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20 reasons why Singapore is a food and drink paradise

You haven't been to Singapore if you haven't had these dishes and drinks

Chilli Padi Nyonya Restaurant
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
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If there’s one thing Singapore is known for, it’s our food. Here are our fave foodie pastimes that have us salivating every day.

1
Les Amis
Restaurants, French

Splurge on classic French fare at Les Amis

Orchard

What is it? Before Singapore became a hotspot for celebrity chef openings, there was Les Amis. The locally and internationally lauded French fine dining establishment reinvents themselves every once in a while.

Why go? It's a fine-dining stalwart in Singapore.

Don't miss: Splurge on classic French fare at the newly crowned three-starred Les Amis.

2
Restaurant Zen
Restaurants, Swedish

Explore contemporary Nordic cuisine Restaurant Zén

Outram

What is it? Sweden’s first three-Michelin-starred restaurant is Chef Björn Frantzén first international outpost.

Why go? It looks like a dreamy Swedish home with porcelain mushrooms, kitchen paraphernalia and food sketches lining its walls alongside cosy couches and wing chairs looking into an open kitchen.

Don't miss: Explore contemporary Nordic cuisine at freshly minted two-starred Zén.

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3
Candlenut
Restaurants

Have a homely feast at Candlenut

Tanglin

What is it? The world’s only Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant.

Why go? Chef-owner Malcolm Lee tells the story of Peranakan heritage through the dishes served and the experience created, redefining classic Peranakan dishes into an inspired and elevated form.

Don't miss: Dining here is a communal affair. Opt for Lee’s signature ‘ahmakase’ menu.

4
Cloudstreet
Restaurants

Order up at Cloudstreet

Tanjong Pagar

What is it? Cloudstreet by chef Rishi Naleendra is the hottest new restaurant opening this year.

Why go? Tasting menus are priced from $68 during lunch and $168 for dinner and showcase progressive dishes that take inspiration from Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka and other parts of the world.

Don't miss: Cloudstreet should be seeing stars next year, so get a reservation now while you can.

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5
Amoy Street Food Centre
Jnzl's Photos, Flickr
Restaurants, Hawker

Get your hawker food fix Amoy Street Food Centre

Raffles Place

What is it? Whether you’re on a hunt on the city’s best street art or hungry for an assortment of noodle dishes, look no further than the two-storied Amoy Street Food Centre.

Why go? It is decked with wall art that reflects its heritage, as well as a smorgasbord of hawker choices, from spicy Thai dishes and hearty congee to delicious pasta and traditional nasi padang. 

Don't miss: Tear into deep-fried ayam penyet and other modernised dishes from Rayyan's Waroeng Penyet.

6
Restaurants, Indian

Get full at Jaggi's Northern Indian Cuisine

Rochor

What is it? Not just a Punjabi restaurant, Jaggi’s also offers North Indian and neighbouring cuisines for you to savour a plethora of flavours.

Why go? Go to Jaggi’s Northern Indian Cuisine for a warm, spicy meal.

Don't miss: Try favourites like the keema and tandoori chicken.

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7
Thevar
Restaurants, Indian

Hit up Thevar for contemporary Indian dishes

Raffles Place

What is it? A contemporary Indian restaurant with creative yet satisfyingly delicious plates inspired by chef-owner Murugan Thevar's travels around South Asia, his Penang heritage and his time working in Singapore.

Why go? Hit up Thevar for Indian dishes with a modern twist.

Don't miss: The star of the show is the pork ribs glazed with medjool dates ($35) best served with a plate of berry pulao ($12). 

8
New Ubin Seafood
Restaurants

Occupy a table at New Ubin Seafood

Bukit Batok

What is it? Think of this as Singapore’s savviest zi char restaurant. Despite its rural Pulau Ubin beginnings in 1986, this wok shop’s kept up with the times. 

Why go? Head to New Ubin Seafood for chilli crab and other updated zi char sharing plates.

