A writer-photographer explains why he can’t get enough of Singapore’s Hainanese Western food.
Love for Singapore’s Hainanese Western Food
On my first trip to Singapore, I was introduced to Hainanese Western food in one of the country’s numerous ‘hawker centres,’ or open-air food courts. Being British, I was struck by the familiarity of dishes like ‘chicken merry land’: a hearty portion of fried chicken, fried banana, fried egg, fried bacon, fried potatoes, and baked beans. This cuisine emerged at the turn of the 20th century, when immigrants from the Chinese island of Hainan arrived in British-occupied Singapore, taking jobs as cooks in military canteens, hotels, and wealthy European households. By the 1930s, many were opening their own restaurants and kopitiams (coffee shops), adopting cooking styles from those Western kitchens. Today, a dish like Hainanese pork chop is considered as Singaporean as chilli crab. When I moved to the city-state last year, I explored this culinary subculture with cameras in tow, documenting the people and places keeping this tradition alive.
Most airports have direct non-stop flights to Changi Airport in Singapore.
Eat Hainanese Western food in Singapore
Entrées SGD 13.34–SGD 37.58; 75 Carpmael Rd.
Entrées SGD 3.64–SGD 27.89; 9A Whitchurch Rd.
Entrées SGD 6.06–SGD 9.70; Old Airport Road Food Centre, No. 01-53, 51 Old Airport Rd.
Wow Wow West Genuine
Entrées SGD 2.42–SGD 10.91; ABC Brickworks, No. 01-133, 6 Jalan Bukit Merah.
Ye Lai Xiang Tasty Barbecue
Entrées SGD 7.27–SGD 19.40; Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur St.