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Apr 16, 2012 09:37 AM

Best (dishes) of Singapore for first time visitor

Hi fellow chowhounders, I will be in Singapore with my partner for 3 and a half days next week. Am planning the food itinerary and have a few must-eat dishes, was wondering if you could offer suggestions for the recommended places to go for such dishes.

Will be staying at the Ritz Carlton but will not mind travelling a bit for good authentic local food!

Things we want to avoid on this trip are: high tea, buffets, fine dining, Chinese food I can get in HK. We really want to focus on the local food (specifically Peranakan/Nonya and Malay), and given the long list of things to try, we may have to be adventerous and aim for 4-5 smaller sized meals a day to fit everything in!

I have done some research and read through previous threads here on Chow and have come up with a list below:

Chilli crab - am choosing between Jumbo, No Signboard and Palm Beach, have read that the quality has dropped since they began opening up more branches. Leaning towards Jumbo at Riverview or Palm Beach at One Fullerton

Butter crab - Seafood Paradize at De Fu Lane, apparently to come up with butter crab concept

Pepper crab - Eng Seng

Hainanese chicken rice - I am a big big fan of this dish! Have shortlisted: Chatterbox @ Meritus Mandarin, Tian Tian chicken rice at Maxwell, Boon Tong Kee, Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice

Bar Kut The - Ng Ah Siou, Yah Hua

Local BBQ Satay - Lau Pa Sat (order from fatman store), Gluttons Square, Maxwell, Chomp Chomp

Local BBQ Stingray - can I get this at hawker centres? Or are they done better at the seafood restaurants like Palm Beach or Jumbo?

White Carrot cake - Netwon Circus, stall 28 (Heng), does anyone know if they do this in different colours? Black or White?

Kaya toast - Killiney kopitiam (go to original store in Somerset), Ya Kun, Tong Ah Eating House

Laksa - are there two different types (Katong & Penang)? Any recommendations?

Tea Tarak


Char kway teow

Mee soto (Prawn Mee?) / Ipoh Hor Fun - Lee Tong Kee

Ice kachang
Chinese rojak

Thanks in advance

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  1. That's a lot of food in 3.5 days!!!
    You have shortlisted most of them but I opine that you'll be rushing so much you may not enjoy your stay?

    Lemme see if I can answer some of your queries:

    Local BBQ Stingray - yes some hawker centers will have this. My personal opinion is that it's much better eaten at such places. Of utmost importance would be the chilli paste and freshness of the seafood, a beautifully simple dish. I've had decent ones at Alexandra Village Hawker Center near Ikea Singapore.

    White Carrot Cake - I like the one at Toa Payoh Lorong 1 Block 127 hawker center where you can get one of the better Hokkien fried prawn mee too (Tien tien lai/Come daily) - 2 birds one stone. The caveat being it's not really accessible.
    Yes there's two variants - black and white. The black one has dark sweet sauce on it of which I'm no fan of (but frustratingly my wife is lol). A personal observation, one can be the master of one but not both; have yet to encounter a place which cooks the black as good as the white and vice versa.

    1. Chilli crab - not much to choose from between the top places, but the ambience and view at Palm Beach, One Fulerton may give the edge over the others.

      Butter crab - the best I'd ever had in Singapore was actually at Gajalee, a Mangalorean restaurant on Cuppage Terrace, Orchard Rd.

      Hainanese chicken rice - Boon Tong Kee at Balestier Rd is the best one in the chain, the River Valley outlet is a close second;

      Pepper crab - yes, folks like Eng Seng but go at your own peril - hot, uncomfortable surroundings, rude staff. The crabs are ultra-fresh though, but the cooking there's way too spicy for me (both pepper and chilli versions);

      Bak Kut Teh - I prefer Founder on Balesteir Rd - they'd also opened a swish new branch on Rangoon Rd to provide some "friendly" competition to Ng Ah Sio.

      Satay & BBQ seafood - try Newton Circus hawker centre. The carrot cake there does both versions - upon request.

      Kaya toast - any outlet of Killiney or Ya Kun is good. Just AVOID Toastbox - WORST chain of any food to come out of Singapore, EVER!

      Laksa - try both, the Singaporean Katong version and the Penang assam version are lietrally two different types of dishes altogether.

      Roti prata and teh tarik can be had at popular Indian-Muslim spots in Little India or Kampung Glam areas.

      3 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        Thanks for mentioning Founder. I live near the Balestier area and love Founder's but was wondering why no one in the local press ever mentions it as being one of Singapore's top BKTs. It seems to be all about Ng Ah Sio...

        1. re: Julian Teoh

          Speaking of Ng Ah Sio, I think they just opened a new branch at Katong Road, saw congratulatory bouquets and such in front of a two-shophouse affair... or at least as much as I can see until outstretched craned neck became a driving hazard.

          I'm embarrassed to say I've never tried Founders though. That must change.

          1. re: Julian Teoh

            Founder bak kut teh is less peppery than Ng Ah Sio's. Both had their fans & detractors. In the late-80s/early-90s when I was working at the-then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, Balestier Road was our happy-hunting-ground for good eats. Ah, those were the days.