Local food is hard to define as Singapore is such a cultural and culinary melting pot, however, this EAT ME section features some real local foodie institutions that are pretty reasonably priced (but make sure you swap your Ferragamos for your FitFlops), as well as some smarter restaurants specialising in local or colonial fare. In what other category could Banana Leaf Apolo rub shoulders with The Raffles?
What: DTF goes hawker
Where: Riverside hawker centre opposite Great World City
Wear: Flip flops and T
We’re: Established with a big following
This hawker centre is just opposite Great World City and you have probably driven past it lots of times before but never stopped…but now you have the best reason to: Dumpling Auntie. Her stall is actually called: Hao Pei and she has been here for about 30 years. Her son now helps her and everything, from the noodles casing to the pork mince which is non fatty and flavoured with herbs, is made to her own recipe. There is a minimum order of 10 dumplings for $6 and they come 2 ways: steamed or fried. Both are delicious and although the filling is identical, taste quite different. Wash it down with some freshly made, cancer-busting soursop juice, or a coconut, from CHUN KEE FRESH FRUIT JUICE a few stalls down, sit at a table by the riverside, eat and enjoy.
Opening Times: 12pm-2pm; 5pm-8pm daily, EXCEPT Tue & Wed when she is closed
100 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6739 8370
What: Good stab at representing all the local food types in SG – lunch only though
We’re: Great if you are short of time and want to tick some boxes
Come here at lunchtime and they serve a delicious, authentic Peranakan buffet. Great for nyonya nosh novices who get to see what each dish looks like before committing…the lunch is actually named ‘Singapore Flavours’ and also showcases food from other dialect groups including Hainanese, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Teochew, Malays and the Indians all at once during lunchtime. Perfect if you are visiting and short of time but want to try several specialty dishes.
Opening Times: 12pm-2.30 Mon-Fri only
419 River Valley Road
T: (+65) 6235 6760
We’re: Down & dirty (but scrupulously clean) chicken rice; cheap & cheerful
Where: River Valley
Wear: Shorts & T-shirt
Bring: Tourist or car (and drive it home)
Certainly lives up to its name and has a cult following. Delicious chicken rice restaurant that has been around for 20 years. Their secret is that they use kampong (i.e. free-range) chicken rather than the prevalent battery variety found pretty much everywhere else. There are a total of five branches, all of which close at varying times. They have a huge variety of side dishes including fried tofu and onion omlette. BTW: Soup to accompany a chicken rice take-away is free, but they charge $1 towards the robust and reusable plastic container to put it in.
Opening Times: 11am-5am (yes, really) daily
67 Killiney Road
T: (+65) 6734 9648
We’re: Local coffee shop; cheap & cheerful
Wear: Scruff order – no air con here
Bring: Anyone who wants to have a good, very local breakfast experience
A veritable institution, this place has been here, in the very same building, since 1919. Heavenly early bird breakfast spot and great for a late night feast too. Choose from Kaya Toast (they actually make the kaya and the bread themselves); laksa, mee siam and much more, all washed down with a traditional, and strangely addictive, kopi. Be warned of the Singapore-style strip lighting and very basic décor. There are masses of other branches – see website for details, but this is the mothership and the best.
Opening Times: 6am-11pm Mon, Wed & Sat; 6pm-6pm Tue & Sun
(#B4) Ion Ochard
2 Orchard Turn
We’re: Sleek food court in Ion; cheap & cheerful
Wear: Officewear – most people here are on their lunch break
Bring: Tourist for gentle intro to a hawker centre
So-called ‘Food Opera’, this is a super-slick food court kitted out withPhilippe Starck ghost chairs and black chandeliers….and, crucially….food worth singing about. But before you head in to the Food Opera section, find MODERN PEKING DUCK at stall #B4-35 (which is just outside it and along the same stretch as the icecream counter Marvelous Cream). They do a good starter of 5 Peking duck pancakes for $6. Eat them on the hoof (as unless you buy from inside Food Opera, or the stall has its own seating, there is nowhere to eat their food which is marginally annoying). Now, slightly sated, you can begin your culinary adventure. Head inside Food Opera, turning right into it just after passing landmark Marvelous Cream (great for pud, see later notes) and hunt out the delights of 3rd GENERATION LAKSA PRAWN NOODLE (opposite WENDY’S VIETNAMESE CUISINE – also worth a try). It’s actually already in its 4th generation and is now in the hands of the great grandson Desmond Boey who regards the ingredients that they use in the soup base as his inheritance. Go for a bowl of the prawn noodles but in order to savour the soup, ask for the dish to be dry, which means the soup will be served on the side. Their laksa is also pretty good. The neighbouring stall, LI XIN CHAO ZHOU FISHBALL NOODLE, is worth it for their delicious mee pok fish ball noodle (they only use yellowtail fish to make their fishballs and owner Mr Lim believes in making them freshly everyday). There is also good roast duck stall: GUAN CHEE HONG KONG ROAST DUCK, the company has several other outlets and they have been in business for more than 22 years, so they must be doing something right. Wherever you collect your booty from, prices are more than reasonable (generally start from $5 a dish) and you get to sit in an almost restaurant-like environment. For a great pud, head outside the Food Opera section to MARVELLOUS CREAM (#B4-81/82/82) who will blend any assortment of their delicious icecreams and toppings in front of you, to your specifications, on their -16°C frosted marble slab (their espresso and hazelnut custom blend is perfect and not too sweet). All their ices are made with 100% Hokkaido Japanese milk. (Following on from their success here, they have a café on level 1 of 313@Somerset).
