Today’s blog comes from STA Travel’s James Greenslade, who has left his Oz homeland for a few months to explore the UK. He can currently be found pretending to be a super healthy Aussie in London while taking the tube everywhere because “no one walks anywhere in Australia”.
The introduction of Asian cuisine to Western culture is arguably the best thing that’s happened in recent times. We did say arguably. But while we love discovering new dishes, it’s no secret that there has been significant Western influence on much of the food we find this side of the Merlion. If you want the authentic stuff, you’ve got to go where it all came from.
Although we’re focusing on the city-state of Singapore, many of the below can actually be found (and in some cases originate from) Malaysia, Indonesia and other South East Asian countries. However, when you’re in a massive, heaving city, chock full of cultures and food from all over the region, you might as well try the lot…
Image courtesy of Madeleine on Flickr
9 Foods to Try in Singapore That You (probably) Won’t Find at Your Local Takeaway
Let’s start with Singapore’s unofficial, official dish; Chicken rice. Though an incredibly simple looking meal, when prepared properly the poached meat is succulent and tender with a subtle flavour which works fantastically with a nice scoop of chilli sauce.
Image courtesy of Jonathan on Flickr
While you may be familiar with Laksa, this version, originating from the Katong district of Singapore itself, is a little different. Made with thick rice vermicelli cut into bite size chunks and dried shrimp soaking in spicy coconut gravy, it’s enough to have us considering a permanent move to Singapore.
France has the croissant, England has the full English breakfast, Singapore has Kaya Toast. Largely unknown outside of South East Asia, many locals kick-start their day with this dish of bread filled with butter and kaya, a jam made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk and pandan leaves. It’s one hell of a kick-start.
Image courtesy of Hajime on Flickr
Otak-Otak is a hugely popular dish in Singapore and across South East Asia. Consisting predominately of minced fish and many herbs and spices, it can be an acquired taste for first-timers. It’s traditionally served wrapped up in a coconut or banana leaf and the name itself actually means “brains brains”. What do you mean that puts you off?
Rojak is one of Singapore’s most popular and healthy meals. It’s a salad anyway so it must be healthy. The name itself is actually Malay for “mixture”, and it lives up to its name with a combination of fruit, vegetables, tofu, peanuts, and fried dough. OK maybe not that healthy.
Image courtesy of stu_spivack on Flickr
Part of the Spring Roll family (if such a thing exists), Popiah is so popular in Singapore that some locals even host their very own ‘Popiah parties’. Served with plates beyond plates of scrumptious fillings, you can mix and match the Popiah’s contents to your individual desire.
Ice Cream Loti
A popular street snack in Singapore, Ice Cream Loti is essentially an open ice cream sandwich served on rainbow coloured bread. We’re pretty sure it would be a popular snack anywhere honestly.
Image courtesy of Michael on Flickr
Common across South East Asia, the various incarnations of this dessert are most likely the strangest looking dish you’ve ever seen. For a basic pudding, simply mix crushed ice, syrup, grass jelly, and IQ balls (despite a lot of searching, we’re still not sure what they’re made of – maybe tapioca), and “enjoy”. We’re not sure we’ve sold you on this one.