Yes, Singapore’s Street Food is the Best…in the Twilight Zone

I don’t know what’s happening in the universe, but last week this magazine or newspaper or in-toilet reading rag published a survey which concluded that Singapore has the best street food in the world.

That’s hilarious.

Singapore has the best MRT system in the world, yes. But its wantan meen tastes like soggy bamboo baptized with soya sauce. Singapore has the cleanest streets in the world, yes. But its bak kut teh is such a bad joke, everybody pretends to laugh before they eat. Singapore has the coolest airport in Asia, absolutely. But its fried rice is what caused the cast of Lethal Weapon 4 to talk about “flied lice” throughout the movie ‘cos it feels like eating three hundred oil-soaked maggots carrying a cucumber for fun.

Yes I’m saying that most of Singaporean’s street food tastes disgusting because I’m a Malaysian comparing gold with trash so, I apologise, but biasness is no detriment to truth. For to even begin to compare Malaysia’s flavours with Singapore’s is to commit cultural suicide.

Give a starving prisoner one bite of KL’s fried oysters or Ipoh’s chicken hor fun or Johor’s otak-otak, then tell him the next dish is a Singapore specialty, he’ll throw the dish in your face and file an official complaint to the United Nations.

Famous Ipoh Chicken Hor Fun, photo by ‘Food For Thought’ (

Only last night I was at Penang’s world-peace-producing Deen’s Maju Nasi Kandar, where a million people line up every night only to have truckloads of chicken, sotong and curry thrown on to their plates and their faces like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire winners. It was gorgeous and heavenly, which made me realise: In Singapore Nasi Kandar is virtually non-existent. The only place on the island where you get good NK power are those shops hidden along Joo Chiat Road where it looks as if some time machine has frozen development up to the 1980s’.

Photo by HazelDiary
Deen’s Maju Nasi Kandar in Penang, photo by Hazeldiary

And fyi Penang is ground-zero for nasi kandar; this means that every two weeks all the nasi kandar sellers from all over Malaysia make a trip to the island to kow-tow thirty times before the master of their universe, failing which the Angel of Death will descend upon the region.

You can probably guess the question on my mind as I read through that scandal of a street-food survey: Have those survey-takers actually been to Malaysia to eat anything other than KFC and McD’s? Do those people who voted Singapore’s street food as #1 even know where Malaysia is located?!

Because no moron worth the weight of his brains could ever say that Singapore’s cendol is better than Malaysia’s, or that Singapore’s kueh kak (fried carrot cake) tastes anything other than rotten paper next to the Nobel Prize winning dishes in SS2 or Penang’s jetty area, or that Singapore’s fish balls aren’t 99% flavouring and 1% fake fish or that even the ‘authentic’ hawker food in Singapore’s Chinatown taste like salt-less hospital breakfast grub.

I wonder if the survey-takers know that many Singapore outlets still use the word ‘PENANG’ on their food stall banners and posters. It’s like the island-state pays pays homage to Malaysia because should it not, Thanos may snap his fingers and half of Singapore street food will turn into satay-compliant coals and ashes.

However, the reverse doesn’t apply. You will absolutely NOT see any Malaysian food-seller advertise their dishes by citing ‘SINGAPORE’ as their origins. The very thought makes me want to throw up my Hokkien Mee. You will absolutely NOT see the sign ‘Singapore Wantan Mee’ or ‘Singapore Beef Noodles’ — to do this in Malaysia would be to perform professional kamikaze on your outlet. Even stray cats will be leaving shitty comments in TripAdvisor.

Bottom line: The food in Malaysia makes the food in Singapore look like glorified leftovers for the tenants at the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. (Mic drop).

Edu-trainer, Žižek studies, amateur theologian, columnist.

Edu-trainer, Žižek studies, amateur theologian, columnist.