Hold onto your eggs, we’re getting ready for Autostraddle’s International Brunch Weekend 8/23-24! Find a brunch meetup in your city or create your own by heading over to our events page. You can also load up on all things brunch by watching this space. From playlists to recommendations to personal essays, we’re writing all about the brunch experience. Get excited! BRUNCH.
In Singapore we play fast and loose with morning-time foods: if it’s served at a hawker centre before 11 (and especially if it’s sold out by that time) then you can have it for breakfast. So your first meal of the day could be toast or soupy noodles or fried dough… or all of them. In a pinch you can have any of these foods for “brunch,” though you should be aware that in this part of the world we call that “waking up at a time that disqualifies you as a productive member of society.” (My mother says this a lot less politely.)
Most of these foods are bought and consumed at inexpensive hawker centres or coffee shops — you don’t expect to spend more than $2-5 on breakfast, unless you’re at a hipster joint that commodifies nostalgia and puts it on your plate for five times the original price — but chances are you’re not anything closer than a long-haul flight to one so I’ve dug up recipes from the internet. The ingredients you’ll need (or frozen versions of some of the dishes, like prata) should be available at Asian grocery stores.
1. Kaya Toast and Half-Boiled Eggs
The rest of this list will be alphabetically ordered but kaya toast and eggs gets top spot because it is by far the Queen of Breakfasts — and really easy to put together at home! You can get kaya in stores (Gabriella has mentioned her favourite and Yeo’s is a household brand name in Singapore) or make your own, but I’m gonna be real with you and say no one makes their own because it’s a tonne of work.
3. Chai Tow Kway (Fried Carrot Cake)
Spoiler alert: there’s no carrot in our carrot cake.
Girlfriend: “If you make chee cheong fun from scratch for me, I’ll have to marry you.”
Me: “If you make tau huay from scratch for me, I’ll have to marry you. Thank god we’ll never do any of these things.”
5. Chwee Kueh
6. Congee (Rice Porridge)
9. Mee Goreng
10. Mee Rebus
11. Mee Siam
12. Mee Soto
13. Min Jiang Kueh (Peanut Pancake)
14. Nasi Lemak
15. Putu Mayam
16. Roti John
“John” as in the name, yes — local legend has it that a long time ago a white guy asked a Malay hawker to make him a hamburger, and this was what the hawker came up with as a substitute. I can’t say I believe this particular story is true, but I can believe that a white guy would do that.
17. Roti Prata
Prata is called “roti canai” in Malaysia, referring to Chennai, where this dish is said to originate from. (Sidenote: Malaysians will inevitably claim that plenty of food on this list is Malaysian and not Singaporean, and they wouldn’t be 100% wrong — but I am also less concerned about the 3872982 petty conflicts that emerge between Singaporeans and Malaysians (food is a particularly touchy subject, but just one of many) and more into stuffing my face.)
18. Sayur Lodeh
This curry is usually eaten with lontong, a rice cake cooked in banana leaves. (If you can’t find it, any rice will do.) As a vegetarian, lodeh also makes up 90% of my Hari Raya diet while other people get food like ayam rendang.
Finally, a note on beverages: while I hear some of you (maybe just a couple) are into alcohol with your brunch, if you’re ever in Singapore, try your hand at ordering kopi (coffee) or teh (tea) from a coffee shop. It’s something I’ll admit I haven’t mastered, for reasons ranging from “as an ethnic minority I resist having to adopt a dominant language to order tea” to “I’m f-cking lazy.” But mainly it’s because I’m a Milo dinosaur person myself.