24-hour eating and shopping isn't limited to fast food chains or convenience stores. Singapore is dotted with all-night eating houses and food stalls that specialise in local fare, with some even famous for their special chicken rice, mee siam, wanton noodles, and nasi padang.
In busy Singapore, people tend to start the work day early and finish late, so 24-hour eateries have a special place in the hearts of locals and visiting night owls alike. After all, who doesn't like the convenience of heading out for a bite when hit with sudden hunger pangs in the wee hours? Most Singaporeans are not far from a 24-hour food outlet, with many even operating on the ground floors of residential buildings.
While the stall operators are polite, don’t expect any exceptional customer service. Efficiency is paramount in these places, and often a smile will take backseat to a quick nod followed by a curt one to two-word instruction to order. Communication is fast and usually fragmented by the different languages coming together in a unique medley that’s characteristic of local Singapore.
Expect your meal to be served up quickly on plastic plates, with plastic utensils that may or may not match. You'll probably be eating on plastic tables and chairs that pour out from the stalls onto the pavement, and sometimes the road. Thundery showers will see people crowding inside the enclosure, or under large table umbrellas or retractable plastic awnings.
Many of these places serve beer so it’s not uncommon to see a group of people toasting to an occasion late at night, especially on a weekend. Whatever the weather or occasion, these seasoned establishments will reliably dish out your favourite local fare and drinks round the clock, a testament to Singapore's place on the map of famous food destinations.
And what’s great food without great shopping? Perhaps the most famous 24-hour shopping haunt is Mustafa Shopping Centre in the Little India district. With three malls combined and connected into a single megastore, it sells just about everything you can imagine, from electronics and sporting goods, to exotic spices, frozen goods, and even plane and train tickets.