The Michelin Guide Singapore 2016 is finally here. And a total of 29 restaurants have been conferred that elusive star – or, as the French call it, 'macaroon' – by the epicurean manual. The guide uses five criteria to assess these restaurants: mastery of technique; quality of ingredients; chef's personality; value for money; and consistency.
So if you're looking for a spot to celebrate a special occasion, you'll find one here.
RECOMMENDED: Read our reviews of the best restaurants in Singapore
Restaurants with one Michelin star
Swabian chef Juan Amador, whose now-defunct restaurant Amador in Mannheim once held three Michelin stars, brings his Asian-inflected Spanish-European cuisine to Goodwood Park Hotel. Food is prepared by chef Haikal Johari, who has cooked at Joël Robuchon and Les Amis. Diners can opt for the six- ($138) and eight-course ($178) degustation menus of Amador's signature dishes.
If you’ve eaten at Bacchanalia, you’ll be happy to learn that cutting-edge techniques and intriguing dish dissertations are very much in the kitchen team’s wheelhouse, and is now served up here in five- ($125) and seven-course ($165) doses. Alternatively, come for a three-course lunch ($45).
Chef Kenjiro Hashida, the man behind Hashida Sushi and Hashida Garo, fuses French and Japanese cuisines at this fine dining restaurant, which seats only 15 around an open kitchen. With an all-Japanese culinary team led by head chef Kenji Yamanaka, Béni serves mains such as Sakura Daurade: pan-fried sakura sea bream with sakura shrimp and fish mousse on the three-course lunch 'Expérience' menu ($58), and Brittany blue lobster and Ozaki wagyu for dinner ($298).
In keeping with the cuisine's penchant for borrowing influences from the East and West, dishes here are gussied up with premium ingredients. Lunch is offered à la carte, but at dinner time, the kitchen serves what it calls a 'tasting menu'. Except it isn't so much titchy degustation portions as it is a pre-selected set ($65) of rich dishes – which change weekly – that the kitchen churns out every evening. Think turmeric-rich 'Yeye' crab curry wrapped in roti jala and topped with a cucumber pickle, laksa-scented hamachi heaped in a translucent pie tee shell, and thick fingers of potently spicy lamb satay.
The cuisine is self-appointed as 'gastro-botanica', which takes influences from Mediterranean, Latin American and South-East Asian cooking to fire dishes that give equal reverence to veggies and protein. The entry-level meal here for a romantic night out is a four-course set ($148). Or splash some serious money on a special night out with the seven-course chef’s menu ($258).
The stalwart fine dining restaurant of Singapore-based Chinese culinary group, Crystal Jade Golden Palace serves contemporary Cantonese and Teochew cuisine in a refined setting. Set menus start from $48 for six dishes including dim sum and a pan-fried Kurobuta pork chop. The expansive restaurant also boasts a 6-metre-wide wine cellar that stocks hundreds of fine wines.
You go to CUT for one reason: the steaks. Grilled over hard wood and charcoal, the hunks of beef come from a menagerie of sources. You've got USDA Prime from Illinois, Angus and wagyu from Australia, Red Poll from Suffolk, wagyu from Idaho, and even more wagyu from different prefectures in Japan. Each type is further broken down into different cuts, ranging from rib-eyes to New York strips to bone-in filet mignons ($75-$280).
Celebrity chef Sam Leong helms this regionally focused eatery with an open plan, found in the Equarius Hotel at Resorts World Sentosa. Expect Chinese cuisine with regional flavour profiles, plated with Western sensibilities. The five-course classic set menu ($138) has restaurant signatures like the Thai-inspired Boston lobster hot and sour soup and Japanese somen served in a coconut.
A one-Michelin-starred meal for five bucks? That's what you're in for when you make the trek to this humble kopitiam in the heartlands of Lavender. The bak chor mee ($5-$10) here is arguably the best in Singapore: springy noodles, crispy fried fish, pork liver, minced and sliced pork and dumpings swim in a vinegary sauce that you'll be licking clean. Allocate enough time to queue up, though – it may look deceptively short, but with each order taking anywhere between 5 to 12 minutes to prepare, getting to the front is a bit of a wait.
The star of the show is the soya sauce chicken ($7 half, $14 whole). The soft skin absorbs all the flavours of the marinade, giving way to tender and succulent meat as you take a bite. We recommend having it on a bed of rice with a helping of steamed nuts and dark sauce ($2). 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).
