Posted by: Anna | May 2, 2011

The best thing about Singapore – the food!

The greatest bargain in Singapore is the hawker markets. There are tons of them, all over Singapore. A hawker market is an open air food court, essentially, with lots of tables to choose from and lots of vendors to order from. The system is that you first select a table and park one person at the table. The others then go order the food, and tell the stand what the table number is. The person working the stand then brings your food to you, and you pay the person when they deliver your food. Singapore is unique in that all hawker markets, like everything in Singapore, are heavily regulated, in this case by the health department. Each is required to post their health department grade in the front of their stall. It’s great to be able to try tons of different dishes with confidence that it won’t make you sick!

Singapore is also a great place to eat because they don’t really have indigenous cuisine. It’s a melting pot of Asia, so Indian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, Malay, Indonesian, and Vietnamese are all options – at the same hawker market! Each is well done, and it makes Singapore a great introduction to eating in Asia. I don’t think I could ever get bored eating in Singapore. Plus, they have fabulous Western food. Every day, I kept wishing I could digest my food faster so I could be hungry for another meal! I would eat five times a day if my stomach could fit it all in, but alas, twice a day is all I could do.

Tommy’s Best dish: Thai Beef Kwai Teow.  I had this on the second day…and again on the 6th day.  It was delicious – spicy beef pieces with fantastic, large noodles and Thai spices.

Anna’s Best dish: Laksa. I have seen Laksa on Top Chef (can’t remember who made a version of it during Restaurant Wars, but I do remember Anthony Bourdain slamming it!). I am no Laksa expert like Anthony, but I did decide that I love it. It’s spicy, creamy, and delicious all at the same time. Laksa is a fusion of Chinese and Malay cuisine, commonly found in Malaysia, and yes, Singapore. I had the most common version, curry laksa. I look forward to trying the other versions in Malaysia. My mouth waters as I write this.


Tommy’s Worst dish: Chap Kwai Teow (renamed by us: assorted duck parts that you ordinarily wouldn’t eat) This featured a bowl of noodles, plus a plate of assorted weird duck pieces.  Duck intestine, limp fried duck skin, a boiled duck egg, and 3 small pieces of actual duck meat that was edible.  Emily took one look at the plate and decided to just buy something else.  Anna gamely ate one bite of everything and declared she wasn’t really that hungry.  I wasn’t going to buy something else and I was definitely hungry – so I just ate the nasty duck intestine and the egg.  The skin was really gross, so I only ate half of that.

Anna’s Worst Dish: Agreed. Weird duck parts. There is a good reason we don’t commonly eat duck intestine.

Can you identify the intestines and puffed skin? Makes you hungry just to look at it...

Tommy’s Best Drink: Water Chestnut Juice.

Anna’s Best Drink: Lychee Juice. Love it! So cool and refreshing. And it comes full of lychees to eat when you have finished the drink. It’s like dessert comes with your drink. Yummmm…..

Tommy’s Biggest food regret: The signature dish in Singapore is Chili Crab.  It’s an entire crab, covered in chili spices.  It looks really cool and probably tastes great.  We saw it for sale once, but we’d already ordered from another hawker stand.  We asked about it at several other places, but never found it for sale again.

Anna’s Biggest Food Regret: I couldn’t eat five times a day. Only three, and sometimes two. Eating was hands down the most interesting thing to do in Singapore.

Tommy’s Most exciting food discovery: Paragon mall, day 2.  We’re walking through the food court, when I saw a big DQ on the wall.  Upon closer inspection – it’s a legitimate Dairy Queen.  Even better than legitimate – instead of selling Texas Toast and steak fingers, this particular Dairy Queen sells only Blizzards and Dip Cones.  Brilliant!  It didn’t have the full complement of Blizzard flavors (everyone knows the Georgia Mud Fudge is the king of Blizzard flavors, but sadly not available in Singapore) so I ended up with a Brownie Temptation.  And on day 4, an Oreo.  And on Day 5, another Brownie Temptation.

Look at that smile!

Runner-up: Cola Slurpee.  Day 1. 7-11.  I’d heard from Jay and Alex that 7-11 is huge in Singapore and all over Southeast Asia.  And they weren’t kidding.  7-11 here is like Starbucks in New York City.  There’s no reason to cross the street to get to one, just walk another half a block.

Anna’s Most Exciting Food Discovery: No idea. Tommy made up these categories. There were so many good food discoveries. Speaking of dessert, I discovered macaroons in Singapore – not exactly Asian food, but Singapore does Western food well too. Where have these amazing cookies been all my life? Favorite flavor: fleur de sel and caramel.

Tommy’s Final Thoughts: After being in Nepal and India, being able to get some of my favorite American treats was a godsend.  That said, the conglomeration of Asian food that exists in Singapore was fantastic.  I’m more excited about the food for the next 3 months than anything else, with diving being a close second.

Anna’s Final Thoughts: I second the food as the most exciting part of Asia – I cannot wait to take cooking classes, hopefully to better understand how to recreate delicious Asian foods at home. I love Asian food, but I really don’t have a good concept of the flavor profiles that make up the foods I love. Additionally, there is a greater variety of ingredients used in Asian food, things we just don’t eat in America, or methods of preparation we don’t use. Water chestnut juice? We just don’t do that with water chestnuts.

More Singapore pictures.



  1. In college my favorite DQ blizzard was Csquared Bsquared (chocolate chip banana blizzard), but now my favorite is strawberries and heath bar.

  2. I think you guys are brave on every front; couch surffing,scuba diving with sharks, being on your own in a “far-away” country, treking BIG mountains, and trying duck guts!!! xoxox kita

  3. I laughed all the way through this post. The picture of Tommy with his Blizzard was the biggest laugh. I have seen a smile that big on the faces of Jerry and Tommy heading to the DQ in Gun Barrel City, Texas at the lake after just a day or two without a Blizzard. I cannot imagine months for Tommy without one. So, so happy for you. And don’t forget DQ is a Warren Buffet company. Yet enough proof of his brillance. Although why we don’t have DQs here with just Blizzards and dip cones is beyond me.

    Like Anna I would love the cooking classes. The chili crab has also been on Top Chef. I cannot believe you all didn’t eat it. I would love to hear about that. I LOVE Asian food.

    Water chesnut juice is a illusion — there can be no such thing. Just like soy milk is. The process to get juice out of a water chesnut, just like to get milk from soy beans, cannot be good for you.

    Have fun in Asia. Love you!

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