We're not sure why it took so long, but Singapore finally has a contemporary Indian restaurant to call its own. Inspired by his travels around South Asia, his Penang heritage and his time working in Singapore, chef Murugan Thevar has come up with creative yet satisfyingly delicious plates at Thevar. Start your meal with plump Canadian oysters topped with rasam granita ($28/5 pieces) and spiced potato chips ($10) that are so addictive, you don't need the tamarind dip it's served with. The star of the show is the pork ribs glazed with medjool dates ($35) best paired with a plate of berry pulao ($12).
Alvin Leung takes over heritage building The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore's main restaurant. Known for his out-of-the-box creations at Bo Innovation in Hong Kong, the Demon Chef applies that same creativity to Singaporean cuisine at 15 Stamford. There's laksa ($32) amped up with housemade dried shrimp floss, tiger prawn tempura and tea-smoked quail eggs as well as a hefty chargrilled bak kut teh pork chop ($38) marinated with the same herbs and spices that give the iconic soup its distinctive taste. Served with compressed watermelon and angelica root barbecue sauce, the tender pork chops are a crowd pleaser. But it's not just local flavours on display. There are grilled Hokkaido scallops ($12) served with adobo butter and Boston lobster with mangosteen, tomato and spicy Thai dressing ($58). We don't think the combination works, fans of Leung's avant-garde style of cooking might appreciate the left-field creation.
Slowly but surely, Violet Oon is cementing her status as the doyenne of Peranakan food in Singapore, with her fourth and latest outlet, she's launched a new retail and restaurant flagship that fits a hundred people on the third floor of ION Orchard. While the all-day dining destination serves Nonya favourites like dry laksa ($24) and ayam buah keluak ($23) that you find at her other restaurants, this outlet stands out for its focus on Singapore's colonial past. There's mulligatawny soup ($16), a Eurasian dish with British-East Indian origins as well as Hainanese pork chops ($34) crusted with cream crackers – a throwback to the early Hainanese chefs' interpretation of British cuisine. There's also a dedicated retail section at the front of the restaurant where you can pick up goodies like cashew cookies ($16/$30), sugee cookies ($16/$30) and handmade pineapple tarts ($28) so you don't have to wait around till Chinese New Year. Colourful cakes line a long counter where you can pick up financiers ($28), pandan gula Melaka cakes ($43/$75) and Oon's signature carrot cake ($52).
Taking inspiration from the beauty and nature of Savoie in France, every dish on the menu by Chef Jeremy Gillon uses native herbs from the area. Come in with an open mind and the mood to be inquisitive as you delve into surprising new flavours. Think a green apple sorrel sorbet with smoked eel and foie gras and a dessert comprising of pumpkin in all its forms – you can sample some of these dishes through the five- ($98), seven- ($168) or ten-course ($218). For the full experience, opt for wine pairings with every dish and if you want to continue the drinking sesh, head up to the bar area for some cocktails peppered with herbs from Savoie as well.
"We've already been served this," we shoot the waiter an incredulous look as he places the same dish before us. Biting into it, you realise that first two dishes of Preludio's eight-course menu – albeit plated the same way – are nothing alike. The first, Elude, is sweet with white beetroot, burrata and walnut crumble while Allude, the second course, is sour lemon-dressed bone marrow and fermented mushrooms. It's touches like this that surprise and delight, which make Preludio restaurant one of the most interesting openings of the year. But we won't spoil everything. Just know that you're in the safe hands of chef Fernando Arévalo, who's worked in the kitchens of Daniel Boulud, Bill Telepan and Mario Batali in New York City before moving to Singapore, which he's called home for the past six years. Together with his team, he writes the restaurant's first chapter with the theme of Monochrome in mind. This interplay of black and white doesn't just extend to the food but is also reflected in the decor, the revolving art pieces that land on your table and even the wine list.
What started out as a small neighbourhood shack selling roast chicken on paper plates has evolved into a cosy bistro dishing out comforting plates. Tucked along Sunset Way, Summer Hill greets guests like family – with a warm hug and plenty of good eats. Start with small plates roasted baby eggplants ($14) dressed in hummus and juicy tomatoes and housemade ricotta ($12) on freshly toasted sourdough before moving on to hearty mains that are ideal for sharing. The creamy curried mussels ($27) are a star. Tasmanian Spring Bay mussels are cooked in a gravy reminiscent of laksa spiked with white wine and are served with crisp and chewy warm baguettes. Its signature roast chicken ($25) is still on the menu and is served with gravy, mashed potatoes and a side salad but watch Summer Hill's Facebook page for alerts on when its next Fried Chicken Day is going to happen. The once-a-month event has developed a cult following, and for good reason. Chef-owner Anthony Yeoh used to helm the kitchen of Bird Bird and Cocotte so you know he knows his way around fried fowl.
Located at the former digs of Pepperoni Pizzeria in Binjai Park, this cosy contemporary Italian-inspired restaurant specialises in fresh handmade pizza and pasta served alongside some delectable small and large plates for sharing. Don't expect anything too stuffy at LINO, the dining experience is relaxed yet cosy enough for a date or faily meal. Plus dining al fresco seating is pretty picturesque in the evenings. Sample perfectly cooked grilled octopus with hummus ($22) and roasted beetroot salad ($18) before moving on to the satisfying mains of tortellini with pork and veal ($24), barley risotto ($26) and burrata pizza ($28). Complete your meal with natural and organic wines, cocktails, craft beers and Italian digestifs – not bad for a neighbourhood joint.
For an unpretentious place to hang out with friends over a bottle of wine (or two), look no further than The Wine & Gourmet Friends. This chill spot a stone's throw away from Dorsett Hotel boasts a cellar that holds over 300 different styles of wine, best paired with its plates of elevated local favourites. Think pork and seafood hei zou ($12) paired with Réserve Personnelle Macrôn-Villages AOC ($39/bottle), a bright and citrusy chardonnay or roast pork belly ($24) served with Bonacchi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG ($75), a spicy and round Sangiovese that easily helps cut through the fat of the siu yok.
Following his departure from one-Michelin-starred Iggy’s at the Hilton Singapore, chef Aitor Jeronimo Orive has teamed up with hotel and restaurant group Unlisted Collection to open Basque Kitchen. Inspired by the cuisine of Basque Country, where meats are grilled over hot coals and stews are rustic and hearty – he elevates the homey dishes he grew up eating with techniques he's learnt cooking at some of the top restaurants in the world including Mugaritz and The Fat Duck. Standouts include the oxtail bomba rice, his spin on Japanse gyu don made with Spanish bomba rice and Angus oxtail, topped with a confit of quail egg yolk. It wouldn't be Basque cooking without Txuleta, charcoal-grilled Angus prime rib served black and blue – charred on the outside and rare on the inside. Pair it with an extensive range of Spanish wines, there's everything from heavyweights like Peter Sisseck to small-batch boutique producers plus Spanish gins, pacharáns and Basque ciders to choose from.
Not one just for the tourist hordes, Blossom is a new contemporary Chinese restaurant at the sprawling lobby of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. Helmed by Cantonese chef Fok Kai Yee, who's spent years in the kitchen of Summer Pavilion and chef Jason Lau who's cooked at Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck, the restaurant serves a mix of Chinese cuisines ranging from classic Cantonese and Shanghainese to spicier Sichuan dishes. Dim sum is available during lunch and afternoon tea while the à la carte offerings include more extravagant sharing plates like the roast chicken smoked with 15-year-old pu'er tea leaves and chrysanthemum. Individual plates with a succulent tiger prawn and braised four-head South African abalone are also available for those looking to indulge.