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Chilli Padi Nyonya Restaurant
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

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

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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.

Les Amis
Photograph: Les Amis

1. Splurge on classic French fare at Les Amis

Restaurants French 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 three-starred fine-dining stalwart in Singapore that dishes out Parisian cuisine made with the finest ingredients sourced from France.

Don't miss: Whether you select Le Menu Classique ($295) or Le Menu Degustation ($460), one thing's for sure is that you'll be treated to a curated dining experience that is tailored to the very last detail – from appetiser to dessert.

Restaurant Zen
Photograph: Restaurant Zen

2. Explore contemporary Nordic cuisine Restaurant Zén

Restaurants Swedish 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: With a price tag of $450 per person, the menu comes complete with contemporary dishes with Nordic elements and a hint of Japanese influence – think chawanmushi with all the trimmings of uni, ikura and horseradish-glazed unagi.

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Candlenut
Photograph: Candlenut

3. Have a homely feast at Candlenut

Restaurants 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 Taste of Candlenut menu which starts from $58 for lunch and $78 for dinner. It comes with homemade kueh pie tee, beef rendang, ikan chuan chuan, sambal udang, babi buah keluak, and of course, homemade nyonya kueh.

Cloudstreet
Photograph: Cloudstreet

4. Journey around the world at Cloudstreet

Restaurants Tanjong Pagar

What is it? Chef Rishi Naleendra's next restaurant superstar after his modern Australian resto Cheek Bistro and Michelin-starred Cheek by Jowl, which opened and closed in 2019 respectively.

Why go? Set menus are priced from $78 during lunch and $198 for dinner, and showcase progressive dishes that take inspiration from Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka, and other parts of the world.

Don't miss: The best seats in the house are by the counter overlooking the open kitchen, where you and your date can watch as the chefs sautée, grill and plate dishes like betel-leaf wrapped oysters, lamb saddle and young jackfruit as well as a stout and liquorice bun that’ll have you licking your fingers and lips clean.

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Amoy Street Food Centre
Photograph: Jnzl's Photos/Flickr

5. Get your hawker food fix Amoy Street Food Centre

Restaurants Hawker 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: Michelin-approved A Noodle Story for a local spin on Japanese ramen is a must-try. For some rice, pair it with deep-fried, smashed chicken and spicy sambal from Rayyan's Waroeng Penyet. Han Kee Fish Soup is a top favourite too with its generous servings of sliced fish in deliciously fragrant broth. And you can't leave without grabbing some curry puffs from the J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff stall.

Theyar
Photograph: Theyar

6. Hit up Thevar for contemporary Indian dishes

Restaurants Indian 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 Iberico pork belly ($38) best served with a plate of berry pulao ($12). 

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New Ubin
Photograph: New Ubin Seafood

7. Occupy a table at New Ubin Seafood

Restaurants City Hall

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 ($17/100g) and Carabinero prawn sashimi ($22/prawn). Other notable mentions include this Sri Lankan crabs ($53/500g and $72/800g), and the traditional Chinese-style steamed fish ($8.50/100g).

Putu Piring, Haig Road Hawker Centre
Photograph: Supplied

8. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Traditional Haig Road Putu Piring

Restaurants Hawker 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. The putu piring ($2.50 per pack of five) is best eaten piping hot.

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Smith Street Taps
Photograph: Kevin Lee

9. Knock back a cold pint from Smith Street Taps

Clubs 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. Note that the menu rotates to offer drinkers different variety.

mr and mrs mohgan
Photograph: Supplied

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

Restaurants Singaporean 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.

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Lik Ming Laksa
Photograph: Time Out Singapore

11. Join the queue at Lik Ming Laksa

Restaurants Hawker 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).

Hjh Maimunah
Photograph: Hjh Maimunah

12. Savour the flavour of nasi padang at Hjh Maimunah

Restaurants Malay Rochor

What is it? This Michelin Bib Gourmand-listed Malay eatery serves favourites like tahu telor, Sundanese grilled chicken and beef rendang.

Why go? No visit to Kampong Glam is complete without a plate of glorious nasi padang. Like any other mixed rice stall, you get to choose whichever dishes you want and face the consequences at the cash register after. 

Don't miss: If you're feeling adventurous, try the lemak siput sedut (sea snails in a rich coconut broth). And if you’re really frugal with your choices, a plate can set you back less than $10.

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Poh Guan Cake House
Photograph: Supplied

13. Sample the bakes of Poh Guan Cake House

Restaurants Bakeries 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.

Mother Dough
Photograph: Mother Dough

14. Bite into the freshly baked loaves from Mother Dough

Restaurants Bakeries 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. 

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Jumbo Seafood, Chilli crab
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

15. Feast on chilli crab at Jumbo Seafood

Restaurants 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 (from $88/kg). 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.

Fruits Top 1 Department Stall durian
Photograph: Supplied

16. Try durian at Fruits Top 1 Department Stall

Restaurants Hawker 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.

