Before making the move to Singapore, you may wonder how well your palates would adapt to our local cuisine. Breakfast, especially, is the most important of meals, the one meal that may set the tone for the rest of the day. Ask any Singaporean to pick one dish as the representative breakfast, and you would probably leave them stumped.
Our country may be predominantly populated by ethnic Chinese, but our collective cuisine is informed by many other races, with an assortment of Asian origins. Every first generation of migrants brought along their own palates with them, and as they settled down, their descendants learnt their culinary ways too. Let’s take a look at some of these breakfasts.
The Classic Chinese Breakfast: Congee
We’ll kick things off with a real classic: congee or rice porridge. This dish is first made by boiling rice in plenty of water, enough for it to soften considerably, and combined with a variety of seasoning. Widely proliferated by the Chinese community around the world, you may have already tried its many variations even before visiting Singapore. However, they may not necessarily taste the same as it does over here. Most cooks have their own way of preparing congee so its flavour may greatly differ, depending on their styles.
Kaya Toast And Soft-Boiled Eggs
Move aside, bacon. Kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs are the real ultimate eggy dynamic duo. Toast is typically slathered with butter and kaya, or coconut jam, and are paired together with soft-boiled eggs in holy matrimony of taste. Singaporeans have the Hainanese community to thank for introducing this quintessential breakfast staple when the first generation of Hainanese migrated here back in the day. There are few breakfasts out there that are this simple and yet this show-stoppingly satisfying. All this duo needs is a perfect cup of hot coffee or tea.
Heart-Stopping Roti Prata Or Paratha
Introduced by the Indian community, roti prata is a type of flatbread made by mixing up some dough with ghee before flattening and frying it. Feel free to step into any eatery that offers roti prata and watch the fascinating process. Cooks will flip the dough out until it’s all thinned out before folding it into either a square or a circle. These will then be fried on an extremely hot, flat silvery steel surface until they turn golden brown. Roti prata is often served alongside some curry as well for maximum deliciousness that hits the spot every single time. Look out for variations in spelling of the name though; they really all refer to the same thing.
Mee Goreng Mamak
Another Indian breakfast offering is mee goreng mamak, which loosely means ‘uncle’s fried noodles’. The word ‘goreng’ is actually in Malay, probably because the language was once the lingua franca around here. Another possible explanation lies in the humble mee goreng mamak’s link to the Indian Muslim population. Malays form the majority of Muslims in Singapore and purveyors of the dish may have intended for them to become their target demographic. Of course, that doesn’t make the dish exclusive only to Muslims! Anyone is welcome to try this for their next breakfast.
The Malays And Nasi Lemak
Nasi lemak sounds even funnier than mee goreng mamak when translated into English. Loosely translated, nasi lemak means ‘fatty rice’, referring to its use of coconut milk in its preparation. The way nasi lemak is cooked is almost the same as you would cook any kind of rice. The only differences lie in its inclusion of coconut milk and pandan leaf for an extra fragrant kick. You can usually eat this rice with some fried chicken. Today, there are major local franchises that specialise in nasi lemak, making the dish even more readily available beyond breakfast. In fact, most breakfasts in Singapore are extremely built to be versatile. You can sleep in on the weekends and still be able to enjoy them at your own pace.
Another Noodle Variation: Mee Rebus
Singaporeans love their noodles. Directly translated, mee rebus means ‘boiled noodles’. It may not be the most creative name out there but its composition definitely is. This dish probably requires the most preparation out of all the dishes in this list. As the name suggests, the egg noodles used are boiled and served with a slightly sweet, spicy, and thick gravy.
The noodles are easy enough to prepare; the gravy is less so. The cook would have to create a broth out of shrimps, flavoured by a whole laundry list of spices. Some of these include shallots, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, as well as a South East Asian variety of bay leaf. The gravy’s thick consistency is then achieved, using corn starch as a thickening agent. Mee rebus is usually served with a side of hard-boiled egg and other garnishes.