Chicken riceChicken rice

LIVE LIKE A LOCAL: GUIDE TO SINGAPORE FOOD

Kaya butter toast, roti prata, chicken rice and kopi alongside a growing list of Michelin-starred and celebrity chef restaurants: Welcome to Singapore, a true food lover’s paradise whose dishes are steeped in history – and taste delicious, to boot. We let in on local must-tries, many of which can be found at your nearest hawker centre or kopitiam.
Kaya butter toast

Kaya butter toast

Ah, kaya – the figurative glue that bonds Singaporeans. This sweet jam’s built from coconut and eggs, then flavoured with pandan. The fragrant treat is sold at most coffee shops ’round the island, and is traditionally served with a generous slab of butter on thinly sliced bread that’s toasted to a crisp. Your kaya butter toast set’s complete with two soft-boiled eggs – finish them with a dash of pepper and some dark soy sauce – and a cup of kopi (coffee) or teh (tea). For the 4-1-1 on ordering your kopi or teh, check out this guide to popular (and cheap) local drinks. If you’re making for Marina Bay Sands, get your fill at Toast Box or Rasapura Masters.


Roti prata

Roti prata

What’s life without a little indulgence? Roti prata – Indian-influenced flatbread made from stretched dough – owes its chewy, moreish texture to the ghee that it’s fried with, and is traditionally served with curry. The best way to eat this is with your hands, so let rip before dipping crisp folds of fried dough into curry or, alternatively, sugar. For something heftier, try egg or cheese prata. Singapore’s home to a sizeable number of 24-hour prata joints, but if you’re in the Marina Bay area, Indian Express at Rasapura Masters serves up a mean rendition in the mornings. 

 
Chicken rice

Hainanese chicken rice

Of course we had to include chicken rice, one of Singapore’s culinary treasures, on the list. Sliced roasted or boiled chicken is cooked to fall-apart consistency, then served atop rice typically cooked with chicken stock, ginger and pandan leaves – along with cucumber slices, a fiery red chilli sauce and ginger sauce. The dish was adapted from Hainan-hailing Chinese immigrants, and can easily be found in coffee shops, hawker centres, food courts and high-end restaurants – just look out for rows of steamed or roasted chicken hanging behind glass displays. If you're a first-timer, 1983: A Taste of Nanyang does a great version of the dish. 


Nasi lemak

Nasi lemak

Another (literally) hot favourite’s nasi lemak, a Malay dish that translates to ‘rich rice’. It’s not inaccurate: ginger, coconut milk, pandan leaves and salt are cooked with basmati (long-grained) rice, and that’s only the start. The dish is traditionally served on a banana leaf with fried fish or chicken, ikan bilis (anchovies) and peanuts, cucumber slices, a sunny side-up or hard-boiled egg and sambal – equal parts tangy and spicy chilli paste made from shallots, dried chillies, garlic and belacan (shrimp paste). Variations of it do exist, but nasi lemak remains one of the city’s most affordable dishes – of which you can get a taste at Marina Bay Sands’ own 1983: A Taste of Nanyang or Toast Box.
 
Need thirst quenchers? Beat Singapore’s humidity with some of the city-state’s best local drinks and desserts