Food Categories

Here is a directory of GoodFood.SG pages organized by food categories, cooking styles and types of dishes. Also included are cuisine of different ethnic groups, sub-groups and countries/regions.

24hrs :- Eating places, cafes and restaurants that have 24-hour round-the-clock opening hours everyday. Some eateries that are almost but not 24-hours open will also be grouped under this category. Note that some of these places may close for major holidays in the year, examples are Lunar New Year for Chinese restaurants and for some muslim shops, closing for prayers on Friday noon.

Ah Balling :- Glutinous rice balls filled with red bean, green bean, yam , peanut or sesame seed paste. Originally a Teochew dessert specialty, but no longer exclusively limited to being sold by the group. Normally served hot with sweet clear syrupy soup or other variations such as soya bean milk, peanut paste or coconut extract. This is really the equivalent of the Chinese tang1 yuan2 (汤圆) dish in mainland China and other places.

Bak Chor Mee :- Minced meat noodles, usually served with clear fishball soup.

Bak Kut Teh :- Pork ribs soup. There are two main styles of cooking, the first serves up peppery and saltish clear soup. The second variety consists of a darker soya-sauce coloured soup with herbs and spices such as cinnamon.

Beef Kway Teow :- Flat rice noodles (kway teow) served with beef slices and/or minced beef balls. There is usually also a choice of alternative noodles such as yellow noodles (mee) and bee hoon (vermicelli). Chinese names 牛肉粿条, 牛肉粉.

Cakes and Pastries :- All varieties of confectioneries, cakes, breads and pastries. Includes traditional 'kueh' (Malay for cake. Also spelt 'kweh' and, particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia, 'kuih') and other local snacks and desserts.

Some of the more popular kuehs include otah kueh and ondeh ondeh (also spelt onde onde) which are balls of glutinous rice (mixed with sweet potato) with fillings of gula melaka(coconut sugar).

Carrot Cake :- Dialect name "chye tow kway" or in Chinese, 菜头粿. Contrary to its name, "carrot cake" contains no carrots and is not a cake in the usual sense of the word. "Carrot cake" in Singapore is usually steamed minced radish mixed with flour. It is normally fried with eggs with served with some light garnishing of spring onions or chye-poh (preserved radish). It is also served piping hot in it's steamed form at tim-sum shops.

Char Kway Teow :- Also called Fried Kway Teow (炒粿条). Other spellings include Cha Kuay Teow or Chao Kua Tiao, the latter being a bastardisation with the pinyinized name (chao guo tiao) of 炒粿条. This simple dish is made by wok-frying kway teow (flat rice noodles) and mee (round yellow noodles) in dark sweet soya sauce. It is a norm to stir in egg-mix, diced garlic and small amounts of bean sprouts. Some places will throw in a few slices of fish cake. Many hawkers use small pieces of deep-fried lard for flavouring and it is almost de rigueur to eat this dish with fresh cockles that is thrown into the wok at the end of the frying.

There is a Penang version which uses only the kway teow noodles and is cooked with much less use of dark soya sauce. The end result is discernably whiter and less sweet than the Singapore version.

Cheng Tng :- Traditional chinese sweet dessert soup made with longans, barely, gingko nuts (rare) and white fungus (rare). Served cold or hot.

Chicken Rice :- The well-known dish made famous to foreigners by the Chatterbox restaurant at the Mandarin Hotel in Orchard Road. Most versions originate from the Hainanese style of steamed chicken served with chicken stock flavoured rice. Today, most stalls offer a 'brown' or roasted chicken meat as well and this version is probably even more popular than the 'white' steamed version which is more difficult to keep as fresh. Some places offer a rarer soya-sauce steamed version that is not roasted.

Chwee Kueh :- Traditional Teochew cupcake snack made of white steamed rice flour. Served hot and topped with preserved radish (dialect name 'chye poh' or 'chai poh') and chilli paste. Chinese 水粿 (pinyin: shui2 guo3).

Claypot Rice :- Rice with meats and vegetables cooked and served in an earthern clay pot. It is traditionally cooked till the rice at the bottom is somewhat charred and burnt.

Crab :- General category for all sorts of crab dishes. Cooking style varieties include steamed, pepper, chilli, cheese, cold, with beehoon, noodles and soup. Types of crabs include Alaskan, Sri Lankan, softshell and flower crabs.

Curry Rice :- Although called 'curry rice', most stalls under this category offer a variety of mixed dishes or in dialect 'chap-chye' meaning mixed vegetables. Of course dishes are not limited to vegetables and do include meat and fish unless it's a vegetarian stall. Alternative names include 'economy rice' and 'mixed vegetables'.

Dessert :- Covers all types of desserts and snacks. Includes ice kachang, cheng tng, bobochacha, chendol, soya beancurd (tau huay) and others.

