Esora is a treat for the senses. Chef-owner Shigeru Koizumi prepares Kappo-style cuisine with utmost precision, bringing together his experience cooking at three-Michelin-starred Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo and Singapore’s very own two-Michelin-starred Odette. The menu changes almost every week, following the micro-seasonality of ingredients, so you never really know what you’re going to get. The only choice you get to make is if you want the seven-course ($198), nine-course ($258) or the more premium and customisable chef’s menu ($308) and if you’d like to pair your meal with alcohol ($78/$108) or house-blended teas ($38/$48).
Chef-owner Ivan Brehm, an alumnus of The Fat Duck and former head chef of Bacchanalia, has us hooked on 'crossroads cooking' – a term he coined that celebrates the similarities between cuisines and cultures. Cooking philosophy aside, the food at Nouri speaks volumes on its own. Expect deftly prepared dishes that use uncommon ingredients like wild rice stem and kanzuri to create flavour combinations that are all at once familiar and novel.
With breathtaking views of the Singapore skyline, Jaan is an intimate 40-seat restaurant that takes you on a culinary journey to Britain. After three years helming the restaurant, chef Kirk Westaway has hit full stride with his latest Reinventing British menu. A series of snacks like a fish and chips tart and Britain’s national dish, chicken tikka masala served to the tune of Brit-pop and rock music to set the tone of the meal. Signature mains include the Alaskan langoustine served with courgette as well as aged roasted pigeon with blackberry, beetroot and foie gras.
Modern Australian is the name of the game at Cheek by Jowl. It offers one of the most value-for-money Michelin-starred tasting menus in town, with a five-course dinner menu priced at $98 and a seven-course going for $118. Sri Lankan chef Rishi Naleendra sneaks some of is heritage into the menu so expect to find dishes like Sri Lankan mung beans, millet and sunflower seed alongside Australian staples of barramundi and kangaroo.
To be the world's only Michelin-starred Peranakan chef is no easy feat, but through hard work, a passion for his heritage and unyielding dedication, chef Malcolm Lee managed to earn this badge of honour all before turning 35. Opt for Lee’s ‘ahmakase’ menu ($65/lunch, $88/dinner) if you're new the cuisine and unsure of where to start. But the brave should not miss buah keluak ($22) of braised local chicken – it's an acquired taste but you haven't really had Peranakan food if you don't give it a try.
A mainstay on the Asia's 50 Best Restaurant's list, Burnt Ends is well worth the hype and the month-long (or sometimes longer) waiting list. There’s just something incredibly honest about a solid slab of meat coaxed over open flames. The steak topped with bone marrow and burnt onion is something you'll find on every table, but to leave without chowing down on Burnt End's legendary sanger burger would be a travesty.
No list of the best restaurants in Singapore would be complete without our only World's 50 Best entry, Odette. The two-Michelin-star holder is really pushing Singapore's culinary landscape forwards with its Essential Cuisine philosophy. Described as honest food with a steep respect for ingredients cultivated from his farming family in France, chef Julien Royer’s cuisine prides itself on keeping up with the provenance of its produce, which results in magnificent plates that will blow any diner away.
Western dishes get a Sichuan twist at Birds of a Feather. Inspired by the laid-back teahouses of Chengdu, the restaurant tastefully makes use of lush greenery and eclectic design pieces to create a space you won't mind unwinding at from morning 'til late. Try the roasted chicken and avocado salad with Sichuan pepper, oriental bolognaise and hot and sour chazuke, a light and mildly spicy broth that's poured over a bed of Niigata rice and charcoal-grilled barramundi.
While Malcolm Lee's rendition of Peranakan food at Candlenut breaks away from tradition, Violet Oon serves the classics done right. The recipes have not been trifled with, so you get dishes like ayam buah keluak, beef rendang and babi pong tay excatly as they should be. That's not to say she doesn't play around every now and then – the dry laksa is a killer rendition of the familiar original that you'll be licking clean.
