Welcome to Fast Food of the World, where we explore how chains abroad infuse local flavors—sometimes driven by taste, sometimes by cultural norms—into the standard menus. Previously, we’ve looked at Japan and India.
Singapore, an island city-state at the southern tip of the Malay peninsula, has an amazingly vibrant food culture for a nation with a total population smaller than that of NYC. Hawker centers offer a traditional version of street food, serving everything from Nasi Lemak to all sorts of noodles and fried dishes. The flavors found at these stalls represent a melting pot of Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian influences, which come together to form a cuisine quite distinct from those original influences.
Even at fast-food chains, this multicultural milieu is hard to miss. While India and Japan mash up Western items with their own Eastern flavors, resulting in dishes tailored to the local palate, Singapore junk food reflects something a bit more complicated than this easy East-meets-West narrative. The chains on the island embrace foods from around the globe, side-stepping any claims to authenticity to present them in unexpected ways—many of which we should definitely adopt stateside. What’s most intriguing is to see how both former colonial powers, like Great Britain, and other immigrants are shaping fast-food items.
Here, we explore the global eats found on Singapore’s fast-food menus—see how countries as far-flung as France and China have made their mark on the country’s chain eating.