Singapore's hottest food trends in 2018

Here's a look back at 10 trending eats Singaporeans enjoyed most this year

Singapore's hottest food trends in 2018
Singapore's hottest food trends in 2018
21 Dec 2018

Singapore's hottest food trends in 2018

Remember wiping your brows after indulging in a self-heating mala hotpot from 2017? Or having so many cups of cheese bubble tea that you’ve sworn off them for the rest of the year? Well, 2018 isn’t about to let up -- here’s what the last couple of months had to offer foodies across the little red dot. Plus point: They are all great for the ‘gram.

Mala everything
Mala everything
21 Dec 2018

Mala everything

If you’ve noticed your colleagues calling in sick more than usual over the past year, it’s probably due to a sore throat caused by potent mala eats. Humour aside, the mind-numbing spiciness of mala-flavoured treats have gained traction this year amongst those who relish the burn -- think anything from fried fish skin to potato chips, pizzas, buns and even a burger inspired by mala xiang guo.

Where to get your fix:
Snacks and chips: Crusty’s, Mala Mala, Ooh (at major supermarkets or online)
Mains: Tino’s Pizza Cafe, Grub Burger Bistro

Will it stay or go?
Considering Singaporeans’ undying love for all things spicy, the mala trend is likely to stay -- at least until a more fiery contender hits our shores. ‘Til then, bring it on.

Photo: Facebook/Grub Burger Bistro, Tino's Pizza Cafe

Next-gen bubble teas
Next-gen bubble teas
21 Dec 2018

Next-gen bubble teas

Bubble teas with cheese foam are so 2017. This year, it was fruit teas and brown sugar pearls fresh milk that stole the spotlight as more up-and-coming brands popped up on the little red dot. Refreshing iced tea filled with chunks of fruit found fans in the health conscious crowd, while those with a sweet tooth couldn't resist the caramely combination of ice-cold milk with brown sugar pearls. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the beautiful drinks will look like works of art on your social feeds.

Where to get your fix: LiHo Tea, Gong Cha, Tea Tree Cafe, TaiGai, Partea

Will it stay or go?
Go. If there’s one thing we know, bubble tea trends always come and go, no matter how delicious each one can be.

Photo: Tiger Sugar, Wei Zhi Chiang via burpple

Bubble tea in food
Bubble tea in food
21 Dec 2018

Bubble tea in food

But if you can’t get enough of boba for now, you can have your drink and eat it too. Yup, 2018 saw establishments like BreadTalk and Supertea offering buns and toast, and Benjamin Browns even has pancakes sporting generous portions of the popular topping in all its gooey glory. For dessert, there's TP Tea's pearl milk tea soft serve.

Where to get your fix: Supertea, TP Tea, Benjamin Browns

Will it stay or go?
Go. Considering how jelak having tapioca balls in your food can be, it’s unlikely to stay for long. Plus, they taste better soaked in iced milk tea.

Photo: Toggle, Instagram/@calven_yuan

Stretchy cheese toasts
Stretchy cheese toasts
21 Dec 2018

Stretchy cheese toasts

Thanks to popular Thai cheese toast franchise Say Chiizu (actor Nat Ho is a shareholder!), our favourite childhood snack got a well-deserved upgrade with an ultra-stretchy cheese filling made from Japanese milk and a blend of secret ingredients. There’s even a rainbow version that was plastered all over Instagram for a while.

Where to get your fix: Say Chiizu, Isaac Toast, Kuma Cheese Toast

Will it stay or go?
Go. First it was cheese tarts, then copious amounts of raclette cheese. Who is to say what will be the next cheesy fad?

Photo: Instagram/@saychiizu.sg, Kuma

Dirty buns
Dirty buns
21 Dec 2018

Dirty buns

Also known as Zang Zang Bao (which literally translates from Mandarin to “dirty dirty bun”), this is one messy snack that the fastidious should definitely stay away from. However, foodies who are willing to get down and dirty for the Taiwanese-inspired food trend will be duly rewarded -- think pillowy-soft buns filled with flavoured custards or creams, topped with a generous dusting of cocoa or matcha powder, for instance.

Where to get your fix: Bread Society, Duke Bakery (pictured above), Keong Saik Bakery, Swee Heng 1989 Classic

Will it stay or go?
Go. While handling a dirty bun can be a novel experience for the ‘gram, it may not always be worth the effort.