When a restaurant still draws in daily queues despite charging $12.80 for a dish people typically pay $2 for, you know it's doing something right. The nasi lemak at The Coconut Club is a faultless example of the classic Malay dish. You get a fried egg, ikan bilis, peanuts, slices of Japanese cucumber, two juicy pieces of fried chicken, sambal and unlimited servings of rice flavoured with coconut milk from a single plantation in Sabak Bernam, Malaysia.
Labyrinth, like the city it represents, is defined by growth and change. Chef-owner Han Li Guang's "new expression of Singapore cuisine" sees him moving away from reinterpretations of classic local dishes like chilli crab and mee pok. Instead, this truly local restaurant has turned locavore: 80% of its menu is made from ingredients sourced from the city's farms presented in a 16-course dinner that echoes Singapore's past, present and future.
This under-the-radar restaurant on buzzy Ann Siang Road whips up seasonal Mediterranean dishes in its open kitchen. Grab a seat by the bar and order its signature sea urchin pudding – trust us, it’s that good, you'll be licking the plate clean. Order à la carte or opt for the hassle-free five course ($85) or seven-course ($110) tasting menu. The hand-torn pasta dish with black trumpet mushrooms and duck leg confit ragout is absolutely divine.
This tiny shophouse along Boat Quay might only be able to squeeze 20 people into its space, but this exclusive casual-luxe restaurant and rooftop bar doesn't pull any punches. Tasting menus at this one-Michelin-starred joint start at a resonable $100 and features classics like foie gras semifreddo with kumquats and fig vincotto and grass fed beef tenderloin with chanterelles and truffles.
For sushi in an intimate setting, turn into Ishi. The restaurant seats up to 28 people – with 12 people at the counter and others housed in private rooms – and serves seasonal ingredients flown in from Japan four times a week. The premium sushi prepared by executive head chef Hideki Li and head chef Masaaki is the obvious star of the show but the chefs also offer kaiseki-style cooked dishes such as fried slivers of wagyu and hairy crab on the menu.
With experience in Michelin-decorated kitchens like El Celler de Can Roca and Zuberoa in Spain, chef Carlos Montobbio has brought Esquina to new heights since he took the reins. The tapas-style menu is made for sharing. Start your meal with smoked mackerel delicately placed on a thin corn tuile before moving on to stunning plates of grilled Spanish octopus dressed with corn sauce, chimichurri, chorizo oil and uni and lobster paella with saffron allioli and sugar snap peas.
Thank goodness of restaurants like Folklore that are keeping Singapore heritage food alive. Chef Damian D'Silva is a veteran chef that's fiercely protecting the Eurasian and Peranakan dishes he grew up. These dishes are painstakingly made from scratch the old-fashioned way. Think sambal buah keluak – a fermented black seed that takes up to a week to prepare – fried rice served with a sunny side up egg and impossibly beef cheek rendang simmered for hours.
Before Singapore became a hotspot for celebrity chef openings, there was Les Amis. The locally and internationally lauded French fine dining establishment has seen the likes of Justin Quek, Ignatius ‘Iggy’ Chan and Janice Wong pass through its kitchen and is now helmed by chef Sebastien Lepinoy. The French chef sources almost everything from his country of origin. His pride and joy: handcrafted Le Ponclet butter, which is so rare, it's only served in less than 20 restaurants in the world.
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.
Slang for ‘party’ in Peru, Tono is characterised by lively salsa music and a maracas-wielding fish mascot. As you's expect, there’s nothing dull about the food either. Everything that hits the table is fresh, punchy and delicious – from its signature ceviche to the more traditional Peruvian dishes with names we can barely pronounce like the escabeche causas, a Peruvian take on a chicken potato salad. Don't skip out on a plate of alfajores for dessert, either.
Here's where to have dinner once you strike it big at the casino. Conceptualised by acclaimed chef Tetsuya Wakuda, Waku Ghin features ten-course degustation menus priced from an eye-watering $450. You'll be treated to ingredients sourced from the region and beyond – marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and caviar, braised Canadian lobster with terragon and seared ohmi wagyu paired wasabi and citrus soya.
