HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
What's your latest food project? Tell us about it

What Singaporean foods do you like and can't find in the US? [moved from LA board]

Ben7643 Jun 9, 2007 01:24 PM

So since were on the topic. What are some other foods you all crave that they only have in singapore that you can't get here in the US or LA?


  1. pilinut Jun 12, 2007 11:24 PM

    Popiah: both the Fookien and the Teochow. And I mean the full-blown popiah with everything, not the abbreviated versions. Aside from Singapore, I've only had really good ones in Manila.

    1. m
      Merryworld Jun 12, 2007 06:21 PM

      Baby Kai Lan with oyster sauce. I have never seen baby Kai Lan anywhere in the U.S. and we used to eat it for lunch with rice almost every day. Except Friday. That was Laksa day.

      Also Beef Hor Fun, the best was in Geylang. Haven't found the perfect recipe for that yet, though I've tried.

      1. limster Jun 10, 2007 12:35 PM

        Roti prata, curry mee, hainanese chicken rice, satay, the occasional rendang have been decent in the US. Everything else I crave.

        8 Replies
        1. re: limster
          hungryann Jun 10, 2007 03:44 PM

          Kaya toast and teh tarik.

          1. re: hungryann
            boogiebaby Jun 11, 2007 12:32 PM

            Yeo's sells a very good Kaya that's made in Malaysia is in pretty good. It comes in a can and is about $2.50 for the large can. Get a loaf of white bread from an asian market (the heavy, soft asian style kind) and you can make your own kaya toast at home.

            1. re: boogiebaby
              chewingvampire Jun 11, 2007 01:39 PM

              my fave list includes:

              - crab bee hoon
              - laksa
              - otah
              - satay with a lot of the peanut sauce
              - ban mian
              - sushi on 'conveyor belt'
              - ice kachang
              - durian
              - stingray
              - the half-boiled egg that goes with kaya toast
              - dinosaur milo
              - of course, black pepper crab (yummy!)

              1. re: chewingvampire
                qianning Jun 12, 2007 12:43 PM

                -Laksa, the kind with coconut milk, not the sour kind (seems to be the only type available in the us)

                1. re: qianning
                  limster Jun 12, 2007 03:12 PM

                  That's Laksa lemak (vs the soury assam laksa with sardines).

            2. re: hungryann
              pilinut Jun 12, 2007 11:20 PM

              Are you thinking Killiney Kopi Tiam? I'm down to my last 2 tablespoons of their marvelous kaya, though I still have a package or so of their lovely coffee. . . Never travel to Singapore without an empty suitcase :-)

              1. re: pilinut
                chewingvampire Jun 13, 2007 10:41 AM

                used to be a fan of both Killiney Road kaya and YaKun..then YaKun got too commercialized (and overpriced)....

                1. re: chewingvampire
                  pilinut Jun 13, 2007 11:44 AM

                  Agree. YaKun has a kind of starchy feel to it. You can still go to Killiney and see the fresh-filled, yet-to-be-capped plastic jars of kaya cooling on trays. . . Another good kaya brand is Chilli Padi from a stall in the basement of Tang's.

          2. m
            markethej Jun 10, 2007 11:21 AM

            REAL CHILI CRAB!!!

            1. boogiebaby Jun 10, 2007 12:36 AM

              There are 4 foods I miss from Singapore/Malaysia: wantan mee, Murtabak, Roti Prata and vadas from Anadabhavan's on Serangoon Road.

              The wantan mee there is diffrent than the HongKong style available here in So. CA. (believe me, I've tried -- it was actually one of my pregnancy cravings a while back and I tried a dozen different ones). It's got chillis and kecap manis and other things in it that give it that unique Singaporean taste. Murtabak, I actually prefer the Malaysian style over Singaporean. Roti Prata, I like it with dal instead of curry. The vadas at Anandabhavans are amazing -- we've actually bought them a day before, frozen them, and brought them back to the US before! Customs lets them through since there is no meat or fresh produce involved.

