Singaporean cuisine

Singaporean cuisine
A hawker centre in Lavender, Singapore

Singaporean cuisine is indicative of the ethnic diversity of the culture of Singapore, as a product of centuries of cultural interaction owing to Singapore's strategic location.[1] The food is influenced by the native Malay,[1] the predominant Chinese,[1] Indonesian, Indian,[1] Peranakan and Western traditions (particularly English and some Portuguese-influenced Eurasian, known as Kristang) since the founding of Singapore by the British in the 19th century. Influences from other areas such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, and the Middle East exist in local food culture as well. In Singaporean hawker stalls, for example, chefs of Chinese background influenced by Indian culture might experiment with condiments and ingredients such as tamarind, turmeric and ghee, while an Indian chef might serve a fried noodle dish.

This phenomenon makes the cuisine of Singapore a cultural attraction. Most prepared food bought outside the home is eaten at hawker centres or food courts, examples of which include Lau Pa Sat and Newton Food Centre, rather than at actual restaurants. These hawker centres are abundant and cheap, encouraging a large consumer base.

In Singapore, food is viewed as crucial to national identity and a unifying cultural thread; Singaporean literature declares eating as a national pastime and food, a national obsession. Food is a frequent topic of conversation among Singaporeans. Religious dietary strictures do exist; Muslims do not eat pork and Hindus do not eat beef, and there is also a significant group of vegetarians. People from different communities often eat together, while being mindful of each other's culture and choose food that is acceptable to all. There are also some halal Chinese restaurants catering to Muslim dietary preference.

Singaporean cuisine has been promoted as an attraction for tourists by the Singapore Tourism Board, as a major attraction alongside its shopping. The government organises the Singapore Food Festival in July to celebrate Singapore's cuisine. The multiculturalism of local food, the ready availability of international cuisine and styles, and their wide range in prices to fit all budgets at all times of the day and year helps create a "food paradise". The dish "Singapore style noodles" does not exist in Singapore, as it was invented by chefs who worked and lived in Hong Kong.

As Singapore is a small country with a high population density, land is a scarce resource devoted to industrial and housing purposes. Most produce and food ingredients are imported, although there is a small group of local farmers who produce some leafy vegetables, fruit, poultry, and fish. Singapore's geographical position connects it to major air and sea transport routes and thus allows it to import a variety of food ingredients from around the world, including costly seafood items such as sashimi from Japan.


Common main dishes and snacks


Dried hams sold during Chinese new year in Singapore

Many of these dishes were adapted by early Chinese immigrants to suit local circumstances (such as available ingredients) and cannot strictly be considered mainstream Chinese cuisine with some Malay and other influences present. The local Chinese cuisine of Singapore draws itself mainly from Hokkien, Teochew, Hainanese, Cantonese and Hakka cuisine.

