I'm sure tips for Singapore have been done to death here but my requirement that my Singapore odyssey be based on halal food might be a little more testing for some of you regular posters...
I have a 3 day stay coming up next week and was going to do a food tour except I haven't been able to find anyone suitable hence my plea to you all. These are the foods I want to try whilst in Singapore (most of which I have never tried before). I am keen for you all to point out though if it is simply not possible to replicate some of these dishes authentically as a halal version - I'd rather get an authentic taste than a compliant but sanitised version which is a waste of time. Given my short stay and the fact that I'll be hauling my family around Singapore based on food spots rather than actual things to see, I really do want to make sure that every bite packs a satisfactory punch. Here goes:
Where should I be headed for the best halal versions of the following dishes:
-Chicken rice (obviously)
-Nasi Lemak (I hear that international Nasi Lemak @ the Changi Village Food Centre is particularly good but correct me if not (also I don;t know if that's halal).
-Biryani (I keep hearing Bismillah but is that just because it's so famous or because it warrants it? Any word on Taj on South Bridge Rd as a possible contender?)
- Nasi Pedang. The following any good? http://www.hungrygowhere.com/dining-g...
The following might be trickier for halal but I'm intrigued:
- Hokkien Mee
- Char Kway Teow
- Bak Chor Mee
- Beef Kway Teow
The following link details some halal food places but please let me know if there are any specific ones mentioned here that I really shouldn't miss:
Random tips and hints I've picked up which I would also be grateful if they could be validated are as follows:
- That I must try/shouldn't miss the chicken murtubak at Zamzam
- To try and get hold of the CEO's Hawker guide if possible
- That Geylang Serai market is great for halal food (which is fine but I'd like to know if it would be a worthwhile trip because it's good and not just because it is halal). Also is the Geylang Hawker Centre the same thing or do they just have similar names?
- That Tiong Bahru is a very good hawker centre (again not sure about halal vendors there or which specific hawkers within this place are good
)- To try Lau Pau Sat now that it has reopened and that satay stalls 3/4 of the old Satay street are worth trying.
Sorry - lots for you to read and digest here and I'm sure there will be repeat questions here but I'd be grateful for as much detail in responses as possible so that I can really plan my trip. If it's any help I'm about to book at the Intercon hotel in Bugis primarily because I hear it is well located...
Also worth noting that I will be visiting KL later in this trip and that I hear it trumps Singapore for authenticity. I plan to post separately in relation to KL but let me know if that impacts what food I should try in Singapore in any way.
Thanks all in advance....
If you want to try halal versions of street foods like char koay teow, oyster omelette or Hokkien mee, just wait till you go to KL. Those are virtually impossible to find in Singapore.
Street food in Singapore can usually be segmentised according to their ethnic origins:
Obvious Chinese ones like char koay teow, Hokkien mee, bak chor mee, beef koay teow, and oyster omelette are non-halal, and it is quite a challenge to find any halal versions. The *only* place where I'd tried halal oyster omelette is at the very popular dinner buffet line at Straits Kitchen, Grand Hyatt Hotel - it's got a halal kitchen as the hotel's owned by the Sultan of Brunei. In fact, Straits Kitchen is perhaps the go-to place if you want to try halal food.
Singapore's iconic Katong laksa is a Nyonya (Straits Chinese) dish which is pork-less (only shrimps, cockles, dried shrimps used) but stalls that sell them usually does not carry a halal certification as clientele are mostly Chinese. The Singapore-Malays will have their own version of the laksa (mainly Johore Laksa) which tastes different from Katong Laksa.
Geylang Serai is a treasure-trove of halal eats, as it's in the traditional Malay-Muslim heartland of Singapore. Malay eateries are all halal, as Singapore's ethnic Malays are 99% Muslims. You would be virtually assured of halal food if you patronise *any* Malay-owned eatery. Popular Malay food in Singapore are nasi lemak (the ones in Adam Road are popular, as are the ones in Changi Village). Do *not* go to Chinese-owned nasi lemak places, e.g. Punggol Nasi Lemak (various branches throughout the island) as these will not be halal. You will find Malay-style chicken rice in Geylang Serai - it'll taste different from the Hainanese-Chinese versions, but will be halal.
You should also try Nasi Padang in Singapore, which is largely Malay-Indonesian - these are halal. Popular ones include Hajjah Maimunah in Jalan Pisang, near Kampung Glam/Arab St area which is largely Muslim/Malay. Go there and you'll be spoilt for choice as you'll find several Indonesian, Malay and Arabic eating options along Arab St, Kandahar St, Bussorah St. Baghdad St, Haji Ali Lane, etc. Zam Zam is in that area - it is famous for its murtabaks. Islamic further down the same street is famous for its biryanis - quite a light version, more like pulao - but it's very famous in Singapore and has been around for 80 years or so. Don't miss it, if you have a chance.
