Kaya toast, prata, nasi lemak, noodles… we sure know how to do local breakfast in Singapore. It’s cheat day everyday!
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day then it shouldn’t be anything less than epic. Consider yourself lucky to be living in Singapore where breakfast is merely a concept. Want to eat rice for breakfast? Try nasi lemak. Need something fried and dough-y? We’ve got prata and vadai. Here are our favourite dishes we love to start the day with. Just a heads up, look away if you’re anti-carbs and gluten. This is how we do local breakfast in Singapore and we’re not sorry!
Kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs
Who wouldn’t love some toast for breakfast? We level it up by slathering some kaya (a custard jam made from coconut milk, pandan, egg yolk and sugar) on toasted bread or soft warm buns, prepare a simple side of two soft boiled eggs and complete the experience with a cup of hot teh tarik or kopi. You can find this Singaporean traditional breakfast set at any local coffee shop – and it wouldn’t even cost you more than $5. You can find us scoffing the kaya buns at Chin Mee Chin Confectionery in Katong often…
There’s nothing quite like it in cafe cuisine. Nasi lemak is fragrant coconut rice usually served with fried ikan bilis and nuts, fried fish, fried egg and a dollop of sambal. Some places go all out and provide a lot more variety in its side dishes like fried chicken, otah, luncheon meat and fishcakes. Good enough for any time of the day, Ponggol Nasi Lemak exclusively opens in the evenings to long queues but if you’re in need of some for breakfast, check out Selera Nasi Lemak in Adam Road.
Fried economical noodles
What is Singapore breakfast if you can’t find noodles in the mix. Available in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions, the beauty about economical noodles (usually beehoon) is what you can add: crispy beancurd skin, eggs, sausages, luncheon meat, mock char siew and vegetables if you want to keep things healthy.
If there’s a dish we’ll never get bored of, it’s roti prata. A staple of Singapore breakfast (and supper), prata hits the spot every time. Crispy on the outside, soft and dough-y on the inside, there are many variations of prata from the kosong (plain prata) to prata bom (a thick smaller version with sweet filling), the prata plaster (like Eggs Benedict, but prata) to prata tissue (super thin and crispy prata drizzled with chocolate sauce). We love it so much we even attempted making it at home, true story.
If it ain’t fried, it ain’t breakfast. The best thing about youtiao, a long golden brown sort-of donut, is that it’s the gateway to other equally delicious breakfast dishes. The sweet soya beancurd and tau suan (a dessert mung bean soup) is usually accompanied by a youtiao stick. Remember to eat it while it’s still hot!
And we’re back to the high cholesterol food again. Chwee Kueh is a type of steamed rice cake topped with crunchy and salty fried preserved radish and eaten with – never forget – a side of sambal. Because it’s so bite-sized and easy to eat, you’ll never stop at just one.
A type of pancake with South Indian origins, thosai is always crisp and made from fermented rice and lentils. It’s usually served with a selection of curries and stuffed with a spicy potato filling. Best thing? Thosai is vegetarian and healthy, so not all our breakfasts are heart attack-inducing, alright?
Chee cheong fun
Fun fact: chee cheong fun translates to “pig’s intestines”, in reference to the way these rice sheets are rolled up and steamed. While it’s also a dish in dim sum restaurants, the breakfast version is usually served without any meat or prawns but topped with the sweet-salty hoisin sauce, chilli sauce, and sesame seeds for flavour.
An underrated dish in the spectrum of Singapore breakfasts, kacang phool is a broad bean gravy with minced beef served with a runny sunny side up egg, chopped onions, fresh green chillies, with a plate of warm bread on the side for dipping . While it’s not a native dish to Singapore, it can still be found in some coffee shops for breakfast. Think of it as a sort-of Middle Eastern bowl of chilli. While it’s not as indulgent as the rest of the dishes on this list, kacang phool is just as comforting and filling.