Opening Times: 11am-9pm daily
ROYAL CHINA AT RAFFLES
1 Beach Road
T: (+65) 6337 1886
We’re: Yum yum dim sum; won’t break the bank
Wear: Elasticated trousers
Bring: Large appetite
Not many dim sum restaurants can lay claim to starting out in London and being so wildly successful that they move back to Asia with a serious reputation.
Opening Times: 12pm-3pm Mon-Sat; 11am-2pm Sun; Dinner 6pm-10.30pm daily
MEZZA9 / STRAITSKITCHEN
The Grand Hyatt
10 Scotts Road
T: (+65) 6738 1234
We’re: Hawker food for the anally retentive; not cheap but won’t break the bank
Wear: Twin set and pearls or jeans and heels
Bring: Relatives when they’re in town
The Hyatt has 2 great restaurants: mezza9 and StraitsKitchen. Award-winning mezza9 (besides having a good Sunday champagne brunch) has an impressive offering for lunch and dinner, built around the concept of glamorous Asian fare as well as international food. StraitsKitchen – their other culinary offering on the first floor – serves a great selection of mainly local food (Chinese, Malay and Indian), daily, in an equally sleek setting. BTW: The bar at mezza9 is a mecca for martini lovers; choose from 30 different flavours from lychee to sakura.
Opening Times: 12pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm Mon-Fri; 12.30pm-3pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm Weekends
BANANA LEAF APOLO
54 Race Course Road
T: (+65) 6297 1595
We’re: No plates curry house; cheap & cheerful
Where: Little India
Bring: Relatives / curry lovers
Apolo is an obvious choice for delicious south Indian food. Meat as well as vegetarian options available, eat it off the banana leaves with your hands or a knife and fork on request.
Opening Times: 10.30am-10.30pm daily
Block 25 (#01-03)
T: (+65) 6472 2080
We’re: Banana leaf curry institution; not that cheap & cheerful, given what it is
Wear: Don’t care
Bring: People who like spicy food and don’t drink wine
Hugely popular amongst Singaporeans, most of whom remember coming here (or to one of their previous venues) as children and still hold fond memories for the place. One of the oldest Indian restaurants in Singapore and specialists in both northern and southern Indian food. Generally speaking, curries are pretty hot (as in spicy), generously served up in old-style surroundings which are refreshingly basic for the Dempsey address. Very authentic, without the trek to Little India, but also without the wallet-friendly pricing…it’s surprisingly expensive but undoubtedly ‘the real thing’, all served up on a banana leaf. BTW: To show you have finished eating, fold your banana leaf in half, horizontally. Weigh it down with your spoon and fork, if you are using cutlery that is. Rice refills are free but watch out for their garlic naan, which is very heavy on the (almost raw) garlic front.
Opening Times: 11am-3pm; 6pm-10pm daily
Esplanade Mall (#02-27)
8 Raffles Avenue
T: (+65) 6423 1881
We’re: Perfect for pre-theatre dinner or slick lunch; mid-range prices
Wear: Shift and sling or suit
Bring: Date or Daddy
Grub’s up, and this one’s a place to show-off about knowing. Space is very stylish but infinitely more effortless (and we prefer it all the more for this – no one likes a try-hard) cousin of My Humble House who holds court next door, and stands out from the crowd for its simple yet delectable local classics. The menu offers everything you’d expect to see – and want to eat – from the chic-est chicken rice to the perfectly balanced, sweet, rich laksa.
