Think you've tried all that Singaporean food has to offer? Try these interesting, bizarre local eats… if you dare
Think you’re a bona fide Singaporean now just because you’ve learnt how to stomach laksa, sambal stingray and ice kacang? Think again! Living in a society obsessed with food, you can’t be too alarmed finding some hidden, peculiar, not-so-conventional dishes that’ve found their way from the land of the weird to your plates. From chicken feet to frog fallopian tubes, and even bone marrow from a straw, here are some unusual foods in Singapore that even some locals won’t dare to try.
Dragon Beard Candy
What is it: Soft, cottony, threaded malt candy that’s wrapped around crushed peanuts.
A dying trade: Pushcarts selling these hand-made snacks used to be rampant in the ’80s, but there are now only a few in Singapore who still practise the craft of making it. Don’t hesitate if you have the privilege of trying one!
Where you can find it: Singapore’s Dragon Beard Candy, a business set up by dragon beard candy master, Aunty Ho Lili.
What is it: A staple you can often find in most dim sum restaurants – steamed, and slathered in XO sauce or curry.
Tastier than it looks: We know it looks off-putting, but it truly is worth your courage once you suck the creamy, stringy skin off the bones! Chew off each joint one by one.
Where you can find it: Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant, 183-191 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208882, p. 6225 7788.
What is it: Beef or mutton bones stewed in a sweet-spicy, red soup of mutton stock, infused with cumin, coriander, ground chilli paste and other spices.
Suck it up: It’s fun getting your hands dirty while devouring the fatty meat that slides off the bone. And you’ll need a straw to suck out the gooey, buttery marrow from the bone – this is a meal that will leave a stain on your memory (and probably your top).
Where you can find it: Haji Kadir Food Chains, 820 Tampines Street 81, Singapore 520820, p. 6784 8313.
What is it: A Chinese Teochew dish of braised pig organs like kidneys and intestines, fatty pork strips, tau pok, tofu and eggs in a black sauce. Usually served with flat noodles.
Pork party: If eating the potentially squeamish parts of a pig doesn’t freak you out, then this gumbo of pork innards is truly comfort food for you. Don’t forget to dip into the sweet chilli sauce.
Where you can find it: Garden Street Kway Chap, #01-21 Serangoon Garden Market & Food Centre, 49A Serangoon Garden Way, Singapore 555945. (Or most hawker centres, really).
What is it: As the name states, a Chinese herbal broth that’s boiled with the gelatinous and tender meat of soft-shelled tortoises, and mixed with herbs and ingredients like watercress and wolfberries.
Good for your health: Consumed for its medicinal value, turtle soup is said to be beneficial for its cooling properties, curing chronic hepatitis and even anaemia. Your conscience will be clear as well, as these turtles are purely bred as food turtles, conforming to government guidelines.
Where you can find it: Tan Ser Seng Herbs (Turtle) Restaurant, 29 Lorong Bachok, Singapore 387791, p. 6748 3953.
What is it: The soft, meaty part of the reptile that is considered a delicacy in some Chinese restaurants.
Alligator aid: Like turtles, crocodile meat is also lauded for its low saturated fat and cholesterol content. There are also crocodile breeding farms in Singapore that ensure ethical supply of the meat.
Where you can find it: Imperial Restaurant, Level 2, Four Points by Sheraton, 382 Havelock Road, Singapore 169629, p. 6337 0491.
Bird’s Nest Soup
What is it: A tonic using bird’s nest, constructed naturally from the dried and hardened saliva of birds. Yum.
Don’t spit it out: Before you gag, take note that this sought-after Traditional Chinese Medicine tonic helps promote overall immunity, enhance complexion, boost concentration, alleviate asthma, and even improve sexual performance. Want another round?
Where you can find it: Eu Yan Sang, outlets located all across the island.
What is it: A soup – normally served during Chinese dessert – that uses the dried fatty tissue found near the fallopian tubes of frogs. Also known as Snow Jelly.
Toad you so: We did warn you this was gonna be a bizarre guide! However, it is believed that it improves kidney and lung function, enhances memory, and even stabilise hormonal levels during menopausal periods.
Where you can find it: Ah Chew Desserts, #01-10/11 Liang Seah Place, 1 Liang Seah Street, Singapore 189022, p. 63398198.
What is it: Essentially, durian ice cream with fresh D24 puree; a sinfully creamy treat with added texture from crumbed feuilletine.
Drink the king of fruits: If you can savour the aroma (some might say, stench) of this iconic, thorny fruit, this Peranakan-influenced dish takes your indulgence to a whole ’nother level.
Where you can find it: Candlenut, #01-03 Dorsett Residences, 331 New Bridge Road, Singapore 088764, p. 8121 4107.
What is it: A huge mollusc you can find resting suspiciously in the tanks of most Chinese seafood restaurants – though, it’s actually native to North America!
We know what it looks like: Trust us, the meat on the inside looks much more appealing. Once shelled, the crunchy meat that’s exposed is sweet and briny, and can even be eaten raw like sashimi.
Where you can find it: Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, 25 Dempsey Road, Singapore 249670, p. 6323 222.