Dim Sum :- Also spelled Tim Sum or Dianxin (Mandarin). Consists of a range of traditional cantonese dumplings, pork, chicken feet, paos (buns) and other pastries served hot in small bamboo baskets. Some like egg tarts are served simply on plates.

Duck Rice :- Braised or roasted duck served with rice.

Fishball Noodles :- Yellow noodles with minced fish balls and soup. The variations of noodles include normal sized (rare), thin round noodles (you mee) or mee pok (thin flat noodles similar to fettucine).

Fried Oyster Omelette :- Oysters fried with (or in) an egg omelette. Served with a watery chilli sauce and garnished with spring onions or coriander. Two main versions exist, one where the oysters are mixed in a flour paste to form a gooey sticky base and the other where it is just the oysters and the egg. The latter version is usually found at zhi char stalls and costs more with bigger-sized oysters.

Hainanese :- One of the Chinese dialect groups, hailing from Hainan Island of China. Traditionally well-known for being in the food trade as chefs and coffee-shop owners. They are most well-known for giving their name to the Chicken Rice dish.

Halal-Muslim :- Food compliant with the Muslim way of preparation and cooking. Includes halal food of various ethnic groups including Indians, Arabs, Pakistanis, Indonesians, Thais and even the Straits Chinese (Peranakan).

For a comprehensive list of air-conditioned halal eateries, see our halal fastfood outlets and restaurants page.

Hokkien :- The biggest Chinese dialect group in Singapore well known for their fried noodles (Hokkien Mee).

Hokkien Mee :- Any of the several styles of fried noodles using a variety of ingredients from prawns to bacon and cuttlefish or squid (sotong). It is not uncommon to find pieces of deep-fried pork lard added to the noodles to bring enhance the taste. This dish should be served with a piece(or half) of lime and generous dollop of chilli paste. Also called 'fried hokkien mee/noodles' or 'hokkien prawn mee/noodles' or a combination of the two.

Ice Kachang :- Dessert made of ice shavings topped with colourful red and green sweeteners and condensed milk. At the bottom of the ice, should sit some red beans, corn and some attap chee (seed of the attap or nipah palm)

Indian :- All types of Indian cuisine, curries, foods, snacks and desserts.

Indonesian :- Traditional Indonesian food like nasi padang, sup buntut (oxtail soup) and avocado dessert.

International :- International foods from all over the world.

Kway Chap :- Flat rice noodles served in light soya sauce soup with fatty pork, pig's innards (intestines), tau pok (fried beancurd), braised eggs and other side dishes like salted vegetables.

Laksa :- Spicy curry-like soup with thick round rice noodles. Comes in a variety of styles including Penang laksa and Katong Laksa. Usually includes a hard-boiled egg (or half), tau pok (fried beancurd) and raw cockles.

Lor Mee :- Yellow noodles in a thick broth of braised stock soup containing pork, fish cake, braised egg and slices of ngor hiang (wu xiang - Chinese five spices sausage). Served with minced garlic/ginger and chilli paste.

Malay :- Malay food commonly refers to ethnic Malay dishes from Malaysia and Singapore. Dishes include mee rebus, mee soto, mee siam, nasi padang, lontong, gado gado, satay, roti john, mee goreng, nasi goreng and many others. Some of the aforementioned dishes have Indonesian origins - gado gado being the more obvious one. Other dishes in this category may be of Indian-Muslim, Thai or even Pakistani/ Middle-Eastern origins. It is believed the 'siam' in 'mee siam' refers to the early source of the vermicelli noodle used in the dish, Thailand (formerly called Siam) from where it was commonly manufactured and imported during the earlier part of the 20th century. Roti john, has a more recent history. It was purportedly invented in the 1970's by a Malay hawker, Shukor, to cater to the English(hence the 'john') knack for bread and omelette, by combining the two into a 2-in-1 snack-meal. The dish is classified under 'Malay' purely because it is mainly sold by Malay hawkers. The family of Shukor still sells the dish today at a stall in the Serangoon Market & Food Centre.

Mutton Soup (Chinese) :- Chinese style semi-clear mutton soup. Served in several options of mutton and innards.

Mutton Soup (Indian Muslim) :- Indian-Muslim-style mutton soup (sup kambing in Malay). This is distinguished from its Chinese version with a thick richer soup. This version is well-known for going with tendons, bone (tulang) and roti (french loaf bread). Not to be confused with 'sup buntut', a clear soup concoction from Indonesia made with oxtail. 'Buntut' meaning the tail in Indonesian !

Nasi Lemak (Halal Malay) :- Coconut-flavoured rice with fried chicken wings, ikan bilis and other dishes.

