Char Siew… Yumms !!


You know how Singaporeans’ favourite topic is often FOOD ? I’m sure you’ve heard Singaporeans say:

hey! there’s this new place who just opened! great food! you should try it out!

… or…

remember that place there, well I went last week and they changed owner! Yea I know right… but the food is still good though! shall we go together sometime?

Well, here’s one for you: Where is the best Char Siew in Singapore?

Let me rewind a little – what’s “char siew” you say? Yes, Char Siew stands for “cha shao” in Mandarin pinyin, which literally means “fork roast”. However Char Siew is most commonly known as a barbequed pork Singapore delicacy.

Char Siew in Singapore

Yes, that’s Char Siew!

You’ve probably seen Char Siew around without knowing the name of the dish… It’s white pork meat in a sweet barbequed sauce, often served with rice or noodles. Very often too it is served together with delicious crispy roast pork…

Singapore Crispy Roast PorkYummmms !!

Now the real question is…. Where is the best Char Siew Roast Pork dish in Singapore?

Honestly it’s a really tough question. A lot of places sell Char Siew Roast Pork but the roast pork is not crispy enough or there is too much sauce on the Char Siew to really appreciate the taste of the meat…

One of my current favourites is next to the 328 Katong Laksa stall on East Coast Road, but it’s only good in the earlier part of the day. If you go there for dinner you will have the less tasty parts…

I want to know your opinion, so the debate is open !!

Click here for more Singapore delicacies.

Make a joke with Bakkwa


Have you ever heard the term “Bakkwa” (or bagua) ? It’s a very local term in SouthEast Asia, and in particular in Singapore…

Bakkwa is a Hokkien term for barbecued meat. It is usually pork meat, but has been declined into beef, mutton and chicken versions too. It’s basically sliced barbecued meat, which looks a little like beef jerky. Mmmmmmm yummy !!

In Singapore, people snack on it during the day, and even queue up for it during Chinese New Year. You can find some either in established shops (one of the most famous shops is Bee Cheng Hiang) or sometimes in hawker centers.

The last time I went to Singapore I saw Bakkwa on sale at People’s Park Complex hawker center in Chinatown, on the ground floor. If I remember correctly it was labeled Kim Hua Guan, which is another reliable brand for Bakkwa (but there are many other brands too!). It’s actually nicer to buy some in a hawker center because you can watch the cook barbecue the meat for you. Plus, you can be sure it’s super fresh 🙂

**********

Personnally, I simply love Bakkwa. But what I love most is making jokes with it to my non-Singaporean friends !! Try this one out for fun:

Step 1: Buy packs of Bakkwa from Singapore, pack them individually and fit them in your suitcase. Make sure there is no ingredients description on the package.

Step 2: Give them out between your friends when you come back from Singapore and say it’s a Singaporean delicacy. Serve some on a plate for them to try. Cut it into pieces so that the meat is not recognisable.

Step 3: Tell them it’s DOG MEAT … and watch their reactions !! I can guarantee you, you are in for a good laugh !! 😀 See how many of your friends agree to actually taste it and bring back some home.

Do let me know if you try it out 🙂

Dialects and Teo Chew food


Singapore is a real melting pot… And there are four official languages : English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. So most important signs are translated in all 4 languages!! Don’t you just love it when announcements in the MRT are translated into all 4 languages? I know I do 🙂

To these four, you might want to add Singlish, even though it’s not a real language…

However, if you do go to a local food court or hawker center, you might be surprised to hear languages which are none of the 5 above… They are dialects!! In the streets of Singapore you might hear people talking Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese…

Most dialects would be Chinese dialects, as most of Singapore’s population is of Chinese origins. Here is a video to give you a glimpse of what the Hainanese dialect sounds like for example …

*****************************

But in Singapore dialects are more than just languages. They are a culture of their own. Which explains why some restaurants specialise in Teo Chew cuisine for instance.

In Teo Chew restaurants in Singapore, you will find very “simple” food, in the sense that ingredients are usually served without too much sauce covering it so you can really enjoy all the flavours. Teo Chew food also includes a lot of seafood (steamed fish, oyster omelet, cold crab…) and their Yam dessert is super good too !!

