15 Pasar Malam signature must-trys
The iconic night markets are back! After two Chinese New Years and Hari Rayas away, everyone’s heartland food festival favourites are raring to jump into our stomachs and straight back into our hearts (not that they ever left, really).
But first! Here’s the full list of Pasar Malam locales and dates, across the island.
Ang Mo Kio Central 9 – 24 Apr 2022
Clementi Central Blk 449 13 Apr – 3 May 2022
Punggol MRT & Bus Interchange 17 Apr – 2 May 2022
Sengkang MRT 18 Jun – 3 Jul 2022
Tampines Blk 826 7 – 22 May 2022
Tampines MRT 28 May – 16 Jun 2022
Tanjong Pagar Plaza 9 – 13 May 2022
16 – 20 May 2022
23 – 27 May 2022
Without further ado, prepare to spend on these 15 Pasar Malam signature snacks you absolutely have to try.
The Singapore staples
Basically a variation on the Asian staple fried fish paste. Instead of thin and wide, the Lekor is long and narrow. It’s simply salty, savoury goodness. Addictive with sambal or chilli sauce.
Savoury curry-flavoured Indian fritters topped with fried shelled prawns, Vadai are best munched with fresh green chilli. It may read like the oddest combination, but by gosh it works.
Coated pan-fried tapioca slices that are a little sticky, a little chewy and slightly sweet. The Boomer generation grew up on these!
Joining the ranks of much reviled yet uniquely loved foods, the Smelly Tofu is traditionally fermented in a brine with vegetables and meat, sometimes for months. These days, the marination only happens for a day or two. Must-try for lovers of strong flavours.
Cooked sticky rice dough coated with sugar, ground peanuts and sesame seeds, the Muah Chee is one of Singapore’s oldest street foods dating back to the Pioneer generation. Grab a pack for a taste of history.
Another legacy dish, the Kueh Tutu are rice and glutinous flour mini pancakes that come in numerous filling types such as shredded coconut, peanuts, brown sugar and even chocolate.
Herbal tea eggs
Steeped in a cacophony of soy sauces, spices and tea infusion, these eggs are simmered for at least 3 hours. Herbal tea eggs are a labour of love, and are wonderfully flavoured with a unique aftertaste.
Literally “John’s bread”. Post-war Singaporeans will tell you they have no idea who John is. According to the National Library of Singapore, John was the ang moh who lived in the big house, pre-Independence. Legend has it, he asked a local hawker for eggs on bread one day, whereupon when done, the hawker declared, “Eh John, nah roti.” [Hey John, here’s your bread]. Just kidding – we have no idea what the Roti John origin story is. But the spiced, minced meat, egg blend toasted on baguette is an omnipresent of Singapore childhoods!
21st century “mainstays”: Snacks and street food imported or evolved post millenium
A Pasar Malam rite of passage, the Ramly burger is a Malaysian import that is equal parts carb-loading as it is grill showmanship. Whoever Ramly was, he made it a point to line rows of beef and chicken patties, grilled in front of your watering eyes (watering from the smoke lah), then expertly folded into fried omelettes, topped with savoury sauces and sandwiched into grease-toasted buns.
Per its name, these sausages are oh-so-good imports. Grilled on the spot, the Taiwanese sausage is a greasy, sweet-savoury combination of pork, Chinese five spices, rice wine, garlic and sugar. The best must-not-miss Taiwanese street food.
A Japanese import, this street food favourite takes its name from the Tako (octopus) bit inside. Perfectly balled Japanese fritters comprising Tenkasu (scraps of tempura), green onions and sometimes pickled ginger, topped with Takoyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, Aonori (dried green seaweed), and Katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes).
This dessert drink bubbled (no pun … ok, actually yes pun) into the Singapore food scene barely five years ago but has quickly become a mainstay. Literally a flavoured drink (any flavour of your dream) with pops of sweet pearl gels in complementary flavours. You won’t get the mania until you try one. Seriously, try one.
The third fritter variation on this list! A South American street food, the churro began as a fried batter topped with cinnamon sugar. Latter topping variations include ice cream, nutella / chocolate sauce, smores, toasted coconut bits, cheese sauce, etc. Just name it and it will be done.
The unicorn anything (which is simply a rainbow variation on any dish) made its debut on Instagram about a decade or so ago. Due to its IG popularity, it was only a matter of time before Pasar Malam stalls began touting unicorn variations of anything: shakes, ice creams, candy flosses, crepes, etc. Watch out for the prices though! The unicorn anything thinks itself “artisanal”, so expect to pay upwards of $10 and more per item.
Sweet potato balls
Variations of these sweets can be found in numerous countries around Asia, and debuted in Singapore in 2016 across various Pasar Malams. A local favourite often with snaking long queues, this simple dessert wins for its sweet potato goodness wrapped in contrasting texture.