Opening Times: 11.45am-2.30pm; 6.30am-10pm daily
DIN TAI FUNG
290 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6836 8336
We’re: NOT dim sum, we’re Taiwanese dumplings; about $30 a head
Where: The Paragon
Bring: Friends or family
DTF started life in Taipan before going Asia-wide (they are also stateside in NYC). With an almost conveyor-belt-like intensity of masked dumpling chefs working wonders in the all-glass kitchen, you know what you are eating is as slick and fresh as it gets. This is dumpling heaven – be sure to try their signature pork xiao long bao – and, as the queues suggest, very popular. Extra points awarded for the fact that almost everything on the menu is steamed, fresh and fragrant. No fried dim sum heaviness here. A veritable institution, it has been voted one of the Top Ten best restaurants worldwide by The New York Times. An absolute must. They have several Singapore branches – see website for more details.
Opening Times: 11am-9.30pm Mon-Fri; 10am-9.30pm Sat & Sun
2 Orchard Turn
T: (+65) 6509 8283
We’re: Cheap and cheerful dim sum – Crystal Jade’s competition
Wear: The lower you go in Ion, the less smart it gets…#B3…go figure…
Bring: Friends and family…a great place for kids who want an early lunch (opens at 10.30am so you’re eating by 11am)
The quality of the lunchtime dim sum here can vary wildly, dependant on which outlet you go to, so listen up: Ion (as listed) or Suntec City Mall (#B1-011; T: (+65) 6339 3118; 11am-10pm daily) have never disappointed. Each restaurant has a specialty (Ion’s is Noodle & Congee, Sun Tec’s is Nan Bei) but for the sake of clarity, we are talking dim sum only – and measuring it on all the old faves.
Opening Times: vary according to outlet. Ion: 11am-10.30pm Weekdays; 10.30am-10.30pm Weekends. Suntec: 11am-10pm daily.
CRYSTAL JADE KITCHEN
2 Lorong Mambong
T: (+65) 64690300
We’re: Cheap and cheerful dim sum that’s nearly always open (from 7am-2.30am)
Where: Holland V
Wear: FitFlops and shorts
Bring: People who want to eat at funny times, or anyone who likes unpretentious dim sum
Basic dim sum that sets the benchmark. Miles cheaper than their swish sister restaurants below (although not a match for their quality), it’s very busy at lunchtimes and packed on weekends.
Opening Times: 7am-2.30am daily
CRYSTAL JADE PALACE RESTAURANT
Ngee Ann City (#04-19)
391A Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6735 2388
We’re: Stylo milo dim sum; won’t break the bank
Wear: Lunchtime lovelies will dress up
Bring: Family and guests when they’re in town
Their flagship, this is an authentic Cantonese restaurant that we love for its good dim sum. A slick operation, the restaurant is contemporary and…..what better sign of good food?….packed with locals. BTW: when you reserve, be sure to say that you want to be within the main restaurant. They have an over-flow section at the back which is not attractive but great if you are with children who throw food and scream.
Opening Times: 11.30am-11pm Mon-Fri; 11am-3pm Sat lunch, 6pm-11pm Sat dinner; 10.30am-3pm Sun lunch; 6pm-11pm Sun dinner
Same but different: CRYSTAL JADE GOLDEN PALACE at Paragon (T: (+65) 6734 6866) offers contemporary Cantonese and Teochew cuisine with excellent dim sum. Dark and theatrical inside, be sure you are eating what you mean to….chicken’s feet anyone?
76 Bras Basah Road
T: (+65) 6330 3588
We’re: Local dim sum haunt; won’t break the bank
Where: Next to Raffles
Wear: Twin set and pearls
Bring: Colleages or rellies
Ignore the rather corporate Chinese décor, this is a dim sum find and serves very authentic Cantonese style dim sum to a predominantly local clientele. A lunchtime must. BTW: Their ‘lobako’ is steamed not fried, still good, but don’t order it if you are expecting crispy, fried deliciousness; make sure you try their ‘chalia’ – deep fried dough fritters wrapped in cheung fan.
Opening Times: 11.30am-2.30pm Mon-Sat; 11am-2.30pm Sun; 6.30pm-10pm daily
Same but different: HUA TING at Orchard Hotel Galleria (T: (+65) 6739 6666) is a bit of an insider’s gem with a great dim sum selection and a chef from Hong Kong.
Meritus Mandarin (L5)
333 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6831 6291 / 6831 6288
We’re: Hawker food for scaredy cats
Wear: GAP or Gucci
Bring: Tourists or chicken rice snobs
Home of the famous Mandarin Chicken Rice that some people swear is as good as it gets. Chatterbox is an iconic coffee house that has been around since the early ‘70s. A VERY gentle introduction to one of Singapore’s most famous dishes and other smartened-up (cynics would say sanitised) hawker favourites – you would be hard-pushed to find lobster laksa on offer at any food court.
