There’s really no other place like Singapore. Located just off the southern tip of Malaysia, it's a vibrant city-state that boasts a beautiful blend of Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, Arab and English cultures – all with its own Singaporean twist. The “Lion City,” as it's referred to, is filled with delightful culinary experiences, architecture, culture, art, and to reiterate my favorite, food. Such good food!
There were only two things I planned for my trip to Singapore before I left home. Accommodations (Marina Bay Sands. For the pool!) and an absolute must do for anyone coming to this part of the world, a food tour through Singapore's famous Hawker Centers.
There are plenty of food tours to choose from but we really lucked out with our choice. We chose Singapore Foodsters. They had great reviews and we were hoping to try as many dishes as possible. This tour appeared to offer quite a variety. And boy, we were not disappointed in any way, shape, or form. Actually, quite overwhelmed (in a good way) by our many....... many dishes we tried.
Jerry, the boss man of this wonderful adventure, picked us up at our hotel with excitement and enthusiasm oozing from him. He quickly asked us how adventurous we were with our eating experiences. My husband and I looked at each other both thinking the same thing. "Very adventurous! Bring it on!"
"Right on Bro! That's what I like to hear, brother." was his reply.
He then proceeded to "bring it."
We met 3 other adventurous "foodsters" and Gerry's wife, Jo, at one of Singapore's best known and now one of the more touristy hawker centers, Maxwell Food Center. This center boasts over 100 food stalls and it's reflective of a traditional hawker experience and is a perfect introduction to the establishment type.
Both Gerry and Jo, natives of Singapore, were able to completely immerse us into the "live life like a local" experience.
We sat around a table where we cleared the dishes and trash from the previous occupants. As we introduced ourselves to the people we would be sharing the next 4 hours with, Gerry and Jo disappeared towards various hawker stalls. Gerry came back to the table first with multiple large bottles of Tiger and Tsingtao Beers and told us to start drinking and they would be back shortly. For the next hour, Gerry and Jo brought us plate after plate of food for us to share. They explained it's origin and importance of its particular culture. I didn't have enough time to write down the name of each dish because of a frenzy of shoveling food into my mouth began. I do know that we had to tell ourselves several times to take it easy and slow down because we had a lot more food to come.
One of the most popular dishes, Hainanese Chicken Rice.
Deep fried delicious goodness. minced meats with 5 spice powder.
(Fresh Spring Rolls)
Gong Bao Frog Leg Soup
Someone remind me what this dish is.
Century eggs, which are just preserved eggs.
BBQ Pork Dumplings
Mee Goreng Noodles.
(Fried noodle dish)
(Egg and rice noodles stir fried with egg, pork, prawns and squid).
After Maxwell Food Center, we walked through Chinatown, stopping at various food stalls along the way. Sampling Durian (The only thing I absolutely do not recommend!) Dumplings, fragrant slices of bak kwa (minced pork jerky) infused with fish sauce, honey, and other secret ingredients and many local beers. We ended the tour at a Hawker Center you really don't see too many tourists in yet, Peoples Park Food Center. Here, it's crowded and frenzied with locals. It's hot, nothing is in English, and nobody clears their mess off the table when they've finished their meal. I noticed the looks of apprehension on our fellow foodsters faces. Nothing to worry about. Again, Jerry and Jo shared with us some of the best food yet.
I won't even describe what the smell and texture of durian is because it's too disgustingly graphic.
Guaranteed, this is the face you will make if you attempt to eat durian.
Bak Kwa (minced pork jerky)
Black and White Carrot Cake.
There are no carrots and it's not a cake. It's made from rice flour and white reddish or daikon.
Want a Coors Lite? These all have about as much flavor.
Another fried noodle dish that was delicious, of course.
You'll never get through all the extraordinary dishes in a day or even a month. It's a shame we didn't have more time. I would have gone to a different Hawker Center every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are over 100 Hawker Centers in Singapore with however many stalls each. A lot, I'm sure.
What we were able to sample was a wonderful introduction to the many cultural dishes that Singapore has to offer.
Book a tour and get to eating.