Singapore is a land of many contradictions. It’s the perfect combination of city meets tropical island, East meets West, and high and low dining. With temperatures that never dip below 25 degrees Celsius, it’s easy to eat and drink your way around any time of the year from a hawker centre in the heartlands to a rooftop bar by Marina Bay. So what are you waiting for? Board a four-hour flight from HKIA, and enjoy a long weekend in the Lion City.
Tiong Bahru Market
Hawker centres are great places to be introduced to Singaporean cuisine. These airy food courts usually contain at least a dozen stalls selling everything from char kway teow (stir-fried flat noodles with cockles, Chinese sausage, and dark soy sauce), to chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes with preserved radish and chili), to roasted meats (barbecue pork, roasted pork, roasted goose). Tiong Bahru Market showcases Singapore’s contrasts at work; it’s located in one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates turned trendy neighbourhood. Go on any weekend morning to see local and expat families alike gathering for a meal. Walk off the calories afterwards and check out the neighbourhood boutiques, cafes and bookshops.
Tiong Bahru Market, 30 Seng Poh Road, 168898
This Melbourne-style café is home to the city’s best flat white. The atmosphere is laidback and friendly, making the café the kind of place that eventually feels like a second home. Food offerings are fresh and light, with the Bircher Muesli and Dean’s Breakfast (poached eggs, melted cheese, vegemite on sourdough) being especially tasty.
The Plain, 50 Craig Road, #01-01, 089688, +65 6225 4387
By the Kallang River lies Kilo, a hidden gem of an open-air restaurant. The atmosphere is cool and stylish but not pretentious, and the same goes for the food. Enjoy Japanese and Italian-inspired comfort dishes here, from the wasabi tuna tartare to the moreish cream of ebiko pasta that comes with a generous portion of smelt roe and fat grilled prawns. Finish your meal with a Singapore split, a refreshing mix of chilli pineapple granite, roasted banana cream, and peanut butter ice cream.
Kilo Kallang, 66 Kampong Bugis, #02-01, S338987, +65 6467 3987
The first night in Singapore requires a beautiful view. For the best one in town, head up 63 levels to 1-Altitude, which is the tallest alfresco bar in the world. With an unobstructed view of the whole city, it’s sure to impress.
1-Altitude, 1 Raffles Place, 048616, +65 6438 0410
Feeling peckish after drinking and dancing the night away? Join the other late night revellers at SPIZE for a delicious, greasy late night bite. Popular options include mee goreng pattaya (stir-fried noodles wrapped in an egg omelet), Penang char kway teow (stir-fried flat noodles with prawns, chives, eggs and spicy gravy), prata (fried bread), and milo dinosaurs (extreme chocolate shakes).
SPIZE @ River Valley, 409 River Valley Road, 248307, +65 6337 7493
Super Loco and Kith Cafe
There’s nothing like spending a morning having a relaxed breakfast by the Singapore River. The area known as Robertson Quay is home to a number of cafes, restaurants, bars and art galleries. Try Super Loco for fun, festive Mexican followed by local favourite Kith Café for coffee and people watching. Walk off breakfast by following the river, which leads to the entertainment districts of Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.
Super Loco, 60 Robertson Quay, The Quayside, 238252, +6235 8900
Kith Café, 7 Rodyk Street #01-28, Robertson Quay, 238215, +65 6341 9407
The Arab Quarter is known as Kampong Glam. Find Haji Lane, and get lost for a few hours among the colourful shophouses filled with boutiques, hair salons, florists and restaurants. Once the hunger hits, visit Zam Zam for the world famous murtabak (fried bread filled with onions, minced meat, and egg). For a sweeter option, try Maison Ikkoku for the city’s best French toast (with homemade salted caramel sauce and sour cream); the bespoke bar on the second level also has the best view of the golden Sultan Mosque.
Zam Zam, 697-699 New Bridge Road, 198675, +6298 6320
Maison Ikkoku, 20 Kandahar Street, 198885, +65 6294 0078
The Rooftop at Potatohead Folk
Part of what makes Singapore special is its architecture. Chinatown is home to a variety of distinctive buildings from the circular Pearl Bank Apartments to rows of shophouses along Keong Saik Road. Potatohead Folk, a four-story restaurant and bar, is housed in one of the area’s most distinctive art deco buildings. The tiki lounge on the top floor is especially charming. Grab a cocktail and naughty fries (hand cut potatoes, spice bernaise sauce, beef chili, fried onions) and enjoy the sunset over the city.
Potatohead Folk, 36 Keong Saik Road, 089143, +65 6327 1939
Holland Village XO Bee Hun
For a uniquely Singaporean meal, try Holland Village XO Bee Hun. The casual eatery is famed for the rich flavours of its XO Bee Hoon dish made up of fat rice noodles and fish slices in a creamy soup lightlyspiked with cognac. Other must tries are the har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken wings) and ngoh hiang (five spice pork rolls).
Holland Village XO Bee Hun, 17 Smith Street, 058931, +65 6227 3345
If you’re looking for the city’s most unique cocktails, Operation Dagger will have impressive options. This basement speakeasy looks like a magical apothecary lit by a cloud-like constellation. While the menu is small, the offerings are thoughtful and well-executed. The Eggcontains raw salted egg yolk, vanilla beans, caramel and homemade rum, and comes atop a bed of hay and star anise in a closed-top glass jar. The Hot and Cold describes two layers of a sophisticated twist on the classic pina colada, which is also available as a mocktail.
Operation Dagger, 7 Ann Siang Hill, 069791, +65 6438 4057
Bjorn Shen is one of Singapore’s food wunderkinds. His non-conformist personality is perfectly reflected in his restaurants. Artichoke, located in the Bras Basah art district, offers the finest Middle Eastern inspired fusion food in the city (no eggs benedict here, warns a sign on the wall). The Artichoke Fried Chicken is scrumptious with a lemon glaze, paired with paprika fries, Lebanese pickles, tahini-laced coleslaw, harissa and the city’s best whipped garlic sauce. For the best experience, get a seat in the courtyard and leave room for a cheekily named neh neh ice cream pop. After breakfast, walk over to the stunning new National Gallery and enjoy the world’s largest public display of modern Southeast Asian art.
Artichoke, 161 Middle Road, 188978, +65 6336 6949
The Landing Point at the Fullerton Bay Hotel
The Fullerton Bay Hotel offers an afternoon tea that is close to perfect. From the white jasmine and red rose scented halls to the colonial chic décor, spending a few hours enjoying a refillable set with views of Marina Bay is a luscious experience. There are traditional scones, alongside delicacies such as crème brulee chocolate tarts, lobster tartlets, and truffled egg mayo canapés. Perfectly complementing the treats are a wide selection of teas from Singapore’s TWG and a view of Marina Bay.
The Landing Point at Fullerton Bay Hotel, 80 Collyer Quay, 049326, +65 6597 5277
Ponggol Nasi Lemak
While a bit out of the way, it’s worth hailing a cab to this popular neighbourhood gem. Nasi Lemak is coconut rice topped with an assortment of toppings. A plate with stir-fried eggplant, green beans with dried shrimp, egg, anchovies and a chicken wing or two would be a satisfying dish for first-timers. Don’t forget the homemade spicy sambal. It’s so good you might be thinking about it until your next visit.
Ponggol Nasi Lemak @ Jalan Besar, 371 Jalan Besar #01-01, 208998, +65 6293 0020
This article first appeared on Foodie Magazine, “your guide to good taste.” The original post can be viewed here.