Singapore will forever have a spot in my heart. I call it Asia-Lite. (Yep, that’s L-I-T-E.) Unlike Hong Kong, Tokyo and Bangkok, (cities where you definitely feel like you’re in the Eastern hemisphere), Singapore is extremely anglo-friendly. English is Singapore’s first language, so you’ll have no problem reading street signs, restaurant menus or conversing with locals. Enter any Uber, restaurant or hotel lobby and you’ll be sure to hear American music playing on the radio. And the immaculate city-scape and modern skyline is definitely of the “new-world.” Not the old one.
But the American friendly vibe isn’t the reason I fell in love. Quite the contrary. Singapore is a true international city. So what was my cupid’s arrow? The incredible food and cocktail scene. And let me tell you: they are serious about their foodie scene in Singapore. This is demonstrated in the exceptionally diverse selection of restaurants, ranging from Michelin star concepts, to dessert gastronomy destinations, to bespoke cocktail bars, to hole-in-the-hall dives. I was lucky enough to have experienced dozens and dozens of the top restaurants during my time in Singapore, and I’ve narrowed down my favorite to these top 10.
So, are you hungry? Let’s get down with some serious Singapore eats, and in no particular order…
Shinji (1 Beach Road, #02-20 Raffles Hotel, Raffles Hotel, Singapore 189673)
Tucked into an inconspicuous corner of the world famous Raffles Hotel, Shinji is the #1 rated sushi restaurant in Singapore. It’s a quiet, humble space with a singular 22-seat sushi bar and an exclusively Japanese staff. Choose from three different omakase menus: from $220 to $300 to $450 per person. It seems steep, but when you realize the meal comes with your own personal sushi chef and cuts of toro you didn’t even know existed, you’ll be glad you invested in Shinji.
Burnt Ends (20 Teck Lim Rd, Singapore 088391)
If you looked up the word “sexy” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Burnt Ends. (Or at the very least, a picture of its beef marmalade toast.) The no-reservations hot-spot in the Keong Saik neighborhood (AKA, Singapore’s Chinatown), was rated #30 out of #50 of the top restaurants in Asia in 2016. The barbeque driven menu, led by Australian Chef David Pynt, will have you salivating over mainstays like bone marrow bread, smoked quail eggs and barbequed skirt steak.
Cufflink Club (6 Jiak Chuan Rd, Singapore 089262)
Oh Cufflink Club, how much do I love ye? Let me count the ways. 1) Your superbly executed cocktails that consistently convey the essence of true mixology without an ounce of pretension. 2) Your extremely warm and welcoming bar staff who, on my mere second visit, remembered exactly how I take my vodka. 3) Your owner, the magnetic British ex-pat Joel Fraser and consummate maitre’d, who makes everyone in his bar feel like a VIP. 4) You’re filled with laid-back locals and gorgeous ex-pats. Always. 5) You play non-stop hip-hop. 6) You serve really good pizza. 7) You’re by far the sexiest, most locally-legit and happening bar in all of Singapore.
Esquina (16 Jiak Chuan Rd, Singapore 089267)
Jason Atherton’s tiny Spanish tapas bar was one of my most unforgettable meals in Singapore. Belly up to the bar (the only place to sit inside the micro-sized space, and if you’re lucky enough to nab a seat, that is) and start with oysters adorned with jalapeno ponzu, salmon roe and ginger flower. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the sea urchin, crab and lobster bisque, served straight out of the urchin itself. And since you scored a seat at one of the most in-demand spots in Singapore, you might as well indulge yourself with the iberico pork and foie-gras sliders.
Cure (21 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089128)
They say that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. Case in point: Cure, which opened down the street from Esquina by its former head Chef Andrew Walsh. Now that Walsh is doing things his way, you’ll find a massive departure from the casual-tapas experience to a bistronomy-driven, prix-fixe concept en route to a Michelin star. With items like hamachi ceviche dressed in carrot tartare, house made pea and truffle pasta and 72-hour beef short ribs with smoked aubergine, I think it’s safe to say Walsh has already arrived.
2am Dessert Bar (21A Lorong Liput, Holland Village, Singapore 277733)
What’s better than a badass chef? A badass female chef. Chef Janice Wong didn’t reinvent the wheel with 2am Dessert Bar. She designed an entirely new one. Don’t be overwhelmed by the depth of dessert items. With a total of 18 different options, you can’t make a bad call. Each dish is a perfectly composed symphony of flavors and aesthetic works of art. (The Cassis Plum was my fave, with a cassis bombe, elderflower foam, choya granita and yuzu pearls). And while the star of the show her is definitely dessert, Chef Wong hasn’t forgotten savory fans, with items like Foie-Gras Cotton Candy and Truffle Mac n’ Cheese.
TungLok XiHe Peking Duck (181 Orchard Rd, 07-07/08/09 Orchard Central, Singapore 238896)
TungLok is one of the most esteemed restaurant groups in all of Asia, with over 20+ concepts across the continent, known for reinventing traditional Chinese cuisine with innovative and creative presentations. One of their crown-jewels is TungLok XiHe Peking Duck. Every meal is served family style, with an assortment of appetizers and sides ranging from pickled vegetables to fried chicken wings. But the Duck is obviously the star of the show, presented alongside an elaborate “Lazy-Susan” with table-side accoutrements, like moo shoo tortillas and pop-rocks.
LOKKEE (68 Orchard Road, #03-01, Plaza Singapura, Plaza Singapura, Singapore 238839)
If you thought TungLok’s tongue-in-cheeky style ended with pop-rocks, think again. Enter LOKKEE, a witty, unexpected play on famous Chinese recipes from the same restaurant group. Don’t be fooled by its playful approach however. LOKKEE might have been one of the most delicious meals of my many trips to Singapore. Nonetheless, you’ll find flaming pineapples stuffed with beef, cocktails that change color, fried banana dessert disguised as egg rolls and hand wipes intentionally mistaken for condoms. They don’t call it LOKKEE for nothing.
Tippling Club (38 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Singapore 088461)
Whenever the gastronomy scene cut its teeth in Singapore, they were sharpened as soon as Tippling Club came to town. Before we talk food, let’s talk space. Tippling boasts one of the most gorgeous interiors in all of Singapore. The definitively modern, stylish and downright fun room reflects its elevated and somewhat irreverent menu. Must-try’s are the Manchengo Pillows, Foie Gras Apple Lollipops, Curried Lamb Cigars, Black Truffle Risotto and Cheesecake Ecstasy…little white “pills” of cheesecake in a pill bottle.
If you’re familiar with the Violet Hour in Chicago, you’ll immediately understand 28 Hong Kong Street. No visible address, no street signs: just a door. Step off the incognito side street and enter a dimly light bespoke cocktail bar pumping indie dance music and filled to the brim with ex-pats. Grab a cozy table, partake in an AppleJack Smash (made with apple brandy) while you soak it up with the best mac n’ cheese balls of your life. If you’re feeling sassy, drop the worth-it $22 on the “Whore’s Bath” made with Manuka Honey Vodka, umeshu, Poire William liqueur, lemon and Hawaiian lava-salt pickled ginger.
I bet you’re definitely hungry now. Good thing there’s a whole host of world-class restaurants and unbelievable street-food on practically every corner of Singapore. Have any more questions about traveling to Singapore? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips on where to stay and what else to do besides eat and drink. (Although, that is my favorite part of travel. #SorryNotSorry) AND! If you have any tips of your own about the best places to eat and drink in Singapore, leave a comment and add to the list. I love hearing from fellow travel-buffs.