Opening Times: 6am-1am Sun-Thu; 24 hours Fri & Sat & eve of PH
Same but different: SPACE (see entry above) offers an almost identical version in funkier surroundings but a less central location.
1 Beach Road
T: (+65) 6337 1886
We’re: Tea for tourists
Where: The Raffles Hotel…where else?
Wear: Twin set and pearls or jeans and heels
Sip your souchong and soak up the splendor. At last you used to be able to. Now showcases a very disappointingly small selection of…gasp…bagged teas. If you like Earl Grey, you will have to have it stewed and out of the communal (albeit silver) pot. Go for Darjeeling instead and you will at least get your own teapot. The atmosphere and colonial elegance is effortless and fabulous though, and the classic and refillable ‘three tier tea’ features all the usual (but delicious) suspects from cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches just like Jeeves used to make, to proper madeleines, scones and jam and more. Beautifully presented, it sits at your table before you do, waiting patiently to be devoured. This may look pretty and welcoming but the downside is your sandwiches will most probably have curled at the edges…not slick (make sure you get the plate taken away before you tuck in and go and help yourself to another selection from the buffet). The buffet also offers local high tea equivalents: make like they do in Tanamera and opt for a curry puff or chicken pie. Skip lunch to get your money’s worth (it costs a punchy $58++ per person; children under 6 eat for free and kids 6-12 years old cost $25 ++).
Opening Times: There are 2 sittings daily. 3.30pm-4.30pm and 4.30pm-5.30pm. You can sit from 3.30pm-5.30pm, but they need advance warning so they can block the table out
Same but different: THE CAPELLA, Sentosa (T: (+65) 6591 5046) has an all-day fine dining restaurant, The Knolls, which serves up a fabulous ‘Colonial Tea’ (they may be a little low on real colonial splendor but have a good sea view). It is not a buffet, but the selection is huge and at $28++ per person, big enough for 2 to share.
YUM CHA RESTAURANT
20 Trengganu Street (#02-01)
Off Temple Street
T: (+65) 6372 1717
We’re: Slam clatter dim sum (with weekend trolley dollies)
Where: Pulsing heart of China Town
Bring: China town fatigue and family when in town
Feels rather large and commercial, like it might be part of a chain, but actually it isn’t. Due to it’s central Chinatown location, the clientele is an inevitable mixture of tourists (groan) as well as – surprisingly – locals (phew). With no airs and graces, just good dim sum, it’s a great place to go with or without your brood. BTW: Try the rather unlikely sounding red bean paste banana fritters – delicious and not too sweet.
Opening Times: 11am-11pm Mon-Fri; 9am-11pm Sat & Sun
745 North Bridge Road
T: (+65) 6298 7563
We’re: Very local, very Islamic; cheap & cheerful
Where: Arab Street area
Wear: Dish dashers
Bring: Chicken biryani enthusiasts
Like Samy’s, this one’s been around for generations and chicken biryani lovers are hooked on their aromatic version that they make fresh everyday. BTW: Ask for achar to accompany your briyani – the pickled cucumber really freshens it up. They offer free deliver for orders over $50, otherwise there is a $5 delivery charge.
Opening Times: 10am-9.30pm daily
MADRAS NEW WOODLANDS
12-14 Upper Dickson Road
T: (+65) 6297 1594
We’re: No frills Indian; cheap & cheerful
Where: Little India
Wear: The kurta that you’ve just bought from Tekka
Bring: Unpretentious veggies
With a reputation to protect, this place has been around for years and serves very good Indian vegetarian food. If you don’t know your bhelpuri from your panipuri…fear not…the staff are very helpful and will, if asked (and sometimes, even if not), guide you on what to order. BTW: Their masala tea is calorific but delicious.
Opening Times: 7.30am-11pm daily
East Coast Seafood Centre (#01-05)
1204 East Coast Parkway
T: (+65) 6442 3112
We’re: Seafood central; won’t break the bank
Where: East coast, very near airport
Wear: Shorts & T-shirt
Bring: Dressed down diners
The Seafood Centre on the east coast provides you with a boggling array of (essentially pretty similar) places to eat all kinds of fresh seafood, whether it’s razor clams, scallops, chilli or black pepper crab. The Red House is consistently good and was one of the pioneering restaurants here (established in the ‘70s). Make a point of trying their shell-on cereal prawns – you eat the entire thing. They also have a branch at Robertson Quay, but the seaside atmosphere and almost obligatory shorts and t-shirt makes this the better branch by far. BTW: Make sure you order deep fried mantos (sweet-ish buns) with your chilli crab – it’s just not the same without them.
