In September I spent a week in Singapore for work. While my days were busy meeting with clients I was on a nightly quest to understand the cultural diversity of Singapore though food. This meant a visit each of the unique ethnic neighborhoods to try the best of Singaporean cuisine. Recommendations from my Singaporean coworkers made identifying local favorites quite easy!
Arab Quarter | I found the Arab Quarter most interesting neighborhood aesthetically. Walking down Arab Street and Haji Lane I felt like I really was in another world. My coworkers were all bustling ahead to get to dinner, while I peered into shops, took pictures and asked questions! The Sultan Mosque was impressive and imposing at the end of Muscat Street, but equally as interesting were the many fabric stores, perfumeries and tea shops.
- Dinner in the Arab Quarter
- ZamZam – a simple, inexpensive restaurant, which appears tiny from the outside but has a large second floor with tons of seating. The murtabak (meat stuffed thin fried bread) and chicken biryani and limeade were best.
Chinatown | People of Chinese descent make up almost 75% of the Singapore population, so it makes sense that Chinatown is large and thriving. I was in Singapore for the Mid Autumn Festival which meant the Chinatown was even busier than usual, and I was able to try moon cakes!
- Tourist activities in Chinatown
- Walk down Pagoda Street
- Visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (I was lucky enough to walk in during a service, which I’d highly recommend!)
- Stop into the Sri Mariamman Temple, a Hindu temple, just down the street from the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and around the corner from Pagoda Street
- Places to eat in Chinatown
- Hawker Centers, indoor food markets, are best for trying any type of food in Singapore! My hotel was close to the Maxwell Road Hawker Center, in Chinatown so I visited twice.
- Blue Ginger is a Peranakan (Malay/Chinese) restaurant in a colonial house on Tanjong Pagar Road. A nice introduction to Peranakan dining!
British Influence & Marina Bay | Singapore was a British colony until WWII, and the influence is still present in the expat community, and many of the iconic hotels – such as Ruffles and the Fullerton. No trip to Singapore would be complete without a Singapore Sling at Ruffles, and I was super impressed by the gourmet buffet at Town off the lobby of the Fullerton! Both are perfectly located for an evening stroll by the Merlion and over to Marina Bay Sands for the light show.
Little India | Before visiting Singapore, I had no idea there as an Indian influence. Then I visited Little India, which is actually quite a large neighborhood. The Indian influence is immediately noticeable in the sights, sounds and smells, starting with the Diwali decorations everywhere!
- Dinner in Little India
- Muthu’s Curry – a trendy, modern Indian restaurant with an impressive open kitchen in the center. Order the whole fish soup!