Not only does Singapore have a smorgasbord of delicious savoury food, but with its summer-like weather all year round, it has a host of satisfying desserts to help cool you down. For one, the desserts here play with a variety of textures and tastes, incorporating elements from all across the board. While they may admittedly not always be the prettiest, you can be sure that they are made with love and taste delicious. Here is a list of the best desserts to try on your trip to Singapore to get you started!
A silken, soft tofu pudding, tau huay is one of the most ubiquitous Singaporean desserts, with stalls easily found in every hawker centre. With many stand-alone shops like Rochor Original Beancurd selling tau huay into the wee hours of the morning, it makes for a light but fulfilling supper. Have it either hot or cold; it is comforting and delicious either way. For something different but equally delicious, try Laoban Beancurd, a departure from the more traditional styles of tau huay with an almost pudding-like texture, and a strong almond taste.
For those unfamiliar with the regional food scene, chendol may not look like the most appealing dessert, with green ‘worms’ scattered across the bowl (it’s really just a green jelly made from rice flour!). However, trust us when we say it’s heaven in a bowl—having been featured on CNN’s ‘50 of the world’s best desserts’ list. The combination of coconut milk, palm sugar, red bean and sweet corn is just simply lip-smackingly delightful. Old Amoy Chendol, located in Chinatown Complex Food Centre, serves up a lovely rendition of this dessert, with all the right ratios.
Nothing is quite as refreshing as a bowl of ice kacang on a sweltering hot day in Singapore. Literally translating to ‘bean ice’, ice kacang consists of beans (of course), jelly under a mountain of shaved eye, which is sweetened by colourful syrups and condensed milk. While the toppings vary from place to place, you’ll easily be able to find this at any hawker centre.
Sweet and refreshing, Cheng Tng is a perfect dessert for when you want something to cool down without feeling too heavy! Filled with a variety of chinese herbs, it is said to be extremely nourishing and good for your body. For those watching your waistline, you can rest assured that this is a ‘healthier’ dessert! It is easily available at dessert stalls in most hawker centres.
Another refreshing dessert that is a staple at dessert stalls, If you happen to be exploring the Bugis area, pop by Zhao An Granny Grass Jelly at Golden Mile Food Centre, which still makes grass jelly by hand, the traditional way. You’ll find the grass jelly here to be much smoother than the factory made ones available at most hawker centres!
A creamy porridge made with black glutinous rice and coconut milk, Pulut Hitam is to Singapore what rice pudding is to the UK. The addition of palm sugar adds a lovely, mellow sweetness to the dessert. Try it at Hajjah Fatimah, located in Little India’s Tekka Market.
Tang yuan features balls of rice flour stuffed with a variety of fillings such as peanut and black sesame. The savouriness of these fillings pair beautifully with the lightly sweetened ginger soup that most tang yuan is served with. Find it at Ah Chew Dessert, where you’ll also be able to find a load of other traditional chinese desserts as well.
Also known as min jiang kueh, peanut pancakes are a well-loved snack for many Singaporeans, with crunchy, sweet bits of peanut encased in a thick and fluffy pancake. Head to Tanglin Halt Original Peanut Pancake for a traditional, old-school version of this delightful treat. For a more accessible option, look to Frankie's Peanut Pancake, tucked in the CBD and well-known amongst office workers in the area.
No list of Singaporean desserts would be complete without giving a shout out to nyonya kueh. Often brightly-coloured, the base of these kuehs are glutinous rice, coconut milk and palm sugar, and were traditionally made by the females in Peranaken households. While much less common nowadays, you’ll be able to find a wide variety of these at Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry, where the kuehs are still handmade each day.
Ice Cream Sandwich
Ah, who can forget the iconic Singaporean ice cream uncles—as they are affectionately called by locals—and their ice cream carts? Available in a variety of flavours and for just SGD1.30, you’ll be able to get a generous slab of ice cream sandwiched in between a colourful slice of bread (you can opt for just the ice cream if you’re trying to keep it low-carb). While there isn’t a fixed location to get these, you’ll easily be able to spot one or more push carts with ice cream uncles on most days, hacking away at the frozen blocks, along the stretch of Orchard Road outside Ngee Ann City.
While the flavours may be unfamiliar to the western palate, we hope you give Singaporean desserts a try—with so many options available, you'll definitely find something you love!