Opening Times: 3.30pm-12am Mon-Fri; 11am-12am Weekends
Same but different: NO SIGNBOARD SEAFOOD has been going for around 30 years, and as the name suggests, when it began life, it genuinely had no name. They have 4 branches in Singapore including one at the East Coast Seafood Centre (T: (+65) 6448 9959) as well as at The Esplanade (T: (+65) 6336 9959; open from 11am-11pm daily) which is very popular and overlooks the water – an essential, unwritten component of the chilli crab experience (Long Beach at Dempsey is wrong, somehow). Try their white pepper crab – a house speciality – which gives the black pepper variety a run for its money.
69 Seng Poh Lane (#01-02)
T: (+65) 6221 0582
We’re: As local as it gets; cheap & cheerful
Where: Tiong Bahru
Wear: Flipflops are practically obligatory
Bring: People visiting, people budgeting
Probably best described as a kind of ‘hawker-restaurant’ – this is local Chinese food and it is delicious. Champagne pork ribs are recommended by almost every local food website out there; they are good, but not as good as the homemade tofu which was wolfed down by meat-eating boys and hailed as a find. The shell-on cereal prawns are crunchy and sweet and an in-town fix for addicts. Whole steamed fish doused in a kind of tom yum sweet and sour sauce is also a must. If you fancy something simple and delish, their fried frish with chilli and soy sauce is off-menu but always possible. You can eat inside or out – inside is best, as if you plump for the alfresco option you are essentially eating in an open-air car park, but as it’s night time, it doesn’t really seem to matter as much as it should. Try not to get given a table in the centre of the restaurant as you can’t hear a thing anyone says…when you call to reserve (recommended) explain that you want one on the edge. Good luck with getting all this across on the phone, but have a go anyway. If you are still not convinced it’s worth a visit, it’s also amazing value. Go. BTW: Bring your own wine. They only charge $3 for corkage.
Opening Times: 11.30am-2.30pm; 5.30pm-12.30am daily
GUAN HOE SOON RESTAURANT
38-40 Joo Chiat Place
T: (+65) 6344 2761
We’re: No frills Nyonya nosh
Where: East Coast
Wear: Kebaya + shorts (i.e. authentic + unsmart)
Peranakan food doesn’t get much better than this, provided you can cope with the no frills approach. Do not come here expecting fancy pants surroundings and a whopping bill (for that, coupled with good food, go to TRUE BLUE CUISINE, next to the Peranakan Museum on 47-49 Armenian Street; T: (+65) 6440 0449), instead come to GHS for very authentic, no fuss Nyonya home cooking. Winners include their otak otak ($6) and chicken buah keluak ($16) both of which are delicious. If you are a gula melaka fan ($3) – or even if you aren’t, this is so good it may change your mind – make sure you order it for pud, its beautifully served with a dark, sweetened, chilled ball of crushed ice. If you can’t face the trek to the east coast to go here, they also have an outlet in Food Republic at 313@Somerset.
Opening Times: 11am-3pm; 6pm-9.30pm daily
Block 54 Chin Swee Road (#07-23)
T: (+65) 6532 5266 / 6532 5103
We’re: Seriously no frills whatsoever, cheap, trolley dolly dim sum
Where: Just beyond China Town; Clemenceau Avenue
Wear: Scruff order
Bring: Cheapskates and guests
As the name suggests, this is pretty authentic for Chinese food, known for its no-frills, trolley-served dim sum. Just like somewhere you’d find in Hong Kong, this place opens at 7am and is very good value (2 of us ate for $24). Low on ambiance (it’s just one huge room that is invariably pretty full) but great for a quick, cheap bite – however, don’t risk it if you are expecting high quality dim sum…..it’s more rough and ready than that – you even have to wash your own cups.
Opening Times: 7am-3pm; 6pm-10.30pm daily
SI CHUAN DOU HUA RESTAURANT
80 Raffles Place
T: (+65) 6535 6006
We’re: A seriously clever find
Where: Boat Quay
Wear: Smart scoffing gear; stretchy trousers useful if opting for the buffet
Bring: China Club wannabes, guests, granny, anyone
Like the China Club in terms of quality of food and vista, but not actually a club – i.e. anyone can go – and if we’re honest, not really quite as smart; but we love it here because it offers seriously good dim sum and Chinese food at seriously good prices…and with a panoramic view to boot. Great for visitors. There is even a ‘tea uncle’ who tops up your tipple with his metre long glass pouring spout (but not on a Sunday…it’s his day off). On weekends and public holidays they do an amazing value buffet for under $50 per person, with a choice of over 80 dishes. However, you need to know about it in order to ask specifically for it – otherwise, they are quite likely to steer you down the set menu route, which is excellent in its own right, but nothing in terms of the value their buffet offers.