Don't miss: Unlikely bestsellers include the US Black Angus ribeye ($14/100g) and Carabinero prawn sashimi ($18/prawn). 

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9
Putu Piring, Haig Road Hawker Centre
Restaurants, Hawker

Satisfy your sweet tooth at Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring

Geylang

What is it? The stall is popular for its gula Melaka-filled steamed rice flour cakes topped with grated coconut.

Why go? Try the Netflix Street Food-approved sweet treats.

Don't miss: As the pillowy rice cake itself crumbles gently in our mouths, the richness of the viscous gula Melaka within comes to the forefront. Best eaten piping hot.

10
Smith Street Taps
Photo: Kevin Lee
Clubs

Knock back a cold pint from Smith Street Taps

Chinatown

What is it? Smith Street Taps offers craft beer in a casual way with its pop-up kopitiam space in Chinatown Complex.

Why go? The bare-bones stall can dispense up to five fresh brews at any given time.

Don't miss: While creatures of habit will find comfort in the more commercial offerings like Sapporo and wheaty Weihenstephaner on tap, the thirsty craft beer fan will appreciate the roster of rarer, more experimental pours with the likes of Brewdog’s MashTag and Libertine Black.

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11
mr and mrs mohgan
Restaurants, Singaporean

Tear into Mr and Mrs Mohgan’s Super Crispy Roti Prata

Geylang

What is it? One of Singapore's best-kept secrets for prata.

Why go? The prata kosongs here are super crispy on the outside and much fluffier on the inside.

Don't miss: This small stall is only open on weekdays and even so, tends to run out pretty early so it might take you a few tries before you finally get to try it.

12
Lik Ming Laksa
Restaurants, Hawker

Join the queue at Lik Ming Laksa

Toa Payoh

What is it? A laksa joint that's popular with the heartland working crowd.

Why go? The bright orange laksa broth comes topped with slices of fried fishcake, tofu puffs, prawns, blood cockles and a generous dash of Vietnamese coriander. But what makes it stand out from other places that hawk this iconic local dish is the chilli.

Don't miss: Get up early and join the queue at Lik Ming Laksa for a sinfully decadent breakfast ($3).

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13
Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice
Restaurants, Singaporean

Have a meal of Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice

Marine Parade

What is it? Located in the basement of Katong Shopping Centre, this humble chicken rice stall has been around for a long time. Yet, it still warrants long snaking queues and long waiting times just to get a tasty set of chicken, rice, achar, soup and vegetables (if you wish to add on).

Why go? The main draw here is the chicken – poached and then soaked in cold water, it creates a delicious jelly-like layer underneath the skin which soaks up the soy sauce nicely. 

Don't miss: Did we mention the free-flow soup that comes with the tender chicken and aromatic rice?

14
Poh Guan Cake House
Restaurants, Bakeries

Sample the bakes of Poh Guan Cake House

Chinatown

What is it? There are over 30 different varieties of mooncakes available, ranging from the typical Cantonese bakes to those that follow traditional Teochew recipes.

Why go? The signature is the da lao bing, a Teochew-style flaky pastry is filled with green or red bean paste. There are also the white sesame mooncakes as well as other bakes like the la gao (black glutinous rice cake) that are getting increasingly difficult to find.

Don't miss: Sample tau sar piah and other time-honoured
bakes from Poh Guan Cake House.

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15
Mother Dough
Restaurants, Bakeries

Bite into the freshly baked loaves from Mother Dough

Rochor

What is it? The new kid on the block, Mother Dough is a force to be reckoned with when we're talking about the best croissants in Singapore.

Why go? Bite into its flaky croissants and freshly baked
sourdough loaves.

Don't miss: Besides the crowd favourite and fast-selling almond croissants ($4.20), take some time to give their other freshly baked goods a try. From the chocolate pound cake ($4/slice) to a simple baguette, everything here is baked to perfection. 

