On your next trip to Singapore, pick up these food souvenirs to take home a true flavour of the island.
Though cosmopolitan Singapore imports most its food, the island-state has recently sprouted a new breed of small batch makers crafting artisanal food products. From teas blended with tropical flowers to snacks made with nuts sourced from Southeast Asia, these items make wonderful keepsakes.
The locavore message is spreading across the nation, with the local products available at carefully curated retail stores around town as well as artisan weekend markets including The Local People, Public Garden and the quarterly Kranji Countryside Farmers Market (240 Neo Tiew Crescent), which takes place in the scenic North Western farmland.
So forget saccharine sweet Singapore Sling mixers and tacky Merlion-shaped chocolates, the next time you’re in Singapore, pick up these tasty food souvenirs made from sustainably sourced local produce.
1. a.muse projects
Angela Phua, founder of specialty tea business a.muse projects, blends unique brews such as pina colada tea—with hibiscus, apple, pineapple and honeybush—and riesling tea, a delicate mix of white tea, lemon grass, apricot fruit, lemon myrtle, lily flower and jasmine. “The idea of having tea that tastes like wine, but has no alcohol, means you can enjoy ‘wine’ all day long,” says Phua. Pick up a.muse projects teas at Mondays Off (76 Haji Lane) and Strictly Pastry (267 Joo Chiat Rd.).
Ex-biologist and founder of Bruneus Angeline Lee crafts nut clusters and sweet cacao nibs. The nuts are biodynamic and sprouted, making them easy to digest. And the cacao comes from a cooperative of 50 farmers in Bali. She buys it direct—with no middle men—above Fairtrade price, so you know exactly where it comes from. Bruneus products are available at Toby’s Estate (8 Rodyk St.) and Four Seasons Gourmet Market (#B1-83A Parkway Parade, 80 Marine Parade Rd.).
3. Eastern Granola
Dining editor turned granola maker Chin Hui Wen makes crunchy oat cereal infused with Southeast Asian flavours. Expect exotic varieties like 5Cs Granola (curry, coconut, chili, chocolate and cashew) and Thai Mango Salad Granola (dried mango, tomato, basil, lime and fish sauce). The sweet-savoury cereals sound pretty ‘out-there’ but pair well with yogurt for breakfast, and are great eaten out of hand for a snack. Eastern Granola is available at Active Life Centre (#16-10 Far East Shopping Center, 545 Orchard Rd.) and Mondays Off (76 Haji Lane).
This home grown business puts out small batch nut spreads in fun flavours like cashew-ginger, hazelnut-cocoa and honey-hazelnut. The all-natural, high-protein product is Paleo-diet friendly and tastes great in protein shakes. GoNuts nut butters are available at Loewen Gardens Market (75E Loewen Rd.; 9am-2pm on second and fourth Saturdays of the month), www.naiise.com and www.crateful.com.sg.
5. GSH Conserves
Environmentalist turned jam maker Joey Gan runs a business with a strong environmental sustainability message. His jams celebrate the fruit of the region, with flavours like dragonfruit & lychee, mango & lime and passionfruit. “Fruit offers a good way to start thinking about where our food comes from. Singapore obviously does not have sufficient land to fully sustain our demand for fruit. But the next best thing is to choose fruit that comes from neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. It means we’re reducing the food miles incurred by our purchases,” says Gan. Get GSH Conserves at Overdoughs (Sculpture Square, 161 Middle Rd.), SaladStop (02-K36 PasarBella, 200 Turf Club Rd.) and The Garden Shop (Singapore Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, 1 Cluny Rd.).
6. The Hunters’ Kitchenette
Founder of The Hunters’ Kitchenette Herbert Salim was inspired by the health benefits of the hunter gatherer diet to create a line of small batch nut butters. And he’s spreading the clean eating message through his product, offering a wide range of lightly sweetened butters: Almond, cashew, hazelnut, hazelnut with cocoa, macadamia and pistachio. The ingredients are natural, processed very minimally, without any chemicals. Buy The Hunters’ Kitchenette nut spreads at The Gourmet Food Co. (18 North Canal Rd.) and Strictly Pastry (267 Joo Chiat Rd.).
7. Mofo Chili
Sisters Monica Josephine and Steffi (Foi) Elvira make—really spicy—artisanal chilli. Unlike many Southeast Asian chilli sauces, Mofo Chili is strictly vegetarian. There’s no pork and no lard, so it’s even appropriate for those with halal dietary restrictions. The chilli comes in two spice levels: kicky Dodge the Bullet and—the truly incendiary—Final Destination. Also worth trying is the funky fermented Mofo Kimchi. Mofo Chili is available at www.naiise.com, www.crateful.com.sg and www.batch.sg.
8. Pili Pushers
Founder of Pili Pushers Terry Tong imports unique pili nuts straight from small farm co-ops in the Philippines. He coats the pyramid-shaped nuts with nutrition-packed seasonings like cinnamon, raw honey, ginger and turmeric to create a handy snack. Pili Pushers are available at Eden’s Kitchen (#01-34, 5 Everton Park) and The Organic Grocer (39 Eng Kong Terrace).
9. Second Helpings
Entrepreneurial couple Tannie Tang and Ezra Nicholas make honey-sweetened peanut butters in three flavours: Ori Beenut Butter (original peanut butter), Black Beenut Butter (chocolate peanut butter) and Cocovan Beenut Butter (coconut vanilla peanut butter). Get Second Helpings beenut butters at the couple’s café Hive (#01/890 46 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee; by appointment only), Mondays Off (76 Haji Lane) and The Redundant Shop (#01-22, Blk 5 Everton Park).
10. Straits Preserves
Sharon Lee, the founder of Straits Preserves, makes high quality marmalade inspired by local flavours. Her product line includes a Singapore Sling marmalade—which snagged the title of World’s Best International Marmalade Award 2012 at the The World’s Original Marmalade Awards—plus a Tropical Calamansi Marmalade (with lime and pineapple) and Spice Island Marmalade, redolent of dark spice. Get Straits Preserves at The Garden Shop (Singapore Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre, 1 Cluny Rd.) and The Bread Project (174 Joo Chiat Rd.).
11. Two Rabbits Smoky Chilli
Siblings Ong Ker-Shing—an architect and founder of design shop Strangelets—and Ong En-Ming are the ‘Two Rabbits’ behind local chilli business Two Rabbits Smoky Chilli. Their spicy family recipe is absolutely addictive, enriched with savoury shrimp paste. Two Rabbits Smoky Chili is available at Plain Vanilla Bakery (1D Yong Siak St.) and SPRMRKT (2 McCallum St.).