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Unique Singapore Food - the Hainanese Influence


The Hainanese herbal mutton soup. It is not gamey and with the herbs, it tastes real good.


Everyone heard of the Hainanese Chicken Rice but not a lot of people know about the Hainanese Curry Rice or the Hainanese Western. The Hainanese Chicken Rice is easy to understand. Chicken lard drenched cooked rice topped with succulent white (poached) or baked chicken rice. The Chicken Rice is basically a tourist attraction in itself. Thanks to KF Seetoh bringing Anthony Bourdain to Tian Tian at Maxwell Market, the dish gets more international attention. As a Hainanese myself, I have tasted better chicken rice out there but generally, the chicken rice in Singapore is the same as roasted meat in Hong Kong - you won't go wrong...and if you do, the wrath is pretty swift. What of Hainanese Curry Rice or Western? It is the result of Hainanese coming to Singapore a wee bit too late in 1841. Hence with not much job openings in colonial Singapore they took up service jobs - bartender (one even concocted the Singapore Sling), tailor, laundry man and of course a chef.


Today in terms of food are the kopitiam (local coffee shops) kaya toast and ultra thick robusta coffee topped with a chunk of butter, Chinese curry rice and Western. All these are the result of cooking in western and rich Peranakan households.



The Hainanese curry has its own unique taste that is unlike those you will find in Little India. It is sweeter, and less punchy in terms of spiciness and yet has other herbs and spices to make it special.


Legend goes that the British officers loved their curry in India and wants it replicated at home. Hence we have our localised version of Curry. Now we called it "Cut-Scissors-Cut" curry rice simply because the stall owner uses a small scissors to cut up the ingredients before drenching the whole lot in curry sauce.


This is the perfect poor man's lunch and dinner and can be had anywhere so just do a Google search and find those near your hotel. For convenience, you can go to Beach Road Scissors Cut Curry Rice at Vivocity Mall so you can enjoy the dish in air-conditioned mall after a day out in Sentosa. The other notable food that Hainanese are proud of is our western food. One of the famous ones is actually Russian - Shashlik Restaurant. With the knowledge of Russian dishes, the chefs from Troika Restaurant started their own and put their own spin to those dishes after the closure of Troika. They are a local institution well respected by many including dignitaries, business leaders and heads of state.


The oxtail just melts right in your mouth with a stew that is sweet and tangy.


There are still many Hainanese dishes that older Singaporeans have tasted but nowhere to be found. That's why in 2013, Mr Frederick Phua opened British Hainan to bring back the "old taste". His shop is famous, attracting media coverage and even overseas celebrities. That is why wanderfulsingapore.com took the time to partner with British Hainan to showcase Hainanese Western Food to celebrate our food heritage with the exclusive sample set. You can find more information here.

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