  • Bak kut teh (Chinese: 肉骨茶; pinyin: ròu gǔ chá), pork rib soup made with a variety of Chinese herbs and spices.
  • Bak Chang (Chinese: 肉粽; pinyin: ròu zòng), savoury glutinous rice dumplings, usually filled with pork, mushrooms and salted egg yolk, steamed in bamboo leaves. Chinese in origin, but a longtime favorite of Peranakan cuisine.
  • Bak chor mee / minced pork noodles (simplified Chinese: 肉脞面; traditional Chinese: 肉脞麵; pinyin: roù cuò miàn), egg noodles with minced pork or chicken and other ingredients, served dry or with soup. Usually the flat, tape-like mee pok noodle is used. A variation on fishball noodles.
  • Ban mian (simplified Chinese: 板面; traditional Chinese: 板麵; pinyin: bǎn miàn), hand-made flat noodles served with vegetables, minced meat, sliced mushrooms and an egg in an anchovy (ikan bilis)-based soup. Noodle variations are common. Ban mian usually refers to flat, long noodles; mee hoon kuay (Chinese: 米粉粿; pinyin: mí fěn guǒ; literally "rice vermicelli cake") refers to squarish flats; you mian (simplified Chinese: 幼面; traditional Chinese: 幼麵; pinyin: yòu miàn; literally "thin noodles") refers to thinner noodles.
  • Chai tow kway / carrot cake (simplified Chinese: 菜头粿; traditional Chinese: 菜頭粿; pinyin: cài tóu guǒ), also known as Char kway (Chinese: 炒粿; pinyin: chǎo guǒ), diced and stir-fried radish cubes with an egg mixture and sometimes with prawns. Comes in black (with soy sauce) or white (without soy sauce) versions, with chili sometimes added.
  • Char kway teow (simplified Chinese: 炒粿条; traditional Chinese: 炒粿條; pinyin: chǎo guǒ tiáo), thick, flat rice flour (kuay teow) noodles stir-fried in dark soy sauce with prawns, eggs, beansprouts, fish cake, cockles, green leafy vegetables, Chinese sausage and some fried lard.
  • Char siew rice (simplified Chinese: 叉烧饭; traditional Chinese: 叉燒飯; pinyin: chā shāo fàn) / Char siew noodles (simplified Chinese: 叉烧面; traditional Chinese: 叉燒麵; pinyin: chā shāo miàn), Cantonese dish of rice or noodles served with barbecued pork in a thick sauce.
  • Chee cheong fun (simplified Chinese: 猪肠粉; traditional Chinese: 豬腸粉; pinyin: zhū cháng fěn), a thick, flat sheet of steamed rice flour made into rolls, sometimes with a pork, chicken or vegetable filling. It is served with a sweet soy bean sauce.
  • Chok (Chinese: ; pinyin: zhōu), Cantonese congee in various flavours including chicken and pork, often served with anchovies and either sliced century egg or fresh egg.
  • Chwee kueh (Chinese: 水粿; pinyin: shuǐ guǒ), steamed rice cake topped with preserved radish; usually eaten for breakfast.
  • Claypot chicken rice (simplified Chinese: 砂煲鸡饭; traditional Chinese: 砂煲雞飯; pinyin: shā bāo jī fàn), rice cooked with soy sauce in a claypot, then topped with braised chicken and Chinese sausage. It may also include salted fish and is often enjoyed when the rice at the bottom is charred.
  • Curry chicken noodles (simplified Chinese: 咖喱鸡面; traditional Chinese: 咖喱雞麵; pinyin: gā lí jī miàn), yellow egg noodles in chicken curry.
  • Drunken prawn (simplified Chinese: 醉虾; traditional Chinese: 醉蝦; pinyin: zuì xiā), prawns cooked with Chinese rice wine
  • Duck rice (simplified Chinese: 鸭饭; traditional Chinese: 鴨飯; pinyin: yā fàn), braised duck with rice cooked with yam and shrimps. It can simply be served with plain white rice and a thick dark sauce. Side dishes of braised hard-boiled eggs, preserved salted vegetables, or hard beancurd (tau kua) may be added. Teochew boneless duck rice is a similar but more refined dish. Due to the slightly tougher texture of duck, the duck is artfully deboned and sliced thinly for the convenience and ease of the diner, allowing the sauces to seep into the meat, making it a more pleasant experience on the whole. Hainanese chicken rice and other similar dishes have followed this style due to the popularity.
  • Egg tart (simplified Chinese: 蛋挞; traditional Chinese: 蛋撻; pinyin: dàn tà), a Cantonese pastry of yellow egg custard baked in a pastry shell. Commonly served at dim sum meals and bakeries. Another variation is the Portuguese egg tart that has caramelized sugar on the top.
  • Fishball noodles (simplified Chinese: 鱼丸面; traditional Chinese: 魚丸麵; pinyin: yú wán miàn), usually of the Teochew variety. Any of several kinds of egg and rice noodles may be served either in a light fish-flavoured broth or "dry" with the soup on the side, with fishballs, fishcake, beansprouts and lettuce. As with bak chor mee, the most commonly ordered noodles are mee pok although kway teow soup versions are also popular.
  • Fish head bee hoon (simplified Chinese: 鱼头米粉; traditional Chinese: 魚頭米粉; pinyin: yú tóu mǐ fěn), a type of noodle soup in which the main ingredients are rice vermicelli and fried fish head (separated into chunks). This dish is notable for the creamy, rich soup, which is typically made using a mixture of fish stock and milk – the latter being an uncommon ingredient in Chinese cuisine. A variant using ordinary fish meat also exists.
  • Fried rice / char png (simplified Chinese: 炒饭; traditional Chinese: 炒飯; pinyin: chǎo fàn), rice is fried with various meat chunks and vegetables, along with eggs.
