Instead of separating into restaurants and hawker, I thought I do something a bit different this time. I would simply compile the 10 best food of Singapore.
The list is such that it is compilation of the 10 best dishes that I feel are the best of 2011 food. It can come from a hawker stall, or a restaurant or cafe, but it has to be one complete dish.
I think this list also represents the best of Singapore food in a way that foreigners who come here for the first time, will savor the best and not look for say, the best in chicken rice or bak kut teh, but that Singapore has much more to offer.
So, here is the best of Singapore food 2011:
10. White Bee Hoon at Sembawang White Bee Hoon
I do not normally fancy bee hoon, but this family owned coffeeshop at Sembawang easily won me over with this light and well cooked been hoon dish.
On the surface, it looks quite ordinary, but taking a mouthful of the noodles, you begin to understand why there is such a long queue everyday. The broth which the been hoon is immersed in is lightly sweet with a beautiful flavor. There are other great dishes here as well, but this simple dish is the best.
9. Forget Me Not Fish at Zai Shun Curry Fish Head
Although this stall in Jurong East is named for curry fish head, it is this amazing steamed fish that takes all the limelight. The fish is so naturally sweet and tender that you will be hard pressed to find a better steamed fish elsewhere.
The soya sauce is light and a perfect accompaniment to the fish. Although it is not cheap, it is also hard not to resist this fish when you get here. Truly unforgettable.
8. Curry Fish Head at Hooked on Heads
I do not often take fish heads, but this cosy little outlet at the junction of Sin Ming and Thomson is a rare find. The fish head is fresh, and generous in portion, and sweet with flavors.
The curry is lemak without overpoweringly so, and the combination of lady fingers and a nice little acidity from the tomatoes gives a perfectly balanced dish that I think, beats out all other curry fish heads here.
7. Bak Kut Teh at Lau Ah Tee Bak Kut Teh
There are literally hundreds of notable bak kut teh stalls in Singapore, but the one that stands out for me is this one at Bendemeer Road. It is Teochew styled, and hence, it is of the peppery variant.
The soup is spicy, without being too spicy, and the broth lightly sweet, which is just the way I like it. The killer here is the prime ribs, which are just heavenly. Tender, well stewed, it literally falls off the bone. And the piece of gorgeous fat in between is one of the best things to bite into in life.
6. Laksa Risotto at Ice Edge Cafe
This innovative fusion dish is not found on the regular menu at this nice cosy cafe at Simon Road, just off Kovan Road. But when it is available, there is no doubt that any self respecting foodie should savor it.
Utilising a flavorsome laksa broth to cook the Italian rice in, this Laksa Risotto just brims with flavors to give a new twist to a classic dish. And if that is not enough, they have added in an equally innovative sausage made out of crabmeat and luncheon meat!
5. Glutinous Rice at Uncle Kun Delicacies
Uncle Kun is not just an incredible chef, but one of the most bubbly personalities I have ever come across. His food exemplifies the best of Cantonese cuisine, and even though he runs a hawker stall, his food often surpasses that of the best restaurants here.
But the one dish from him that I find irresistible, is this glutinous rice. Elongated in shape, the rice is so well cooked and the texture so smooth, it defies logic. Simple, but elegant, and attractively gorgeous!
4. French Toast at Cafe De Hong Kong
I have been to Hong Kong and if you ask me, nothing still trumps the incredible French Toast at CDHK. It is fragrant, with beautiful textures and the combination of peanut butter and butter and honey with the egg coated toast is as perfect as it gets.
I once heard that one customer bought more than a dozen at one go! This is a testament to how popular this is here, and this despite the many other great dishes that CDHK serves.
3. Nasi Lemak with Chicken Wings at Chong Pang Nasi Lemak
I had heard that this was a really good nasi lemak, but I had no idea it was this good. The food there, though simple, is amazing and well cooked, and every dish is fresh and flavorsome.
The must try is the chicken wings, though everything else is also brilliant. The curry chicken, the sweet sour pork and even the sunny side up egg are all equally fantastic.
2. Laksa at Sungei Road Laksa
Despite the popularity of Katong Laksa, and also the existence of unending varieties of Laksa here, the best is this beautiful bowl of food found at Sungei Road. They use traditional charcoal fire to cook the broth, and this gives a unique and beautiful flavor.
It is light, refreshing and despite the coconut milk found in laksa broths, it is never heavy and you can easily go for another bowl after the first one. The cockles are huge and almost taste like abalones! And add to that, a humble family business. This is food at its very best.
1. Beef Kway Teow at Kovan Ri Yi Beef Noodles
This is simply the best bowl or plate of food I have had in 2011. Everything about this beef noodles screams perfection. From the delicious broth that is perfect for cold nights, to the beautifully cooked beef slices that never is never overcooked, the humble owner of this stall deserves to have a larger audience.
In fact, I think since I first ate there in early 2011, the beef broth has actually improved, and now that the stall is newly renovated along with the entire kopitiam, the place is even more conducive and comfortable. For me, nothing can beat this for the best of Singapore food for 2011.
And there you have it, the list of what I consider the best Singapore food of 2011. Till next year, let's hope to discover more great hidden culinary gems in 2012!