Throw a stone and it'll most likely land at the doorstep of one of the many Chinese restaurants in Singapore. We've got traditional outlets like Beng Hiang that have been around since our grandparents' youth as well as modern digs like Birds of a Feather by young chefs looking to reinterpret their culinary history. Here are our picks on the Chinese restaurants to visit in Singapore.
Singaporean chef Jeremy Leung might have left our shores some 16 years ago, but he has set up multiple successful restaurants and even appeared as a judge in MasterChef China. Now, he’s back on home grounds with a Chinese restaurant at the Raffles Hotel. Art and excellence come through in the space – and the food. A thousand individually strung floral strands greet you as you enter. Each dish that’s served is just as elegant, from the Hundred-ring Cucumber and Poached Sea Whelk ($26) to the Golden Roasted Duck ($48/$88) dusted in gold powder and served with rainbow pancakes.
Taste the flavours of Southwestern China at the largest Yunnan food and beverage chain in the world. Yun Nans has over 150 outlets in China and is making Singapore, and Jewel Changi Airport, its first international outpost. The restaurant brings most of its ingredients in fresh from the province to make its signature dishes like the Steamed Pot Chicken Soup ($23.90), which uses steam and condensation to create a heady chicken broth best eaten with a plate of cold rice noodles, chicken, vegetables and egg tossed in a vinegary sauce. If you're up for a spicy challenge, get the beef stew in copper pot ($24.90), an intense beef broth filled with beef shin, tendon and offal peppered with a generous amount of chilli.
Located at the top of National Gallery, Yan serves up comforting Cantonese cuisine by head chef Ng Sen Tio. His love for seafood is evident in the menu – must-tries include the fried minced duck meat and cuttlefish paste in egg pancake ($14), a rare heritage dish that can hardly be found anywhere else. And as you move on to the mains, the seafood takes centre stage – or pot. Lobster and clams are used to flavour the porridge ($18/100g) in this signature dish that’s equal parts nourishing and decadent.
For its winter menu, Cassia is taking ‘fresh’ quite literally. Inspired by the Chinese characters that make up the word ‘鲜’, or fresh in English, executive chef Lee Hiu Ngai explores various fish (鱼) and lamb (羊) dishes. Expect Cantonese flavours with a modern spin, like the baked codfish with bonito sauce and seasonal greens ($24), or the deep-fried lamb chop stuffed with fish paste in barbecue sauce ($24).
Since it opened in 1988 this fine-dining restaurant's focus on Cantonese dishes has garnered acclaim, with its dim sum deserving special mention. The contemporary restaurant is designed with the welcoming nature of a Chinese courtyard in mind, with the circular dining room providing a glimpse of the lush greenery beyond its windows. Come during lunch for a spread of bolo bao, chee cheong fun, fried carrot cake, har gao and more. Dinner is a more extravagant affair with dishes like Sri Lankan mud crabs steamed with egg whites, lobster mee sua and Peking duck.
First opened in 1982 at Goodwood Park Hotel, Min Jiang has long been a stalwart of Chinese cuisine in Singapore. Its second outlet has traded the lush compound of Rochester Park for fresh digs on Dempsey Hill. In the kitchen is chef Goh Chee Kong, who's spent the past 32 years cooking at Min Jiang. He specialises in both Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine, producing beautiful plates of dim sum as well as other highlights such as the braised sea treasure soup in pomegranate egg white parcel ($48).
This three-in-one concept pays tribute to three distinctive Chinese cuisines: Cantonese, Huaiyang and Sichuan. Get your dim sum and congee fix at the MRKT or have a longer meal at the DINING portion of the restaurant. On the menu are new creations such as the Sichuan chicken ($22) and Eight Treasures Tofu Pudding ($18) as well as signatures from its sister restaurant, Shang Palace at the Shangri-La Hotel. This includes the indulgent deep-fried whole boneless chicken filled with fried glutinous rice ($78) that's great for sharing.
Jiang-Nan Chun evokes the artisanal culture and rustic livelihood of the Jiang Nan region’s river villages through its decor and authentic Cantonese cuisine. Its Peking duck ($98) undergoes special preparation methods for 14 hours before it's roasted in the mesquite wood-fired oven. Popular mains include the deep-fried sea perch with salted egg yolk ($24), soon hock with pork belly ($85), and king prawns with glass noodles ($32).
Old-school Chinese restaurant Kia Hiang at International Plaza has been a long-time favourite among those working in Tanjong Pagar. Its sister restaurant, Myo Restobar is looking to make a similar impression at Oxley Tower downtown. Serving dim sum and other home-style Cantonese dishes, Myo does comfort food right. Don't miss the signature Kia Hiang Claypot Spring Chicken ($20) that's made using a recipe that's been passed on for generation. The chicken is wrapped in a layer of Chinese cabbage and stewed for hours in a herbal gravy resulting in meat that simply falls off the bone, best eaten with a plain bowl of rice.
Treading a fine line between modernity and tradition, Yellow Pot dishes out familiar favourites like hot and sour soup ($16) and roast duck ($36) 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 until its skin is shatteringly crisp.
