12 Delicious Local Vegetarian Dishes in Singapore and Where to Try Them
A VegThisCity recommendation of the best and most delicious local dishes in Singapore and where to try them
You haven’t truly experienced Singapore if you haven’t eaten your way around the island. We’re a hodge-podge of so many cuisines and cultures, our food scene will bring you on a whirlwind trip around Asia and even the world. From chicken rice and nasi lemak to laksa and char kway teow, here’s a lowdown on some of the most delicious vegetarian and vegan options that will have you saying “Singapore’s Shiok!”
**Please note that vegetarian options may contain eggs and/or dairy. Vegan options will not.
A Singapore favourite and one of CNN’s ‘50 Best Foods In The World’. A plate of this comfort food consists of aromatic ginger-infused rice, ‘chicken’ made of soybean or wheat gluten and the highlight, a tangy garlicky chilli dip. You’ll be able to get a plate at vegetarian stalls in larger food centres such as in Chinatown and Circuit Road. Or go directly to crowd favourites at Genesis Restaurant (vegan), 33 Vegetarian (vegetarian) or Privé Tiong Bahru (mainstream restaurant serving vegan chicken rice).
Kaya Toast and Coffee/Tea
Some days are best started with some sugar, carbs and caffeine. A classic Singapore-style breakfast, kaya toast and coffee ticks all the right boxes. Coconut egg jam slathered all over crispy, hot buttered toast best enjoyed with a cup of strong black coffee or frothy pulled tea. Heritage brands Ya Kun Kaya Toast (vegetarian) and Killiney Kopitiam (vegetarian) serve some of the best.
Roti Prata & Murtabak
In our version of the pizza flip, the dough of plain flour, clarified butter and eggs is tossed high in the air before being pan-fried into a crisp, buttery flatbread. From mini coin-sized ones to large cone-shaped ones, roti prata is a foodie’s sinful pleasure. Savour it piping hot with spiced curry or sweetened with sugar, condensed milk or even chocolate. For an upsized meal, go for the stuffed murtabak – a vegetarian version is filled with textured soybean ‘mutton’ or ‘chicken’. Be prepared to queue for one of the best roti prata in Singapore at Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s (vegetarian) or tuck into a murtabak (vegan) instead at Gokul Restaurant.
It’s not hard to see why nasi lemak is TIME Magazine’s one of 10 most healthy international breakfasts. Fragrant coconut cream rice, soybean and nori ‘fish’, fried crisps, crunchy peanuts and a heady chili paste, all wrapped in a banana leaf. The hearty meal can be eaten any time of the day. Head to Xin Yuan at Fortune Centre (vegan) or Grove Café (vegetarian) for some guilty pleasure.
A slurp-worthy bowl of a thousand rice noodles. The curry laksa is popular here and filled to the brim with tofu, mushrooms, konjac mock seafood and loads of beansprouts.
Best eaten when it’s cold outside and you want to feel the warmth of the rich and spicy coconut curry broth within. Savour this soup for the soul at Greendot (vegan) or Sunny Choice (vegan).
An eclectic medley of fruits and vegetables drenched in a sweet, sour and sometimes spicy, tamarind sauce. Truly a reflection of Singapore’s cultural smorgasbord, you’ll find a different version of the rojak salad made by the Chinese, Indians and Malays. Each rojak will be made fresh on the spot for each order so ask for a vegetarian sauce without prawn paste and pick your ingredients. Top with a generous amount of chopped peanuts and enjoy! Head to Gokul Restaurant (vegan) or Rojak Line (vegan/vegetarian) for some of the most delicious rojak variations.
Char Kway Teow
If we need a representation of street food, this would be it. Silky smooth flat rice noodles and crunchy vegetables are wok-fried in dark soy sauce over high heat for a charred, smoky aroma. Best eaten fresh off the wok with a side of spicy ‘sambal’ chilli paste. When we need a carb overload, we can’t resist heading to Loving Hut (vegan) with an empty stomach.
Thunder Tea Rice
It’s not every day you associate tea with rice but this heritage dish deserves a place in the top favourites. White rice, blanched or lightly stir-fried vegetables and peanuts are served with the star of the dish, a herb-infused tea soup. Add a side of fiery ‘sambal’ chilli paste for the extra kick. Post-workout cravings are often satisfied at the Thunder Tea (vegan/vegetarian) stalls in People’s Park Centre and Raffles Hospital food courts. Ask to omit eggs if you are vegan.
The South Indian version of a pancake with crisp edges and a fluffy pillowy centre. A dollop of fermented rice batter and coconut milk is poured into the bowl-shaped wok, swirled and steamed before being served with fresh coconut milk and locally-made orange sugar. No sweet tooth? Then dip the appam pancake into a spiced curry for a savoury delicacy. Savour it fresh at Deen’s (vegan) in Tekka Centre.
Have a uniquely Singapore-style high tea with bite-size petit fours, or kuihs. More often steamed than baked, these traditional mixed-culture desserts come in different shapes and colours. Take your pick from a spherical ondeh-ondeh, a nine colour steamed cake, a moist tapioca cake or even a blue coloured coconut cake – you’ll be spoilt for choice! Vegetarian and vegan versions are available at Kim Choo Kueh Chang.
The South Indian thosai or dosa is akin to crepe – a thin pancake made of fermented rice and lentils batter. Have it plain, crispy, cone-shaped, or even stuffed with cheese or spiced potatoes but don’t forget to dip the thosai in the accompanying lentil-based vegetable ‘sambar’ stew, coconut chutney and tomato chutney. Other variations of the dosa include ones made with millet, oats, wheat and semolina. Make a trip to Madras Woodlands for a superbly satisfying vegetarian meal.
There are no carrots in this savoury dish; only steamed rice flour cakes and white radish – sometimes also referred to as white carrots in Singapore. Garlic, eggs and preserved turnips or ‘chye poh’ are added to the mix to make something of a radish omelette. Savour a black version with dark soy sauce, or omit the sauce for a white version. The best ones will have a ‘wok hei’ or smoky charred aroma to the final dish. Treat yourself to a vegetarian carrot cake at Tang Leng Chay at the very popular Circuit Road Food Centre. Eggs can be omitted.
*Some hawkers use lard and/or fish/oyster sauce while stir frying, few (not all) might even marinate it in fish sauce beforehand. We highly recommend checking with the hawker/restaurant before ordering, you can often request for it to be stir-fried sans the fish sauce/lard. Or if you want to be completely safe, have this at a vegetarian stall.
Excited by the variety of food choices in Singapore? Go on a VegThisCity tour and savour all of the above and many, many more! Recognised as a Lonely Planet Top 10, VegThisCity is the first and only travel company in Singapore with a focus on vegan and vegetarian walking tours and delicious foodie experiences.
Born and based in Singapore, Eiktha is always game for an adventure. Having worked on numerous food, lifestyle and travel events, she firmly believes that the best experiences are the ones that are honest and authentic. Today, Eiktha is the founder of VegThisCity – a food tour company showcasing the best of Singapore’s vegan, vegetarian and alternative cuisine. Her passion and curation of unique food experiences in Singapore have resulted in VegThisCity being regarded by Lonely Planet as a Top 10. When she’s not busy sussing out hip new locales and designing new tours, you’ll find her planning her next secret supperclub, exploring the city, or attending a live performance.