Rhubard Le Restaurant proves that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better. With just seven tables, this charming shophouse space along Duxton Hill guarantees an intimate and personalised experience. The contemporary French restaurant offers a three-course lunch at $48 but splash out on its $148 dinner menu that features classics like ballotine and quail redefined.
Morsels left its home in Little India for greener pastures at Dempsey and we think it's all the better for it. Its new rustic barnyard-style digs features an open kitchen at the back, allowing you to see chef-owner Petrina Loh and her team whip up creative fusion dishes rooted in local ingredients like her signature steamed venus clams in fig broth and Firecracker Duroc Pulled Pork, a dish that’ll keep you coming back for more.
Think of Maggie Joan's as a hipper-than-thou secret dining club hiding behind a rusty door marked by an unlit signboard along Gemmill Lane. The restaurant is the sibling of Moosehead Kitchen and Bar and father-and-son team Glen and Daniel Ballis have decided to move head chef Seumas Smith over to take over Maggie Joan's open kitchen. The long, dark and cavernous dining room makes this restaurant a sexy spot for a date – if only because the seductive dishes match the drapes. The seasonally driven plates are refined yet hearty best exemplified by the likes of burrata paired with peas and preserved lemon ($21) and roasted carrots paired with ricotta, apricot and rosemary ($10). Mains are more than substantial, with options such as thick cuts of pan-seared barramundi ($34) cooked with sustainably farmed mussels and nage as well as spiced lamb with salmorejo ($44), black garlic and salsa verde. Even if we're not in the mood for a full meal, we can see ourselves popping in for a drink, some tapas and maybe even lunch just to soak in the atmosphere. The ‘appetisers’ – they’re snacks, really – make good padding for drinks: try the shiso tempura topped with taramasalata ($3) and the excellent house-baked sourdough with smoked beef fat butter ($4).
Zi char restaurants are quintessential to Singaporean cuisine and JB Ah Meng offers a shining example of how simple dishes can be extraordinarily delicious. Despite its bare-bones setup, the crowds keep coming back for its san lou bee hoon. Charred and crisp on the outside but soft on the inside, each strand of bee hoon is coated with a smoky wok hei. JB Ah Meng also does a killer rendition of white pepper crab – the dish is only mildly spicy and lets the natural sweetness of the crustacean shine.
"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 2018.
There's a sense of hushed reverence that befalls anyone stepping into Shinji by Kanesake – you're about to worship at the altar of one of Singapore's best sushi bars, after all. 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 about your preferences. 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.
Sophisticated yet casual, Amò makes the best pies in town. The sourdough pizzas are tossed through the air before it’s baked in a wood-fired oven that’s made in Italy, of course. The result is a light and chewy base with a crisp and slightly charred exterior. But if you’re looking for variety, you’re not going to find it here. There are only eight pizzas on the menu including a creamy stracciatella buffalo cheese, prosciutto, rocket, and fig vincotto that's our fave.
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). The star of the show is the pork ribs glazed with medjool dates ($35) best served with a plate of berry pulao ($12). Decadent and sweet with a touch of smoke, you might think the combination too rich and cloying – it isn't.
This laid-back Spanish eatery focuses on serving the freshest seasonal produce. An open kitchen concept, Ola’s philosophy is to source ingredients in a sustainable way while bringing simple and tasty dishes to life. Seafood takes centre-stage, sustainably sourced and very often, put through a baptism of fire in the Josper oven. Try the pulpo, meaty and perfectly tender octopus kissed with smoky aroma. Instead of the usual potatoes, the Galician tentacle rests (chopped) on a bed of silky hummus.
Kappo Shunsui is of the few restaurants in Singapore that serves Kappo-style cuisine – an intricate balance of five primary food preparation techniques: grilling, steaming, frying, simmering and serving food raw. Expect seasonally-driven menus priced at either $150 or $250 (there's also a sake flight of six different rice wines priced at $69) that features dishes such as owan, a clear kombu and dried bonito broth served with a homemade fishcake that's stuffed two types of clams and five types of fish meat.
