Singapore is a food lovers’ paradise.
From cheap and affordable hawker fare to high-end Michelin star restaurants, there is something to suit any and every taste bud. Aside from the famous Hainanese chicken rice, chilli and pepper crab, nonya laksa and other renowned dishes, there are also some lesser-known but equally Singaporean food experiences that you should explore, whether you are here visiting or residing in Singapore.
Here are just five of many great Singaporean culinary adventures to try:
Enjoy a Cold Brew
… of coffee, that is, at Chye Seng Huat Hardware (CCSH) in Jalan Besar. No, it’s not a hardware store, but the name was conceived by Papa Palheta (local roasters) in homage to the hardware and metal companies that use to fill the area in the past.
If you are a connoisseur of coffee, CCSH is a must-visit. See how the green beans are transformed and how the roasters use science to bring out the beans’ inherent flavours into the coffee at The Roastery. The Coffee Bar is where you have a 360-degree perspective of the cafe’s baristas as they brew the coffee using state-of-the-art equipment. Then head over to C-Platform to admire all the latest in coffee apparatus, machines and devices.
Of course, you need to have a cup of coffee while you’re there. Their coffees are rotated based on seasons, but some of their tasty options include the classic hot brews (latte, espresso, etc.) as well as cold brews such as Ethiopia suke quto beans and the nitro, which is a nitrogen-infused black coffee. Perfect for cooling down in our sunny weather!
F-I-Y Hum Jin Pang
We cook our own food at Chinese hot pot and Korean BBQ restaurants and we are all familiar with Pepper Lunch, which also somewhat involves a little DIY cooking on a hotplate. How about frying up your own hum chim pengs (fried dough fritters) at the hawker stall?
It may sound like a marketing ploy and a novelty, but customers at Hum Jin Pang have actually been frying their own orders of fried dough for several decades. And there is a very sweet story behind it.
While it is now run by Li Shu Hui, the stall used to belong to her father, who retired some years back. As her father got terribly busy at the stall, loyal customers back in the day would kindly offer to help by frying their own fritters. And that is how the business evolved into a Fry It Yourself (FIY) concept.
So if you want to have a go at frying your own hum chim pengs, visit the stall at Maxwell Food Centre. There are two yummy options, the Five Spice Salt and Sweet Red Bean. Have one or both!
Have Tea in Chinatown
What’s better than indulging in FIY dough fritters? It’s eating them and then washing them down with an authentic brew of Chinese tea! For that, you can head on over to Tea Chapter, which is the oldest and largest cultural tea house in the city-state.
You can pick from an amazing range of teas here—black, white, red, green, oolong and floral tea varieties. But we would recommend signing up for the Tea Appreciation Package, a one-hour session where a tea master will share with you the history and philosophy behind the art of tea brewing. The package will showcase an array of teas and also includes cookies and a tea egg. It’s mouthwatering, really.
Not to be missed is also a classic Gu Qin performance that occurs every other Tuesday. Call ahead to find out.
Catch and Cook Your Own Prawns
There is something to be said about foraging for your own grub. Check out Prawning @ ORTO if you want the experience and challenge of catching your own food and then cooking it too. It is the largest prawning facility you can find on the island, boasting 10 ponds that house mainly yabbies and big head prawns.
Fishing rods and bait are provided, and the use of the electric grills located at the centre is free of charge. This promises to be a fun and tasty activity for the whole family. The facility is open 24/7, you know, in case you feel peckish in the middle of the night.
Have an Ice-Cream Sandwich
Ready for some dessert? This local favourite is simple, honest and joy-inducing.
Surrounded by bright lights, glamour and high-end offerings along the Orchard Road shopping district are ice-cream uncles with their pushcarts, offering a little slice of heaven. A block of ice-cream is wedged between a slice of rainbow bread or a couple of thin wafer biscuits; choose from chocolate, strawberry, chocolate chip, durian and more. And the best part of all, they cost just a little over a dollar. For many Singaporeans, these bring back wonderful childhood memories. Let’s hope it helps you create new memories in your new home!