Every parent wants the best for their kids, ensuring that they grow up to be happy and successful. And the very first step on that path is to help them find their passion, and nurture it.
One of the best ways your child can discover their interests and passion is learning through food. Not only does it introduce them to the possibilities of tasting new flavors that engage their senses, but it can also be a means of introducing them to new experiences.
Singapore is one of the finest places for parents and kids alike to learn about world history and different cultures, and ultimately, discover a passion for food. The country’s wide array of delectable cuisines is easily accessible to families with children. Built around and centered on four main races, including Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian, the Lion City’s rich history and flavors are well represented in its cooking from hawker centers to Michelin-starred restaurants.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
Singapore’s Signature Dish
Introducing new food to your children can be challenging, especially if they’re picky eaters.But since most Filipino kids grow up loving chicken and rice, getting them to try Hainanese Chicken Rice will be effortless. Not only will it satisfy their appetite, but it can also introduce them to a world full of new and rich flavors to explore.
Originally from the Chinese province of Hainan, the dish was originally made with a bony and fibrous fowl called “Wenchang chicken.” Singaporeans have since adjusted the recipe by pairing the lightly seasoned tender and juicy chicken with fragrant pandan rice and garlic chili sauce, making the three flavors complement each other perfectly. Alternatively, the chicken is also sometimes served crispy and roasted, or salted and braised in soy sauce.
While you can get Singapore’s most popular meal in almost any of the hawker centers found on the island, Tian Tian Chicken Rice has been voted as the locals’ favorite. International chef and travel host Anthony Bourdain even said that the signature rice cooked in chicken stock is so delicious that you can eat it on its own! While Hainanese Chicken Rice is new to your child’s taste buds, its delicious simplicity may also drive them to further explore what Chinese culinary and history has to offer.
Tian Tian Chicken Rice
1 Kadayanallur Street, #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre
Char Kway Teow
A Taste of Wok Hei
Like pancit in the Philippines, Singaporeans have many renditions of their noodle dishes. While “char kway teow” is Hokkien for “stir-fried flat rice noodles,” it’s a simple yet popular Teochew meal from the Guangdong province that made its way to the Straits.
Also known as fried kway teow, it is commonly mixed with eggs, fishcake strips, cockles, Chinese sausages and chives, and bean sprouts, and traditionally cooked in lard. But what makes a great fried kway teow is the “wok hei” or the “breath of the wok,” which imbues an aromatic and distinct seared flavor to the dish.
In Singapore, char kway teow has evolved by replacing lard with oil, and adding egg and wheat noodles and more vegetables. But some institutionalized favorites, like Hill Street Char Kway Teow still include crispy pork lard in the mix. This 40-year-old stall has mastered the perfect blend of wok hei and crunchy pork lard, making this simple meal a feast for the palate.
You can take the whole family to try different kinds of char kway teow places, and see if you can taste how wok hei makes all the difference. Being exposed to different cooking techniques and how it brings about different tastes might just inspire your little ones’ imagination to make culinary evolutions to their favorite local dishes in the future!
Hill Street Char Kway Teow
Blk 16 Bedok South Road, #01-41 Bedok South Road Market & Food Centre
Peranakan Culture and Flavors
Singapore is a multiracial and multicultural country with ethnic Chinese making up over 70% of the population. Descendants of Chinese immigrant traders who married Malay or Sumatran women, and were born in the Straits like Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia are known as Peranakans. Of the many Peranakan dishes, laksa stands out to be a favorite of many.
With many variations of laksa, Singapore’s local version, curry laksa, is a must-try. Made with a slightly spicy coconut milk base, the flavors of the sea shines in the dish with fish cakes, prawns, and thick rice noodles known as bee hon. Many locals flock to East Coast Road to get their laksa fix, and the most popular restaurant of them all is 328 Katong Laksa. Pique your child’s curiosity with a bowl of yummy soup filled with a multitude of ingredients, flavors, and textures that will surely surprise them with every bite.