Opening Times: 11.30am-2.30pm; 6.30pm-10.30pm daily
29 Tanglin Road
T: (+65) 6506 6887
We’re: Uber sleek and chic dim sum
Where: St Regis Hotel
Wear: Cheongsam – the food’s beautifully authentic here and you should be too!
Bring: Guests you want to impress
Not cheap, but avoid their buffet option and the price is really pretty standard. Beautifully executed dishes and all the classics. Very sleek setting that won’t fail to impress. BTW: Reservation is essential. Try to ask for their ‘opium bed’ seats, of which there are 2. They are the best in the house.
Opening Times: 11.45am-3pm; 6pm-11pm daily. 11am-4pm weekend brunch
Tanglin Shopping Centre (#04-10/13)
19 Tanglin Road
T: (+65) 6733 3333
We’re: Authentic Indo nosh
Where: Also at Paragon & Marina Square
Wear: We are pretty relaxed…..something you don’t mind spilling food on if you aren’t good at eating soup neatly…..
Bring: People who want an introduction to Indonesian home cooking
If you want to eat spicy oxtail soup and other delish Indo classics, come here. Frequented by a local crowd who know where to go.
Opening Times: 11am-10pm daily
THE MAGIC OF CHONGQING HOT POT
Tanglin Shopping Centre (#04-06/07)
19 Tanglin Road
T: (+65) 6734 8135
Where: Fabulous Asian Mall that is Tanglin Shopping Centre
Wear: Low key noshing attire – elastic-waisted trousers practically a pre-requisite
Bring: Plenty of hungry friends
We love this place! A real hidden gem that is great for a party. Oodles of food to choose from that you cook at your table in the central stock pots (just in case you didn’t know). There are 2 choices of stock – very hot and not hot – be warned and don’t get muddled up. If there are veggies lurking in your midst, then you can organise a vegetarian broth for them to cook their food in. They do a fantastically good value buffet lunch and dinner. Buffet lunch is $17.90++ weekdays, or $19.90++ at weekends. The buffet dinner costs $29.90++ weekdays, or $30.90++ at weekends.
Opening Times: 12pm-3pm; 6pm-10pm daily
Serene Centre (#01-05)
10 Jalan Serene
T: (+65) 6468 8859
Island Creamery is a local lovely, found either in the Serene Centre or Upper Bukit Timah. A proper icecream parlour, come here to chill and choose from their classics (burnt caramel in a choc cone is hard to better and their cookies n cream is a winner if you are unadventurous) or delish local flavours that we love, including cancer-busting soursop, durian (good if you aren’t brave enough to sample the real thing) and chendol. The perfect ending to your feast of local delights. Priced at $2.80 for a single scoop; $4.50 for a double.
Opening Times: 11am-10pm Sun-Thu; 11am-11pm Fri & Sat
LAGNAA, barefoot dining
6 Upper Dickson Road
T: (+65) 6296 1215
We’re: In love…with everything about the place
Where: Little India
So easy to miss, especially given the lurid yellow scrawled upon tiles in the downstairs portion of this shophouse restaurant. Leave your shoes and cares behind as you climb the uneven but well polished stairs to an upstairs haven. Although the furnishings are decidedly minimal and the room could do with a little more effort in terms of decor than just bare magnolia walls, the curries are, on the whole, pretty darn good. Run by a knowledgeable and passionate team, with your food served by the chefs, this place is as authentic (despite it’s predominant expat/traveller crowd) as it is relaxed. Every month the chefs devise new recipes that are voted for by an invited group of lottery picked customers. Just lovely…but don’t forget to tell guests to wear trousers…you will all be sitting on the floor!
Opening Times: 11am-10.30pm daily
Chinatown Point (#02-01)
133 New Bridge Road
T: (+65) 6534 4233
Where: Chinatown Point
We’re: Proper dim sum joint with very local clientelle
Wear: Clothes are not important, it’s all about eating
So-called because the word ‘mouth’ sounds similar to this restaurant’s Chinese name. Hidden within the mustard coloured building in Chinatown that you’ve probably passed dozens of times before but never been in to, come here for delicious and very local dim sum (they have the usual, easy to navigate tick-list menu with Chinese as well as English). Pop over to People’s Park Complex (via the link bridge) after you’ve finished for a spot of jewellery shopping (see FUN/Artistic/Creative Fun for details on their amazingly good value jewellery shops, some of which carry ready-made options) before crossing the road to YEW HWA (see BUY ME/FOR HER/Department Stores) which is our shopping mainstay in Chinatown.
