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Other Food

Nonya Food

The closest thing Singapore has to an indigenous cuisine is Nonya or Peranakan cuisine. Nonya food combines Chinese, Malay, and other influences into its own unique taste. The Peranakan people are actually descendants of early Chinese migrants who had settled in Penang, Malacca, and Singapore, and who had inter-married the local Malays. The men are called "Babas" and the women "Nonyas".

Basically, Nonya food combines Chinese ingredients with Malay spices and herbs, thus bringing together the culinary skills and flavor of both cultures. The results of this combination are dishes that are imaginative, tasty, and extremely subtle in taste. Chilies, belacan, and coconut milk are central to the unique flavors of Nonya dishes.

Peranakan specialty dishes include Otak-Otak, which is a wonderful blend of fish, coconut milk, chili paste, galangal, and herbs, all wrapped in a banana leaf. Another is Buah Keluak, a distinctive dish that combines chicken pieces with Indonesian black nuts to produce a rich sauce. Then there is Itek Tim, a classic soup containing duck, tomatoes, green peppers, salted vegetables, and preserved sour plums simmered gently together.

One should always leave room for desserts. Nonyas are noted for their scrumptious and colorful cakes and sweet, sticky delicacies.


Among all the various seafood available, the Chili Crab is undoubtedly the pride of Singapore. Crabs, which are still in the shell, are stir-fried with garlic, sugar, tomato sauce, soy sauce, chili, and eggs, thus producing a gloriously messy sauce, which can be dipped by bread.

Most of the popular seafood restaurants can be found off the East Coast Parkway at the UDMC Seafood Centre. There are other good restaurants in other parts of Singapore too.

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