16
Jumbo Seafood, Chilli crab
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants, Seafood

Feast on chilli crab at Jumbo Seafood

Bedok

What is it? If we had to choose one national dish for Singapore that you have to try while you're here, it has to be our chilli crab. It’s sweet, savoury, tangy and spicy all in one bite and is best mopped up with deep-fried mantou (bun).

Why go? Jumbo Seafood is one of the best places to get elbow-deep into a plate of chilli crab. Not only do you get to enjoy the sea breeze, but the seafood is absolutely stellar as well.

Don't miss: The chilli crab, of course. But if you're up for something even spicier, the black pepper crabs are as much of a local favourite. Not a fan of spice? Crabs tossed in creamy salted egg yolk sauce is another uniquely Singaporean offering that's equally delicious.

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17
Fruits Top 1 Department Stall durian
Restaurants, Hawker

Try durian at Fruits Top 1 Department Stall

Geylang

What is it? Try the king of fruits renown for its pungent smell and creamy flesh in the middle of Singapore's infamous red-light district.

Why go? No trip to Singapore is complete without conquering the king. It's a great tale to tell back home and who knows, you actually might like it.

Don’t miss:
 Try the best of the best, the coveted Mao Shan Wang durian. Prized for its soft flesh and bittersweet taste, this durian doesn't come cheap but is definitely worth the extra coin.

18
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle
Restaurants, Hawker

Dig into plates of chicken rice at Liao Fan

Chinatown

What is it? The cheapest Michelin-starred meal you can get in the world – just be prepared to queue for at least two hours.

Why go? Michelin and local-approved food for less than $5. Chinatown Complex is also home to plenty of other superstar local dishes and even a craft beer shop where you can get your ales on draft.

Don’t miss: 
The star of the show is the soya sauce chicken ($7-$14). And don't be afraid to pile on juicy and moreish char siew, too. The stall also serves up roasted pork rice ($2.50), pork ribs rice ($3) and dumpling noodles ($3). Vegetable dishes include bean sprouts ($3-$4) and leafy greens cooked in oyster sauce ($4-$5).

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19
Bollywood Veggies
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Things to do

Frolick in a farm at Bollywood Veggies

Lim Chu Kang

What is it? An organic countryside farm way out in Kranji that's the brainchild of Ivy Singh, the straight-talking former president of Netball Singapore.

Why go? Learn more about local produce by going on a tour of the farm and find out more about the history of food at the Bollywood Food Museum. Kranji Countryside is also home to other local farms such as Jurong Frog Farm and Hay Dairies so feel free to spend the day on a farm-hopping expedition.

Don't miss: Tuck into organic vegetables grown on-site at Poison Ivy Bistro. Don't be shocked by the colour of the nasi lemak here – it's naturally died with butterfly blue pea flower that they grow onsite.

20
Labyrinth
Restaurants, Singaporean

Go Mod-Sin at Restaurant Labyrinth

City Hall

What is it? Now that you're acquainted with the local produce you can find on the island, try them in a Michelin-starred meal at Labyrinth. The modern Singaporean restaurant is housed in the Esplanade and whips up creations like quail satay and soy beancurd with bird's nest.

Why go? Chef Han Li Guang elevates local food to a whole new level and champions what Singapore is all about in his cooking. Creative, playful and packed with flavour – the food at Labyrinth top class.

Don't miss: The Labyrinth rojak. A part of Labyrinth's tasting menu, this Singaporean staple gets an upgrade with herbs from Edible Garden City, cempedak sorbet and a natural stingless bee honey that has a natural tang that mimics the taste of assam.

 

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21
Chilli Padi Nyonya Restaurant
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants

Dabble in heritage at Chilli Padi Nonya Restaurant

Geylang

What is it? A traditional Peranakan restaurant that's been doling out local classics like ayam buah keluak and itek tim for years. It's a favourite among families and it's not uncommon to see three to four generations sitting together at a table here.