328 Katong Laksa
51 East Coast Road
A Taste of Southern Indian Cuisine that Straits-Born Indians Love
Singapore is a place that likes to put a twist on their local favorites. Explore your child’s curiosity, inventive nature, and creativity by introducing a popular Singaporean breakfast staple and supper snack like roti prata, which loosely translates to “flat bread” in English. By having your kids try out its flavorful variations, it might just inspire your kid to strive to be the next talked about fusion chef!
Roti prata is a traditional Indian bread brought to Singapore by early South Indian immigrants. Crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, the Singaporean version of roti prata is commonly paired with a fish or mutton curry dip.
With the dough prepared daily, ENAQ Restaurant makes one of the freshest pratas in Singapore. It’s more buttery and less oily compared to the pratas you can get elsewhere. To take your family’s tastebuds on a ride, Springleaf Restaurant has started serving creative roti prata variations like Roti Umami with chicken floss and Japanese mayonnaise, and Roti Maggi Goreng, served with stir fried noodles. But if you’re looking for something sweet and simple that your kids will definitely love, try the Singaporean prata, which is also commonly paired with sugar. There’s no experience like feasting with your hands.
Blk 21 Ghim Moh Road
Springleaf Prata Place
57B Jalan Tua Kong
(65) 6636 2945
A Peranakan Variation of the Most Popular Javanese Street Food
Hailing from the neighboring country of Indonesia, satay has been known to be one of the world’s best street foods, and surely to be your child’s next favorite food. Like Philippines’ pork barbecue, Japan’s yakitori, and Turkey’s kebab, satay is skewered and barbecued. While both Indonesian and Singaporean versions use peanut sauce as a dip, the tastes, as well as the meat are vastly different.
Singapore’s satay can be prepared using a variety of meats like beef, pork, mutton, and fish, but its most popular version is made with chicken. Featured in The Straits Times, Kwong Satay is a local favorite. Their signature dish, the pork belly satay, is definitely a must-try! Not only will your kids easily enjoy this well-loved meal, but exploring the different satay variations in Singapore and in the world can unlock their taste and passion for regional delicacies.
Sing Lian Eating House, 549 Geylang Road, Lorong 29
A Delicious Breakfast that Singaporeans Can’t Live Without
Another breakfast staple makes it to the list of fascinating foods you and your family can enjoy in Singapore. Kaya toast was invented by Hainanese cooks that worked on British colonial ships. They had to recreate the English breakfast of jam and toast but to reduce costs, they often replaced Western jams and jellies with butter and sweet and creamy coconut jam, also known as kaya. The bread is typically toasted over fire, making it crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, paired with hardboiled eggs, and dark coffee with condensed milk.
Kaya toast is a light meal that your littlest eater can draw inspiration from the next time they think about putting their favorite food items together, to whip up a yummy sandwich for merienda. Take Good Morning Nanyang Cafe, as an example. They’ve elevated the texture and taste of kaya toast by using ciabatta bread and adding a hint of caramelized orange peel. The outcome? A unique and fresh take on a well-loved breakfast.
Good morning Nanyang Cafe
32 Maxwell Road
Have you tried out a Singaporean chilli crab recipe yet?
Singaporean Chili Crab Recipe
A Must-Try Singaporean Dish
They say your time in Singapore is never complete without trying its famous chili crabs, and with so many places and different variations, it’s definitely hard to miss! Even the famed Din Tai Fung has their own take on the dish by marrying chili crab and mantou, a Chinese steamed bun, in their chili crab pork bun. But known for its finest and freshest seafood, both locals and foreigners flock to Long Beach to get their chili crab recipe fix.
Coated with sweet, savory, and spicy sauce, Singapore’s chili crabs are best eaten with steamed or fried mantou. Also, the experience is never complete without getting your (and your kid’s) hands dirty when cracking the crabs open. Having your child see the different meaty parts of the crab, and how each ingredient is fully maximized in the meal may just spark your child’s interest enough to venture into culinary exploration beyond Singapore’s most loved dishes.
Long Beach KING Seafood
220 Stadium Boulevard
(65) 6344 722
As a melting pot of cultures and tastes, and with many places to see and visit, Singapore is a definite go-to for you and your kids to learn and experience something new and different each time. After all, in an island with the richest flavors, exploration and discovery can broaden the possibilities of them finding out where their passions lie — may it be traveling, history, food, or a mix of all!