              I make Murtabak at home, but I can't spin the dough like the mamak guys can! I also have to make smaller ones to fit on my 16" griddle, but I just can't replicate that wantan mee! Everytime I go, everyone knows that I have to stop at a food stall to get my wantan fix. :)

              1 Reply
              1. re: boogiebaby
                bulavinaka Jun 10, 2007 08:06 AM

                My wife yearns for wonton "noodle" in KL as you do your wonton mi in Singapore. As you mentioned, this is something that she just hasn't found here or been able to duplicate - who knows what kind of magic is spun into the soup pot before it is brought out for all to enjoy. Her favorite is from a guy who has been selling it since she could remember from a little stainless steel cart in a wet market from her old neighborhood. She says the guy has to be making a mint. When he rolls out his cart, people line up right away for his wonton noodle. He also knows alot of his regulars so well that just a simple exchange of greetings and small talk between him and his patrons goes on while he prepares their individual "custom" orders that are wrought to his memory. This guy is a tradition in this market, a touchstone to a simpler time in this now-bussling city...

              2. b
                bulavinaka Jun 9, 2007 06:09 PM

                The otak otak in Singapore and Malaysia seems to have an unmatched fishy flavor. I try it everywhere here and have yet to experience anything that comes close. Maybe it's the type of fish used here, or different style. I believe they primarily use Kingfish there.

                Hainanese chicken and rice is more available in Singapore than Starbucks coffee is over here. Most of it is pretty good, while some places have a strong enough rep to draw people from all parts of the island, and even businessmen being chauffeured in Euro-cruisers. You will have alot of access to this succulent dish - get as much of it as you can as you won't easily find any great renditions of it over here.

                Fruits and fruit juices are pretty exotic over there - rambutan, starfruit, longan, and mangosteen are plentiful there, but durian, "King of fruits," is somewhat of a novelty to most who have never been to SE Asia before. While you can get most of the above-mentioned fruits here, they just aren't the same, especially the durian. I personally don't care for it, but most locals would give up their first-born for a shot at the real thing over here.

                Hokkien noodles are another dish that seems to be available only in Singapore - at least the Singaporean version. No thick dark soy sauce, the seasoning in general is different, and a larger proportion of seafood is used.

                I did mention earlier that chilli crab is very popular there. I would think that it is probably more popular than black pepper crab is. This seems to be the crab dish that alot of expats from Singapore yearn for.

                It's all good your first time over there. You will be amazed at how eating is almost like recreation to the average Singaporean. Food and shopping, shopping and food. That will be the rythym of your stay there...

                1 Reply
                1. re: bulavinaka
                  Lau Jun 9, 2007 07:45 PM

                  i miss hainanese chicken rice and nasi lemak, those are great staples

                  i actually like chili crab better than black pepper crab, but they're both really good

                  south indian food is great in singapore b/c they have so many tamil migrant workers who spend like 6 months at a time in singapore and repatriate money to india

                  singaporean style food is good although i find alot of their chinese food from other regions to be not so good (cantonese, other mainland etc), which is kind of weird b/c obviously many / most singaporeans are ethnically southern chinese mainly cantonese, chiu chow, hakka etc. But, generally the food is great in singapore

                2. b
                  bsquared2 Jun 9, 2007 04:45 PM

                  The Indian food is very unique in Singapore. Everything is served on a Banana Leaf instead of a plate. There is also a Malaysian dish similar to a stuffed Roti that was really good. I had it at a restaurant near the blue Mosque.

                  I'll put it this way, I couldn't think of anything I didn't like in Singapore. One interesting note is that they have Coffee Bean and Tea Leafs in a bunch of places in Singapore. Someone told me the owners were from Singapore? Not sure if that is true.

                  The other cool thing about Singapore is the food in the airport is fantastic. Most restaurants in Asian airports (except HK) have weak food. The Ho Chi Minh airport is one of the most disappointing. When my flights have been delayed, I catch a taxi to a Pho house near the airport. Vietnamese food is so good, but I would never eat at the airport.

                  Show Hidden Posts