We are ordinary Singaporeans writing about food we eat. We do not intend to start another squabble with our friendly neighbours about the ultimate origin of local dishes we love. However, since we are celebrating Singapore National Day, we should be granted the indulgence to list Singapore food we think is as local as Singlish, and where we can go to try some.
Charcoal-grilled or toasted slices of bread with kaya and butter is a simple dish that is much loved by many Singaporeans. It is as local as Singlish. Singlish is derived from English, which we obviously did not invent, but is uniquely Singaporean. In a similar way, kaya toast is very Singaporean even though there were bread and toast long before Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles.
Kaya Toast is credited to the Hainanese run coffeshops of Singapore and Malaya. One such coffeshops was Kheng Hoe Heng Coffeeshop at 67 Killiney Road, which was established in 1919, and is now known as Killiney Kopitiam.
Places to try Kaya Toast
67 Killiney Road
Tel: +65 6734 3910 / +65 6734 9648
Ya Kun Kaya Toast
Tong Ah Eating House
35 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089142
Tel: +65 6223 5083
Chilli Crab (là jiāo páng xiè, 辣椒螃蟹) is considered one of the national dishes of Singapore.
According to Singapore Infopedia, Chilli crab was invented by a pushcart hawker, Cher Yam Tian, in the mid 1950s. She and her husband later opened a restaurant in 1962, called Palm Beach, at 514 Upper East Coast Road.
One of the places to enjoy Chilli Crab is Roland Restaurant, which is operated by the son of Mdm Cher.
Places to try chilli crab:
Block 89, Marine Parade Central, # 06 – 750
Tel: +65 6440 8205
Hua Yu Wee
462 Upper East Coast Road, Singapore 466508
Tel: +65 6442 9313
Soon Kueh (笋粿) literally means “bamboo shoots cake”. The dumpling-like Teochew snack has filling of shredded bamboo shoots, turnip and dried shrimps wrapped in a rice-tapioca flour skin.
The simple soon kueh has been enjoyed by Singaporeans for many generations. There are different variations of soon kueh, with some even excluding the “soon” or “bambo shoots” from the filling.
Places to try soon kueh:
Yong’s Teochew Kueh
1022 Upper Serangoon Road, Singapore 534760
150 East Coast Road, Singapore 428837
Ah Yee’s Soon Kueh
124 Tembeling Road, Singapore 423623
Fish Head Curry
The head of a fish stewed in Indian curry with assorted vegetables is a dramatic dish called Fish Head Curry in Singapore.
The article in Singapore Infopedia said that fish head curry was the brainchild of an Indian immigrant, M. J. Gomez, and was first sold from a stall at Sophia Road in 1949.
Places to try Fish Head Curry
Banana Leaf Apolo
54 Race Course Road, Singapore 218564
Tel: +65 6293 8682
Muthu’s Curry Dempsey
Blk 7 Dempsey Road, #01-01 Singapore 249671
Tel: +65 6474 5128
Samy’s Curry Restaurant
25 Dempsey Road, Singapore 247691
Tel: +65 6472 2080
Coffee Pork Ribs
The popular Coffee Pork Ribs is said to be invented by Singaporean celebrity chef Sam Leong. The best place to enjoy the uniquely Singaporean dish must be at Forrest helmed by chef Sam Leong. However, you can also get very good coffee ribs in many Singapore food outlets including at zhi char restaurants like Keng Eng Kee Seafood.
16 Sentosa Gateway #01-521 & 522,
Tel: +65 6577 7788
Keng Eng Kee Seafood 瓊榮記海鲜
124 Bukit Merah Lane 1
#01-136, Singapore 150124
Rojak in Malay means “mixed”, and Indian Rojak is reputedly created by Indian Muslim hawkers in Singapore.
Indian rojak is representative of Singapore food in that it has Malay, Chinese and Indian elements in the dish; and is closely associated with the very ang moh name of Waterloo. Indian rojak became associated with Waterloo Street because of the rojak stalls lining the street up till 1970s.
Places to try Indian Rojak
Siraj Famous Waterloo Street Indian Rojak
Albert Centre Market & Food Centre
270 Queen Street #01-120 , Singapore 180270
Sabeena Indian Food
#01-29 Chang Cheng Mee Wah
261 Waterloo Street, Singapore 180261
Tel: +65 81395647
Rojak & Mee Siam
Geylang Serai Market & Food Centre #02-126
1 Geylang Serai, Singapore 402001
Roti means ‘bread’, and prata or paratha means ‘flat’ in Hindi. No one can be sure of the origin of roti prata. In Malaysia, the flatbread dish is known as roti canai, and it has been suggested that canai refers to Chennai, the Indian city at one time known as Madras.
Whatever its origin, roti prata, plain or with egg, has become an integral component of local Singaporean cuisine. We now also have coin prata and tissue prata as well as prata with all sorts of filling or topping – such as cheese, mushroom, tomato, chocolate, banana, and even durian and chicken floss.
Places to try Roti Prata
Thasevi Food Jalan Kayu Roti Prata
237 & 239 Jalan Kayu
Tel : +65 64811537
Springleaf Prata Place
Mr Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata
Tin Yeang Restaurant
300 Joo Chiat Road
Kueh Ubi Kayu
During the Japanese occupation of Malaysia and Singapore in the 1940s, tapioca cultivation became very popular because it grew well in various soil conditions and took only three months to mature. Singapore Infopedia says that during that period there was a Grow More Food Campaign and the occupying Japanese forces even published a local recipe book that showed how food could be prepared using tapioca and other native food substitutes. Kueh Ubi Kayu is believed to have originated during that period of Singapore history.
Today the steamed tapioca cake, made from starch of cassava root, and coated with lightly salted grated coconut remains very much part of the Singapore food scene.
Places to try Kueh Ubi Kayu
Lek Lim Nonya Kueh
84 Bedok North Street 4, #01-21
Kueh Ho Jiak
6 Tanjong Pagar Plaza #02-20, Singapore 081006
Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry Bakery
Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Road #01-39, Singapore 160055
Tel: +65 63241686
NDP 2000 Food Recipe
As part of the 55th National Day Celebrations, a Recipe Booklet has been published. The e-recipe booklet features contributions from home cooks, chefs, local restaurateurs, bakers and hawkers. It showcases the wide variety of dishes that we have, from classic delights to traditional favourites with modern twists.
Besides food, songs are also always part of Singapore National Day celebrations. Here is a very Singaporean music video by The Smart Locals with Singlish lyrics and, of course, mentions of Singapore food.
The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog