Singapore is a city at the crossroads of the spice route. With a vibrant mix of Chinese, Indians, Malays and a smattering of Europeans it is little wonder that it offers some of the best street food in the world. Wickedfood Cooking School visits the city and samples some of its mouthwatering flavours for ideas for future cooking classes.
Nearly every high-rise apartment block in Singapore has hawker food stalls either in the basements or in an adjoining lot. They are cheap and safe to eat at, and are where most Singaporeans eat at least once a day, so go to local with confidence. Hawker food stalls are checked frequently by government health inspectors and graded from A to D. The grading must be prominently displayed in all stalls – don’t go below C, or let an overzealous table jockey persuade you that A stands for “awful” and D for “delicious.”
You will get a very tasty, substantial meal at most hawker centres for under R20 per person. In contrast, in restaurants and hotels up to three different taxes can be added to the bill – 3% GST, 10% service charge, and 1% CESS.
Ordering food at the centers is very easy. Each stall specializes in one of two dishes and most have brightly coloured photographs of the finished dish prominently displayed. The secret is to choose the stalls with the longest queues as this is a sure sign that the food must be good. Although people behind the counters do not always speak good English, hands gestures will stand you in good stead. And remember this is street food so you get it as it comes, don’t try and change the dish, all you will get is a blank stare!!
Most hawker food centres offer seating in the form of numbered tables. Tables are open to all diners. It is customary to put down a packet of tissues to reserve a seat, and then order parts of the meal from different stands, giving your table number. When ready, the food will be brought to your table. It is also common practice to share tables with other diners.
Favourite street food hawker centres in and around the city centre are (there are 113 scattered around the city – for the more adventurous, see details in the fact file below):
- Lau Pa Sat – located in the heart of the business district (cnr. Robinson Road and Boon Tat Street), beneath a beautiful Victorian structure, the largest cast-iron structure in Southeast Asia, built in 1894, is best visited in the evening. It is most famous for its satay peddlers who claim the adjoining Boon Tat Street for extra seating in the evening.
- Newton Circus – (Bukit Timah Road, cross the road from Newton MRT station), again best visited in the evening, is famous for its barbecue seafood – try the crab or lobster. It is one of Singapore’s oldest hawker centres.
- Tiong Bahru Market – (near Tiong Bahru plaza) is an ideal breakfast and lunch venue, try the fish porridge and steamed buns.
- Adam Road Food Centre – is very popular at lunchtime. It has a strong Malay and Indian flavour with specialities including Nasi Goreng and Roti Prata.
- Golden Mile Food Centre – (505 Beach Road) is worth a visit from lunch till late, just for the Sup Tulang, a mutton bone stew in a spicy, sweet, chilli sauce.
- For a slightly more upmarket dining experience, with air conditioning, food courts, located in most large shopping centres, are a viable alternative. One of the best is located in Raffles Centre, famous for its chicken rice.
For a night on the town there is no better place than the seafood restaurants along the East Coast Parkway, overlooking the sea. Here you can sample Singapore’s famous black pepper crab and chilli crab. Other dishes worth trying, include drunken prawns, barbecued stingray, and deep-fried squid. And to go with it try steamed Chinese buns, ideal for mopping up any leftover sauce. Prices are highly competitive and only marginally higher than at Newton Circus, well worth the difference for the view.
Great Asian recipes – Click here:
Kaeng kari kai – yellow curried chicken
Phanaeng Beef Curry in sweet peanut sauce
Warm squid salad in a pineapple
For other articles on South East Asia see:
Cooking schools in South East Asia
Thai House cooking school • Bangkok • Thailand
Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School• Thailand
Red Bridge Cooking School• Hoi An • Vietnam
Books reviewed by Wickedfood on Asian food:
Sunninghill – (011) 234-3252 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wickedfood® cooking school in Johannesburg runs cookery classes throughout the year at its purpose-built cooking studios. Classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – team building cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.
Our classes are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these classes are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.