Singapore – you drive me crazy. The sheer amount of cafes, restaurants and eateries that are packed on the tiny island are what my dreams are made of. As a hub of the east and the west – the cuisine is a melting pot of cultures and always on trend. Food is taken seriously and the queues attest to that. There is an urban myth of sorts: Singaporeans queue up in long lines convinced that the quality of the outcome corresponds to the length of the queue. In fact, I once stood in line for forty minutes in a pasar-malam or market, at a stall that was selling rainbow bagel Wagyu burgers.
Recently a friend from university visited Singapore for a short trip over winter break and I couldn’t contain my excitement. I scrambled to write her a list of recommendations of to-dos and must-haves on the little red dot. I’d made my own list a long time ago, making sure to hit every location over the summer, unsure of when I’d return.
The following were my top ten must-haves – heavily influenced by my personal likes and dislikes – but mostly common knowledge:
1. Awfully Chocolate
Photo courtesy awfullychocolate.online
Besides the delicious menu, Awfully Chocolate stands for a young lady’s urge to create something she loves and do business on her terms – not just ‘to sell’. With humble beginnings this store has grown on a scale that has given other young entrepreneurs hope. After having tasted everything on menu I can vouch for the white chocolate crème brûlée, dark chocolate ice cream and chocolate banana cake.
2 . Tuk Tuk Cha
The ice-blended coffees are served in mason jars and the Shibuya toasts are served piping hot. An acquired taste - this Thai milk tea Shibuya toast tastes even better than it looks. A lighter option is the Golden Toast with eleven types of dip. One of my favourites is the condensed milk and milo duo.
3. P.S Café
Photo courtesy ps.cafe.com
Every meal I’ve had here isn’t complete without the signature truffle fries or something off of the extensive dessert menu. The Sticky Date Pudding is a personal favourite with the pastry floating on top of toffee sauce, served with a huge dollop of ice cream.
Those looking for a good view frequent the One Fullerton location.
4. Chiew Kee Chicken Noodle House
I loved eating here before shopping in Chinatown. It was a great excuse to purchase a new kimono or pretend to be a tourist in my own country. The small shop is so popular that many come for lunch between 11 to 11:30 am to secure tables.
5. Pepper Lunch Express
Photo courtesy pepperlunch.com.sg
With thirty-six outlets in Singapore this place is hard to miss. The Curry Chicken Pepper Rice with Cheese was something I craved after long dance rehearsals - extra cheese and corn if I was particularly hungry. It was one of the places where I looked at the same menu for ages and still ordered the same thing every time.
6. Alex’s Eating House
Office-goers line up from 11:30 am to grab bowls of dumpling soup and platters of roast pork, char siew and duck to share.
7. Din Tai Fung
Photo courtesy migrationology.com
The fact that the New York Times ranked it one of the top ten best restaurants speaks for itself.
8. A Hawker Centre
Roti canai, roti telur, iced milo, hainanese chicken rice, char siew rice, satays, savory carrot cake, laksa, lemon chicken and fresh young coconuts are just a few of the things one can order at or food court. Here one can truly find food that represents the amalgamation of all the cultures in Singapore.
9. Long Beach
Photo courtesy wrscomsg.wordpress.com
You can’t leave the island without trying one of our unofficial national dishes – the chilli crab accompanied by steamed or fried mantous. The buns are the best part, dipped in the thick gravy.
Great Indian food for days when you feel like having home cooked food - but eating out at the same time.
If you were to have more time I’d sprinkle these other recommendations in too:
My love for home is rooted in my love for food. While I miss the incredible public transport system that has shaped my understanding of freedom, I miss carefree trips at 2-am to the hawker center even more. While I miss my family, I miss our Sunday brunches at Toast Box even more. My friends now dotted all across the globe still long for Xiao Long Bao at Din Tai Fung and laughs over green tea.
Thank you for the good food SG - I love you.
Cover photo courtesy herbertsmithfreehills.com