Food and Drinks in Singapore

Kway teow stir fry noodles is one of the most popular dishes in Singapore.
Kway teow stir fry noodles is one of the most popular dishes in Singapore.

Thanks to its huge mix of different cultures and food-loving population, Singapore's food is widely regarded as one of the best cuisines in Asia. From cheap, cheerful, and surprisingly delicious street food stalls to some of the most romantic and luxurious restaurants in the world, this small island is home to far more great dining options than most visitors expect.

Singaporean cuisine runs across the entire culinary spectrum, from cheap and simple to incredibly complex and costly. With a large population of Chinese, Indian, and Malay immigrants, the island's most popular dishes blend ancient cooking traditions with the tastes of the local population, often to great success.

Step into one of Singapore's many hawker centers – large outdoor food courts found on most major street corners – and you'll be surrounded by many of the island's most famous dishes. Malay dishes like laksa, a noodle soup dish inherited from Chinese Malaysians; kway teow, a fried noodle dish that's long been a staple of laborers; and kari ayam, a chicken curry, are found almost everywhere.

Most of these dishes are modestly priced and served in large portions, allowing visitors to dine out for as little as ten dollars daily. Many hawker centers, particularly those found in Little India, have various other cuisines on offer too, including Indian and Arabic food. From chicken cooked in the tandoor oven to doner kebab, Singapore's large South Asian community offers great street food.

Of course, Singapore's largest ethnic community is its Chinese community, which dates back over two hundred years. Chinese food is a staple of Singaporean cuisine, and the island has put its own twist on traditional Chinese dishes. From banquet-style roast duck and pork to simple soups, most hawker centers in Singapore will be able to whip up hundreds of Chinese dishes for a modest fee.

Snack foods like dim sum and Malay nasi lemak are available at most food courts and hawker food stands, typically at low prices. Thanks to Singapore's small Thai immigrant community, many Thai dishes are also available at standard food courts and stands. Simple meals like pad thai and various laab dishes are found almost everywhere for visitors seeking a break from Malay and Chinese food.

Seafood fans owe it to themselves to try some of Singapore's fresh seafood dishes. Most hawker centers will have a seafood restaurant built into their premises, often with live fish swimming in tanks for diners to choose from. Popular choices include grilled or steamed fish and shrimp, along with fresh lobster, scallops, and oysters.

Singapore's food is relatively intense in its tastes, and visitors from countries with a smaller appetite for spicy and flavorsome food may find themselves seeking something a little less explosive during their stay. Fast food chains offer a simple escape from the sardines, spices, and pickled eggs that are found in Singaporean food – all ingredients that could scare away otherwise happy visitors.

Famous Singapore Sling, a well-known cherry and pineapple cocktail that was invented at the Raffles Hotel in downtown Singapore.
Famous Singapore Sling, a well-known cherry and pineapple cocktail that was invented at the Raffles Hotel in downtown Singapore.

Due to its tropical climate and large areas of protected rainforest, Singapore is home to some of the world's best fruit and fresh vegetables. Fruit shakes, made with fresh ingredients and cane sugar, are available at most outdoor hawker centers and major shopping areas. Coconut water is fairly popular amongst locals, and is sold as a recuperation aid at juice stands around the city.

Tiger is Singapore's oldest and most popular beer, and is sold at almost every restaurant around the city. Other popular alcoholic drinks include the famous Singapore Sling, a well-known cherry and pineapple cocktail that was invented at the Raffles Hotel in downtown Singapore.

From street food to luxurious cocktails, Singapore's cuisine is interesting, varied, and more than intense enough to bring a smile – or full-on panic – to your taste buds. Regardless of your budget, your personal tastes, or your dietary requirements, you'll have no trouble finding great food during your stay in Singapore.