With breathtaking views of the Singapore skyline, Jaan is an intimate 40-seat restaurant that takes you on a culinary journey to chef Kirk Westaway's hometown of Devon. The small seaside town off the south-western coast of England continues to be a source of inspiration in Jaan's menu, which focuses on fresh seasonal produce. A three-course lunch at Jaan is priced at $78 and allows you the choice of dishes like Landes foie gras, line-caught brill and Iberico pork. The most extravagant menu is reserved for dinner, where each of the six courses is paired with a different glass of Krug ($498).
With so many of its branches earning Michelin stars in Hong Kong, it comes as no surprise that Singapore's sole Lei Garden has earned a nod from Michelin inspectors here, too. Compared to its counterparts, this restaurant in CHIJMES has a more European look and feel to match its surroundings. The menu, however, is largely the same as the other outlets: expect traditional Cantonese fare like dim sum and roast meats.
Australian celebrity chef Scott Webster and chef de cuisine Douglas Tay have designed an innovative à la carte menu inspired by fresh Australian produce, combining Asian influences with Western grilling techniques. Meats like the Byron Bay Berkshire pork rack, Kühlbarra barramundi fillet, Grainge Black Angus New York steak are grilled in a stone hearth and comes with chutneys, pickles and sauces. For an appetising start to your meal, order from a wide array of fresh seafood, including ceviche cured with refreshing citrus juices and vibrant spices.
The first PUTIEN opened on Kitchener Road in 2000 as a humble coffee shop specialising in Heng Hwa cuisine. Today, the brand has expanded and now has ten outlets in Singapore, but the food retains its hearty, home-cooked feel on the palate and plate. As its name suggests, this casual Chinese restaurant has its roots traced to Putian, a coastal town in the Fujian province of the Middle Kingdom. It still imports ingredients like its clams and sun-dried bee hoon from the town, creating a sustainable farming community for locals there.
À la carte options like the pigeon with rhubarb and rose purée ($64) may seem like enticing prospects for the homesick European or adventurous eater, but you’ll do no wrong ordering from the set menu. Priced at $138 for dinner, it ranks as one of the better prix fixe menus in town for your buck, with three good-sized appetisers, one main, dessert and coffee or tea included in the deal. It’s very hard to find fault with a restaurant like Rhubarb, so earnest about the fine cuisine and not greedy about its prices.
There's a sense of hushed reverence that befalls anyone stepping into Shinji – you're about to worship at the altar of one of Singapore's best sushi bars, after all. Slide open the shoji door and be greeted by three chefs standing behind the counter. With one chef preparing a meal for only three to five people at a time, you're guaranteed an intimate dining experience.
Even if you're intimidated at first, give it a few minutes and you'll start to feel at home when the friendly itamae enquires if you have any preferences. The trio is all smiles throughout, explaining each dish as they lay piece after piece of sushi on the plate in front of you. Lunch starts from $75 for nine pieces and includes stellar slices of chutoro, otoro and anago over lightly vinegared rice with a firm bite. And dinner begins at $220 for 15 nigiri pieces, a maki roll and soup.
The second outlet of the revered sushi bar is every bit as good as the original in Raffles Hotel. Lunch starts from $125 for 12 pieces of sushi and includes stellar slices of chutoro, otoro and anago over lightly vinegared rice with a firm bite. For people looking to have a more extravagant lunch, there is a 15-piece Yuki set at $180 and omakase Yume set at $250, which has both sushi and cooked dishes.
To try the best of everything, go for the set lunch and dinner menus (from $88). They feature some of chef Cheung Siu Kong’s signature dishes, such as barbecued Iberico pork with honey sauce, and marinated South African abalone with roasted sesame dressing. If we had to pick, these are our favourites: the double-boiled sea whelk soup with fish maw and chicken, served in a whole coconut; poached rice with lobster; and diced Japanese wagyu beef.
Headed by sushi chef Yuji Yabe and kaiseki ryori chef Hiroki Sodou, this pint-sized one-Michelin-star import from Ginza, Tokyo, is not switching its focus from wild tuna and sea urchin, imported four times a week from Tsukiji. The restaurant seats only 24, and serves up seasonal kaiseki menus (lunch from $70-$240, dinner from $220-$390) – they're not big meals, which means uncompromising quality for every diner.
Take time to appreciate the little touches of detail in the restaurant throughout the meal – the Lilliputian flowers in the chopstick holder, the delicate ikebana flower arrangements, and the chefs’ hand-woven ojiya chijimi fabric kimonos.
