Singapore boasts a melting pot of cultures that has been drawing travellers from around the world to the city for decades upon decades. In its landscapes and historical buildings, through to its burgeoning artistic community, there has been something about The Lion City that has kept Singapore on the bucket list for many tourists visiting this region of Asia.
Once you are in Singapore, chances are you’ll be looking to immerse yourself in the food culture of the city. With so many global influences streaming in amongst the more traditional fare, Singaporean cuisine provides perhaps the smallest of the culture shocks tourists can expect to experience when travelling through South East Asia.
One thing to note about travelling through Singapore – particularly as an Australian – is that your trip can be expensive. Eating out can rack up some serious cash, but if you are travelling on a budget (as we were on this trip), Singapore can also deliver some great cheap eats as well.
Let’s have a look at five hotspots for eats below…
Ah, the holy grail. These food courts are scattered right throughout the city and provide diners with possibly the best value for money meals if you are travelling on a budget. You can feel like a local within minutes as you join the hustle and bustle of these hawker centres, everyone crowds in together because the food is just that good. Some centres (Chinatown Complex, Old Airport Road) boast over 200 food stalls, just to give you an idea of the scale of a Hawker Centre, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Enjoy plates on plates of chicken rice, bowls of laksa, BBQ and Hokkien mee for under SD$10.
SINGAPORE ZAM ZAM RESTAURANT
Since 1908, this restaurant has been feeding the hungry. Not far from the Bugis district, Singapore Zam Zam is popular for murtabak – a meat and egg filled dough pocket that is fried until crispy. Originally an Arab food, murtabak has become a popular mainstay in the Singaporean food scene; it is quick and easy to eat, is jam-packed with flavour and is cheap as well. Singapore Zam Zam’s take on murtabak brings together the traditional Arab flavours with Indian spices and tastes delicious (we recommend the chicken). You can also try the restaurant’s range of curries, Nasi biryani and more on the menu – a great find if you’re travelling through the Little India district of Singapore.
Address: 697-699 N Bridge Rd, Singapore
Ramen isn’t a traditional Singaporean dish, though you’ll notice quickly on your visit to Singapore that Japanese restaurants are indeed plentiful. On a hot day, ramen might not be your first port of call, but when you’re looking for a bowl of rich, filling soup with protein to fill you up for the rest of the day, this Japanese dish is one of the best go-to’s you could have available.
If you are basing yourself in the popular Bugis district of Singapore, definitely play Menya Musashi a visit. Debuting in Japan in 1996, the restaurant takes its name from legendary samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, a figure famed for his double sword style – cool, huh? Now a household name both on hometurf and abroad, Menya Musashi offers a range of ramen to reflect the growing popularity of the dish with international diners. The ramen list is extensive, with the choice of broths suitable for your preferred heat level.
Pricewise, you’re looking at meals for just on SD$20 – as it is a chain restaurant, we found Menya Musashi to be quite affordable, particularly when looking at what you get for the money you’re paying.
Address: 200 Victoria Street (Bugis Junction), Singapore
THE BANANA LEAF APOLO
Another Little India haunt, The Banana Leaf Apolo is one of the more popular restaurants for the tailored-tourist clientele in the area, which unfortunately means that the menu is slightly pricier than other curry houses in the district. Still, the food is unbelievable, making this restaurant well worth a visit. First opening its doors in 1974, The Banana Leaf Apolo sticks out for its service style (food being served on a banana leaf), as well as the tastiness of the food on offer itself.
As we mentioned, The Banana Leaf Apolo’s menu is up the high end of the budget scale, but if you’re looking for Indian food to splurge on, this would be a good place to spend your money. Starters range from SD$7 to SD$16, while meat and seafood dishes can set you back anywhere up to SD$25.
Address: 48 Serangoon Road, Singapore
SONG FA BAK KUT TEH
Song Fa has been somewhat of an institution in Singapore for decades. Purveyors of a yummy pork ribs/broth dish that is served up hot and fresh, Song Fa Bak Kut Teh has grown exponentially to include multiple locations through Singapore. The dish itself is a staple Singaporean street food, Every part of the pig is used on this menu, which is great if you’re looking for a unique pork experience or, if you’re simply wondering how versatile the meat is to cook with.
Translating to ‘Meat Bone Tea’, each serve of Bak Kut Teh is brimming with spice and herbs in its broth, making this dish a great way to fill up without shelling out heaps of cash along the way.
Address: 133 New Bridge Rd, Singapore
One gleaming take we came away from Singapore with is that its food culture is so expansive. You don’t just go to Singapore expecting to eat the stereotypical noodle dishes. The flavours and influences that run through the city are deeply set in its historical progression; from Indian to Thai, to Chinese and Malay, there is much to be absorbed in Singapore and their food is a great place to start that trip.
Lead image courtesy of Visit Singapore. Sosefina travelled to Singapore courtesy of AirAsia X and stayed in Singapore with the support of Singapore Tourism. While in Singapore, Sosefina stayed at The Vagabond Club.