Helmed by chef Cheung Siu Kong, Summer Pavilion is the only hotel Chinese restaurant to receive a star in the Michelin Guide Singapore 2016. The Cantonese joint offers lunch and dinner sets (from $88), which feature some of Cheung’s signature dishes like barbecued Iberico pork and marinated South African abalone.
Jade is probably the prettiest place in the city for dim sum and other Cantonese delicacies. Take in picturesque views from Jade’s floor-to-ceiling windows, or be entranced by its recently refurbished interiors featuring pastel jade hues and specially commissioned wallpaper printed with birds that are native to Singapore. An à la carte dim sum menu is available during weekday lunch. Expect staples such as siew mai with abalone and shrimp dumplings, as well as unique creations like deep-fried taro paste wrapped in truffle and mushroom.
With humble roots as a coffeeshop along Kitchener Road, Putien has come a long way. Specialising in cuisine from the Fujian province of China, the restaurant regularly imports ingredients native from its namesake city, Putian. Try the fried Heng Hwa bee hoon ($10.90) that’s made with sun-dried bee hoon or, when they’re in season, the Duo Tou clams from the Hanjiang district. Despite having ten outlets in Singapore, the quality of the food served at Putien is always consistent, making it a safe bet even for the pickiest of palates.
Fancy a cocktail with your dim sum? At this modern Cantonese restaurant draped in light and glass, that’s par for the course. Hit up the weekend brunch ($68) to sample a range that runs from har gao to the more uncommon black pepper cod dumpling, then add another $60 for free-flow beer, wine, Veuve Clicquot or cocktails. From Mitzo’s à la carte menu, pinch your chopsticks around the barbecued pork ($18) and crispy roast pork belly ($18) – they’re elevated, elegant versions of your average kopitiam fare.
Imperial Treasure opened its first outlet in 2004 at Ngee Ann City. Doesn’t seem that long ago, eh? Especially when you realise the brand now has 30 restaurants across Singapore and Shanghai, with plans to expand to South Korea, Paris and London. The new Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine in ION Orchard is a more refined version of the original, with a spacious main dining hall and six lavish private rooms. Signature dishes include diced abalone and chicken wrapped in egg white ($25), chilled flower crab ($20/100g) and a platter of sliced duck meat, duck tongue, cuttlefish and beef tripe ($34-$68).
Western dishes get a Sichuan twist at Birds of a Feather. Inspired by the laid-back teahouses of Chengdu, the café tastefully makes use of lush greenery and eclectic design pieces to create a space you won't mind unwinding at from morning 'til late. The lunch menu features lighter bites such as the roasted chicken and avocado salad with Sichuan pepper ($18-$20) and Oriental Bolognaise ($20). Despite its names, the dishes aren't too spicy and the subtle kick added is easily manageable, even if you have a low spice tolerance.
Be transported back in time when you step into Plum Village, a small Hakka restaurant that’s been around for more than 30 years. Chinese lanterns hang from the walls and you’ll even find a modest library at the back. The food hasn’t changed since the restaurant opened, you’ll find classic Hakka dishes like fried yam balls ($9-$18) and stuffed beancurd ($6-$15). But the star dish here is definitely the salted vegetable with pork ($13.80-$27.60) that's been stewed for hours until it is perfectly tender.
Its atas digs at Sentosa Cove provide gorgeous views, but Blue Lotus’ true claim to fame is its traditional Chinese dishes served with modern accents. Start with the moreish lemongrass prawn stick dressed in a spicy citrus sauce ($18) before getting your hands dirty with the chilli pomelo crab ($9/100g) – the fruit pulp adds a sweet-sourness you won’t find in typical versions of the dish. The Sichuan-style parwns ($38) is yet another spin on the classic.
The restaurant is musty and the decor looks like it hasn’t changed in three decades, but that hasn’t stopped hordes of regulars from filling the tables every night. While it might not look it, Beng Hiang only moved to its new premises in Jurong East in 2015 after spending years at a shophouse along Amoy Street. It’s one of only about two or three surviving Hokkien restaurants in town – and, as you’d expect, the food’s authentic, from the braised pig’s trotters with yam ($38) to fried mee sua ($8-$18) tossed with both fresh and dried prawns. Also not to be missed is the oyster omelette ($12-$28): it’s lighter compared to the ones you’ll find at the hawker centre.
Be warned: dine at Si Wei Mao Cai only if you can take the heat. The dishes here are not kidding when it comes to spice – they’ll leave you dripping in sweat and with a numb tongue. The most fiery of the lot is the Si Wei Langzi catfish ($29) that’s served swimming in chilli oil and Sichuan peppercorns. For something milder, order the duck stewed with potatoes ($26) that have been braised in a slightly spicy brown sauce. If you’re feeling especially brave, try the si wei chilli frog ($26), or frog’s legs stir-fried with both fresh and dried chillies for an intense kick.
Even though it might not dish out the best dumplings in town, Redstar is absolutely worth it. It’s one of the few dim sum spots in town with the authentic pushcart experience and, to match, decor plucked straight out of the ’60s. Aunties will flock to your table, hawking baskets filled with liu sha bao ($4.70) and xiao long bao ($4.50), then stamping your card to track your orders. And ordering way too much is part of the experience here, so check your self-control at the door. Other reliable favourites include char siew sou ($4.50) and oversized har gao ($4.50) stuffed with whole shrimp.