Again, be careful if you come across a rare Chinese-owned nasi padang place like Rendezvous (the oldest one & very famous in Singapore) - it doesn't serve any pork, but I'm not sure if it carries a halal certification at the moment.
Tiong Bahru is a mainly Chinese food centre, there will be one or two Malay or Indian-Muslim stalls selling halal food, but it's not worth your while to make a trip there as most of the famous foods there are Chinese (pau, chwee kway, fried koay teow, Hokkien mee), none of which is halal.
Old Airport Road food centre and Maxwell Road food centre will have a small section set aside for Malay and Indian-Muslim food stalls selling halal food like prata, mee rebus/mee goreng, - you may wish to explore those. Do NOT patronise any of the Chinese stalls (e.g. Tian Tian chicken rice in Maxwell Rd or Hokkien Mee at Old Airport Rd) as these are all not halal.
I think Syed Alwi Rd and Serangoon Rd in Little India are better places for halal dining. You can find a branch of Bar-BQ Tonite from Karachi there. Little India is famous among Singaporeans for its South Indian vegetarian spots, e.g. Komala Vilas. No animal fats are used in any of the cooking, but again, they are not certified halal, so you may wish to think carefully about going there. Ditto Little India's other main dining attraction: fish head curry from either Apolo Banana Leaf or Muthu's. Although these places do not serve pork, I don't think they are certified halal - you may wish to check that before you make a trip down there.
I agree, Geylang Serai is probably a good option for you, its also kind of a cool place that is kind of chaotic and doesn't really feel like the rest of singapore (i like these types of places). here's the ieatishooipost posts on geyland serai: http://ieatishootipost.sg/foodfinder/...
if you happen to go geylang serai, go to Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring (its like across the street basically), i really liked this place, here's my post
BTW, forget about the CEO's Hawker Guide.
The one publication you should get is Makansutra - very detailed and extremely useful.
Another (newer) publication is The ieat.ishoot.ipost "Guide to Singapore's Shiokest Hawker Food" by Dr Leslie Tay.
Thanks both for your comments - really useful start.
So to validate things a little further I'm a little surprised/disappointed that I might miss out on an authentic chicken rice dish because I hear so much about it and also because I don't think any of the ingredients/sauces/oils used to cook should be non halal meat source but you guys will know better. Similar story on the Oyster omelette.
- Straits kitchen is generally considered a good standard or have you pointed it out because it's halal? Let me know if there are specific items that are particularly good there that I should try
- I'm going to try and do my homework on the Katong Laksa and see if I can get something halal compliant even if not certified - can you name a couple of top places for Laksa in terms of taste rather than popularity
- At Geylang Serai - which halal stalls shouldn't I miss?
- Can you name a couple of the best if not in your opinion THE BEST places for Nasi Lemak (is the place I named at Changi Village particularly well regarded? For Nasi Pedang you mentioned Hajjah Maimunah so I'll stick with that).
- The biryani showdown - Islamic vs Hamid's @ Geylang(according ieatishootipost)vs Bismillah vs Taj. Have I got the taste test covered between those 4 and which one would your vote go to?
- Any htoughts on the best Prata or top 2/3 in your order of preference.
- Any murtubak better than zam zam?
- Is lau Pau Satworth a trip for me or worth factoring in?
Lastly I personally am not the biggest fan of South Indian food and also have ready to access to a decent pool of that in London - want to try new stuff (apart from biryani)...
Also I think I read somewhere about a peanut based dessert that's popular - not sure if it;s a chocolate based dish or pancake etc - does anyone know?
To put things in context, I'm going to be outting together a fod itinerary when I get sufficient comments back and plan to eat my way through Singapore accordingly and do some tourinst stuff in between. I look forward to more updates and thanks again.
Hainanese chicken rice will not use/add any pork fat or pork products. The chicken will not be halal-certified, so if you're not too particular, then do try it.
Ditto Katong laksa - the best-tasting ones are 328 Katong Laksa and Janggut @ Roxy Square. Both are in Katong (East Coast Rd) within 100 metres of each other.
Lots of differing opinions of the best prata - my fave are the ones in Jalan Kayu (Thasevi and Thohirah), though they are a bit far from the city centre.
For murtabak - just go for Zam Zam - its location is fantastic, and you can have quite a bit of shopping & food-hunting done besides.