Opening Times: 11am-11pm Mon-Fri; 10am-11pm Sat & Sun
GHIM MOH WET MARKET
Ghim Moh Road (off Holland Road)
One of the most famous wet markets in Singapore and fabulous for your daily dose of fresh veggies/kampong chicken/fish etc. The food stalls here are legendary at Ghim Moh and make for the perfect local lunch stop, provided you are not looking to go on a Monday (when most wet markets are shut for cleaning). To get stuck in to the hawker fare, park in the bays to the front of the market, and walk down the right hand side of all the various stalls (vegetable, fish and clothing). You will see a sign telling you that there is a loo on your left. Keep going straight and you are there, in the midst of Ghim Moh’s hawker centre. Stalls to try that have a legendary following and that are known by most Singaporeans include GUAN KEE for fried char kway teow (#01-12; closed Mon & Fri). There is usually a terrible queue (always a good sign) as it’s just Uncle cooking all on his own. Get in line. The roast duck at JIU JIANG SHAO LA (#01-45) is also very good and you can ask for as much or little as you want – from a whole duck, chopped, to 1 portion of breast meat only etc. Add rice, gravy and some veggie and you have lunch fit for a king.
Opening Times: Usually around 5am-2pm is the best time to visit a wet market. Generally, the earlier you go, the less crowded and cooler it is. Closed Mondays. Some stalls close on Fridays too and some are even more random and close every alternate Friday – good luck and go figure…
2 Orchard Turn
T: (+65) 6509 9660
We’re: An atas version of delicious but more low-brow Paradise Inn
Wear: Ion-chic gear but anything goes really
Best Chinese restro in Ion and really worth finding. Order anything you like from the menu but the peking duck was crispy deliciousness (have the meat served with ee fu noodles after you’ve had the pancakes). The starters were incredible and the combination of pan-seared foie gras, wasabi mayonnaise prawn and slice of peking duck with condiments is out of this world/heart attack on a plate. Far, far superior to Canton-I which isn’t worth it (although it has fabulous décor). For even better food (you’ll pay more though) try the sexy mod Chinese makan at Majestic Restaurant (New Majestic Hotel) – see EAT ME, DRINK Me, Spoil Me Dinners.
Opening Times: 11am-2,30pm weekdays, 11am-4pm weekends; 6pm-9.30pm daily
320 Serangoon Road (#01-26/27/28)
T: (+65) 6294 2232
Where: Little India – just next door to Mustafa (slightly further down)
We’re: Northern Indian fabulousness
Wear: Sari – we’re authentic
They’ve been here for 18 years and even have their own chappati chap outside the restaurant, making the very bread that you are going to tear up and dip in to their delicious curry sauces….Come here to eat before, or after, you’ve embarked on the madness of Mustaffa (if you suffer from any form of low bloody sugar, eat before you shop!). Full of a very local clientele, you can’t go far wrong here. We highly recommend the prawn masala and the saag paneer was delicious too.
Opening Times: 8am-11.15pm daily
140B Piccadilly – this is what they say their road is, but it isn’t, see below…
T: (+65) 6482 0244
We’re: Chicken wing wonder, in local, kampong setting
Wear: Singlet and shorts
Listed under ‘Local’ – not because of the type of food on offer, but because of the experience. This place is the place to go if you want to eat buffalo wings in Singapore. In fact, it’s such a legendary, bizarre place that it’s worth coming here – and the other food is good enough to warrant it – even if you don’t. For starters, it’s deliciously obscure…and in fact an absolute mission to get to. This is mainly because the restaurant, despite what they tell you, is not actually on Piccadilly. You need to drive the length of Piccadilly before spying Old Birdcage Walk; take this road and once on it, follow any signs you see to ‘East Camp’. There is sometimes the odd ‘Sunset’ sign with rather faded arrows thrown in to the mix, so between both of them, you should be OK. Drive past the parked, private planes and helis and you are there – at the Singapore Flying Club which is where the restaurant is actually based. Super low-key, it’s actually a very well oiled machine and VERY busy. Time it wrong and with no reservation there can be an hour’s wait….(on the weekends they don’t take reservations, so it’s best to go later, just before their last order at 9pm). Other things to note are that the chilli heat of the chicken wings is rated and starts at a seemingly modest level 1 (hot, hot, hot – do not go higher) and goes up to level 10 – although they say they have an off-menu level 30 for those that dare. This makes it sound very gimmicky but actually it’s not, and the atmosphere, enhanced hugely by way of strings of fairy lights, the sounds of crickets and the sense of space the deserted green fields far from the city give you, really makes you feel like you’re on holiday. All the chilli they use here is actually Mexican – Asian chilli is apparently not hot enough. On the non-spicy front, you can actually ask for level zero buffalo wings; the burger is delicious and the full/half rack of pork ribs, very good too. Wine is chilled Italian red at around $8 a glass and there is of course Tiger. Corkage is $20 but probably not really worth it on the basis that this is low-key nosh.