Why go? You've come to the right place for an authentic taste of Peranakan food. For those unfamiliar with Peranakan culture, a trip to Katong is the perfect place to start. From the colourful shophouses rich in heritage that line the street to the array of Peranakan restaurants that call the area home, Katong provides a feast for all your senses.

Don't miss: They do all the classics right here. We're talking beef rendang, ayam buah keluak, sambal goreng, chap chye and more.

22
Springleaf Prata Place
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants, Indian

Sup on prata at Springleaf Prata Place

Yishun

What is it? A popular supper haunt when the rest of the stalls have shuttered for the night. It's open till midnight and is the place where hungry night owls congregate after a night of drinking and partying.

Why go? For sinful plates of roti prata, of course. There's also plenty of other Indian and Malay options on the menu too.

Don't miss: A slice of plain prata costs a mere $1.20 but go crazy and customise it to your heart's desire. Get one with egg, onion and cheese ($4) or egg, onion and mushrooms ($3.60).

 

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23
Tong Ah Eating House
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants

Start the day right at Tong Ah Eating House

Chinatown

What is it? An old-school breakfast institution that's been serving the quintessential Singaporean breakfast of kopi, kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs since 1939.

Why go? For a taste of nostalgia that you won't find at chains like Killiney Kopitiam or Toast Box.

Don't miss: A robust cup of kopi pulled the traditional way through a sock, crisp and fluffy kaya butter bread and perfectly cooked soft-boiled eggs best topped with a dash of pepper and soy sauce.

24
Red Star Restaurant
Restaurants

Pick out dim sum from a pushcart at Red Star Restaurant

Chinatown

What is it? One of the few dim sum spots in town with the authentic pushcart experience and, to match, decor plucked straight out of the ’60s. Little old ladies flock to your table, hawking baskets filled with liu sha bao ($4.70) and xiao long bao ($4.50) and your card to track your orders. Ordering way too much is part of the experience here, so check your self-control at the door.

Why go? The dumplings at Red Star aren't the best in town – there are Chinese restaurants in hotels for that – but the experience of pushing through other hungry diners to snap up piping hot morsels of dim sum can't be beat.

Don't miss: Reliable favourites include char siew sou ($4.50) and oversized har gao ($4.50) stuffed with whole shrimp.

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25
Tiong Bahru Market
Restaurants, Hawker

Queue for the best hawker food at Tiong Bahru Market

Tiong Bahru

What is it? Ask any Singaporean what's the one thing you have to do while you're in town and the answer is most likely going to be "eat at a hawker centre". These food courts are an integral part of Singapore’s food landscape so treat yourself to an education of the finest degree at Tiong Bahru Market.

Why go? The recently revamped centre houses more than 80 hawker stalls including legends such as Tiong Bahru Fried Kway Teow and Jian Bo Shui Kueh. Plus it's bright and airy so you won't have to sweat it out as much.

Don't miss:

 

READ ALSO The best hawker centres in Singapore

26
Native
Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Sip of innovative tipples at Native

Tanjong Pagar

What is it? With a focus on all things regional – everything from its spirits, music and furniture is sourced from around these parts – Native pushes the boundaries of what an Asian bar should and can be.

Why go? The cocktails are as delicious as they are inventive. There's a sour and spicy kimchi and strawberry cocktail, a Peranakan-inspired tipple made with local goat's milk as well as a showcase of Singaporean spirits and mead.

Don't miss: The pineapple arrack ($23). The only cocktail that's been on Native's menu since day one. It's one that both whisky and rum lovers will enjoy but it's different enough to make you do a double take.

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27
Afterglow - Christmas pizza
Restaurants, European

Go raw at Afterglow

Chinatown

What is it? With the #eatclean movement hitting Singapore as hard as its presence has been felt worldwide, this vegan deli-retailer-bar is one of the pioneers of raw food here.