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Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle
Photograph: Supplied

17. Dig into plates of chicken rice at Liao Fan

Restaurants Hawker 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).

Bollywood Veggies
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

18. Frolick in a farm at Bollywood Veggies

Things to do 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.

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Labyrinth
Photograph: Labyrinth

19. Go Mod-Sin at Restaurant Labyrinth

Restaurants Singaporean 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. 

Chilli Padi Nyonya Restaurant
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

20. Dabble in heritage at Chilli Padi Nonya Restaurant

Restaurants 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.

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Springleaf Prata Place
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

21. Sup on prata at Springleaf Prata Place

Restaurants Indian Yishun

What is it? Home to franken-pratas like the Murtaburger and Prata Alfredo, it is arguably the best place on the list for the most unconventional prata.

Why go? For that late-night prata craving – it's one of the few prata places that's opened until midnight. There's also plenty of other Indian and Malay options on the menu too.

Don't miss: The mega Murtaburger ($7.90) of course that is prata stuffed with a burger patty and lots of cheese. Prata Blaster ($5) is a take on eggs benedict but the bread is replaced with crispy prata, as well as the Umami 50 ($8.90), an egg prata with luncheon meat, cheese, chicken floss and mayo. 

Tong Ah Eating House
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

22. Start the day right at Tong Ah Eating House

Restaurants 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 (from $4.90).

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Red Star Restaurant
Photograph: Supplied

23. Pick out dim sum from a pushcart at Red Star Restaurant

Restaurants 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.

Why go? The experience of pushing through other hungry diners to snap up piping hot morsels of dim sum can't be beaten. Plus, ordering way too much is part of the experience here, so check your self-control at the door.

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

Tiong Bahru Market
Photograph: Kevin Lim

24. Queue for the best hawker food at Tiong Bahru Market

Restaurants Hawker Tiong Bahru

What is it? First known as Seng Poh Market, the newly renovated Tiong Bahru Market is a sprawling two-storey complex that retains much of its timeless appeal. The ground floor is a hubbub of frenetic bargaining activity on most mornings, with market and retail stalls selling anything from dried goods to ornamental fish and cheap clothes. Upstairs, the food haven is a spacious, breezy affair.

Why go? High ceilings, well-spaced-out tables and an alfresco area spell good news for even the fussiest of hawker centre eaters. From the famous shui kuih to prawn noodles, you never have to worry about not having enough choices here.

Don't miss: The chwee kueh from Jian Bo Shui Kueh is legendary and has endured for over 50 years despite the surfeit of similarly-named imposters masquerading as the real deal. This breakfast staple of oily rice cakes and fried chye poh is simple, sinful and addictive. 

 

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Jigger and Pony
Photograph: Jigger & Pony

25. Go on a spirituous adventure at Jigger and Pony

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Tanjong Pagar

What is it? Placed on the number one spot of Asia's 50 Best Bars in 2020, Jigger and Pony shines a spotlight on uncommon based spirits you don't usually find in our local bars.

Why go? Start your spirituous adventure with the Williams Cooler ($23) that highlights two pear brandies: the French Vedrenne Poire Williams and the Italian Capovilla Pere Williams alongside jasmine orris liqueur to bump up the fruity drink's floral notes.

Don't miss: Fans of spirit-forward cocktails will prefer the Barley Manhattan ($23), a twist on the classic blended with Tsukushi Kuro Barley Shochu and Maker’s Mark Bourbon. 

Native
Photograph: Native

26. Sip of innovative tipples at Native

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars 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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Chye Seng Huat Hardware
Photograph: Chye Seng Huat Hardware

27. Caffeinate with a local brew at Chye Seng Huat Hardware

Restaurants Cafés 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 ($7.50) made with Ethiopia suke quto beans, white ($8.50) brewed with a throwback blend and the nitro ($8.50), a malty black coffee infused with nitrogen.

Zam Zam
Photograph: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

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

Restaurants Malay 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.

Why go? 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: 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. 

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Manhattan - Interior
Photograph: Tom White

29. Have a drink at the Manhattan Bar

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Orchard

What is it? 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 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. While it's no longer number one in Asia's 50 Best Bars this year, Manhattan Bar at Regent Singapore has enjoyed its time at the top spot for two years in a row – 2017 and 2018.

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.

ATLAS
Photograph: Atlas

30. Sip on rare gin at Atlas

Bars and pubs Rochor

What is it? With over 1,000 bottles of gin available, Atlas has the most diverse collection of the spirit in the world. It's definitely a shrine all gin lovers should make a pilgrimage to.

Why go? Not a fan of gin? That's still no reason not to visit. The grand art deco-inspired bar looks exactly like a European hotel lobby of the era is a spectacle in itself – with magnificent champagne-hued tapestries line the ceiling, intricate gold and bronze balconies surround the space. It also offers an extensive food, tea, coffee and non-alcoholic menu for the teetotalers.

Don't miss: For an introduction to what the bar can do, get The Atlas Martini ($24), a blend of gin, Ambrato vermouth, orange bitters, champagne vinegar and pomelo.

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