When it comes to unique, rich delicacies, Singapore is the Mecca of good eating. The country has enough food to keep you busy eating classic dishes and stylish takes on old favorites 24 hours a day, and its highly efficient airport – a common stopover for folks traveling throughout Asia – is no exception.
So what do you do when you only have one day to devour the best of Singapore? You make room, dig in, and pray you have an extra belt loop! Here’s our two cents on eating through Singapore in a day.
Start the day off right with a traditional Singaporean breakfast. A hyper-local experience is all about classic no-frills cafes called kopitiams, and it’s here that you can try a variety of strong coffee drinks like kopi (coffee with condensed milk), kopi O kosong (black coffee), or kopi peng (iced coffee with condensed milk).
The most interesting choice is the butter coffee, which is exactly what it sounds like: butter melted into coffee. Many kopitiams even roast their own beans and actually do so in butter. To accompany the buttery brew, these traditional coffee shops serve bowls of soft boiled eggs, which you can garnish with dark soy sauce and also scoop up with kaya toast, a buttered toast with coconut jam.
But it’s no time to stop eating. There’s so much more to taste, like a plate of coconut rice with relishes and condiments (like cucumbers or fish sambal) in the Malaysian-Indonesian dish called nasi lemak. Dip buttery roti prata pancakes into Indian curry coconut milk. Or warm up with a bowl of rice porridge topped with meats, eggs, and vegetables.
Lunch in Singapore is all about food courts and hawker centers. Hawkers are essentially open-air food courts that serve superb street food at accessible prices, which means many Singaporeans can eat lunch out for cheap during the work week. You’ll see spots like Amoy Street Food Centre in the business district bustling at lunchtime. Most hawkers are open for both lunch and dinner, but many stalls only stay open until they sell out, so if you’re heading to a popular spot, get there early to guarantee yourself a meal.
The cuisine you can find at a hawker is vast and varied. Many hawkers have hundreds of stalls and big menus, so it’s impossible to get bored. Try dishes from all over the world like the classic chicken rice, steamed dumplings, fried oyster omelets, or heaping plates of spiced biryani.
Amongst the many traditional and innovative food trends found within Singapore’s hawkers, cultured meat is another must-try staple. As of this writing, Singapore is still the only spot in the world where you can taste it! So head to one of the country’s many avant-garde restaurants and sink your teeth into the latest technology and fantastic flavor of cultivated meat.
Some hawkers, like the Chomp Chomp Food Centre, are only open for dinner and late-night dining, making them ideal spots if you haven’t already had your daily dose of hawker meals.
Or even better: Enjoy Singapore’s exceptional fine dining scene with its 42 Michelin star restaurants, including three restaurants boasting three stars a piece. From upscale Italian or French in the National Gallery Singapore to an impeccable sushi performance, there’s a Michelin star for every taste.
Like the rest of their cuisine, Singaporeans’ sweet tooth encompasses a variety of cultures. Desserts are eaten all throughout the day – even after breakfast is fair game! Try cendol, a bowl of pandan rice noodles with shaved ice, palm sugar syrup, and coconut or sweetened condensed milk. Or head to the hawkers for a lighter-than-air sweet bean curd that’s worth the lines you’re likely to encounter. Fruits also abound in Singapore, especially durian, a custard-like yellow fruit in a spiky rind. Try the funky flavor in candies, puddings, or with shaved ice.
After 24 hours in Singapore, you’ll already be planning your next day trip to this food paradise.