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Singapore for Picky Eaters

While many expats head home for the summer (or off to some other fabulous location), lots of us have friends and family who head our way to see where we live.

The challenge comes when those visiting are picky eaters. It's hard enough to have a picky eater in the States where there are chicken nuggets on every menu, but there are also lots of great options for picky eaters here.

Sure, there are always options like Shake Shack, Boost, KFC, Pizza Hut et al. There are also some places they may not have back home like Black Tap or some amazing Italian restaurants with fabulous pasta.

I also try to find something local to show kids there are other options. My dad used to say, “It might be your favorite food and you’d never know unless you tasted it.” This was a brilliant way to get me to eat things as a kid (he also told me that dried apricots were monkey ears) and it has really worked on my own kids, too.

Truth? I’m lucky because my kids eat everything so when our very picky niece and nephew visited, they would watch my kids gobble down food and try it themselves because my kids liked it. I actually think my kids learned to eat everything because they had friends from so many nationalities at school so they just copied their buddies.

Grocery Shopping

Luckily, there’s Cold Storage, Little Farms and M&S here so you can get most anything. When we go out to dinner with picky visitors, we always carry back up food with us so if they didn’t eat, it wouldn’t derail the rest of the plans for that day. If they balked at restaurant food, they’d eat what we brought with us and they wouldn’t be hungry and cranky. But we didn’t give them that option (or even tell them there was an alternative) until after we’d tried the food at the restaurant. Sometimes, they’d try my meal and then order their own.

Most kids like fruit – not all, but most. I also took my picky friends to the market and let them choose a new fruit and made a game out of it. They had fun with that, especially choosing foods like dragon fruit which is kind of tasteless if you ask me. "What do you think it will look like inside?" I used durian as the "Don't worry. You don't have to eat that" to get them excited about other fruits.

Fan Favorites

Want to visit a hawker? You absolutely can – or a very local restaurant, too. There are a few dishes here that I find most kids like:

  • Chicken rice

  • Satay

  • Pork Buns

  • Braised pork with Pau from Westlake

  • Prata (buy in the frozen section of the grocery store and put bacon inside)

  • Noodles

  • Din Tai Fun dumplings and pork chop with rice

  • Fried rice

  • Bee Hoon

  • Anything teriyaki

  • Ice Kachang (and let the kids pick what they want on it)

  • Ice cream between bread

  • Coconut ice cream

  • Kway Teow

  • BBQ chicken wings

  • Cold Milo

Bribery and Buy In

My friend actually paid her kids $2 if they took three bites of a new food on vacation. Little kids are game for this because $2 is a lot at that age – and then they can buy yummy candy. Ha.

Making eating fun is also key. Try a kiddie cooking class. It'll give you an activity to do and kids are more likely to eat something they made as there is automatic buy in because they know what went into the dish and it's their creation.

Places like Genki Sushi are fun. Kids get to choose what they eat and that's very helpful. My niece and nephew went for edamame and tuna rolls. Hey - it's a start.

Kid-friendly Menus

Lots of places have kiddie menus. Places like Little Farms or Boomerang have food kids like. There are also lots of amazing restaurants with playgrounds so parents can duck out for a meal and not have to rush because the kids can have fun. These places obviously have menus that cater to kids. My favorite is Huber's, but Sassy Mama has a long post about these kid-friendly restaurants with playgrounds so check it out here.

Festival Fever

There are so many carnivals in Singapore and each has copious amounts of street food to try. These are good low-investment ways to get kids to try new foods. Just choose well. I do not recommend the fried squid on a stick that my husband once got. Ha. If you're craving familiar food from back home, be sure to check out the American Association's Fourth of July celebration where we have all the holiday favorites every year.

Love food?

So you're more adventuresome and want to try Singaporean specials? Check out one of these food tours and take one when you travel, too.

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