  • Hainanese chicken rice (simplified Chinese: 海南鸡饭; traditional Chinese: 海南雞飯; pinyin: hǎi nán jī fàn), steamed chicken served with rice cooked in chicken stock. Normally eaten with chili sauce, dark soy sauce, and ginger paste. A common variation is using roast chicken instead of steamed chicken. Considered the landmark dish of Singapore. It is available in Hainan, where it originated in WenChang City. However, the Singapore variation of the dish bears only slight resemblance to the original dish as served in Hainan.
  • Hae mee / prawn noodles (simplified Chinese: 虾面; traditional Chinese: 蝦麵; pinyin: xiā miàn), yellow egg noodles in a rich broth made from prawn and pork rib stock, topped with whole or sliced fresh boiled prawns.
  • Har Cheong Gai (simplified Chinese: 虾酱鸡; traditional Chinese: 蝦醬雞; pinyin: xiā jiàng jī; literally "shrimp paste chicken"), chicken wings fried in a batter with fermented shrimp paste.
  • Hokkien mee (simplified Chinese: 福建炒虾面; traditional Chinese: 福建炒蝦麵; pinyin: fú jiàn chǎo xiā miàn), rice vermicelli and yellow egg noodles fried with shrimp, sliced cuttlefish and lard bits.
  • Hor fun (Chinese: 河粉; pinyin: hé fěn), flat rice noodles in gravy often served with fish or prawns. A common variation is using beef instead.
  • Hum chim peng (simplified Chinese: 咸煎饼; traditional Chinese: 咸煎餅; pinyin: xián jiān bǐng), a deep-fried bun-like pastry sometimes filled with bean paste.
  • Kaya toast, a traditional breakfast dish. Kaya is a sweet coconut and egg jam, and this is spread over toasted bread. Combined with a cup of local coffee and a half-boiled egg, this makes a typical Singaporean breakfast.
  • Kuay chap / kway chap (Chinese: 粿汁; pinyin: guǒ zhī), a Teochew dish of flat, broad rice sheets in a soup made with dark soy sauce, served with pig offal, braised duck meat, various kinds of beancurd, preserved salted vegetables, and braised hard-boiled eggs.
  • Lor mee (simplified Chinese: 卤面; traditional Chinese: 滷麵; pinyin: lǔ miàn), a Hokkien noodle dish served in a viscous, dark soy sauce-based broth with meat roll slices, fishcake and beansprouts.
  • Mee Sua (simplified Chinese: 面线; traditional Chinese: 麵線; pinyin: miàn xiàn), not a dish but a type of thin, wheat vermicelli. Usually found in fishball noodles, or served with pork meat or kidney or chicken meat.
  • Min Chiang Kueh (Chinese: 面煎粿; pinyin: miàn jiān guǒ), a thick chewy pancake with a ground peanut and sugar filling. Other variations include grated coconut and red bean paste. This traditional snack is also served in blueberry, cheese and chocolate varieties.
  • Ngo hiang (Chinese: 五香; pinyin: wǔ xiāng), a dish composed of combining various vegetables, seafood and/or meats and commonly served in other dishes such as rojak or added as a side dish to a Tse Cha meal.
  • Oyster omelette / orh luah / orh luak (Chinese: 蚝煎; pinyin: háo jiān), oysters fried with a special flour and egg mixture.
  • Pau (Chinese: ; pinyin: bāo), steamed bun with wide assortment of fillings such as char siew, minced pork, red bean paste, lotus paste or vegetables.
  • Pig's organ soup (simplified Chinese: 猪杂汤; traditional Chinese: 豬雜湯; pinyin: zhū zá tāng; literally "pig spare parts soup"), a soup-based variant of kuay chap.
  • Popiah (simplified Chinese: 薄饼; traditional Chinese: 薄餅; pinyin: báo bǐng), Hokkien / Teochew-style spring roll or rolled crepe, stuffed with stewed turnip, Chinese sausage, shrimps and lettuce.
  • Chinese rojak, a vegetable salad with a topping of dark prawn paste that differs from traditional Malay rojak and the Mamak (Tamil Muslim) variety.
  • Soon kway (Chinese: 笋粿; pinyin: sǔn guǒ), a white vegetable dumpling with black soy sauce.
  • Teochew fish porridge (simplified Chinese: 潮州鱼粥; traditional Chinese: 潮州魚粥; pinyin: cháo zhōu yú zhōu), rice porridge with sliced fish meat, spring onions and other garnishing.
  • Vegetarian bee hoon (simplified Chinese: 斋米粉; traditional Chinese: 齋米粉; pinyin: zhāi mǐ fěn), thin braised rice vermicelli to which a choice of various gluten, vegetable, or beancurd-based delicacies may be added.
  • Wonton noodles / wanton mee (simplified Chinese: 云吞面; traditional Chinese: 雲吞麵; pinyin: yún tūn miàn), yellow egg noodles with chicken or pork or prawn dumplings. Often served with slices of barbecued pork.
  • Yong Tau Foo (simplified Chinese: 酿豆腐; traditional Chinese: 釀豆腐; pinyin: niàng dòu fǔ; literally "fermented bean curd"), a variety of vegetables stuffed with fish and meat paste cooked in a light anchovy-based soup. May also be eaten "dry" with sweet bean and chili sauces.
  • Youtiao (simplified Chinese: 油条; traditional Chinese: 油條; pinyin: yóu tiáo), fried dough crullers. Similar to those served in other Chinese cuisines around the world.
  • Yusheng (simplified Chinese: 鱼生; traditional Chinese: 魚生; pinyin: yú shēng), a raw fish salad traditionally eaten during Chinese New Year. The modern version of the once simple Teochew raw fish salad, which is now ubiquitous in Chinese restaurants during Chinese New Year celebrations, was developed in a Singaporean restaurant called Lai Wah Restaurant by chef Than Mui Kai during the 1960s.

