Singapore doesn’t offer much in terms of entertainment. Some (not me) would say it’s boring. As a result of this, most Singaporeans list food as a hobby and a passion. Eating out is the norm here. And with great cheap food available at every corner, who’s to blame.
Having lived in Singapore for 7 years and then proceeding to move out but regularly pass through the Country, I noticed myself unconsciously settle into a routine. On landing in Singapore, I religiously make a pilgrimage (or a dash) to a few iconic eating spots every single time.
If you’ve got a weekend in the city, these are the places you must hit up. While the list barely scratches the surface, it gives you a taste (unintentional pun) of what Singapore has to offer.
It would be a crime to pass through Singapore and not pay your respects to the famous chili crab. Cooked in a sweet spicy chili sauce, the crabs are imported from Sri Lanka. Tiny fried buns go well with the gravy. If you’re not much of a chili person, the black pepper crabs usually don’t bite back. Be prepared to get dirty.
The best way to unwind after a hard day’s work is with a smoke pipe. Fine I’ll concede that it’s the second best to beer. Come 7pm, chairs and carpets (non-flying variety) get rolled out onto the pavement and Arab Street wakes up. As the name suggests you’ll find a wide variety of shisha places with delicious Middle Eastern food. From hummus to falafel to shawarma – they’ve got it all. While most of the places forbid alcohol, a few places do have Efes (light Turkish beer) on offer.
Sit back, relax, and work on those smoke rings right into the wee hours of the morning. If you’re lucky the belly dancers might show up (not kidding).
While most Singaporeans will turn up their nose at the prospect of Lau Pa Sat, a Singapore food court must go on the list of any tourist. And what better food court to experience than Lau Pa Sat. From Korean BBQ to Pig Organ Soup to Chicken rice. This place has it all. A word of caution: seats are reserved using tissue packets. Stealing a tissue packet or even worse, stealing a seat reserved by a tissue packet would be frowned upon as a major faux pas.
The butter chicken at Juggis in Little India is definitely something to write home about. Coupled with some garlic naan (Indian bread), it’s the Romeo and Juliet of Indian food. Having turned vegetarian (for health, moral, ethical and environmental reasons), I now opt for the Butter Paneer (Indian Cheese) instead. Throw in a mango lassi on the side and life will never be the same again.
Singapore harbors a fascination for Japan and all things Japanese. There’s even a dedicated Japanese mall smack in the middle of the city. As a result of this, amazing Japanese food is available all over the city. If you’re looking to grab a quick lunch and sample what can only be described as ‘the best ramen ever’, Mei Tong is your place. At this tiny little spot hidden away on Robinson Road in the Central Business District, you’re sure to encounter huge queues and impatient rat race people. Their conversation will probably sound like this.
Ah-beng: Eh, tell you ah, this place hor, must come early one. Wait till lunch crowd come ah, then you die orredy.
Leng Loi: Sure ah?
Ah-beng: Ya lah. Sure got no place leh. Later only ‘da pao’ (take away) can.