06 December 2021

The Sizzle of Wok Hei – Local Street Food Tours to Check Out

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Joel Conceicao A long-suffering Arsenal fan who will most likely reincarnate as a Himalayan goat.

The magic of Singapore lies in its food. Here are the best activities for you to eat your way through the city: 

Plates clattering, elderly folk shouting orders in a medley of dialects, the seductive aroma of freshly cooked food – Singapore is indeed a paradise for food lovers. Locals are fiercely proud of the city’s hawker culture, and rightly so. There are not many places in the world where you can eat food this good for this cheap and with such variety. Hit up the streets with these local food tours that will broaden your culinary horizons in no time.

Embrace Hainanese heritage
Embrace Hainanese heritage
  • Group Travellers
  • Heritage
  • Hidden Gem

Arriving as early as 1821 as traders of wax, shoes, umbrellas, and herbs, the Hainanese introduced to Singapore many things, the most delicious being chicken rice. Relive their heritage with a workshop that will teach you to make chicken rice in cake form. Stroll streets where the Hainanese first settled a few centuries ago. Finally, end your tour with a visit to Raffles Singapore, where you can craft the iconic Singapore Sling.

Eat like a local
Eat like a local
  • Heritage
  • Group Travellers

Anthony Bourdain once said that Singapore is possibly the most food-centric place on earth and that making food porn here is like “shooting fish in a barrel.” Well, he’s not wrong. When it comes to eating out, Singaporeans take their food very seriously. See what the fuss is all about when you join the ultimate hawker centre pilgrimage. You can try all sorts of local delicacies, visit a wet market, and even learn how to make popiah (a fresh spring roll) and sample putu piring (a rice flour snack).

Hunt down Katong’s food
Hunt down Katong’s food
  • Heritage

If you are looking for a microcosm of the city’s culture, look no further than vibrant Katong. With its pre-war shophouses and chic cafes, a trip to this hip hood is always fun. And you can find some of the best food in Singapore here. But to really taste your way through Katong, join a tour that includes ten different tastings of traditional family recipes. Remember not to leave without trying Katong laksa (a spicy coconut curry noodle) – a dish that sparked a “who sold it first” war between irate hawkers in the early 2000s.

Learn about disappearing trades
Learn about disappearing trades
  • Heritage
  • Group Travellers

Some trades will always die out. That’s why you should always experience them while they are around. Get a blast from the past by visiting a retro coffee roasting factory. Learn all about Singapore’s coffee scene, like how you can order like a pro with the local dialect. Afterward, explore one of the oldest remaining bakeries left in town and eat freshly baked bread. Finally, as a non-foodie bonus, pay a visit to a master of paper houses. That is where you can discover the ancient Chinese belief of burning items to pay respect to the dead.

Try delicacies from mom-and-pop stores
Try delicacies from mom-and-pop stores
  • Heritage

After a 30-minute stroll down Orchard Road, it is easy to think that Singapore is all Crazy Rich Asians everywhere. But the city has its fair share of the little guys – you know, non-MNCs. Those small, indie mom-and-pop stores. The ones that have been around for decades. Explore that side of Singapore by taking a detour to Little India, where you can tuck into mouth-watering food with five different tastings from family businesses. That’s how you can make your money count and support local the right way.

Explore an old school wet market
Explore an old school wet market
  • Group Travellers
  • Hidden Gem
  • Heritage
  • Local Favourite

Early in the mornings is where you’ll find the elderly haggling for the best prices for the freshest produce so that they can go home and cook for their families for the day, or maybe even the week. Catch this colourful side of the Singapore lifestyle with a wet market tour in Chinatown. You’ll visit some of the city’s best hawker centres to sample old school fare and witness an increasingly rare sight – old aunties and uncles standing over stoves in cramped, often stuffy stalls, feeding locals and tourists alike.

Relive the lives of early migrants
Relive the lives of early migrants
  • Heritage

To connect with one’s roots. The importance of that should never be understated. It is where we come from that gives us our stories. If you would like to know a huge part of Singapore’s story, food-wise anyway, relive the lives of its early migrants with a Chinatown food tour. You will learn how life was like back then. Pay a visit to the Original Chew Kee Eating House, run by three generations of Cantonese hawkers. And drop by a beautiful tea house for a traditional tea tasting ceremony to learn the art of tea.

Visit a coffee roaster and bread factory
Visit a coffee roaster and bread factory
  • Group Travellers
  • Heritage
  • Hidden Gem

From roasting to brewing the perfect cup of coffee, head to one of Singapore’s last few old-school roasters in a nondescript neighbourhood to immerse yourself in Singapore’s coffee culture. Find out what is unique about coffee here, known to locals as kopi (pronounced ‘ko-peeh’).  Afterward, check out one of the oldest bakeries left in Singapore to see first-hand how bread gets traditionally made with vintage equipment. And, of course, sample delicious bread straight from the over right after.

Make traditional png kueh
Make traditional png kueh
  • Couples
  • Families with Kids
  • Group Travellers
  • Hidden Gem
  • DIY

Png kueh (pink glutinous rice dumplings) is not the most common snack. But it is one of the most intricate you can find. Sticky and filled to the brim with mushrooms and fried shallots, these odd-looking dumplings are ornate and tasty in equal measure. And they fly the flag high for Teochew heritage in Singapore. Embrace its traditions and learn to make these dumplings in a hands-on workshop. Learn how to knead, wrap, and steam the dumplings for a unique taste of local culture you won’t find anywhere else.

Check out Asian-style beers
Check out Asian-style beers
  • Hidden Gem
  • Group Travellers

Don’t get us wrong. Beers are a huge part of Singapore’s food culture. But they tend to comprise commercial beers that the elderly drink at coffee shops in the morning. For something a little more representative of the flavours of actual Singaporean food, check out 1925 Brewing Co. These guys make Asian-style beers that cater to the local palate, like herbal tea beer and kaya toast stout. You get the drift. Check out their brewery on a tour that’ll show you how they work their magic.

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