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Living in Singapore

Dining in Singapore

Before you dive into the unique culture that surrounds dining in Singapore, there are a few things you should know about hawker centers and fine dining in Singapore. Rest assured, Singapore is a nation of foodies. Expats never have to fear going hungry as there is a variety of delicacies to choose from.

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  • Thanks to Singapore being a multi-cultural hub, Singapore’s cuisine is based on traditional dishes from its surrounding countries, but normally include a twist.
  • If you want to fully immerse yourself in Singapore’s culture, one of the many hawker centers are a great place to start.
  • It’s not all big, open air markets or food halls, Singapore also has a large range of restaurants, ranging from traditional Chinese cuisine to Asian dishes with a twist.

Singapore is famous for its food culture. No matter where you are or how big your budget is, there is great food for every taste. Dining in Singapore is an essential aspect of the state’s unique culture. The top destinations for food lovers are the legendary hawker centers, open-air food courts that offer traditional Indian, Chinese, or Malay food at reasonable prices. If you prefer haute cuisine, you also have many options for dining in Singapore.

Singapore’s Food Culture: A Multicultural Explosion

Although all countries have a unique cuisine, no nationality is quite as food-crazy as the Singaporeans. After all, one of the national greetings is “Have you eaten yet?” The many different cultures have a significant influence on dining in Singapore. But instead of adopting typical national foods such as Chinese noodles or Indian curries, the dishes are reinvented and often combined with less traditional foods.

Singapore’s unique cuisine has a little bit of everything. It’s a fusion of all the national foods that have had an impact on Singapore’s food culture throughout the years — its surrounding countries Malaysia, China, Indonesia, India, Thailand and Vietnam have all had an input, and there’s even a little bit of British influence sprinkled in there too. Because of all the different traditions and influences intertwining, people with dietary restrictions will not be left behind. Vegetarian food and Halal dishes are widely available.

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Hawker Centers: A One-Way Ticket to Cultural Immersion

When you decide to go dining in Singapore’s hawker centers for the first time, you will soon find that choosing the right hawker center almost seems a question of faith to some Singaporeans. Hawker centers are outdoor food courts which offer all kinds of food and snacks at very reasonable prices. No matter if you are in the mood for Chinese noodles or an Indian curry, the hawker centers got everything your heart desires.

In the holiday season, dining in Singapore’s hawker centers becomes an even more exciting experience. During the Chinese New Year, you can feast on Chinese delicacies such as yusheng, or head to the night market (pasar malam) during Ramadan. Hawker centers are the vibrant, frenetic center of Singapore’s food culture. They are fairly clean, and leaving your backpack or a pack of tissues on the table is a reliable way to save a seat. Singaporeans are very particular about their food. They will queue up to half an hour for their favorite noodle dish. As you can imagine, exploring the hawker centers is the best way to adjust to the local culture, aside from learning a language in Singapore.

Something A Little More Upmarket…

Aside from the hawker centers and other single-serving spots, there are also the average indoor restaurants that you are used to. They usually specialize in one specific cuisine and are a lot fancier than the hawker centers. If you want the full food culture experience, then you might be in for a disappointment. However, if you are looking for fine dining in Singapore, they might be the right choice. Remember that these restaurants are usually more costly and keep your cost of living in Singapore in mind.

Speaking of fine dining in Singapore, in recent years upscale restaurants have opened all over the city. They have reinvented the traditional food culture of Singapore and offer a compromise between the busy food courts and the white table-cloth restaurants. Many local chefs enjoy taking traditional Indian, Chinese, Malay, or Western meals and giving them their own unique twist. 

Updated on: December 06, 2018
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