Ngor Hiang (Five Spices) :- The term 'Ngor Hiang' or 'Ngoh Hiang' is a Hokkien literal term for five spices(fragrances). The Chinese word is 五香 (pinyin: wu3 xiang1) and other dialect/Cantonese names are 'ng geung fun' and 'ngung heung fun'. These all refer to a blend of five types of spice powders (五香粉) used for cooking and seasoning. Wu-xiang is used all over China, although variations in the number, proportions and types of spices are not uncommon.

The spice components include cassia bark(Chinese cinnamon), cloves, cumin seeds, star anise, fennel seeds, coriander, pepper (or sichuan pepper), ginger, blue ginger (also known as Thai ginger; Cantonese name lam keong; English name galangal), black cardamom and/or liquorice.

In Singapore, ngor-hiang, or ngoh-heong, is commonly used to refer to a type of meat sausage made with a thin translucent beancurd skin somewhat similar to caul fat. Stalls selling this normally have a variety of other fried fritters, prawn fritters, beancurd(tau-kwa) and fish-cakes to go with the cut-up rolls. It is common to eat an ala carte selection with a plate of beehoon(vermicelli) together with sweet dipping and chilli sauces. These stalls are very much the Chinese equivalent of the Indian Rojak stalls.

Noodles :- All varieties of noodle dishes. Often referred to by the Chinese dialect name 'mee' or Mandarin name 'mian'.

Peranakan Nonya :- Traditional food style prepared and cooked in the styles of the Peranakan people (Straits Chinese). Peranakan food has a strong Malay flavour and uses many of the local spices.

Pig Organ Soup :- Traditional Chinese dish of clear soup cooked with lean pork, fatty pork (belly meat), pigs' innards and organs like liver, kidney, intestines and dried blood. The cooking process is a long term requiring the soup and innards (intestines only) to be boiled over several hours. Known by its Chinese name 猪杂汤 (zhu1 za2 tang1)

Popiah :- Spring roll. 'Popiah' is a Chinese dialect literal for 'thin biscuit', a reference to the thin flour skins used to wrap the spring rolls' ingredients (usually a turnip base with some carrot strips) which are then fried to a brown biscuit-like crispiness. There is also a version that is served with a soft skin wrap that is not fried.

Porridge :- Any of the variety of rice-based porridge or congee. Cooked with ingredients like fish slices, lean pork, chicken meat shreds and/or century eggs. Also refers to the general stalls serving porridge with a variety of side dishes (see Teochew Muay).

Prawn Mee/Noodles :- Noodle soup with prawns. Usually comes with a slice or two of fish cake and pork. Variations include pork ribs in place of, or in addition, to prawns. Almost all stalls should have the option of serving a dry version where the soup is served separately from the noodle and prawns.

Roast Meat (Chinese) :- Any of the varieties of roasted meat including roast duck, roasted chicken, roasted pork, suckling pig (piglet) and char siew (seasoned pork roast).

Rojak (Chinese) :- Rojak is the Malay word for a salad dish of mixed vegetables. The Chinese rojak consists of a salad of mainly pineapple, cucumber, turnip, tau pok (fried beancurd) and you zhar kway (deep-fried dough sticks) freshly mixed in dark prawn paste with sugar. It is eaten with a sprinkle of crushed peanuts (sometimes pre-mixed with the prawn paste).

Roti Prata :- A dough-based flat pancake that is cooked by heating over a flat grill plate. The origins of this Indian dish is a story in itself. It has its roots in southern India*, possibly the city of Chennai (formerly Madras), where it is called parata (variations include parotha or paratha). In Malaysia, this dish is in fact named Roti Chennai (also spelled "roti chanai" or "roti canai"), after the city. Roti prata is commonly served with curry (either vegetable or meat curries), but it is not unusual to see it being eaten plain with white large-grain sugar. Prata-making has been refined to such an art that if you're lucky, you'll sometimes see cooks get theatrical with the flipping and turning of the prata as it's being cooked over the plate.

* Another source (Anasuya Balamurugan) attributes this dish to Punjabi or vaguely "Muslim conqueror" origins. Wherefrom the "Muslim conquerors" hailed wasn't made clear, and my guess is it could have been in reference to the Arabs or Turks. Another close cousin to the prata is the naan(also spelt "nan" or "na'an"), which is common in northern/north-western India(Punjab, Rajasthan) and Pakistan. Although made differently (by baking in a tandoor, which is an oven made of clay), it is similar in terms of texture and ingredients.

Sarabat :-

Satay :- Stick-skewered (kebab) marinated meat strips barbequed over a charcoal fire grill. The meat used is usually beef, mutton and chicken. Pork satay is only offered at Chinese satay stalls.

Seafood :- All varieties of seafood including crab, fish, abalone, scallop, prawn and other shellfish. Cooked with various methods, including raw servings, steamed, curry, pepper fried, or in soup.

