Broadly classified under the heading of Chinese food, these are the foods that you are most likely to see in Singapore in most hawker centres, given that the Chinese make up 74.2% of the population. Try local favourites like dim sum, Teochew porridge with assorted meats and vegetables, Hokkien mee and bak kut teh. A variety of dialect groups contribute to the Chinese food scene in Singapore, consisting of cuisine from the Cantonese, Teochew, Hokkien, Hakka and Szechuan; just to name a few. Cantonese cuisine is famous for light food that is easy on the palate, from double boiled soup, wonton (pork dumpling) soup to dim sum.
A typical dim sum meal consists of a variety of steamed dumplings filled with minced meat or whole prawns mixed with vegetables. Usually served in portions of three of a kind in a steamer basket, it is best enjoyed with a simple chicken congee and a light tea, ending off with sweet desserts like egg tarts, custard filled buns and mango pudding. Restaurants like Yum Cha in Chinatown and Crystal Jade outlets offer a wide menu selection of Cantonese food and if you are daring enough, try a bite of the 'Phoenix Claw'. Teochew cuisine is similar to Cantonese as the dishes consist of braised or steamed meat, various meat and noodle soups and its own specialty style of congee.
Consisting mostly of meat dishes with chicken, duck and pork, Szechuan cuisine offers bold flavours with the use of Szechuan peppercorn, garlic and chilli peppers, a treat for those looking for something spicy. Hakka dishes are flavourful with the use of stir-fry, soy sauce, salt and vinegar in the cooking. Famous dishes include salt-baked chicken (chicken baked in salt), duck stuffed with rice, their dishes usually contain a variety of ingredients. One of the more common dishes is yong tau foo, a soup dish where once can have their choice of fishballs, crab sticks, various vegetables and beancurd which are boiled with the soup and served with your choice of noodles. Other dishes popular among the locals are Hokkien mee (a thick yellow noodle fried with prawns, sliced squids, beansprouts and served with chilli and lime), Hainanese chicken rice and bak kut teh (literally translated to mean 'meat bone tea', it is pork ribs simmered in soup laden with spices like star anise, cloves and cinnamon). One dish that is a must-try is chilli crab, a fresh cab cooked with garlic, rice vinegar, chilli sauce and ketchup. Beaten eggs are added into the gravy mix towards the end of cooking to produce egg ribbon streaks. Best eaten with mantou (steamed or fried Chinese buns), this dish can be found at popular seafood places No Signboard Seafood Restaurant, Jumbo Seafood and Long Beach Seafood Restaurant at East Coast Park, Geylang and various areas in town.
If you happen to be in Singapore during the Chinese New Year , head over to any Chinese restaurant in Chinatown and order the yusheng. A Teochew dish, it is a raw salmon and vegetable salad and is a symbol of good luck in the new year and diners are encouraged to stand up and toss the salad as high as they can to reap in more luck. The list of dishes are endless and if you are looking for Chinese cuisine at a good price, head over to Maxwell Food Centre which is a 5 minute walk from Chinatown station. There are also a large number of eateries and restaurants in Chinatown which offer quality Chinese cuisine at a higher price. You can also head over to Lau Pa Sat, a famous street lined with a good mix of food from various cuisines, a five minute walk away from Raffles Place train station. Get acquainted with the local cuisine and sample culinary offerings from each of the four different dialect groups for an all-round Chinese food experience.