Singapore's bid to get UN recognition for its street food has sparked a cross-border culinary clash, with angry chefs in neighbouring Malaysia pouring cold water on the idea.


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last week that Singapore will nominate its hawker culture to Unesco's list of intangible cultural heritage, describing the city-state's food centres as "community dining rooms" which form part of the country's identity.

But the move sparked anger in Malaysia, whose citizens have long claimed their own street food - which shares many similarities with Singapore's - is far superior to anything in their tiny neighbour.

Malaysian celebrity chef Redzuawan Ismail, commonly known as Chef Wan, said he thought Singapore's UN bid was "rubbish".

"When you talk about hawkers, Singapore is not the only one to have hawker culture... Why (do you) need to go to Unesco to patent? Is yours so special?" added the chef, who once appeared on a show with late American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.

Another well-known local chef, Ismail Ahmad, insisted that his country was a street food "paradise" and it should be Malaysia that was applying for UN recognition. "Even the Singaporean people come to Malaysia and enjoy our stalls," he said.