Singapore may be small in terms of area but it hits big when it comes to diversity, with Chinese, Malay, Indian and western cultures all blending together, and it’s that mix that has turned it into a proper foodie hotspot. Hawker centres are central to Singaporean identity, having even been awarded Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage Status, and they are where you can find some of the best food on the island, but if you’re feeling fancy and have got some dollars burning a hole in your pocket, you’ll find plenty of swish and upscale restaurants to spend them at. Here are our fave places to eat in Singapore and our top hawker centre stalls, so you can spend less time queuing and more time eating.
Le Bon Funk
Le Bon Funk is one of our favourite spots in Singapore. A modern wine bar and restaurant with beautiful interiors, our favourite seats are on the high stools up at the bar. They stock a very impressive selection of natural wines and there’s a killer menu from chef-owner Keirin Buck. Do not miss the parmesan and tapioca fritters, or the homemade crisps with caviar and French onion dip. C’est Bon!
Wine RVLT describes itself as “a ridiculously fun wine bar”, and we’d have to agree. The semi-industrial space is super casual, super fun and has a loud banging soundtrack, making it a great place to go when you want big vibes to go with a banging bottle. As well as killer natural wines, we love the inventive food menu – the chilli crab ragout cheung fun is a master stroke. You can pick and choose dishes as you please or opt for the chef’s choice “Go Big or Go Home” menu for $78SGD if you really want to make a night of it.
FOOL is a modern wine bar from Sri Lankan chef Rishi Naleendra, who is also behind Cloudstreet (more on that below) and Kotuwa. It’s a cool, bright space with a big focus on music, both through live acts and events such as the Hip-Hop Sunday wine parties. There’s a solid selection of natural wines and a globetrotting menu of small plates and bigger dishes – check out the buttermilk fried quail, the BBQ Iberico pork collar “char siu”, or the banging chicken liver eclair. You’d be a fool to miss it.
Technically this is more of a cocktail bar but it is one of our absolute favourite places in the city, so it’s going on the list! And there’s nothing to say you couldn’t bed in for a full-on dinner here either as there’s a banging menu of Japanese katsu sandos (try the ebi and corn version) and snacks such as the clam dip or the bucket of fried chicken. The interiors are super sleek, channelling a modernist mid-century Japanese dream and the cocktails are killer too – no surprise when you know that this is the new bar from legendary bar Jigger and Pony.
On the outskirts of the iconic Raffles Hotel is a very exciting new-ish restaurant called Butcher’s Block. Headed up by Hawaiian born chef Jordan Keao, the place is a temple to fire, smoke and meat. A huge wood-fired grill lies at the heart of the kitchen where huge cuts of meat, dry-aged for weeks in the restaurant, are cooked over open flames. The Tour de Force menu is the best way to experience Butcher’s Block, a succession of excellent dishes that includes wagyu tartare with caviar; grilled Norwegian scallop with miso beurre-blanc; and dry aged duck with apple BBQ sauce. Highly recommended.
Da Chi Jia Big Prawn Mee
Big prawns in big bowls of noodle soup is the order of the day at this Michelin Bib Gourmand-rated spot on Killiney Road. The broth is simmered for hours, packing it full of flavour, and the prawns are as fresh and juicy as they come. We like the dry noodle version, which comes with the broth on the side – you can get unlimited refills of the stuff so you can slurp away to your heart’s content. Run by a young couple who learnt their trade on family hawker stalls, this is a premium version of a classic hawker dish, with a bigger pricer tag but it’s defo worth it.
There’s a lot of great Japanese food in Singapore and one of our favourite spots is the unagi (eel) specialist Unagi Tei. With a hidden entrance down an alley and round the back of another building, the entrance has big Tokyo vibes. Inside there’s a tank with the freshwater eels swimming about, meaning that there’s no inferior frozen eel here – the success of the dish is all about the freshness. The grilled eel is served over rice, with pickles and a side of soup and although it wasn’t quite on the level as you’d find in Tokyo, it’s still a great experience.
Rishi Naleendra’s two Michelin-starred Cloudstreet is a standout option in Singapore if you’re looking for very high end fine dining. There’s a few other big hitters in the city, such as Odette, but few can claim to be as original as Cloudstreet. The eight-course tasting menu takes in influences from Rishi’s Sri Lankan upbringing as well as his time living and working in Australia. There are flavour combos here we’ve certainly never had anywhere else and that you wouldn’t think would work, but most of the time they absolutely hit home. It doesn’t come cheap but it’s a great choice for your blow out meal – and every trip needs at least one blow out meal.
Singapore’s hawker centres are perhaps what the city is most famous for and you’ll certainly want to visit one at the very least – but if you’re serious about your food, a hawker centre safari is a must. Everyone you speak to has their own opinions about which is best and with hundreds of stalls to choose from, having a few tips and recommendations is handy. Having eaten at 10 different hawker centres, here’s our pick of the best.
Amoy Food Centre
Located near lots of big offices, Amoy Food Centre is a huge draw for workers on their lunch break. It’s a smart, light and well organised centre, but does get very busy so you might find some big queues for the popular stalls (if you don’t know where to eat, joining a queue is a safe bet!). We loved the J2 crisp curry puff stall which has a Bib Gourmand – check out the anchovy version as well as the more traditional chicken and potato.
Zion Riverside Food Centre
This small food court isn’t one of the most famous in Singapore but there’s one very good reason to head there – Boon Tong Kee Kway Chap Braised Duck. This Michelin-Plate recommended stall does beautifully tender slices of duck served with noodles and a thick rich gravy, as well as various other duck and pork dishes (the headline Kway Chap dish has lots of duck offal). Head down early to avoid the queues – we essentially went for breakfast and didn’t have to wait. Zion Riverside is also a nice introduction to Singapore Hawker centres as it only has a handful of stalls. Some of the others have over a hundred so can be pretty overwhelming at first.
Tiong Bahru was one of our favourite Hawker Centres. Not only does it have a unique art deco design and lots of light and open space, it also has some great dishes on offer. Check out the pork noodles from Lee Hong Kee Cantonese Roasted; Jian Bo Shui Kueh for Chwee Kueh, which are steamed rice cakes with spicy sambal; and Kampong Carrot Cake for… well, carrot cake, but not as you know it. Carrot cake in Singapore is actually a dish of preserved radish, chopped and fried with egg and sauces. A must visit.
Hong Lim Market and Food Centre
You’ll probably go to the Chinatown complex anyway, so we’re going to recommend the Hong Lim Market nearby as it’s well worth a visit. It’s a bit of a maze, with two levels connected by dark staircases and a bit of a car park vibe, but there’s lots of tasty food to discover. Tai Wah Pork Noodle is definitely one to check out, as is the chicken curry noodles from Ah Heng, one of the best Hawker dishes we had.