Malay and Indonesian

Nasi Padang

Malay dishes, influenced by the food of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java and the Riau Islands, tend to be adapted to local tastes and differ from the regional variations in neighbouring countries. Spices and coconut milk are common ingredients, although Chinese ingredients such as taupok (tofu puffs) and tofu (known as tauhu in Malay) have been integrated. Many Chinese and Tamil Muslim adaptations of these dishes also exist.

  • Acar, pickled vegetables and/or fruits with dried chilli, peanuts, and spices. This condiment also has Indian and Peranakan versions.
  • Agar agar – agar extracted from seaweed that is usually moulded into a jelly-like cake, sometimes with layers and colourings, and in various shapes.
  • Ayam goreng, fried chicken
  • Ayam bakar, grilled chicken with spices. There is also a fish version, ikan bakar, and the dish can be made in many styles.
  • Ayam percik, barbecued chicken with a sweet-spicy marinade
  • Ayam penyet, fried "smashed" chicken that has been adapted from Indonesian cooking
  • Assam pedas, seafood and vegetables cooked in a sauce consisting of tamarind, coconut milk, chilli, and spices.
  • Bakso, also Ba'so, meatballs served with noodles.
  • Begedil or Perkedel, mashed potato mixture that is fried into patties, eaten together with mee soto.
  • Belacan, not a dish in itself, but a paste made from shrimps commonly used in spice pastes
  • Curry puff, also known as epok-epok, a flaky pastry usually stuffed with curry chicken, potato cubes and a slice of hard-boiled egg. Sometimes sardines are used in place of chicken.
  • Dendeng paru, an Indonesian dish of "dried" beef lung cooked in spices.
  • Gado-gado, traditional Indonesian salad with spicy peanut dressing
  • Goreng pisang, bananas rolled in flour, fried and eaten as a snack. There is also a version made from cempedak (jackfruit).
  • Gulai daun ubi, sweet potato leaves stewed in coconut milk.
  • Keropok, deep fried crackers usually flavored with prawn, but sometimes with fish or vegetables
  • Ketupat, rice cake. Steamed in square-shaped coconut leaf wrapping. Usually served with satay.
  • Lemak siput, shellfish cooked in a thick coconut milk-based gravy.
  • Lontong, compressed rice cakes (see ketupat) in spicy vegetable soup
  • Mee rebus, yellow egg noodles served in a thick sweet and spicy sauce made from fermented soy beans. Often served with a hard-boiled egg and shredded tofu puffs.
  • Mee siam, "Siamese noodle", or thin rice noodles in a tangy spicy soup; may also be served "dry". Often served with a hard-boiled egg.
  • Mee soto, a spicy chicken noodle soup, now often served non-spicy.
  • Nasi ayam penyet, Indonesian dish of flattened, lightly battered or batter-less, fried chicken served with spicy sambal, vegetables, and chicken-flavoured rice.
  • Nasi goreng, a spicy and sweet fried rice dish which originated from Indonesia.
  • Nasi lemak, rice steamed in coconut milk, usually served with omelette, anchovies (ikan bilis), peanuts, cucumber, sambal, and sometimes fried chicken or otak-otak. It is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves to enhance flavor, but is now common to see the dish wrapped in brown wax paper.
  • Nasi padang, an Indonesian meal of steamed rice with a wide choice of meat and vegetable dishes ranging from fried chicken to vegetable curry, for example.
  • Nasi kuning, a Javanese dish of rice cooked in coconut milk and tumeric, which turns the rice yellow.
  • Otak-otak / otah, spicy fish cake grilled in a banana leaf wrapping
  • Oxtail soup, oxtail cooked to tenderness in a soup with nutmeg, cloves, chilli, and spices.
  • Rendang, beef slow-cooked in coconut milk and Sumatran spices.
  • Roti john, egg-dipped bread filled with various ingredients (usually meat and onions) and then fried. Accompanied with chilli sauce.
  • Roti jala, fried lace pancakes usually served with curry
  • Sambal, not a dish in itself, but a common chili-based accompaniment to most foods.
  • Satay, grilled meat on skewers served with spicy peanut sauce and usually eaten with ketupat, cucumber and onions.
  • Soto ayam, a spicy chicken soup that features chicken shreds, rice cakes and sometimes begedil.


