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Madame Fan
Photograph: Madame Fan / Facebook

The best Chinese restaurants in Singapore

These Chinese restaurants serve dishes dating back hundreds of years and modern creations that fuse novelty with technique. Additional reporting by Joyce Huang

Nicole-Marie Ng
Fabian Loo
Written by
Nicole-Marie Ng
&
Fabian Loo
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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.

RECOMMENDED: The best traditional Chinese dialect restaurants in Singapore and the best modern Chinese restaurants in Singapore

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Min Jiang has long been a household name. The beloved establishment has been serving up refined Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine since 1982; it's quality unfailing over the years. But now, after 38 years, it’s finally time for some change. It begins with the aged interior. After undergoing refurbishments, the new Min Jiang boasts a sleeker, brighter environment. The food has similarly been updated to celebrate the restaurant’s new chapter. Sample newly created dim sum, which includes the steamed pumpkin ball ($6.20 for three) and homemade squid tofu with XO sauce ($7.80 for three), or try the latest offerings of deep-fried stuffed dough sticks with shredded abalone and enoki mushroom ($36) and roasted chicken skin with prawn paste in sesame pockets ($36). In keeping with traditions, Min Jiang continues to offer the dim sum pushcart service during lunchtimes – a rare sight in Chinese eateries these days. 

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  • City Hall

Helmed by chef Cheung Siu Kong, Summer Pavilion is a one-Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant. The Cantonese joint offers lunch and dinner sets (from $78), which feature dishes made with lavish ingredients of pan-fried sea perch, poached rice with lobster, double-boiled chicken soup with sea whelk, and more. 

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  • City Hall

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.

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  • Changi 

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.    

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  • Kallang

Most might know Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant at UOB Plaza, where spicy Sichuan dishes are served alongside panoramic views of the city. But away from the hustle of the CBD lies another of its outlet, hidden from plain sight on the third level of PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road. And its latest makeover provides new reasons to seek out the restaurant. Beyond its signature mainstays of diced chicken with dried chilli (from $22) and twice-cooked pork slices (from $22), there are new creations on the menu worth trying, too. A must-order: the Exotic Garden With Black Truffle In Osmanthus Sauce (from $98).

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  • Raffles Place

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.  

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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.

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  • City Hall

Housed in The NCO Club, Madame Fan is a sexy Chinese restaurant by Alan Yau, the restaurateur behind the Wagamama brand in the UK. The menu features progressive dishes including its five house specialities: double boiled four treasure soup, drunken crab rice noodle, steamed soon hock, hand-cut Taiwan noodles and lobster wonton noodles. Also popular is its boozy cocktail dim sum brunch. 

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  • Marina Bay

Dining at Mott 32 is a sexy, luxurious affair. The experience kicks off even before you step into the space – just its name alone inspires confidence. After all, the restaurant has outposts in Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Seoul, and Vancouver, and is renowned for its progressive Chinese cuisine. The usual Chinese staples are executed with premium ingredients, Mott 32's modus operandi. Signatures include parcels of plump siew mai ($9 for two) stuffed with Iberico pork and soft-boiled quail egg, and a Singapore-exclusive sugar-coated Peking duck bun ($10 for three). But the bird shines best in Mott 32’s iconic applewood roasted duck ($108). Preparing it is a laborious process: it's cured and marinated for over 48 hours before it's placed in the oven for an hour to earn its glistening brown skin.

Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant
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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.

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  • Kallang

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.

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  • Chinatown

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. 

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  • Changi 

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.

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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).

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  • Raffles Place

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.

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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. 

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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).

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  • Ang Mo Kio

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. 

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  • Raffles Place

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. 

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  • Jurong East

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.

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  • Chinatown

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.

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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.

For more Chinese-inspired meals in Singapore

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