Why go? Afterglow works with local and regional farmers to procure the crops for its inventive fare like a dragon fruit, pomegranate, avocado salad bowl with chunky chopped macadamia and mint dressing ($16), and a raw taco bowl topped with salsa, walnut ‘meat’ and cashew cream ($16). The restaurant's also noted for making its own vegan cheese ($16) with cashew nuts. Adding to the buzz of the area at night, a selection of small-batch wines, craft beer and whiskeys is also served to accompany the healthy cuisine.

Don't miss: The zucchini linguine with walnut meatballs ($20). Raw spiralise zucchini is topped with tangy tomato sauce and "meat"balls made from walnuts, shiitake and dates for an added crunch.

28
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
Restaurants, Cafés

Caffeinate with a local brew at Chye Seng Huat Hardware

Kallang

What is it? Local coffee roasters Papa Palheta helped pioneer the third-wave coffee scene in Singapore, particularly with the opening of their uber-popular café-retail complex, Chye Seng Huat Hardware (becoming one of the first joints to plant a flag in the hipster 'hood of Jalan Besar). 

Why go? Its house blends are roasted directly in the complex from single origin beans; there's also a retail wall with grinders and brew contraptions to release flavour from the beans.

Don't miss: While their hot coffees are great, there's something about Singapore's balmy climes that make cold brews all the more satisfying. There's the black ($7) made with Ethiopia suke quto beans, white ($7.50) brewed with a throwback blend and the nitro ($7), a malty black coffee infused with nitrogen.

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29
Zam Zam
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants, Malay

Dine in a 110-year-old restaurant at Zam Zam

Rochor

What is it? Zam Zam – its name refers to ‘holy water’ in Arabic – has been an institution in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood since the Kerala-born Abdul Kadir opened the restaurant there in 1908. The recipes have largely remained unchanged, and unhealthy, too.

Why go? There’s no preventing the pong of oil and fried dough clinging to your clothes the moment you step into this grungy shophouse unit. But it’s well worth the smell. Zam Zam has been serving up its briyani (from $6) and murtabak (from $5) for well over a century, so you can be pretty much assured of getting the legit stuff.

Don't miss: Forget about your diet and go for the mutton murtabak with a side of fish curry. It’s crispy on the edges and has more folds than an origami crane, within which you’ll find layers of onions, eggs and meat. If it’s briyani you’re after, Zam Zam makes its version Hyderabadi dum style: the meat is cooked together with the orange-flecked basmati, which makes the rice that much more fragrant. 

READ ALSO The oldest restaurants in Singapore

30
Hum Jin Pang
Photo: Su-Lin

Fry your own snacks at Hum Jin Pang

What is it? DIY is part of the fun at Hum Jin Pang in Maxwell Food Centre. Customers at this hawker stall are required to fry their own hum jin pang (fried sweet-savoury pancakes). Join the queue, take note what the person in front of you does, and be sure to turn the pancake over quickly – the oil is hot and everything cooks really quickly.

Why go? Where else are you going to get the experience of making your own local snack fried to your desired crispiness all for the low, low price of $1 for six pieces.

Don't miss: There are only two options available – the fritters either come stuffed with sweet red bean paste or five spice so pick your preferred snack or just get both.

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31
Manhattan - Interior
Photo: Tom White
Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Have a drink at the Manhattan Bar

Orchard

What is it? The third on the World's 50 Best Bars 2018 and number one on Asia's 50 Best Bars for two years in a row, Manhattan Bar at Regent Singapore is a portal to New York City where ladies are decorated in pearls and gentlemen dressed to the nines. 

Why go? The bar team is extremely friendly – and generous – there's a huge variety of cocktails on the menu so there's definitely something for everyone. The menu takes you through the ages of NYC, from the 1520s to the 1970s and recreates iconic drinks of the era. It also houses a large collection of American whiskeys if you're a bourbon connoisseur.

Don't miss: The classic Manhattan ($25). Made with Michter’s US1 Straight Rye, house cherry brandy, Mancino Rosso vermouth and angostura bitters, this cocktail is the bar's signature for a reason.

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