Like other divisions of Singaporean cuisine, Indian Singaporean cuisine has influence from multiple ethnic groups. Both Tamil and Keralan influences are particularly strong.

Indian rojak
Rice served with papadum, on banana leaf
  • Achar, a condiment consisting of pickled vegetables and/or fruits. It has also found its way into Malay and Peranakan cooking, where other unique versions exist.
  • Appam, a fermented rice pancake.
  • Butter chicken, a dish of chicken cooked in a gravy of spices, yoghurt, butter and tomato
  • Chapati, an unleavened flatbread
  • Curry – the basic Indian vegetable or meat gravy. Malay and Chinese versions also exist.
  • Mamak rojak, a dish of various vegetables and fruits, beancurd, seafood deep fried in batter, crushed peanuts, crispy dough crullers, and a spicy and sweet chilli sauce. Traditional Malay / Indonesian and Chinese variants are common as well.
  • Murtabak, originating from the Middle East, this Indian-Muslim dish today consists of folded roti prata dough stuffed with spiced minced meat, onions, and egg. Often served with curry.
  • Muruku, a type of circular crackers.
  • Naan, a flatbread cooked in a tandoor oven
  • Nasi biryani, a flavoured rice dish cooked or served with mutton, chicken, vegetable or fish curry. Basmati rice is used. Alternatively, dum biryani is a version more akin to the traditional South Asian dish, which is a variant that bakes the spiced meat with the rice.
  • Pappadom, also known as pappoms or papad, they are a type of southern Indian wafer.
  • Putu mayam, a dish Sri Lankan in origin, similar to Sri Lankan hoppers. Thin vermicelli-like cakes are eaten with coconut sugar. A typical breakfast food.
  • Roti prata, a local evolution of the Pakistani and Indian paratha. Popular for breakfast or late night supper, this dish is enjoyed by all Singaporeans and commonly served with sugar and curry. A plethora of modern variations are available including egg, cheese, chocolate, masala, durian and even ice cream. It should ideally be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the dough is flipped to attain the right texture, then cooked quickly on a greased stove.
  • Soup kambing, a local Mamak (Tamil Muslim) dish of spiced mutton soup.
  • Soup tulang, a local Mamak (Tamil Muslim) dish of mutton or beef bones stewed in a spicy red sauce with the intent of eating the marrow.
  • Tandoori, marinated meat, usually chicken in a mixture of spices and yoghurt and cooked in a clay oven
  • Thosai, rice and lentil pancake. Commonly served as a "masala" version that includes spiced potatoes and served with different types of sambar.
  • Vadai, spicy, deep-fried snacks that are made from dhal, lentils or potato.