Time it right and they are reputed to have a wonderful view of the sunset…and as it’s located near the Flying Club’s runway, you may even see the odd plane taking off or landing – perfect for children’s tea time…
Opening Times: 4pm-9pm Fri, Sat, Sun; 4pm-9.30pm Mon, Weds, Thu. Closed Tue
LAN ZHOU LA MIAN
T: (+65) 6327 1286
Where: China Town
We’re: Singaporean Mr Wong (owner) is THE noodle king. He is so esteemed that mainland Chinese would-be noodle chefs travel to him here in SG, for apprenticeships.
Seriously worth a trip into China Town to go and eat the delish handmade noodles and dumplings that are created before your very eyes. They’ve been here for years and the regulars are all locals although you can expect to see a few tourists here too – such is Wong Seng Wai’s reputation. Ask them what they recommend – we loved their pot sticker dumplings as well as their steamed ones (very DTF but half the price). On the noodle front, their pork chop noodles and dumpling noodles are winners at around $8 a dish. It’s also a very good place to take any veggies who may be lurking in your midst – great local vegetarian food is pretty hard to find. Try their spring onion pancake as well as homemade tofu. (Parking is easy – come early and park in the open air coupon-only car park just off South Bridge Road – at the junction with Erskine Road – to the side of yellow Maxwell Food Centre.)
Opening Times: 12pm-11pm daily
JOO HING RESTAURANT
T: (+65) 6345 1503
We’re: Properly local, properly delicious and properly good value Chinese food
If you are ang moh, you’ll be the only one here. This is a find and it served delicious food which is easy to order from a very unscary menu that is printed in both English and Chinese. Be warned that the food does not look pretty, and is served on orange tupperwear, but, it is DELICIOUS. Their beancurd with prawn tofu is to die for and they also do a very good sweet and sour pork. You can order a specially prepared fried fish which is crispy and fresh and the venison with ginger and spring onion is also definately worth it. The restaurant is actually famous for it’s fish head which is good, but for us, not the main event. Veggie wise, the double egg with chinese spinach has both century and salted egg and was die, die must try. Tiger beer is available and costs just $3.50 or opt for a pot of Chinese tea like everybody else does.
Opening Times: 11am-2pm; 5pm-10pm Tue-Sun. Closed Mon
285 South Bridge Road
T: (+65) 6223 3649 or (+65) 6223 0398
This place is famous for it’s egg custard tarts. They are so delicious that frankly, it’s well worth double parking and leaping out to buy a box of at least 6. They are perfect if you have people to tea and cost a little more than a $1 a tart. (Where else can you find prices like those? Not even Geylang!) Crumbly, flaky pasty cases and with a smooth custard filling that is – very crucially – not too sweet. Like a delicious French/Euro pastry they are in fact a hangover from the days when the Portuguese were here.
Opening Times: 9am-10pm daily
58 Seng Poh Road (01-15)
On the other side of the road, opposite the main entrance to Tiong Bahru market, we were introduced to this place by Desmond who has a stall in TB selling the best durian in town: this is as good an intro to a locally loved duck joint as we are ever going to find. They don’t speak much English here but it doesn’t matter – their duck is worth the trip and is juicy and delicious. They understand enough in terms of you buying a portion, a whole duck or half a duck. Their char siu (roast pork) is yummy and is a must as well as their siu yok (crispy pork belly). They are generous with their gravy and chilli sauces and make sure you also ask for their chopped green chilli which they sometimes forget to give you. A delish Sunday supps with or without people to share it with.
Opening Times: 7am-9pm daily. They are closed for 2 Wednesdays a month, but we weren’t quite sure which. Always open during CNY which is very useful to know when everything else seems to shut up shop.
T: (+65)6732 7838
A bit too smart to have sneaked it’s way in to this section, but it is technically local and it is delicious. This joint does what it says on the tin. It is a super restaurant if you want to eat heavenly Peking duck. Build you meal around it and major on the Peking duck rather than just having it as a starter. They don’t major in the skin only pancakes (which can sometimes be too rich) and instead it’s a crispy skin and meat mix. Any leftover meat they’ll serve to you with noodles or minced in lettuce leaves. Their pancakes are delicious and the best we’ve had.
Opening Times: 11.30am-2.45pm; 6pm-10.30pm Mon-Sat. 10.30am-2.45pm; 6pm-10.30pm Sun