Singapore’s food scene is absolutely epic. There are food centers full of “Hawker Stalls” all over the city where you can try dishes from all over Asia. Not only is the food at Hawker Stalls more delicious, it’s also much cheaper than sit-down restaurants. Contrary to what you might think after reading my last post, we ate more than just Indian food while we were in Singapore. Here’s a summary at some of the tasty things we tried.
Maxwell Food Centre
The Maxwell Food Centre is in the Chinatown neighborhood of Singapore, just a few blocks from where we stayed during our weeklong trip. It was highly recommended by several Singaporeans we met at the Red Dot Ruby Conference, so we made sure to arrive hungry. Here’s a look at the Maxwell Food Center – it looks like madness, but it’s fun, delicious madness:
First, we tried out Hainanese Curry Rice. We picked this place because of the long line at the stall:
Check out all their tasty looking food:
The spoils – Hainanese Curry Rice with chicken, cabbage and a fried egg:
We grabbed a fresh sugar cane juice – such a treat:
Singapore is famous for their “Chicken Rice” dish, so we headed to the Hawker Stall recommended by total food badass, Anthony Bourdain. I think we were in the right spot – check out this line:
We were not deterred by this guy, who crawled up on Kevin’s foot. Fun Fact: cockroaches can fly! (Shudder…)
We enjoyed the chicken rice, but thought it was overhyped and the line was too long:
Next, we grabbed some dessert from the longest dessert stall line (noticing a theme here? This is rule number one – pick stalls with long lines!) The Tapioca cake stall:
Look at these tasty cakes! We got one of each, which ran us S$1.40:
I like to run around pretending I’m a super artistic photographer. Here’s the result of those efforts:
Hong Lim Hawker Stalls
We also tried some food at the Hong Lim Food Centre in the Chinatown neighborhood. We only got one dish there – Laksa, which is a coconut milk soup with noodles and in our case, chicken:
We ventured up to the Arab Street neighborhood, a great spot to just wander around and look at all the fun fabric shops and the beautiful Sultan Mosque (photos of this to come in a later post). There were a bunch of street food tents set up for Ramadan, so we snagged ourselves some dinner.
We got the most disappointing chicken gyro ever. It looked so tasty when they were cutting meat off of the roasting gyro:
But sadly, for S$5, this is all we got! Is this the saddest pita you’ve ever seen or what?
Luckily, our next purchase redeemed Arab Street for us. We decided to try the “Roti Jack” with chicken, egg, mayo, cheese, mushrooms, and spices. It was greasy, salty, wonderful, delicious goodness and was super filling for just S$5. The folks at this food stall were super friendly too – after finding out we were from the USA, the Roti Jack Chef sang the Star Spangled banner to us. It was awesome.
Coffees, Sweets, Pastries and Beers
We didn’t hit many coffee shops in Singapore, where a Latte can cost as much as S$13! But here’s a peek at a few of our indulgences.
We stopped at a Chinese Bakery for a S$1 Milo Bun, which was delicious. Milo is sort of like Rich, Chocolatey Ovaltine.
We visited Starbucks twice. The first time, we shelled out S$9.20 for two French Press Coffees (yikes!) but got a Buy One Get One Free coupon we used on our second visit! Cheap traveling WIN.
We also visited “The Book Cafe” to enjoy some drinks and free Wifi:
Kevin has been PINING for an IPA since we left Seattle. So when we walked past Brewerkz in Singapore, we pretty much had no choice but to go inside and do some drinking!
Brewerkz has a complicated pricing scheme – beers are S$6 cheaper between noon and 3pm than they are after 7pm! Is that crazy or what?! So you can bet your bottom dollar that we did some day drinking. We had the IPA and the Black Pig (sort of a black IPA). With the 10% service charge and VAT (tax), this ran us S$16.50, ouch! But we did get free wifi and did some work in their bar area. Tip: Ask about the beer of the week – it’s S$2 off!
Has anyone reading tried Durian? Haven’t heard of Durian? View the wikipedia article here. We had Durian in December in Vietnam, but were told by our new Singapore buddies that it was probably out of season and we should give it a second chance. Alright, we said, we’ll try it one more time, we said. We decided durian in the form of ice cream would be the safest bet – if Ice Cream + Durian = Gross, there’s no way we’ll enjoy the fruit itself. So we gave it a shot at a Chinatown Ice Cream vendor:
The verdict? Even Durian in the form of Ice Cream is not for us. Also, a word of caution, even the Durian Ice Cream will give you Durian burps – there’s nothing quite like having garbage burps for a couple hours!
During our entire week in Singapore, we had TWO meals in actual sit-down restaurants. The first meal was a super extravagant splurge for Singapore’s most famous food, Chili Crab. This is a “do not miss” food in Singapore! We went to Jumbo Seafood, recommended to us by a handful of Singaporeans at the Ruby Conference:
Jumbo Seafood took a jumbo bite out of our travel budget (har har har…). For a Chili Crab, a plate of asparagus, rice and steamed buns, we paid S$90! But it was delicious.
Check out the mess we made. Why on earth they use white tablecloths is beyond me!
Our second restaurant meal was at Ya Kun Kaya Toast:
Kaya Toast is another of Singapore’s unique foods, traditionally consisting of Kaya (coconut jam) on toast with butter. We stopped to try some traditional kaya and butter toast and also the peanut kaya toast:
It came with coffee and soft boiled eggs, which made me feel like I was eating snot. Fun times.
Kaya Toast is served at almost any cafe in Singapore. We picked Ya Kun Kaya Toast because it had pretty good reviews, but in hindsight I would’ve rather gone to this other establishment solely because of their ridiculous name:
DIY Food for Budget Travelers
As you know, we’re unemployed, so we travel on a tight budget. Here’s a look at some of the less glamorous meals we’ve had to save money. We stayed at an Airbnb that didn’t provide breakfast and didn’t have a kitchen on this trip, but they did have a refrigerator! So we picked up some groceries for morning breakfasts. Each day we had a banana plus a plain piece of wheat bread (not toasted… we had no toaster…) with a couple slices of ham for protein:
We also craved fresh vegetables, so we bought some raw carrots:
We Want to Hear From You!
What’s the best meal you’ve had on your travels? Do you have a particular country where you enjoy food the most? For us, it’s a close race between Vietnam and Thailand.