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6 Singaporean Dishes For the Gastronomically Adventurous Exchange Student

Are you an exchange student in Singapore? Clueless as to how to navigate the bevy of delicacies available for your palate? Aletheia Tan helps you out by highlighting the top 6 must-try local dishes!


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Desserts are always the best place to start. There are no pretty or appetizing-enough photo of the rojak, which is a ‘salad’ consisting of chopped fresh fruits, crunchy bean sprouts, taupok (fluffy fried tofu) and youtiao (puffy fried dough fritters), mixed with a sweet sauce sprinkled generously with peanuts. The name of the dish is a Malay word for mixture, but in Singlish, it also refers to the eclectic mix of multiple races and cultures within Singapore. In my opinion, this humble dessert promises a surprise in every bite and it is the perfect way to start someone on a gastronomic adventure in Singapore.

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The favorite fruit of many Singaporeans. Many of us have a shared heartland experience of eating durians in the evenings with the

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family gathered round, taking up the challenge to open up the prickly fruit that makes for a good weapon, with newspapers spread on the floor in an effort to contain the mess. Some pointers to note for the brave ones: Do not bring the fruit onto the MRT because the smell lingers and is offensive to non-fans; in addition, you will be fined. Do remember to haggle for lower prices with the vendors. And if you’re unsure about taking the plunge, you can always try durian ice cream or durian milkshakes before your first bite of the actual fruit.

Image Source: Singapore Tourism Board

Chicken rice.

You will find this lunch favorite at any hawker center. The fragrant rice and succulent chicken (either steamed or roasted) is a crowd favorite and there are some out there that are very serious in their search for Singapore’s best chicken rice. For the non picky eater, almost any chicken rice stall will satisfy cravings.

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Dim Sum.

You can eat Dim Sum at any time of day, so go ahead and pick a dim sum place with a buffet menu and go with ten friends with empty stomachs and order just about everything. Try (and maybe fail) to match each steamed bamboo basket that subsequently arrives at your table to the name, description and picture in the menu. I hope you leave with happy, satisfied bellies and a new personal favorite dim sum dish. For the record, my personal favourite is the custard bun.

Chilli crab.

Fresh meaty crabs drenched in a thick, sweet & savory sauce, with deep friend mantou buns (which are typically used in the I-can’t-get-enough! spirit to mop up every last bit of the sauce) is truly a fulfilling life experience. You MUST try the chilli crab, which despite the name, isn’t really spicy at all. It is the first thing my aunt, who lives overseas, asks for when she’s returns to visit Singapore. Trust me; the chilli crab isn’t the poster child of Singapore’s Food Paradise for nothing.

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Kaya toast.

Finally, something for you to eat at breakfast. The kaya toast breakfast set consists of half boiled eggs, drizzled lightly in dark sauce, hot pippin black coffee and thinly sliced, luxuriously buttered, crisply toasted bread spread with sweet kaya. Allow me to point you in the general direction of the nearest Ya Kun Kaya Toast outlet at NUS Yusof Ishak House, which serves the breakfast food at all times of the day; making it the perfect outlet for us students who wake not according to the sun but according to whenever pleases us.

Now, dear Exchange Student. Go forth and enjoy! Singapore isn’t called a Food Paradise for nothing. P.S: Look out for Food Hunt 2013!

Editor: Cherie Anne Lian

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Comment ( 1 )

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  1. insomd February 12, 2013 Reply

    Thank you, O wise one!


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