For lunch in Singapore, there are many foods you can choose from.
1. Chicken Rice
It’s everywhere — at hawker stalls, food courts, luxury hotels and even at the zoo, but Singaporeans just can’t get enough of it. Chicken rice is often called the “national dish” of Singapore. Steamed or boiled chicken is served atop fragrant oily rice, with sliced cucumber as the token vegetable. Variants include roasted chicken or soy sauce chicken. Don’t miss out on the dipping sauces — premium dark soy sauce, chili with garlic, and pounded ginger. Play around with different combinations to discover new tastes.
2. Bak Kut Teh
Bak kut teh, meaning “pork rib tea” is most likely of Hokkien or Fujian origin. Meaty pork ribs are lovingly boiled for hours with lots of garlic, pepper, medicinal herbs and spices. Early 20th century port coolies often relied on this as a tonic to strengthen bodies and health. These days, bak kut teh is simply enjoyed for its taste. There are two styles — the clear, peppery Teochew broth and the darker, more herbal Hokkien stew. You tiao (fried crullers) are the perfect croutons for soaking up the soup, and a hot pot of Chinese tea (ideally Tieguanyin) helps dissolve or wash down the fats ever present in the meaty ribs.
Rojak is actually a Malay word used to describe something made from a random mix of unrelated things. But any derogatory undertones are erased when one refers to the fruit salad that bears the same name. Rojak does have an odd mixture of ingredients. Bite-size pieces of fruits, vegetables, dried tofu, fried you tiao (dough fritters) and cured cuttlefish are tossed in a prawn paste sauce topped with crushed peanuts. Grated bunga kantan (pink ginger buds) add a sensuous fragrance. The result is a wild mix of sweet, spicy, sour and savory flavors.
4. Nasi Lemak
Singaporeans are in love with lemak (richness bestowed by coconut cream). The Malay breakfast dish of nasi lemak (rich rice) has rice cooked in coconut milk served with a spicy sambal, fried anchovies, fried peanuts, and perhaps an egg and cucumber slices. It’s simple but satisfying. The Chinese have adopted the dish and thrown in a multitude of other side dishes like sausages, fried chicken wings, luncheon meat, fish cake, and various cooked vegetables.
5. Katong Laksa
This is a Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) influenced dish consisting of thick rice vermicelli in a rich, spicy coconut gravy. The soup is thick, opaque and slightly gritty from the abundance of ground dried shrimp, which gives it the umami kick. The Katong version has noodles cut into smaller lengths, so it can be easily scooped up with a spoon alone, along with a good amount of soup. No chopsticks or forks are given. Stir in the dollop of sambal and fragrant laksa leaves or daun kesum and inhale.