For taste and value, the inexpensive cooking served up by stalls in hawker centres and at the roadside diners called kopitiams simply can’t be beaten. While not the healthiest food you could eat – much of it is fried, and cooks use salt and sugar liberally – it is likely to form an abiding and highly favourable impression of Singapore cuisine.
Perhaps the most basic meal is mixed rice (nasi campur in Malay), widely served up by Chinese, Malay and some Indian stalls; you’ll instantly recognize it by the trays of stir-fries and stews behind the glass. Order simply by pointing at what you fancy, and expect plenty of entertaining culinary cross-fertilization – the Chinese stalls all serve curry, the Indian stalls have tofu, and so on. It’s best had at mealtimes when the dishes will be freshly prepared, though food never really goes cold in Singapore’s climate, so will be palatable at any time of day.
Otherwise, stalls offer literally dozens of classic one-plate rice and noodle dishes, plus other, more elaborate dishes.