Sunday, July 2, 2017

9 Food Souvenirs to Bring Back from Singapore

Everytime I go travelling, without fail, I will google what are the best souvenirs to bring back to Singapore from that country. And of course, food often ranks high on that list.

Instead of telling you to buy merlion fridge magnets (what?), here is a list of 10 food souvenirs to bring back from Singapore- from a Singaporean's perspective (i.e. I do not consider the Singapore sling a worthy souvenir).

1. Kaya 

Kaya is a coconut jam spread, that it is made from coconut milk, sugar and eggs. There are recipes online (for example, Rasamalaysia) but really, I am not going to go through all that effort to make kaya.

My cousin who stays in Germany recently requested that I bring 3 bottles of kaya when I visited. The family of 2 adults and 2 children finished one bottle in 2 weeks!

I have Glory brand Nonya Kaya at home, and know of others who have this brand at home too. At less than S$3 for a 400g jar, this is an inexpensive souvenir.
Credit: RedMart

Alternatively, if you are looking for something more presentable, and possibly more reputable to foreigners, you may want to go for Ya Kun's kaya at S$4.80 for a 290g jar.

Credi: Ya Kun 

Alternative:


If you know Ya Kun, you probably would know Toast Box as well.

I was very intrigued by the Sprouting Kits sold by Toast Box. Firstly, this is a charitable effort where they help to raise funds for Abilities Beyond Limitations and Expectations. Secondly, you may say ahh this does not fall under the food category! Well, the sprouting kit comes with soil compost processed from Toast Box's recycled coffee grounds, together with seeds for growing the sprouts, so yes, it kind of counts as food.

I know for a fact that the plants that my friend grew in an office environment had sprouted uncontrollably, meaning that these are really easy plants to care and maintain for.

The sprouting kit is sold for S$5 each and 100% of the proceeds go to charity.

Credit: Toast Box 
2. Pandan Cake 

CNN has named Pandan Cake as Singapore's national cake- you may therefore want to bring a box of it back. Do ask about its shelf life beforehand.

Pandan cake is a chiffon cake made with the juice of the pandan plant. CNN has specifically named Pine Garden and Bengawan Solo for their pandan cakes. I have tried both and both are great. But if you don't want to specially go out of the way to get your hands on some pandan cakes, Bengawan Solo is a better option because there are many outlets in Singapore, including the airport.

At Bengawan Solo, one slice costs S$1.50 and a whole cake costs S$15. At Pine Garden, it costs S$9 for one cake. (P.s. You may also want to get the kueh lapis / pineapple tarts / chilli prawn rolls from Bengawan Solo.)

Credit: Bengwan Solo
Alternative: 

If you are one who really enjoys baking, instead of buying the pandan cake, how about buying the pandan leaves themselves! You can find these useful green leaves at markets or supermarkets such as NTUC. Pandan leaves are not just meant for baking or cooking soups- they can be insect repellants as well. Check out their many purported uses here.

3. Bak Kwa

Bak Kwa is essentially barbequed meat which is sweet and salty, or otherwise known as jerky. They may be pork, chicken or beef.

You can either eat them piping hot on the spot, or if bring some back to share (are you sure you really want to), you can buy those vacuum packed ones which are really convenient. These are pricer than your normal food souvenirs- it costs S$38.40 for 600g of these vacuum packed goodies.

Credit: Bee Cheng Hiang

You may get them at Bee Cheng Hiang or Lim Chee Guan.

Alternative: 

Instead of barbequed meat, how about some floss? It has a light and fluffy texture and goes well with anything plain tasting (e.g. porridge). If you have eaten Thai pineapple fried rice, you probably would have seen this sprinkled on top of the rice.
Credit: Seriouseats 
4. Pre-mix

Wow, there are so many in this category, I don't even know where to begin. Basically, if you are lazy to cook things from scratch but really want to try some Singapore food, here are some of the pre-mixes that you can easily buy off the shelves of supermarkets in Singapore.

(a) Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh is essentially pork rib cooked in a broth full of herbs and spices. It literally means "meat bone tea" - there is however no tea in the dish. The tea is served alongside the soup as it is believed that the tea can help to dissolve the fat in this dish.
Credit: NTUC
(b) Chicken Rice

Unless you haven't been on the hunt for local food, I am sure you would have come across this dish.
Credit: NTUC
Bonus: Believe me, no chicken rice is ever complete without chilli sauce.
Credit: Shermay

(c) Laksa

Laksa is a noodle dish served in a soup of rich curry coconut milk - it's one of those dishes where you will wonder whether the numbers on the weighing machine will shoot up after drinking that delicious curry gravy.
Credit: Redmart 
(d) Chilli Crab

"I hate chilli crab"- said no one ever.

Chilli crabs have been a real treat since young. It is both sweet, salty, sour and spicy all at the same time. Best enjoyed with deep fried buns.

Credit: Jumbo

5. Irvin's Salted Egg Fish Skin


This is certainly a new addition to the souvenir list. This is not something that one would traditionally buy from Singapore as it was quite recent that the salted egg yolk craze hit our shores.

Honestly, I am not sure what is weirder- salted egg or deep fried fish skin. All I know is that this is a very addictive snack. One moment, the packet of fish skin is in your hands, the next moment, like magic, it mysteriously disappears.

Back in the days when they first started and rented small carts, the packets flew off the shelves and you had to be put on a waitlist to get your hands on a packet. Nowadays, they are doing so well that they actually have physical stores in big shopping centres.


6. Biscuits

Just like how there are biscuits from overseas you can't find in Singapore, the reverse holds true as well.

This tinned biscuits formed a large part of our childhood. However, I am not sure when, but these are now "retro" biscuits. They are cheap, sweet, unhealthy and satisfying.

Credit: Makansutra
One of the all time favourites remains the gem biscuit. These are fluorescent little sugar gems dropped from the celestial skies! I used to exclusively eat the sugar. Now that age has caught up, I throw most of the sugar away and eat the biscuits. You can get these from supermarkets, for example Khong Guan brand.

Credit: Thefoodpornographer
7. Tau Sar Piah 

Two of the most well known Tau Sar Piahs are in Balestier - Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah and House of Tau Sar Piah. These are old-school shops and you can choose either the sweet or salty green bean-based pastries. Best eaten hot!

Credit: Burpple

8. Janice Wong's sweets 

If you find that your wallet is dripping with money, and you really want to impress your friends with some chocolates, but not those from Godiva which is available in so many countries, you may wish to buy some exclusive Janice Wong chocolates.

I have heard from my friends on how delicious and beautiful her desserts are, but never tried them due to the price. But really, look at these beautiful treasures. Guess what, these chocolates come in local flavours, including chilli padi, gula melaka, mango curry and salted egg etc. If you want the more normal flavours, they have it too!

Credit: Janice Wong
9. Instant Teh Halia 

Starbucks sells pumpkin spice latte, chai latte etc. Here, at Singapore, we have teh halia which is essentially ginger tea. No need to labour over making the tea from scratch- here, for less than S$5, you can get 20 satchets of instant teh halia. If you are not a fan of teh halia, you can consider getting the teh tarik as well.
Credit: Cold Storage

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