Photo: JQ K via burpple, Instagram/@muttons

Salted egg snacks
Salted egg snacks
21 Dec 2018

Salted egg snacks

The salted egg errthing trend is definitely going strong, having found its way to the seasoning packets of Indomie and adding an indulgent touch to new fusion snacks like Salted Egg Crab Seaweed Tempura. If the two popular flavours -- salted egg and chilli crab -- had a baby, “salted egg crab” would probably be it. And let’s not forget KFC’s salted egg Goldspice Chicken, or LiHo’s Salted Egg Lava Brown Sugar Pearl Fresh Milk. Pass over the herbal teas, please -- our throats will need it.

Where to get your fix: The Golden Duck Co., LiHo Tea

Will it stay or go?
Stay. There’s nothing stopping the trend, save for a shortage of supply for salted eggs!

Photo: Mothership, Instagram/@stormscape

Meat-free "meats"
Meat-free "meats"
21 Dec 2018

Meat-free "meats"

Yup, and the meat isn’t just simply replaced with portobello mushrooms or chunks of tofu. Those who have tried the vegetarian-friendly patties from innovative companies like Quorn, Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods will know how these plant-based alternatives taste similar to the real deal -- except that they are made from peas, and completely free of cholesterol, soy, gluten, antibiotic and genetically modified organisms. Even local fried chicken chain 4Fingers has added meat-free chicken items to their menu.

Where to get your fix: Mezz9, Wolf Burgers, 4Fingers

Will it stay or go?
Stay. As Singaporeans become more concerned about their health, guilt-free alternatives will always be welcomed.

Photo: 4Fingers, Mezz9

Fermented foods
Fermented foods
21 Dec 2018

Fermented foods

While fermented foods such as kimchi or sauerkraut have been around for the longest time, the spotlight this year has been on its lesser known counterparts -- kombucha and kefir. Supposedly filled with beneficial bacteria for gut health, converts have sworn by the beverage’s positive effect on one’s overall health and mental well-being. But even if you aren’t unconvinced, chilled kombucha makes for a refreshing alternative to cider, while kefir tastes somewhat similar to Greek yoghurt.

Where to get your fix: Nature’s Nutrition, Craft & Culture, Bushwick, iHerb

Will it stay or go?
Stay. Think of these healthy beverages as an adult’s version of Yakult or Vitagen -- you couldn’t do without your daily dose as a kid, no? Plus, kombucha has become so popular that it’s even used as a skincare ingredient.

Photo: Facebook/Craft & Culture 

Non-alcoholic cocktails
Non-alcoholic cocktails
21 Dec 2018

Non-alcoholic cocktails

A huge trend in cocktails this year? Non-alcoholic drinks. Whether you’re a teetotaller or just not feeling it, booze-free options are now aplenty in the city’s coolest bars. And we aren’t referring to run-of-the-mill concoctions that are laden with sugar. In fact, each creation is just as well-considered, balanced and will hold its own at an adults-only table.

Where to get your fix: Native, Cafe Fernett, Seedlip, Nouri, The Secret Mermaid

Will it stay or go?
Stay. While alcoholic drinks aren’t going away anytime soon, these grown-up mocktails are going places, and poised to gain popularity amongst those who want to a drink without having to go drinking. See what we did there?

Photo: The Secret Mermaid, Seedlip

Keto-friendly food
Keto-friendly food
21 Dec 2018

Keto-friendly food

You’ve probably heard about someone going on the “keto” or “ketogenic” diet recently. And if you still have no clue what it is, it’s essentially a high fat, low carb (or no carbs, in some instances) diet that supposedly helps the dieting individual achieve a state of ketosis, whereby fat is burned in place of carbs to produce energy. Ideally, we’re talking about consuming good fats from foods like avocado, walnuts and full-fat yoghurt. However, if options are limited, just keep your carb intake low and you’re pretty safe.

Where to get your fix:
Anywhere that can cater to the ketogenic diet. However, Mahota does serve delicious keto-friendly mains, while Sugalight is a good option for ice-cream. For keto-friendly breads and cakes, there’s the newly-opened Seriously Keto.

Will it stay or go?
Stay. Advocates of the ketogenic diet have been following it for years. Plus, a diet that allows you to indulge in mala xiang guo, mookata and satay without the guilt? Bring it on.

Photo: Instagram/@seriouslyketosg, @sugalightsg

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