Chef-owner Seita Nakahara is the pioneer of Tokyo-Italian cuisine in Singapore. It's not to be confused with fusion food: 'Tokyo-Italian' simply refers to authentic Italian dishes that are made from the best Japanese produce available. Chef Seita regularly travels to Japan to source for new ingredients, establishing close relationships with his suppliers. Which results in omakase sets ($128/$168/$208) that change seasonally depending on what arrives in his kitchen that day.
Chef Manjunath Mural has created a show-stopping pan-Indian meal in a charming Scotts Road black-and-white bungalow. On the menu, which criss-crosses the sub-continent’s regional cuisines, you’ll find melt-in-the-mouth Keralan-spiced lamb shanks, tandoori prawns bathed in a pomegranate marinade, and the Lucknavi classic of Gilawat kebabs: pan-seared ground lamb patties perfumed by cardamom, ground rose petals and raw papaya.
Helmed by acclaimed chef Tetsuya Wakuda, Waku Ghin features Japanese cuisine with a European twist. Think ten-course degustation menus featuring ingredients sourced from the region and beyond, with dishes such as marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and caviar, and wagyu with wasabi and citrus soya.
Restaurants with two Michelin stars
André Chiang bases his menu on his eight elements of 'octaphilosophy’: salt, texture, memory, pure, terroir, south, artisan and unique. While the menu changes seasonally, there is one dish that follows Chiang everywhere he cooks and makes an appearance at every dinner service. Memory 1997 is reminiscent of Chiang's first-ever culinary creation that redefined his own cooking style. It's a warm foie gras jelly served with black truffle coulis that he first started cooking 20 years ago as a young chef in France.
The best seats in this ‘workshop’ are at the bar. This warm and fiery 28-seat counter mimics the shape of the circular room and hugs the open-plan kitchen. It is from these high chairs that you’ll be able to watch the grill firing, the suckling pig roasting on a spit, the pillowy mashed potatoes being hand-whipped (for at least 45 minutes by one person, we hear), and the dishes getting plated.
Before Singapore became a hotspot for celebrity chef openings, there was Les Amis. The kitchen team, headed by executive chef Sebastien Lepinoy, now works on Sundays and adds new lunch menus, making Les Amis a little more accessible for the wallet-conscious diner. The three-course express option is $65, a full works degustation is $155 for six courses, and the most flexible four-plate prix fixe in town, with multiple cold and hot appetisers, mains and dessert options, goes for just $90. Dinners are a grander affair with six courses starting at $185 and peaking at $295 for nine.
Described as honest food with a steep respect for ingredients cultivated from his farming family in France, Julien Royer’s cuisine prides itself on keeping up with the provenance of its produce. And it’s clear that Royer is one of the few chefs who manage to measure up to the lofty introductions they pen into their menus. Throughout our meal, the heartfelt quality displayed in his ode to his grandmother – after whom the restaurant is named – is fervently palpable.
The à la carte menu features chef Chen Kentaro's specialties, such as the stir-fried wagyu beef with Sichuan chili peppers ($34). It also has a weekend dim sum brunch buffet that includes Peking duck and other signature selections ($50). In addition to the cuisine perfected by the three celebrity chefs, indulge in a rich dining experience in Shisen Hanten's multi-million dollar interior.
‘Delicate’ seems to be Shoukouwa’s calling card. The flavours of its sushi are refined, balanced and feminine – even when compared to other high-end omakase bars. Lunch starts at $150 while dinner escalates to a princely $480. On the sushi train, look out for: tender marinated maguro whose flavours simmer then bloom; a subtly sweet sea eel; a plump slice of tai; and a firm, almost crunchy, halibut. Even the appetiser of tiger prawn, water lily and shiso flower in a vinegar dashi doesn’t so much as hit the right notes than it does hint at them.
Restaurants with three Michelin stars
Aesthetically speaking, Joël Robuchon’s fine dining restaurant couldn’t be more different from his relatively casual, degustation-style restaurant through the opposite door, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. The real draw of this two-sectioned classic French fine diner is the 16-course degustation menu ($498), overseen by executive chef Michael Michaelidis. Whetting the appetite are items like wild salmon tartare, spaghetti topped with a soft-boiled egg, sea urchin and Imperial caviar, and strawberries infused with tomato, lemon and fresh basil.