The top 10 buys in my list are very similar - mostly food items as well.
Whether you are buying a small souvenir for friends or a really nice gift from Singapore - I hope this list will be useful to you.
1) Bak Kwa, or Barbequed Pork
Bak Kwa, or barbequed pork, is somewhat similar to beef jerky. It is thin slices of barbequed pork that is a little salty, rather sweet, somewhat dried but yet juicy and coated with honey and oil. It is in short, yummy.
These are very popular around the Chinese New Year period, and their prices and the queue for them really go up during the festive season. The best place to get these are from Lim Chee Guan - the old store is located in Chinatown but they have a branch right smack in the centre of town, in Ion at Orchard Road.
2) Kaya, or Coconut Jam
Kaya is coconut jam that is made from coconut milk, eggs and sugar. It can either come in a greenish colour (flavoured with pandan, a fragrant type of leaves used in many South east asian bakes) or brown colour (flavoured with palm sugar).
The most popular kaya amongst tourists will be Ya-kun. Ya-kun is a chain store selling traditional coffee and kaya toasts. Their outlets can be found everywhere - from the airport to most shopping malls. I don't like buying their jam for my friends though - they have a short shelf life and expire all too soon. If I have to, I'd buy the mini bottles from Ya-kun.
My preferred choice for friends would be kaya from Glory Food. These can be found in most large supermarkets.
3) Prima Taste
Prima Taste is a Singapore brand that produces ready-to-cook pastes and premixes. I find that their "Complete Sauce Kits" make wonderful gifts. When I was living in Beijing, I love to use their Laksa kit and Chicken Rice kit to whip up food that really taste as good as those you'd find in Singapore.
They also sell very good pre-mix and noodles. The Sister-in-law love their latest product - Laksa La-mian. This is packaged like a single pack of instant noodles and taste almost like a really good bowl of laksa!
4) Purple Gold
If you are looking for a really nice gift, I think purple gold is a great idea. Purple gold is pioneered in Singapore and is an alloy made of 80% gold and 20% other metal components... and it is of course, purple. It is more expensive than your normal yellow or white gold and is usually used in small parts of an accessory (e.g. a flower or butterfly). It can be found in local jewellery stores like Lee Hwa and Goldheart.
5) Singapore Shawl
This is another item that can make a good gift from Singapore.
Shawls are pretty common everywhere but this Singapore brand makes really delicate shawls with designs of the National Flower of Singapore. Personally, I like their simpler shawls with bits of Swarovski Crystal or little embroidered flowers.
These shawls are not really cheap but they do make special gifts for mothers, sisters, aunties or girlfriends.
To be continued in next post..
My version of homemade fried laksa, made with store-bought laksa paste