A number of dishes, listed below, can be considered as truly hybrid or multi-ethnic food.

  • Ayam buah keluak, a Peranakan dish of chicken stewed with spices and Southeast Asian black nuts.
  • Fish head curry, a dish created by Singapore's Malayalee (an Indian ethnic group from Kerala) community with some Chinese and Malay influences. The head of a red snapper (ikan merah; literally "red fish") is stewed in curry consisting of varying amounts of coconut milk and tamarind juice with vegetables (lady's fingers and brinjal are common). Usually served with either rice or bread.
  • Kari lemak ayam, a Peranakan chicken curry with a coconut milk base.
  • Kari debal, a Eurasian Singaporean curry dish with Portuguese and Peranakan influence. Includes chicken, cabbage, sausage and bacon bits stewed in a curry sauce.
  • Kueh pie tee, a thin and crispy pastry tart shell filled with a spicy, sweet mixture of thinly sliced vegetables and prawns. A popular Peranakan dish.
  • Laksa, thick rice noodles (bee hoon) in a coconut curry gravy with prawn, egg and sometimes with the addition of chicken, tau pok (beancurd puffs) or fish cake. Peranakan in origin. A specifically Singaporean variant (as opposed to shared by Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine) is Katong laksa. Raw or lightly blanched cockles are also usually added to the dish and the cutting of the noodles are a distinctive trademark.
  • Mee goreng, yellow egg noodles stir fried with ghee, tomato sauce, some chilli, egg, vegetables and various meats and/or seafood.
  • Oat prawns, prawns that have been stir fried with sweetened oats.
  • Sambal kangkong, a dish of leafy green vegetables (water spinach) fried in sambal.
  • Satay bee hoon, thin rice vermicelli served with spicy peanut sauce
  • Singapore-style Western food, Chinese interpretations of European cuisine, although Malay versions also exist. Hainanese cooks in Singapore hybridised Western dishes for local palates during the British colonial era, creating such dishes as stewed pork chop in tomato sauce served with green peas, Hainanese curry rice and chicken chop - a sauteed chicken breast dish served with a soft bread bun and fries.
  • Tauhu goreng, fried bean curd with sweet sauce. Served at many Malay stalls.
  • Tutu kueh, steamed rice flour pastries with a sweet shredded coconut / peanut filling.

Popular dishes by type


Singaporeans also enjoy a wide variety of seafood including fish, squid (known as sotong in Malay), stingray, crab, lobster, clams, and oyster.

Popular seafood dishes include

  • Barbecued stingray / hang hir (simplified Chinese: 魟鱼; traditional Chinese: 魟魚; pinyin: gōng yú), smothered in sambal and served on banana leaf. It is also known as ikan bakar in Malay. Unique in Singapore and very common in Malaysia.
  • Black pepper crab, hard shell crabs cooked in a black pepper sauce.
  • Chilli crab, hard shell crabs cooked in a thick tomato and chilli-based gravy.
  • Oyster omelette, an oyster omelette mixed with flour and fried, garnished with coriander leaves.


Another noticeable trend in recent times is the growth of vegetarian eating places in Singapore. More people are changing their diet for a healthier lifestyle[citation needed]. The Singapore Vegetarian Society[2] has a list of the vegetarian food outlets in Singapore.

Western cuisine

Commonly seen dishes like sirloin steak, chicken or lamb chops, fish and chips, mixed grills, baked beans, chicken pie, sausage rolls, fried chicken wings and cheese fries are popular in Singapore, typically spotted in hawker centers and food courts in Singapore.


A durian stall in Singapore

A wide variety of tropical fruits are available all year round, though most of them are imported from neighbouring countries. By far the most well known is the durian, known as the "King of Fruits", which produces a characteristic odour from the creamy yellow custard-like flesh within its spiky green or brown shell. However, in spite of their popularity, durians are banned on public transport, certain hotels, and public buildings because of their strong odour.

