Singapore Food Dictionary

Constantly on the lookout for the best places to indulge ourselves in our favourite foods, Singaporeans always have a diverse range of recommendations for every kind of cuisine. Must-try Singaporean foods include Hainanese Chicken Rice, Chilli Crab, Katong Laksa and the Singapore Sling. Other signature dishes in Singapore include Nasi Lemak, Bak Kut Teh, Kaya Toast and Roti Prata. Spend some time indulging your stomach in Singaporean classics during your stay here. Browse through the list we have compiled in our Food Dictionary and start your culinary adventure here!

Kway Chap
Pronunciation:kuay tzup
Description:A Singaporean Chinese dish consisting of broad flat rice noodles in a light soya sauce soup served with stewed pig’s offal (intestines), hard-boiled egg, tau pok (fried bean curd) and salted vegetable. Usually eaten for breakfast or lunch.
Description:Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup. It is a Peranakan classic consisting rice noodles soaked in a gravy of coconut milk, spices, dried shrimp and chilli, with toppings of fresh prawns, cockles and sliced fishcake. Assam laksa is another variation of the original laksa. It has a lighter but tangier sauce. The most famous laksa in Singapore is the Katong laksa, named after the area in which it was created. The noodles in Katong laksa are cut up such that they can be slurped directly from a single soup spoon rather than needing the use of chopsticks.
Trivia:No one actually knows the origin of the name 'laksa'. Some suggest that it originates from the Hindi/Persian word 'lakhshah' which refers to the type of vermicelli used. The word also sounds similar to a Chinese word which means 'spicy sand', suggesting that laksa might have been named according to the dried prawns which accounts for the sandy or gritty texture of the sauce. It also sounds similar to the Hokkien word for 'dirty' and might be named as such due to its appearance.
Lor Mee
Description:A Hokkien noodle dish served in a thick starchy brown gravy and with thick flat yellow noodles. The thick gravy is made of corn starch, spices and eggs. The dish itself includes ngo hiang (wu xiang - Chinese five spices sausage), fish cake, fish, round and flat meat dumplings (usually chicken or pork), and half a boiled egg to compliment the noodles. Other sides available at certain stalls include fried shark meat, fried fish meat, braised duck meat and deep-fried dumplings. Vinegar, garlic and red chilli can be added by individuals to tailor each serving to their own taste and to enhance its flavour. If your not a fan of the flat yellow noodles, most hawker stalls also provide vermicelli as an alternative.
Trivia:According to some, Lor Mee was created out of need in the mid-1950s when there was a shortage of meat. Stall holders would stew small pieces of meat and fish to make a thick gravy.
Mee Goreng
Pronunciation:mi gor-reng
Description:Originally from Indonesia, mee goreng is made from thin yellow noodles fried with garlic, onions or shallots, fried prawns, chicken or beef, sliced bakso (meatballs), chili, vegetables, tomatoes, eggs and acar (pickles). Mee Goreng is Malay for “fried noodles”. But some sources suggest that it was the Muslim Chulias of Madras who originally popularised the dish. Nevertheless, the dish still has a strong associatiation with the Indian Muslim community. The absence of pork and lard in favour of shrimp, chicken, or beef caters to the Muslims, thereby rendering itself a Malay dish sometimes.
Trivia:Some argue that mee goreng should be considered a national dish of Singapore due to the apparent multi-racial nature of its ingredients and cooking methodology. It is cooked in a Chinese wok with Chinese cabbage, Hokkien noodles, Malay chilli padi, Indian mutton (marinated with the Sup Kambing) and American Ketchup.
Mee Rebus
Pronunciation:mi rə-buus
Description:In literal translation, mee rebus means ‘boiled noodles’ in Malay. Mee Rebus is yellow egg noodles in a thick, spicy, slightly sweet gravy, garnished with boiled eggs, sliced green chilies, spring onions, Chinese celery, fried tofu (tau kwa), fried shallots, bean sprouts and fresh lime. The gravy itself is made out of potatoes, curry powder, water, salted soy beans, dried shrimps, and peanuts. Some eateries add dark soy sauce to the noodles before serving it.
Mee Siam
Pronunciation:mi seeum
Description:A Thai dish with a Singapore twist, the Mee Siam in Singapore has a whole range of variations depending on who the dish is prepared by. It is generally made from rice flour noodles (vermicelli) and served with a light gravy made from tamarind juice and dried shrimp, topped with fresh calamansi, tiny cubes of fried bean curd, chives and slices of boiled egg. The most popular mee siam is made in the Peranakan tradition which includes coconut milk. Indian mee siam is slightly pinkish in colour with a sweeter gravy taste. The Chinese tend to uses more bean curd and salted fermented soybeans. For extra zing, the juice of half a lime can be added to the gravy.
Trivia:Although the name Mee Siam is a Malay term for 'Siamese noodle', there is no such dish in Thai cuisine. It has been suggested however that the Mee Siam has a close resemblance to Thailand's Mee Rad-Na or Pad-Thai.
Milo Dinosaur
Pronunciation:mai-lo dinosaur
Description:Milo Dinosaur is a drink comprising of a glass of Milo (a malted chocolate beverage) with an extra spoonful of undissolved Milo powder added to the top. Beware: this drink is made for those with a serious sweet-tooth. An even sweeter variation of the Milo Dinosaur is its 'cousin', the Milo Godzilla. As the name suggests, this version is even "fiercer" with an extra scoop of ice-cream on top.
Trivia:Milo was originally developed by Thomas Mayne in Sydney, Australia in 1934. Today, Milo is a more popular hot chocolate beverage among the Southeast Asia parts than anywhere else in the world.
Mutton Soup

A Hainanese dish where mutton is double-boiled with Chinese herbs to give a thick broth with a strong mutton flavour without the gaminess, which is masked by the flavours of the herbs.

Trivia:At some stalls, you may choose which part of the goat you would like in your soup - the leg, innards, brains or even the penis!
Nasi Lemak
Pronunciation:nah-see lə-mahk
Description:As its name suggests, nasi lemak was originally a Malay dish. A rice cooked in coconut milk served with ikan bilis (fried anchovies), nuts, fried fish, cucumber and sometimes an egg omelette. The Chinese take on nasi lemak varies slightly with an offering of chicken drumsticks, chicken franks, fish cakes, curried vegetables and luncheon meat (Asian Spam) to compliment the fragrant coconut rice. Both versions are usually accompanied by a sweet chilli condiment to give it that extra oomph. Although typically enjoyed as a breakfast meal, the nasi lemak can be eaten at any time of the day.
Trivia:Some eateries still retain the tradition of wrapping the rice in a banana leaf to enhance its flavour. An Indian version is also available which consists of fresh coconut cream, curry leaves, corn and fenugreeks in a delicate basmati rice.
Ngor Hiang
Pronunciation:nor hiahng
Description:A popular Chinese delicacy consisting of minced pork and prawn flavoured with Five-Spice Powder rolled inside a bean curd skin and deep-fried. The Five-Spice Powder is made out of star anise, fennel, clove, cassia bark or cinnamon. The dash of either black pepper or sichuan pepper makes the ngor hiang terribly addictive and a proper blend of these ingredients promise to leave you begging for seconds.

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