How To Eat Like A Local In Singapore
From hawker stalls to rib-sticking barbecue, don't miss these 5 tasty spots.
We’ve team up with Anna Chittenden of Lost Guides to bring you the best of Singapore’s local eateries.
When it comes to ‘things to do’ in Singapore, your itinerary will mostly revolve around food. Eating seems to be the favourite pasttime for locals, migrants and travellers alike. Thankfully Singapore isn’t short of a restaurant or two and the scale slides from $4 dishes at hawker stalls up to international dining concepts. Here are a few of our favourites to get you started on your food journey in Singapore.
#1 Burnt Ends
Where: 20 Teck Lim Road
Chef Dave Pynt’s four tonne dual cavity wood burning machine gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘barbecue’. Tucked away on Teck Lim Road in Chinatown, Burnt Ends, a modern Australian barbecue restaurant, provides an intimate and almost theatre-worthy performance by Dave and his team. Settle in for the evening on one of just 18 seats and prepare for a double whammy of goodness – it tastes good and the service is entertaining. The menu is updated daily on their Facebook page and includes favourites like smoked quail eggs; leeks, hazelnut and brown butter; whole baby snapper and sangers. There’s no reservations, so get there early to avoid disappointment.
#2 Wang Dae Bak
Where: 98 Amoy St
Wang Dae Bak is an all time favourite Korean barbecue joint. The space is small and cosy, with groups of friends huddled around small barbecues in the middle of their benches. Waiters carry red-hot charcoal to the tables to add more flavour to the meat – stay out of their way, trust us. You’ll be spoilt for choice with the range of high quality meat on offer (try the pork belly) as well as the delicious kimchi pancake and banchan (side dishes). It’s always packed, which is a great sign, but if you’re in for a wait then head next door to cocktail bar Jigger and Pony for a crafty tipple.
#3 Por Kee Eating House
Where: 69 Seng Poh Lane
Don’t be put off by Por Kee’s location in the middle of a car park. This place does the yummiest Zhu Chao food – basically affordable, home-style Chinese food made to be enjoyed with a group of friends or family. This is the real deal. Don’t take my word for it, just look at the hundreds of people that pack out this restaurant every night from 6pm onwards. Be sure to order the champagne pork ribs (a must), Thai style fish and cereal-fried prawns. They also provide delicious appetisers at the start. Head to Por Kee to get a slice of the real Singapore, with its laid back and authentic atmosphere and some of the best food in town.
#4 Tiong Bahru Market
Where: 30 Seng Poh Road
Life in Tiong Bahru centres around the market, which was established all the way back in 1955 (which is old for Singapore). On the ground floor you’ll find stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood (arrive early for this), flowers, homewares and fabrics. All of the ‘street food’ stalls are upstairs at the hawker centre. (Singapore doesn’t actually have ‘street food’ as such, because it’s illegal to sell food on the street – hence the invention of hawker centres.) This is my favourite hawker market in Singapore. It’s spacious and clean, and a lot of the sellers have been here for years peddling some of the best local food around. The rule of thumb is to go to the stall with the longest queue, but be prepared to wait a while.
#5 Ah Bong’s Italian
Where: 56 Eng Hoon Street
Ah Bong’s Italian food stall is one of the only places to serve non-local food while staying on par with local prices ($5AUD for a bowl of pasta – genius!). The story goes that a Singaporean named Chris was working as an accountant, having lived in Japan and the UK for his job. He earning good money, but he wanted to pursue his true passion – food. He gave up his corporate day job to open an Italian food stall serving fresh homemade pasta and fancy creme brûlée, inspired by the hole-in-the-wall pasta places he stumbled on during his travels in Sicily. You won’t be able to resist the mac n cheese with truffle oil, but all of the pastas on the menu here are pretty great. Ah Bong’s is only open for lunch and breakfast – in the evenings the space turns into the Day & Night pizza restaurant. Be sure to follow Ah Bong’s on Instagram for updates on the latest menu and new creations.
(Photos provided by Lost Guides, check out more over at Instagram.)