Other popular tropical fruits include mangosteen, jackfruit, longan, lychee, rambutan and pineapple. Some of these fruits are also used as ingredients for other dishes: iced desserts, sweet-and-sour pork, and certain types of salad such as rojak.


Red ruby
Italian ice cream (gelato) in Shaw House Basement Food Court

Singaporean desserts have a varied history and can be found in every hawker centre and food court in the region. A stall will usually have a large variety of desserts for sale, including but not limited to:

  • Almond jelly, a smooth jelly made from almonds
  • Beancurd barley (often with ginkgo and/or snow fungus)
  • Bubur cha cha (also Bobochacha, momochacha), yam and sweet potato cubes served in coconut milk and sago, served either hot or cold.
  • Chendol ais, a coconut milk drink mixed with palm sugar, cendol (green, pandan-flavored starch strips), and shaved ice. Modern variants may include more elaborate ingredients such as red bean.
  • Cheng tng, a light refreshing soup with longans, barley, agar strips, lotus seeds and a sweet syrup, served either hot or cold.
  • Green bean soup
  • Honeydew sago, honeydew melon cubes or balls, served in chilled coconut milk and sago.
  • Ice kacang, a mound of grated ice on a base consisting of jelly, red beans, corn and attap seeds, and topped with various kinds of coloured sugar syrups such as palm sugar, rose syrup and evaporated milk.
  • Kuih / kueh, small cakes or coconut milk based desserts that come in a variety of flavors, usually having fruit such as durian, banana, or sometimes pandan. Kueh lapis is a rich, multi-layered cake-style kueh using a large amount of egg whites and studded with prunes. Lapis sagu is also a popular kueh with layers of alternating color and a sweet, coconut taste. This dessert is common in Malay, Indonesian, and Peranakan cooking.
  • Mango pudding
  • Red bean soup
  • Or-ni, a Teochew dish consisting of yam paste, coconut paste and ginko nuts. A popular dish in Chinese restaurants.
  • Pandan chiffon cake, a fluffy light cake flavoured with pandan leaves and is a characteristic green colour
  • Pineapple tarts are made with pineapple jam in a pastry.
  • Pulut hitam, a creamy dessert made of black glutinous rice and served with coconut cream.
  • Red ruby, a Thai dessert made by boiling pieces of water chestnut covered in tapioca flour and red food colouring, and serving them over shaved ice, rose syrup and evaporated milk. Also known as "mock pomegranate" since the chestnut pieces bear a resemblance to the seeds of that fruit.
  • Sugee cake, a soft cake made with semolina flour and a high concentration of egg yolks. Served in Eurasian, Malay and Chinese cuisine.
  • Sagu gula melaka, sago pearl pudding with coconut milk and palm sugar syrup.
  • Tau suan, mung daal beans in jelly, served hot, with dough crullers.
  • Tangyuan, glutinous rice balls (stuffings such as black sesame, red bean or peanut) served in soup. A variation known as "Ah Balling" also exists, often served with a peanut soup.
  • Tau huay, hot and soft soya beancurd sweetened with syrup.
  • Watermelon sago, watermelon cubes or balls, served in chilled coconut milk and sago.

Drinks and beverages

A typical open-air kopi tiam in Singapore
  • Chin chow drink (Chinese: 仙草水; pinyin: xiān cǎo shuǐ), sweetened drink with grass jelly
  • Bandung, rose syrup with evaporated milk
  • Bubble tea, traditionally made by adding boba balls (made from a mixture of tapioca and carrageenan powder), large or small, to shaken milk black tea.
  • Horlicks dinosaur, conventional Horlicks served with lots of Horlicks powder on top
  • Milo dinosaur, conventional Milo served with lots of Milo powder on top
  • Milo godzilla (aka Milo T-rex), Milo dinosaur with a scoop of ice-cream and whipped cream
  • Singapore Sling, founded in Raffles Hotel
  • Soy bean milk
  • Sugar cane juice, usually taken fresh from farms and ground into a freshly blended juice.
  • Teh halia tarik, ginger tea with milk pulled (tarik)
  • Teh tarik, tea mixed with evaporated milk, usually of the Carnation brand. During preparation, the tea is tossed repeatedly from one mug to another to create a thick froth (hence the name teh tarik, meaning '"pulled tea"). See picture here [2].
  • Tiger beer

Local terms for coffee and tea

At kopi tiams (Chinese: 咖啡店; pinyin: kā fēi diàn; literally "coffee shop"), coffee and tea are usually ordered in the local vernacular which blends together different languages.