One of the Teo Chew restaurants I would recommend in Singapore is SWA Garden Restaurant on MacPherson Road. It’s small, local and cosy, and not too expensive either 🙂

Singapore drinks


Singapore is famous for its large variety of food delicacies. But drinks in Singapore are also quite specific to the place. If you want to go local, try out some of my favourite drinks 🙂

Non alcoholic drinks:

Milo: The local instant chocolate drink. It is actually from Australia but is immensely successful in Singapore. It’s quite sweet, and ideal for a snack at anytime of the day, be it hot or iced! A personal favourite.

Teh Tarik: It’s a hot drink from Malaysia made of black tea and condensed milk, famous for being “pulled”. Check out this guy! The taste is quite bitter but you can add sugar. Definitely an interesting beverage to try when you’re in Singapore.

Soya Bean Milk: Also called Soy Bean Juice, Soya Bean Milk is a drink made out of Soya beans (it has nothing to do with actual cow milk) that originally comes from China. It’s best if you can get it fresh from the market in Singapore, although it exists in canned version but it’s often very sweet.

Kopi-O: That’s Singaporean for “black coffee with sugar” !! “Kopi” comes from “Coffee”, and “O” means a little sugar and no milk. Try not to get mixed up with Kopi-C (coffee with milk and sugar) or Kopi-O-Kosong (coffee with no milk and no sugar)!

Sugarcane Juice: I bet you didn’t know such a juice existed. It’s actually very good and not as sweet as it sounds. Try it out in a food court where they can prepare it before your eyes by pressing sugarcane in a machine. To me, it’s an ideal cooling off drink.

          

     

Alcoholic drinks:

Singapore sling: Probably the most famous and iconic drink in Singapore. It was originally created in the Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar by a bar tender named Ngiam Tom Boon. It is made of Gin, Cherry Brandy, Cointreau, Benedictine, Grenadine, Pineapple Juice and Lemon Juice. Dee-licious. And even more so if you try it in the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel to experience the only place in Singapore where you can throw Peanuts on the floor!! Simply a must.

Tiger beer: The local beer. I don’t think it’s really the best beer ever but you cannot come to Singapore and not try it out. And given the heat, a beer is always welcomed 🙂

                    

Local delicacies


What do Singaporeans talk about ? FOOD !!

If you really want to localise and blend in, you have to know a few typical Singaporean dishes… I can guarantee this will enable locals to relate to you easily!!

Chilli Crab – Simply a must do on the island, and there are many seafood restaurants where you can order it, like Jumbo Seafood Restaurant for instance.

Satay Sticks –  Beef, mutton or chicken on a stick, served with peanut sauce, chilli, rice cakes and cucumber. De-li-cious. Especially when you buy it as a take-away at East Coast Lagoon Food Village and eat it on the beach directly from the plastic bag while enjoying the late breeze by the sea. Hmmm.

Hainanese Chicken Rice – Some people say it’s Singapore’s national dish ! Originally from the island of Hainan in the South of China, the dish is simply boiled chicken served with rice cooked in the chicken broth. It’s even more delicious with thick black sauce !! A personal favourite 🙂

Fish head curry – or « Ikan Merah » in Malay. Red snapper head cooked in a curry and coconut sauce.

Laksa – A Peranakan (mixture of Chinese and Malay culture) specialty. Laksa is a super fragrant and quite spicy noodle soup. Curry Laksa is the best, with coconut and curry in it.

Nasi Lemak – In Malay, « nasi » means rice and « lemak » means coconut. Therefore it is rice cooked in coconut, served with peanuts, cucumbers, fried fish and sometimes deep fried chicken. Don’t worry if it’s served in a banana leaf, it’s clean (trust the Singaporeans)! A second best favourite 🙂

Bak Kuh Teh – A fragrant Chinese pork rib soup.

Char Kway Teow – Very famous in Singapore (and can also be found in Singaporean restaurants in other parts of the world too !). Thick rice noodles (« kway teow ») cooked in dark soya sauce and served with Chinese vegetables, eggs and usually prawns or beef.

Ice Kachang – Try this desert ! It’s grated ice with red bean, jelly and syrup. It looks very colourful, you can’t miss it.

These dishes are very local and can mostly be found in hawker centers, food courts or coffee shops (rarely in restaurants). For more information on where to go, be a true singaporean and refer to www.hungrygowhere.com !!

Man I’m hungry now !!

More typically Singaporean dishes available here