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
Fruits Top 1 Department Stall durian
Restaurants, Hawker

Try durian at Fruits Top 1 Department Stall

icon-location-pin Aljunied

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.

2
Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle
Restaurants, Hawker

Dig into plates of chicken rice at Liao Fan

icon-location-pin 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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3
Bollywood Veggies
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Things to do

Frolick in a farm at Bollywood Veggies

icon-location-pin 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.

4
Labyrinth
Restaurants, Singaporean

Go Mod-Sin at Restaurant Labyrinth

icon-location-pin 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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5
Chilli Padi Nyonya Restaurant
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants

Dabble in heritage at Chilli Padi Nonya Restaurant

icon-location-pin 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.

6
Springleaf Prata Place
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants, Indian

Sup on prata at Springleaf Prata Place

icon-location-pin 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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7
Tong Ah Eating House
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants

Start the day right at Tong Ah Eating House

icon-location-pin 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.

8
Red Star Restaurant
Restaurants

Pick out dim sum from a pushcart at Red Star Restaurant

icon-location-pin 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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9
Tiong Bahru Market
Restaurants, Hawker

Queue for the best hawker food at Tiong Bahru Market

icon-location-pin 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

10
Native
Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Sip of innovative tipples at Native

icon-location-pin 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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11
Ice cream uncle, sandwich

Enjoy the little things at Orchard Road

What is it? Lining the streets of Orchard Road are ice cream uncles and their pushcarts hawking a local treat that's the perfect respite from the heat – a block of ice cream sandwiched between rainbow bread or thin wafers

Why go? Orchard Road might be Singapore's glitzy shopping district but these ice cream uncles only charge $1.20 for their pretty treats, a small price to pay for the joy something so simple brings.

Don't miss: Pick your favourite flavour – it ranges from basics like chocolate and strawberry to durian and cookies and cream – and let the uncle know if you want to have it in a cup, on bread or between wafers.

 

12
Afterglow - Christmas pizza
Restaurants, European

Go raw at Afterglow

icon-location-pin 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.

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13
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
Restaurants, Cafés

Caffeinate with a local brew at Chye Seng Huat Hardware

icon-location-pin 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.

14
Zam Zam
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants, Malay

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

icon-location-pin 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

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15
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.

16
Manhattan - Interior
Photo: Tom White
Bars and pubs, Cocktail bars

Have a drink at the Manhattan Bar

icon-location-pin 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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17
Nouri
Restaurants

Celebrate crossroads cooking at Nouri

icon-location-pin Tanjong Pagar

What is it? Chef-owner Ivan Brehm, who spent years working at The Fat Duck by Heston Blumenthal showcases what he dubs as 'crossroads cooking' at Nouri. It's food that takes inspiration from around the world, draws parallels between cultures, and creates an understanding that all of us are fundamentally the same. The idea is to connect people over a meal, as evidenced by the handsome marble counter that runs through half the restaurant.

Why go? Nouri was crowned Time Out Singapore's best restaurant of 2017 and it earned a Michelin star within its first year of operation. The flavour combinations here are inventive yet familiar, and the technique is flawless.

Don't miss: The acarajé and vatapá is a nod to Brehm’s Brazilian heritage, except that the dish also recalls Indian, Thai and Singaporean influences.

18
ATLAS
Bars and pubs

Sip on rare gin at Atlas

icon-location-pin 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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