In many ways, food in Singapore reflects the national character in its sheer breadth of influences and convergence of styles. Singaporean cuisine has taken inspiration from the traditional foods of the many regions and peoples who have settled here, and created something that is unique and quintessentially Singapore.
In the same way that the city is truly international in its make-up, and is home to people of all walks of life, from the super-rich to those who live a more everyday existence, the same can be said of the food available in the city. Every imaginable culinary experience can be found here, from the fine dining restaurants of international celebrity chefs, to chic and trendy bistros and cafe, to humble hawker centres, to small-scale family-run local corner eateries.
However, what makes Singapore unique is that there is often little or no relationship between the price on the menu, or the decor of the establishment, and the quality of the food. Some of Singapore’s best and most exciting food experiences are to be had in surprising surroundings, and some of the most tasty and skillfully-prepared food is found in seemingly unprepossessing places.
For the food lover, therefore, Singapore really is an unmatched culinary adventure. You are able to dine on a truly staggering variety of cuisines and speciality dishes, in every type of establishment imaginable—almost 700 new restaurants opened in Singapore in 2013 alone—but almost always secure in the knowledge that you will be discovering something new and exciting, or enjoying dishes with centuries of tradition behind of them prepared by truly skilled artisans.
The richness of Singaporean dining, therefore, comes from this blend of traditions (they understood ‘fusion food’ long before the expression gained currency), encompassing Malaysian, Chinese and European cooking styles and many more besides, that have come together to form the island’s unique cuisine.
In the same way that questions of Singaporean identity are still up for grabs, so too is it difficult to pin down comprehensively and define just what is meant by Singaporean food. Everyone you meet will have an opinion, and debate is often fierce about which is the city’s best hawker centre, or where you can find the best chicken rice or chili crab, but this is what makes eating here so vibrant. Tradition and innovation combine, while discussion about, and the real enjoyment of food, is part of everyday life. Living in Singapore allows you to join this conversation, and it is one that the food lover will throughly enjoy participating in.