Seafood (BBQ) :- Seafood barbequed over a grill. Popular dishes include stingray(cooked in a banana leaf), prawns and shellfish (stir-fried) in chilli sauce.

Soon Kueh :- The transliterated Chinese name of this dish is 笋粿 (pinyin : sun3 guo3). This is a steamed Chinese dumpling made of rice flour skin with chopped turnips strips as filling. Although the word 'soon' is a Chinese dialect word for bamboo shoot (笋), practically all modern versions of this dish are made with turnip. It can be eaten steamed or fried (to make the skin crispy), with sweet dark soya sauce and chilli paste.

Soups :- All types of soups, from Chinese herbal and tonic soups to English-style oxtail stew soup to Indian-Muslim soup kambing / tulang (mutton soup with bone marrow).

Steamboat :- Chinese-style hotpot, eaten communally. Side dishes of raw meats(chicken, pork, beef, liver, minced balls), fish, squid(sotong) and vegetables are cooked by dipping into the hotpot which is kept simmering at a boiling temperature. The best part of the steamboat meal is savouring the soup after all the meats and vegetables have been cooked and eaten. It is at this time that the soup is at its richest and tastiest !

Tau Kwa :- This word is Chinese dialect (Hokkien/Teochew) for dried/fried beancurd (豆干).

Teh Tarik :- A tea drink made with milk (usually condensed or evaporated milk). Traditionally the tea is tarik'ed (pulled) by successive pouring from one container/cup to another and back, however this is not always practised by all shops. Usually Malay or Indian-muslim owned, such stalls typically sell food like roti prata and nasi bryani as well. But some, called 'Sarabat' stalls, are known to sell only drinks.

Teochew :- One of the major Chinese dialect groups in Singapore. Teochew people hail from the coastal city of Shantou in Guangdong province, China. Teochew cuisine is traditionally known for its fish dishes, particularly steamed fish. Very light external flavouring and seasoning (salt, sugar) is a signature of Teochew cooking which seeks to bring out the natural taste of the ingredients used.

Teochew Kueh :- Various types of flour-skinned cakes and dumplings filled with rice, yam paste, red bean paste or turnip strips.

Vegetarian :- All types of vegetarian foods, including organic, Indian and Chinese varieties.

Vegetarian (Chinese) :- Chinese-style vegetarian food, including many soya beancurd based dishes, rice cakes, red and green bean pastries, mushrooms and nuts.

Vegetarian (Indian) :- Indian-origin vegetarian food including dal, chutney, vadai, thosai (dosai, dosa), idli, poori, and paratha (prata).

Wanton Mee :- Wanton (Chinese 云吞, pinyin: yun2 tun1) is a Cantonese word literally translated as 'swallowing of cloud', and refers to a particular version of the minced meat dumpling common in Chinese cuisine. Wanton (or wantan) mee is a noodle (thin yellow noodles) dish served either in soup, or with a separate bowl of soup containing the wantons. The wanton dumpling is usually a translucent flour skin wrapped around minced meat (usually pork) fillings. In Singapore, it more common than not to include char siew (slow barbequed sweetened pork) as part of the dish.

Western Food :- 'Western food' is a common term for hawker centre stalls serving European or American style grilled and pan-fried meats such as beef steaks, pork and chicken chops or cutlets and sausages. It is often served with french fries, slices of cucumber/tomato, baked beans and a piece of bread (with butter; rarely toasted garlic bread). Most stalls will provide a simple soup (usually mushroom) as an extra order. Traditionally, such stalls were dominated by the Hainanese group, although, like most common dishes, the dominance of the original ethnic sub-group has become blurred in recent times. It is possible to find Halal 'western food' as well, though prices tend to be much higher than (about double) that of the Chinese stalls.

Yong Tau Foo :- Also spelled 'Yong Tau Hu', 'Yong Tow Foo' and 'Yong Tow Hu'. An assortment of pre-cooked ingredients mostly made from a soya beancurd base (tau hu, tau kwa) and vegetables such as kangkong and mushrooms. The customer selects the individual ingredients in an a la carte manner and the server reheats them with the choice of noodles in hot boiling soup. The most common noodles are thick yellow noodles and bee hoon (vermicelli), served in the soup, or in a separate bowl with the ingredients.

Zhi Char :- An all-rounder Chinese food stall serving a wide variety of a la carte dishes usually with white steamed rice and soups. A zhi char stall usually has the highest sales turnover of the eating outlet that it occupies and thus forms the anchor tenant and main draw of the eating place, typically a coffeeshop. Also spelled 'zhi cha', 'zi char', 'zi cha', 'cze char', 'tze char'; in Mandarin, 煮炒 (pinyin: zhu2 chao3) which literally means 'cook & fry', in reference to the de rigueur use of frying (almost always with woks) in preparing most dishes.