Food in Singapore is as surprising as this innovative city-country, at the bottom of Malaysia.
During a recent four day visit I had the privilege of tasting some of its most authentic dishes. Walking the streets or visiting its popular tourist spots means you are treated to an Asian gateway of flavours from authentic Malay, India or Chinese to the melded deliciousness of Peranakan culture.
And that's the thing, whether we were in a restaurant recognised by the Michelin guide or a ramshackle street cafe - the food was really good.
If you love spice and flavour you're in the right foodie destination or at least you would want to plan around this one.
Chicken rice is a staple, as is kaya toast for breakfast. The tradition of kaya 'jam' made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves is long-standing for this former fishing village turned Asia powerhouse.
Durian is another oddity. Banned on subways because of its smell - it is a delight that western palates might compared to Blue Cheese (only on a smell level) - with a creamy surprise-flavour once you get over it. We tried it ripe and on the open streets of Singapore. So delicious.
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Peranakan delicacies at Michelin star Candlenut
We sampled the delights of the world's first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant in Singapore.
Started by Malcolm Lee and his mother, a central feature of chef Lee's life and passion-led career is the Singapore wet market which he visits every other day in search of ingredients to further his passion - cooking and serving good Peranakan food.
Lee was in London at the time of our visit but his team served up a delectable selection of dishes, so delicate and refined in appearance but bold and energetic in flavour - The homemade Keuh Pie Tee Shell is one of the starters that springs to mind.
Also packed with flavour is the Westholme Wagyu Beef Rib Rendang, Serunding, Turmeric Leaf as well as the Blue Swimmer Crab Curry Turmeric, Galangal, Kaffir Lime Leaf.
You can also find the world's cheapest Michelin-star meal in Singapore's Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. Sadly on the day of our visit this humble hawker stall was closed- but Chan Hon Meng's iconic chicken rice dish is said to be a must. When you visit, expect the longest queue for a portion that costs around S$4 or about R45.
Eat off banana leaves at the Banana Leaf Apolo
The ancient tradition of serving food on a freshly cut Banana leaves has its roots in India. Here in Singapore,the widely popular practice continues at the Banana Leaf Apolo, and it has been serving its food this way since it opened its doors in 1974.
But more than this unique signature, the food is spectacular - and the portions are quite intense - from its breyani, dal to its spicy Apolo chicken - make sure you work up quite an appetite beforehand walking the surrounding Little India markets.
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Speaking of markets, this place is described as the grande dame of them in Singapore.
Lau Pa Sat, blends history, architecture and all the Asian food flavours your taste buds could want - from Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai - you can handpick and order the portion size that is right for you.
Tong Ah Eating House, run by Mr Tang Chew Fue, is an old-timer in Chinatown. Our guide shared with us how he has been "feeding coffee, kaya toast and half-boiled eggs to hordes of hungry crowds for over 75 years, all achieved without fanfareor glitzy marketing campaigns".
One must personally ask the owner for his “Super crispy toast" which has been immensely loved and praised by locals paired with homemade kaya, which is cooked over a slow fire for 10 hours and thus getting its greenish tinge from the pandan leaves.
Order your crab well in advance at Eng Seng Restaurant (Joo Chiat Place)
This is possibly my favourite of favourites.
Located on Joo Chiat Place, Eng Seng Restaurant serves Chinese Zi Char cuisine - with signature dishes such as Black Pepper Crab selling out very quickly. So make a reservation for the crab beforehand to avoid disappointment.
It really is delicious. In fact, this is an understatement. Prepare to have you hands, mouth and perhaps even your clothes dripping with sumptuous crab sauce.
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*Disclaimer: Traveller24 Editor Selene Brophy was hosted by Singapore Airline and the Singapore Tourism Board for the duration of her stay.