Tips for Living Gluten-Free in Singapore

Singapore Has Many Languages, Dialects and Accents

Speak slowly and clearly when expressing your dietary needs. Even people fluent in your language may not understand your accent or altenative for terms. 

Gluten-Free Awareness and Understanding is Slowly Growing

Singapore’s gluten-free awareness and understanding has increased tremendously in the past 10 years and continues to grow. In another decade we estimate that Singapore’s awareness will be on par with Australia, Europe and America. Do not assume that everyone will understand your gluten-free requests. 

Flour, Flower & Flah

In many countries, FLOUR and FLOWER are pronounced the same. Here in Singapore, the word for flour is pronounced closer to FLAH. If you have asked for no flour and the chef has omitted rosemary or lavender in your dish, you have been pronouncing it wrong! 

Hawker Centers are Challenging

It is very challenging to ask about ingredients or make special requests at a hawker stall.  Each stall has a slightly different recipes and uses different brands of ingredients. Even “safe” meals like chicken rice with no sauce may be safe at one stall and not safe at another. Ideally it is best to develop a relationship with the owner if you want to discuss ingredients or potential gluten free meals. 

Common Cooking Water

Shared water is an economical way to save space in small kitchens. If you are ordering rice noodles, be sure to ask if the restaurant is cooking wheat noodles as well.  

Young Tau Foo stall typically use one large container of water with smaller cooking sieves placed in side. If wheat noodles are cooked in the same noodles with rice noodles, then nothing cooked in the water will be gluten free. 

International Manufacturing Facilites

Large companies have manufacturing facilities all over the world. Be sure to check the country of origin for products you regularly purchase in other countries.  

For example, Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce is gluten-free when made in the USA and contains barley malt when made in the UK.