With over 12 years of gastronomy under its belt, Iggy’s is a stalwart of Singapore's fine dining scene. But the food's (lunch from $85, dinner from $195) just half the equation. Award-winning sommelier and founder of the restaurant, Ignatius Chan, has amassed a 25,000-strong bottle wine list that you can savour in the main dining room or at the more casual gastro-bar.
After all these years, Summer Pavilion is still one of the best Chinese eateries in town. Chef Cheung Siu Kong has been honing his craft in the same kitchen since 2003 and earning the restaurant its first Michelin star in 2016. Cheung’s signature dishes include barbecued Iberico pork with honey sauce and marinated South African abalone with roasted sesame dressing.
Regardless of what some Malaysian minister might say, chilli crab will always be the ultimate Singaporean dish in our hearts. Jumbo’s been serving chilli crabs at its birthplace, East Coast Park, since 1987 and has long been a favourite of many. The reason for its popularity has to be its choice of crabs – they’re all extremely meaty, with extra-large pincers. Its sauce is pretty unique, too, deploying ground peanuts for an added crunch.
The decor of Islamic Restaurant is grander than you’d expect of a 95-year-old biryani shop. Then again, its regular patrons included the late presidents Yusoff Ishak and SR Nathan, and even the sultans of Brunei, Johor and Perak. The biryani recipe is top secret but there are six versions of the dish available including chicken, prawn and vegetable. The mutton biryani – with generous chunks of fork-tender meat buried under a mountain of fragrant basmati rice – is the indisputable star.
This Travis Masiero-owned joint is your traditional American chophouse: it specialises in lots of meat and some stellar seafood. If you’re in the mood for the former, try the bone-in tenderloin au poivre, served with peppercorn crust and mustard cognac jus or the blue label burger. But make sure you start with a tray of Luke’s oysters, sourced from chef Masiero’s hometown of Boston.
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.
Chinese restaurants are a dime a dozen in Singapore but we've yet to come across one like Yellow Pot. Treading a fine line between modernity and tradition, the restaurant dishes out familiar favourites like hot and sour soup ($12) and roast duck ($32) with a twist – and no, we don't mean incorporating European techniques or ingredients. Yellow Pot prides itself in creating its sauces from scratch in-house. The soup is prepared with a housemade hot bean paste made from fermented bean paste and chillis while the duck is marinated for two days with fermented bean curd, herbs and spices before it's roasted in a traditional Apollo oven till its skin is shatteringly crisp.
Paying $28 for popiah or $32 for Hokkien mee – albeit a stellar plate with the most kickass sambal we've ever had – might seem ridiculous. Especially when you can find the real deal at a fraction of the cost at a hawker centre. But hear us out: Po serves local classics like ngoh hiang and satay made with premium ingredients such as Iberico pork to elevate the cuisine beyond its humble origins.
Alati is a Greek restaurant along Amoy Street that specialises in sustainable seafood caught off the Mediterranean coast. The flavours are kept clean, showcasing the freshness of dishes like the grilled Greek octopus that's served with vinegared onions and confit tomatoes, and shrimp saganaki. Not to be missed is the wide selection of whole fish – from European seabass to Gilt-Head seabream – that's served either grilled on in a salt-baked crust.
Housed in a historic building built in the 1880s, VLV helps you imagine what elegant parties of yesteryear in Singapore were like. Wine and dine in style at the restaurant that presents Cantonese dishes with a modern flair. Conceptualised by executive chef Martin Foo, who has been cooking for more than 25 years in restaurants like Lei Garden and Tung Lok Signatures, the menu features traditional dishes with a twist like black truffle roasted duck and kimchi seafood fried rice.
