Singapore Food Culture: The 9 Greatest Singapore Dishes

Stingray in Singapore food culture
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If you love to eat, then you need to look into Singapore food culture. Due to its location, Singapore is particularly renowned for its seafood. However, this cuisine has a unique flavor, which differs from food in Thailand, Japan, and other Asian countries. When you visit Singapore, you know you’re getting something special.

This uniqueness comes from being a mixture of surrounding cultures. Singapore food blends Malay, Chinese, and Indonesian dishes, creating its own distinct style. It’ll be similar to other Asian food you’ve tried but with a local twist. That’s what makes this style of food so endearing.

You can learn more about Singapore’s food culture by studying its various dishes. Below, discover the nine greatest Singapore foods that you just have to try. There’s something for all tastes so don’t be scared to give it a go.

Roti Prata

Roti prata is a classic staple food in Singapore
Credit: Nancy Hann, Unsplash

All countries have their staple dishes. These are the simple foods that form the foundations of meals, often used to mop up some sauce. This could be rice, pasta, noodles, or bread. In Singapore, the basic staple food is called roti prata. It’s a type of flatbread and has been adopted from similar styles found in India.

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Similar to a naan, it’s the perfect accompaniment to a spicy curry. The bread is found in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei, as well. However, each country has subtle nuances giving the bread a slightly different flavor. If you’re in Singapore and looking for something to go with a very saucy dish, then roti prata is your best bet. It’s often served with breakfast but goes with just about any meal. Have it with meat, eggs, or cheese for a deliciously simple snack.

Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh
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When you literally translate this dish to “meat bone tea”, you get an idea of what it consists of. It involves cooking pork ribs in broth for a long time until they become juicy and tender. Along with mushrooms, garlic, tofu, it makes for a substantial meal. It’s given an even richer and uniquely Singaporean flavor when you add local herbs such as star anise, cloves, cinnamon, and Dong Quai.

The result is a fragrant and flavorful meal called bak kut teh. The process can be slow because you’re gently infusing the pot with as much flavor as possible. The result, though, is well worth the wait. This meal can be found elsewhere in Asia but the Singapore version is unique. That’s due to the side order of youtiao – a kind of deep-fried dough – which is best dipped into the bak kut teh.

Fish Curry

Fish curry is very popular in Singapore
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Like other island nations in Asia, people in Singapore consume plenty of fish. However, there’s also the influence of countries such as India, where curry is the preferred cuisine. Singapore has combined these two great loves to create its own unique fish curry. This has the seafood influence of places like Malaysia and Japan, with the spiciness of India.

Perhaps surprisingly, this dish usually consists of a fish’s head. In the West, we tend to cut the head off and eat the rest. However, in Singapore, the head is considered a delicacy and the best bit. The sauce is a combination of the most fragrant and delicious spices, including garlic, ginger, chili powder, and turmeric. Of course, if you make this yourself, you can control the level of spice. In Singapore, though, the spicier the better. Some steamed white rice is perfect for soaking up this delicious sauce mixture.


Singapore food often involves a stingray
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Are you looking for a particularly unusual food item in Singapore? One thing you could try – if you’re brave enough – is stingray. It’s not something that’s easily found on Western menus but it’s something of a delicacy in Singapore. The best way to eat this unique seafood is to barbeque it and then douse it in sambal paste, which is a kind of spicy chili sauce.

Stingray meat isn’t found in many countries in the world. However, in Singapore and Malaysia, it’s pretty much everywhere. It’s served in high-end restaurants as well as hawker centers. If you happen to be in the area, then give this a try. It’ll be a new experience like nothing you’ve tasted before.


chili crab
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Undoubtedly one of the most popular dishes in all of Singapore, you just have to try some crab when you visit. It will have been freshly caught from a nearby body of water, meaning that it will be juicy and packed with flavor. There are two main types of crab dishes served in Singapore: chili crab and black pepper crab. The former is, of course, the more spicy version, if that appeals to you.

Chili crab is regularly listed as one of the most delicious foods of all time. If you get it from Singapore, it’ll probably taste even more incredible. The crab meat is served in a thick tomato and chili sauce which is simultaneously sweet and savory. It’s a flavor combination that’s hard to beat. This is considered to be one of Singapore’s national dishes and is often promoted to tourists looking to sample some of the mouthwatering Singapore food culture.

Steamed Chicken

Steamed chicken is a big part of Singapore food culture
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Chicken is just about the most widely eaten food on the planet but in Singapore, they have a unique cooking method. Rather than frying or roasting the bird, you can order steamed chicken. A method imported from China, this is an easy and relatively healthy way to cook poultry.

In Singapore, they marinate the chicken in soy sauce and ginger to give it an incredible perfume. Wherever you go, you’ll find steamed chicken on the menu. If you’re looking to try something a little different, then this is something well worth ordering as you travel around Southeast Asia.


Singapore dishes often include satay
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Satay is a big part of many Asian cultures and this is particularly true for Singapore. It involves placing a skewer through some meat and then cooking it on a hot grill. Served with some locally-made sauce, this is a quick and easy but delicious solution to your protein cravings. Of course, you can satay vegetables as well if you don’t eat meat.

This method of cooking is believed to have been invented by the Javanese people of Indonesia. However, it’s now very common across Southeast Asia and even the whole world. As you walk past the many restaurants and street food stands of Singapore, you’ll find plenty of satay for sale. Don’t hesitate to buy some because it’s bound to taste incredible.


While in Singapore, try eating oysters
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Being by the sea, much of Singapore’s food culture originates underwater. The island has a long and proud fishing history – including ancient river communities – which you can support by ordering oysters the next time you’re in the country. You may be able to get oysters in almost every country in the world but are they always fresh? When you buy them in Singapore, you know you’re getting something fresh and delicious.

For that reason, we highly recommend that you give oysters a go while in Singapore, even if you’ve tried them before and not liked them. When they’re fresh out of the ocean and prepared to perfection by expert chefs, it’s a whole different experience. Embrace the sea and try a plate of oysters made to a Singaporean standard. You can also consume them in other dishes, such as in an oyster omelet.

Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak
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Originating from Malaysia, Singapore’s food culture includes plenty of nasi lemak. It’s based mostly on rice, which is cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, giving it a sweet, fragrant flavor, similar to vanilla. When cooked properly, the rice should be light and fluffy. On top of this, you can build your favorite meal, whether that includes chicken, anchovies, or something more vegetarian.

This dish has been around for well over 100 years and remains an incredibly popular dish. Literally translated, it simply means “fatty rice”. However, the dish isn’t so much fatty as it is rich, thick, and creamy. It can actually be a very healthy dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The creaminess of the meal means that it complements very hot and spicy foods well.

What is traditional food in Singapore?

Singapore food is diverse but mostly revolves around seafood and strong Asian flavors. Expect plenty of crab and fish, combined with hot spices and a side of rice or noodles.

What is Singapore’s most popular food?

The seafood of Singapore is certainly the most popular dish you’ll find there. In particular, locals and tourists alike can’t get enough of the chili and black pepper crabs.

What is a traditional breakfast in Singapore?

The people of Singapore eat a range of food for breakfast but the most traditional is kaya toast. This is coconut custard jam mixed with pandan leaves and butter sandwiched between two slices of bread. It’s thick, creamy, delicious, and affordable, and best served with a carefully brewed cup of coffee.

What makes the food in Singapore unique?

The food in Singapore is unique because it builds on many different cultures. Mixing the cuisines of China, Malaysia, and Indonesia, Singapore has created its own unique food culture that tastes like nothing else.

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