Often hailed the ultimate destination for food connoisseurs and alike, Singapore is a veritable mix of the eastern and western worlds. From the delicious simplicity of some of the local favourites to the more complex infusions of European flavours; there are so many interesting places to eat in Singapore and a plate for every palate.
Singapore’s Local Culinary Highlights
When people think of Singapore, their minds often wander to the trademark scene of a tourist with a bib, chowing down on a sizeable plate of crab. It’s a favourite among many, and for good reason. However, there are other local highlights which deserve your attention and for which a bib is not required.
Hainanese Chicken Rice
Hainanese chicken rice was originally adapted from early Chinese immigrants from the Hainan province of southern China. However, today it is the quintessential Singaporean dish and is considered a significant part of its national identity. The chicken is poached, creating a buttery soft texture that melts in your mouth, while the resulting stock is often combined with ginger, garlic and pandan leaves to produce a flavourful “oily” rice. To serve, the chicken and rice are accompanied with dipping sauces of dark soy sauce, freshly ground ginger and minced chilli and garlic. It may be simple in appearance, but this Singaporean classic is packed with punchy flavours.
Starting the day off right is always key when travelling and the best start involves treating yourself to a tasty breakfast. Another dish credited to the Hainanese, kaya toast is the ultimate in comfort food and will give your taste buds a serious sugar rush. Bread is either toasted or charcoal-grilled before being slathered with a generous serving of butter and a splash of kaya, a traditional jam made from coconut and eggs. Sweet, sweet delight.
It’s a Malaysian classic that has weaved its way into the hearts of Singaporean and tourists alike. I fancy myself an open-minded, adventurous foodie, but when red beans and corn appear in a dessert of shaved ice and sweet syrup, even I have my doubts. A refreshing heap of shaved ice is topped with red beans, jelly and technicolour syrup and may also include a wacky mix of sweet corn, condensed milk, mango or durian. I have no idea why, but it works. The beans’ natural sweetness is accentuated by the ice and syrup and is the perfect treat in the Singaporean heat.
Singapore Foodie Hot Spots
Cé La Vi | 1 Bayfront Ave, Singapore
Located above the landmark SkyPark Observation Deck of the Insta-famous Marina Bay Sands, Cé La Vi is a level above the rest (57 levels to be specific). Similar to its sister venue in Hong Kong, It’s all about innovative modern Asian flavours and textures, set against a backdrop of Singapore’s stunning scenery. Kick off the night with a sinfully delicious cocktail, the signature Botanic 57, which offers the perfect balance of sweet and sour. Refreshing local cucumber is muddled with sour green grapes and fresh lemon juice and finished with hints of lychee and pear from elderflower liqueur and Grey Goose vodka. Well, I’m sold. The best way to tackle the menu and truly indulge your senses is to order a few sharing plates. We went for the spicy salmon sushi roll with smoked chipotle pepper, salt and Szechuan pepper crispy squid and the steamed crab and shrimp dumplings; because dumplings are life. Crispy, crunchy, punchy and spicy; you’ll never be left wanting. Don’t worry if spice isn’t really your thing, it will burn off the calories and leave ample space for dessert! Speaking of, end your night with the blooming passionfruit coconut mousse and banana mille feuille and then crown yourself epicurean king or queen.
Open Farm Community | 130E Minden Road, Singapore
Some meals stay with you long after the plates have been cleared. The mud crab pappardelle with Thai curry sauce and caramelised garden squash at Open Farm Community, is one of those meals. Set on 35,000 square feet of luscious green land and away from the usual hustle and bustle of the city, this hidden gem operates a “paddock to plate” philosophy. All the fruits, herbs and vegetables are grown on site, which ensures a one-of-a-kind experience for all diners. If, like me, you have an innate curiosity about herb-flavoured ice creams, Open Farm Community will answer all your questions. The answer is that basil ice cream and lemon tart should be a staple on every menu.
Coriander Leaf Bistro | 30 Victoria Street, #02-01 CHIJMES, Singapore
Now home to myriad restaurants showcasing a vast array of cuisines, CHIJMES Hall was first built in the late nineteenth century as a chapel for the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus. After extensive conservation and renovation work, CHIJMES Hall was made a national monument of Singapore.