Save yourself from the two-hour flight to Bangkok when cravings strike – they're just as easily satisfied at Sawadee Thai. It gets a shipment of fresh Thai produce daily and offers an array of dishes in a relaxed setting. You’ll definitely find the standard tom yum soup and mango sticky rice on the menu, but why not try something different? Meat lovers will like the pan-seared black Angus beef rib-eye that's served with a homemade green curry sauce and the mao shan wang durian sticky rice dessert is a must.
The scent of burning charcoal and chefs
killing, gutting and grilling freshwater eels behind the glass panel should clue you in on the fact that this is no regular unagi shop. Order the hitsumabushi ($26.80), an unagi don that can enjoyed in three different ways. First, try it plain; second, sprinkle over some spring onions, seaweed and freshly grated wasabi; and third, pour dashi over the rice and eel to have it as a comforting bowl of porridge.
For a taste of Tokyo-Italian cuisine in Singapore, turn to Terra by chef-owner Seita Nakahara. Not to be confused with fusion food – what's on the menu here is an appreciation of Japanese food culture (shokubunka) in Italian cuisine and culinary traditions. Chef Seita regularly travels to Japan to source for new ingredients, establishing close relationships with his suppliers to get the best quality of ingredients which he uses in omakase sets ($168/$208/$308) that change seasonally. Lunch is also available from $48.
It’s been three years since Woo Wai Leong won the first MasterChef Asia and he's finally opened his own restaurant. Restaurant Ibid’s story first starts with its name. It’s meant to highlight Leong’s roots as a Singaporean Chinese man and his Nanyang identity – a phrase borrowed from the realm of art where Singaporean painters like Liu Kang and Georgette Chen blended Western and Eastern painting traditions. Priced at $78 for four courses, $88 for six and $118 for eight, the dinner highlights playful twists on childhood favourites with touches influenced by traditional Chinese medicine.
Let Fat Prince show you a whole new world of Middle Eastern flavours, shining, shimmering and splendid. Designed to reflect Istanbul’s opulent café culture – think velvet navy chairs and Arabic mosaic embedded in its walls – it’s grand without being gaudy. The restaurant focuses on kebabs. There are currently six types on the menu, including baharat honey chicken, smoked kasar cheese and spicy beef Adana.
Curing, smoking and fermenting are front and centre of this Drew Nocente-led kitchen. That much is clear as soon as you step into the long shophouse space, see the little piggies on the walls and pass a dry cabinet in which all manner of salami and steaks hang, their hues ranging from deep mahogany to pale pink. There’s even kangaroo loin, a nod to Nocente’s Aussie roots, lurking in there.
It might not live by the sea, but this beach shack along Bukit Pasoh Road is all about the goodness of the ocean. Slurp down fresh oysters – there are always at least three types available and if you come from 5pm to 8pm they're only $3 a pop – or tuck into plates of prawns, salmon, clams, scallops, octopus, lobster... the list goes on. There are plenty of greens to go around too.
This contemporary South-East Asian restaurant by The Spa Esprit group is all things cheeky and fun. Dishes lean towards local comfort food, with items such as rendang beef brisket buns inspired by chef Miller Mai's grandmother's recipe, and the crispy pork trotter served with spiced vinegar that's large enough to share among three. Large plates like the red snapper in green curry and duck leg in satay sauce can be shared or had as a main with a plate of steamed rice.
The only place where you can get a six- to nine-course omakase (‘up to the chef’) in the heart of the CBD for $40, $50 or $60. Chef Yamashita Teppei’s 17-stool restaurant is quietly creative and he's always up for a friendly chat behind the counter. Highlights of the meal include a chunky-cut sashimi trifecta of tuna, scallop and salmon that taste both fresh and subtly sweet.
Perched on the 70th floor of the Swissotel the Stamford, Skai overlooks the civic district down from the Padang to Marina Bay. Start your meal with a series of sharing plates. The heirloom tomatoes ($22) and yellowfin tuna tartare ($24) are safe favourites. Executive chef Paul Hallett is also an expert butcher and self-professed lover of steak, so it’s no surprise to see 10 types of rare beef like the Saga Wagyu tenderloin ($170) on offer.