Singaporeans Like Us, They Really Like Us (Well Our Food at Least)

A hat tip to Sally Fields for the title:

I was reminded of this when we went to a Shake Shack restaurant for dinner tonight in Singapore. There was a line to get in, and no seats available for sitting (fortunately, a few seats opened up right before we got our food so we were able to sit).

There are only two Shake Shacks in Singapore, one at the airport (which we visited last week), and the one we visited tonight, which only opened one month ago.

We experienced the same sort of line, perhaps even longer, when we went to Five Guys for lunch. The line to order at Five Guys probably had at least 30 people ahead of us, both times we visited. The cashier taking out order said it had been like that since the day they opened about two and a half months ago. There is currently only one Five Guys location in Singapore.

So apparently there was a lot of pent-up demand by people in Singapore to try these iconic fast-food chains.

We have already seen many McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC locations here, so the locals already had a sense of what type of food to expect at Shake Shack and Five Guys.

I started to wonder if these fast food places are indicative of the impression Singaporeans have of what we eat, and then I realized, sadly, that it probably is a pretty accurate reflection of how we eat.

But I think we need to make sure Singaporeans know that it’s not just junky fast food that we eat.

Perhaps HipCityVeg can open a location here; I know you would have at least one customer. See you in a couple of weeks when I get back home…

*top image from Singapore Women’s Weekly

**second image from The Straits Times

17 thoughts on “Singaporeans Like Us, They Really Like Us (Well Our Food at Least)

  1. They are attracted to the occasional fast food fix and experience of American cuisine, but their diet does not likely consist of it on a regular basis. Just like I love the fun and flavor of a good sushi bar occasionally, but don’t eat there four times a week. When it comes to food, there is no denying the attraction to the delights of other cultures. It is how we distinguish having a meal from having a dining experience. I remember from my travels, that the rare meals at a recognized American franchise were certainly a taste of home and made it seem not so far away. Great post!


  2. I imagine there is some curiosity in learning about the customs and habits of other cultures from Singaporeans just like I’m curious about other people/cultures in the world. Imagine if you were on the cutting edge of the boom of fast food in Singapore. Since I changed my diet over three years ago, I’ve given up this type of food. it’s a small price to pay for improved health. I used to eat far too much fast food, but I don’t miss it at all. Ice creamβ€”now that is a different story. I still crave it so much that I can’t have it in the house.


  3. I have never been a burger or fast food girl although I do succumb about once a year…..I have noticed the increase here in American fast food chains but not seen or heard of the two you mention…Yet! …Maybe because I live in rural Thailand the kids taste in the main is for traditional Thai food although I have noticed a penchant for Kentucky is creeping in…sigh..but nasty nannie..hehe…plays that one down and it is a very occassional treat…Great post,Jim πŸ™‚


    1. thanks, Carol. Nice that the kids enjoy the traditional Thai food. let’s hope those American fast food chains don’t change that! Good thing they’ve got a nasty nannie πŸ™‚


  4. Or, you and your wife could open a little bistro featuring homecooked meals to show them what we really eat! Plus, make a little cash on the side! A win-win!


    1. there are few things in life I like less than cooking. most of my meals are simple, a smoothie for breakfast, perhaps oatmeal with fruit for lunch or dinner, and a sweet potato with salsa for the the other meal. As a result, I don’t think opening a restaurant would go well. But it probably couldn’t be worse that the personal training studio I opened and ran (into the ground) for four years… πŸ™‚


  5. That’s so interesting that they have all these fast food places and I think that’s what a lot of countries associate with American food if I’m being honest!


  6. i read trevor noah’s book about growing up in south africa and the excitement of the american fast food chains, especially kfc!


  7. I think your headline is right on. People all over the world like “us” or more accurately the image of “us” we want them, and us, to believe. Food is culture. American political and cultural propaganda has been very successful at home and abroad. American fast food is part of that propaganda and for some foreigners is a sign of prosperity. (The notion of economic freedom and prosperity and “liberty and justice for all” is extremely appealing all over the world. But when the Pledge of Allegiance was written so earnestly, justice meant lynching Blacks. Liberty meant it was illegal for women to vote. Captains of industry had many brainwashed into thinking union’s and worker rights were un-American and would lead to economic ruin. Things have progressed some.) Autocratic governments are afraid of the symbolism of American fast food. When Putin feels his hold on power is threatened, among other things, he closes McDonald’s franchises or makes it harder for them to operate.

    As far as American fast food, others have adopted it and improved on it. Chicken wings in Thailand are my favorite. Korean fried chicken is outstanding. The best burger and onion rings I’ve ever had was 8 Cuts in Manilla. Jolly Bee is a Filipino version of McDonalds. It is super popular there and is expanding into the U.S. I like American fast food. Its kind of like Asian street food – fast and readily available.

    There are fast food drawbacks even for an avowed omnivore such as me. As a kid, I always volunteered to help my mom make fried chicken. I liked to shake up the pieces in a paper bag with flour and then help her fry them on the stove in a big black skillet. So fun and so delicious. But when KFC came along she stopped making it. Darn you KFC!

    Please stop with such interesting and thought provoking posts. You are making write long-winded comments. πŸ™‚


    1. and I always appreciate the worldly insights you add, which are always way better than the post you are commenting on. I have found that back in the U.S. I enjoy Thai and Mexican food, so I guess I’m no different than the people here in Singapore, we are all interested in expanding our food horizons!


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