet-and-sour-ed); Breaded anything; an array of esculent and smeary cooked–vegetables; and other comestibles with sauce in it. I love the white egg omelet something.
A meal can cost you a mere S$3- S$4 depending on how many viands are in there.
If you want a cheaper meal, you can treat your lingua with a S$2.50 repast called Chicken Rice. Unofficially the national dish of SG, it is a cup of chicken-flavored rice, topped with sliced roasted chicken. The taste is literally like how you would imagine it.
Another contender in the price range is the popular dish called Nasi Lemak. It is like the Chicken Rice but the rice itself is cooked in coconut milk and pandan with a touch of local chili paste. Some serve it with fried egg, nuts, and anchovies. The chicken is fried, not roasted. If you feel like you are already growing wings, you can opt for fish and other fried stuff.
The first-rate and systematic MRT line of SG makes it possible for you to travel around without much hassle and impasse. The mere fact that there’s a mall near in almost every MRT station means that there is a food court inside it.
Food Courts in Singapore are typically just like any other. They are actually a bigger, decent, and air–conditioned Kopitiam. You’ll get more food choices though the prices are a bit expensive than their street counterparts. You might have to spend S$4 to S$8 for a nice and warm eat. Food Courts are “branded” by the way. For example, the name Food Republic has more comely stalls and offers more delicious foodstuff. Others are just standards and quasi-economical.
Of course, if you are the not-so-adventurous type of eater, located across Singapore are the various western fast food chains. There are the usual suspects like Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, and McDonald’s. The McDonald’s Curry Sauce is kinda weird as an alternative dip for chicken and fries when you think about it, but honestly, it somehow tastes good for me.
Eating in fast food chains can usually cost you S$4.50 to about S$8 a meal. The Double Quarter Pounder and Double Mc Spicy are worth it for S$7.50. Too bad, the Mega Mac is only a seasonal delight.
[For Filipinos, watch out for the opening of Jollibee’s first branch in SG. It will be homed by, of course, the Tutuban-ish mall called Lucky Plaza (Orchard).]
Back in the streets, you might also wanna try the S$1 ice cream sandwich. It is a slab of frozen Selecta (Wall’s) ice cream (choose what flavor you like) sandwich-ed between sliced bread or crispy sweetened wafer. It is a more-filling but inexpensive substitute for some frozen desserts.
Authentic Muslim Eating Houses are also wide-spread in Singapore. They don’t serve pork but the other picks for satisfying your palette are equally gratifying. For less than S$10, you’ll get a distinctive meal that you can pair with a freshly squeezed fruit juice of your choice.
For noodle-freaks, there are the Economic Bee Hoon stalls. Usually for breakfast, the noodles are cooked and dished-up with fried items like eggs, luncheon meat slices, breaded anything, and sausage variations. If you want to heavily stuff your paunch with carbohydrates, this local delicacy might do the job for under S$4.
“Seafood Houses” are usually the transformation of the other Kopitiam stalls at night. The charge will become a dab pricey but a fixed list of menu will be presented so you can order fairly and the dishes are guaranteed newly cooked. It is kinda like a typical Chinese restaurant giving you the food experience you might be looking for. The Marmite Pai Kuat; dim sums; and dumplings are my extraordinary favorites. You will have to shed S$4 to S$12 depending on the size of your order.
Three things to remember when food-tripping in Singapore:
1. Drinks are usually not included in a meal.
You can order soda, kopi, ice lemon tea, lime juice and other beverages for a sheer $1.20. My favorite so far is water chestnut. It tastes like the Filipino refreshment called sago’t gulaman, minus the sago and gulaman.
2. Prepare your taste buds for gobs of spicy dips and sauces.
You’ll face a very Asian-oriented side dishes and dips: different kinds of curry, shrimp pastes, fish sauce with chili, name it, they have it.
3. Open-air food houses don’t usually provide napkins.
You better have some in your pocket in case you need to wipe your unctuous lips.
Remember, this post doesn’t tell everything, of course. This is just a plain perspective of a foreigner, who, is still searching for new experiences day by day. Singapore is not a big country. You can freely and safely roam around, transferring from trains to buses and won’t get lost with the help of instinct and basic reading skills. The more you ramble, the more you discover things. It is as simple as that.
But regarding food, if you already know where to go and what to eat, you only have to worry about one thing:
Have it here… or take away?