  • Kopi, coffee with condensed milk
  • Kopi-gau, strong brew of coffee with condensed milk – "gau" (Chinese: ; pinyin: hòu) means "thick" in Hokkien or "rich"
  • Kopi-poh, weak brew of coffee with condensed milk – "poh" means "thin" in Hokkien or "diluted"
  • Kopi-C, coffee with evaporated milk and sugar
  • Kopi-C-kosong, coffee with evaporated milk but no sugar - "kosong" means "empty" or "nothing" in Malay
  • Kopi-O, coffee with sugar only - means "coffee black" colloquially
  • Kopi-O-kosong, coffee without sugar or milk
  • Kopi-O-kosong-gau, a strong brew of coffee without sugar or milk
  • Kopi-peng or Kopi-ice, coffee with milk, sugar and ice
  • Kopi-siu-dai, coffee with less sugar - "siu" is the cantonese pronounciation of "subtract" or "less"
  • Kopi-gah-dai, coffee with extra sugar - "gah" is the cantonese pronounciation of "add" or "more"


  • Teh, tea with condensed milk
  • Teh-C, tea with evaporated milk and sugar
  • Teh-C-kosong, tea with milk and no sugar
  • Teh-O, tea with sugar only
  • Teh-O-kosong, tea without milk or sugar
  • Teh tarik, the Malay tea described above
  • Teh halia, tea with ginger water
  • Teh-peng, tea with ice, also known as Teh-ice
  • Teh-siu-dai, tea with milk and less sugar
  • Teh-gah-dai, tea with milk and more sugar

One can request for ice or sugar or milk to be included with the beverage. For example, one can add the "bing" (Chinese: ; pinyin: bīng; literally "ice") suffix to form other variations such as Teh-C-bing. (tea with evaporated milk with ice).

The aforementioned names are indicative of the colourful multi-racial society in Singapore. They are formed by words from different languages, and have become part of the lexicon of Singlish. For example, "teh" is the Malay word for "tea" which itself originated from Hokkien, "bing" is the Hokkien word for "ice", "kosong" is the Malay word for "zero" to indicate no sugar, and C refers to Carnation, a brand of evaporated milk.

Other foods and information

  • Singapore radish cake (simplified Chinese: 星州炒萝卜糕; traditional Chinese: 星州炒蘿蔔糕; pinyin: xīng zhōu chǎo luó bò gāo), a common dish featuring diced and stir fried radish with an egg mixture, flavoured with chilli. Another name is chai tow kway, easily available in the food centres in Singapore.
  • Given the passionate nature of most Singaporeans regarding food, and Singaporean cuisine, a constantly updated food guide, Makansutra, has been developed, which focuses on the hawker scene in Singapore, and identifies popular stalls in Singapore. Similarly, a highly popular food blog, ieatishootipost, mainly reviews and photographs uniquely Singaporean food, up-and-coming and popular eateries in Singapore.

Foods with Singaporean names, but uncommon in Singapore

  • Singapore style noodles (Chinese: 星州炒米粉; pinyin: xīng zhōu chǎo mí fěn), a dish featuring fried rice vermicelli flavoured with yellow curry powder, is not commonly found in Singapore. It is popular with Chinese takeaways in the West as well as Hong Kong. The close relative to this dish is fried bee hoon (thin rice noodles), which comes in a wide number of variations across ethnic lines.
  • Singapore Sling, the cocktail developed in Singapore's Raffles Hotel, is actually not very common in Singapore either. While it was invented in Raffles Hotel, and can still be found there, it is not easily found at most bars around Singapore itself.
  • Singapore fried kway tiao (simplified Chinese: 星州炒粿条; traditional Chinese: 星州炒粿條; pinyin: xīng zhōu chǎo guǒ tiáo), a common dish featuring fried thick, flat rice noodles flavoured with dark soy sauce available in some Chinese restaurants in Canada and the United States, also unavailable in Singapore. It has to be char kway teow, or a variation of it.


See also


External links

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