Set against a backdrop of beautiful Neo-Gothic architecture, Coriander Leaf Bistro is an unassuming space bursting with charm. Here you’ll find many of the classic flavours Singapore is famous for; from tandoori chicken to tiger prawns and crispy duck pancakes. The philosophy of Founder Samia Ahad rings true in every dish: “Food is at the centre of some of the most important moments of our lives. It is over the dinner table that memories are made, deals are conducted, pain is shared. Over food, we bond, we fight, we romance, we celebrate.”
Spize | Multiple Locations
For a great story and a relaxed meal, Spize is the one. In its former life, it played the role of the kebab shop on the high street after a big night out. Once the perfect hangout for late night revellers, Spize has undergone a makeover and now serves up hearty meals to families, friends and colleagues. From Singaporean, Thai and Indian to Western and Mediterranean cuisines, as well as their famous Maggie Goreng, Spize has slowly become a local institution.
Chinatown Complex Food Centre | 335 Smith St, Singapore
No Singaporean journey of tastes is complete without a visit to one of the country’s famous hawker centres. With over 260 food stalls, Chinatown Complex Food Centre is the largest hawker centre in Singapore and will leave you calculating how much food a human can safely consume in one sitting. After several laps past char kway teow, BBQ stingray, dim sum and frog porridge, we finally settled on the crispy thin pancakes from Nam Kheng Delights. With fillings ranging from a sweet peanut to gooey melted cheese, you can comfortably settle in for a two-course pancake party before washing it down with a freshly squeezed fruit juice from the streets of Chinatown below.
Komala Villas | 76 – 78 Serangoon Road, Singapore
For the biggest dosa at the lowest price, Komala Villas in Little India is the destination of choice. A large dosa, a type of pancake originating from India made from fermented batter, with three sides will set you back a whole SGD2.50. Yes, a whole meal for less than the price of a train ticket. Plain, garlic or onion naan will cost around the same amount but the accompanying curries are a little bit pricier. All in all, the entire meal for two of us cost SGD18, and that included some delicious iced Milos. If you’re unsure about any of the menu items, the smiling staff will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Everton Park Neighbourhood | Everton Park, Singapore
This neighbourhood is a food lovers hotspot and probably our greatest find on the trip, with many locals questioning how we had come across the hidden gem. Entering the area is like stepping through a secret portal into the colourful streets of Europe. The rooftop bars offer the perfect vista for admiring houses adorned with brightly coloured shutters and enjoying the extensive views across the CBD. If you stop off at Potato Head Folk, be sure to try the truffle cheese fries. They are every bit as decadent as they sound. Finally, end the night as every night should; at the Everton Creamery with two scoops of early grey cream cheese and hazelnut crunch. Heaven in a bowl.
Central Perk | 1 Magazine Road, Central Mall #01-01, Singapore
With the iconic F.R.I.E.N.D.S sign adorning the café window, Central Perk welcomes you behind the scenes of everybody’s favourite sitcom. The café is home to Monica’s kitchen, Rachel’s wedding dress, the iconic fussball table, Phoebe’s cat and much, much more that will have you humming about no one telling you “life was gonna be this way.”
Hottest Bars in Singapore
Since no foodie guide is complete without a little tipple, Singapore has the perfect offerings for the final course of your degustation.
Atlas Bar | Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Road, Singapore
Atlas Bar is a gin-lover’s paradise, set in a public library-like building that would make Jay Gatsby feel at home. The knowledgeable staff will advise you based on your preference for sweet, dry, strong or bitter and they’ll throw in some tomato flavoured popcorn for good measure.
Potato Head | 36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore
You may have been to the well-known Potato Head bars in Bali, Jakarta or Hong Kong. Well, Potato Head Folk in Everton Park is not just a spot for people watching; it’s home to some of the crispest cocktails. Sip on Sangria as the sun sets and the humidity eases for a perfectly relaxing evening.
Raffles Hotel | 1 Beach Rd, Singapore
With its classic colonial architecture, a stark contrast to its contemporary neighbours, the Raffles Hotel promises the quintessential Singapore experience. Stop in for an iconic Singapore Sling and end your adventure on the right note.