(SPOT.ph) Don’t let Singapore’s minuscule size fool you. This little city is big on flavor, and if you’re planning to visit the Little Red Dot soon, keep this checklist of places to dine in and have a blast exploring the city while savoring its fantastic food.
5 Star Hainanese Chicken
One of the most iconic dishes that Singapore is known for is chicken rice, and while most people will talk about Tian-Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Hawker Centre, 5 Star along River Valley Road delivers high points for both taste and satisfaction.
Coming from Chinese descent, the success of a Hainanese chicken dish depends on two crucial components: the chicken and the rice. 5 Star uses Kampong chicken which is less oily compared to other chickens. It is cooked in boiling water, and then immediately blanched to keep the meat’s tenderness. The rice is then cooked in the chicken stock, along with some ginger and aromatics.
The result is a hefty portion of soft, glistening chicken and fragrant rice. Served with chili sauce, ginger sauce, and the signature thick dark soy, 5 Star’s rendition of the Singaporean classic is not one to miss.
Come here for: Chicken Rice and Homemade Tofu
5 Star Hainanese Chicken is at 419 River Valley Road, 248318.
328 Katong Laksa
Made with a rich and flavorful broth from coconut milk, laksa is a very identifying Singaporean dish, despite its Malaysian and Peranakan roots. If you have room for only one place to try the dish, make it at 328 Katong Laksa.
A blend of spices such as galangal, turmeric, chili, lemongrass, and coriander are cooked with some shrimp paste and reduced to a thick, fiery-red broth that’s toned down by the smooth and creamy coconut milk. Served on top of noodles with an assortment of seafood, beansprouts, tofu puffs, and a lime wedge, 328 Katong Laksa is a trip worth taking to have one of the most famous laksas in Singapore—and possibly the world.
Come here for: Laksa and Charcoal Salted Egg Buns
328 Katong Laksa is at 51 East Coast Road, 428770.
Great meals come with great stories, and at Candlenut, Chef Malcolm Lee whips up dishes based from fond memories with loved ones in the kitchen. With Peranakan flavors laying the foundation of his menu, he manages to weave modern techniques with heritage flavors.
Some must-tries in this one Michelin starred restaurant are the Beef Rendang and a soup made with Shellfish Bisque, Prawn and Crab Tofu Pork Ball, Bamboo Shoot, and Prawn Oil—dishes defining of comfort food springing from his family’s roots. And for dessert, a Buah Keluak ice cream tempts with its funky flavor melded with rich chocolate.
Come here for: The Tasting Menu
Candlenut is at 17 Dempsey Road, 249676.
Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha
While Song Fa may be the other alternative for great Bak Kut Teh (pork rib soup), Ya Hua’s version is less peppery, yet headier and bolder in taste. The broth is bursting with porcine flavor, evidence of the long hours of bone-soaked goodness. The pork rib itself is fork-tender and falls off the bone. Don’t forget to dunk some you tiao (fried bread) into the soup, and order some pickled vegetables on the side. One cup of rice here is not enough, so come hungry. It’s also best enjoyed with a few cans of Tiger beer.
Come here for: Bak Kut Teh
Outram Park Ya Hua Rou Gu Cha is at 7 Keppel Rd #01-05/07 PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex, 089053.
Manhattan Bar was recently hailed as Asia’s best in the 2016 World’s 50 Best Bar Awards. Its accolade is most deserving, given its sophisticated yet casual vibe and complex yet straightforward beverage list. Stepping inside takes you back in time—particularly to a nostalgic grand hotel bar in New York that’s clearly kept up with the times. Come here with friends, a date, or alone and get a good seat by the bar to get an incredible view of Manhattan’s well curated spirits and house-made ingredients. Their bar chow is also exquisite and makes a good match for their fine roster of bevvies.
Come here for: Meticulously-crafted drinks and a laid-back New York bar vibe
Manhattan Bar is at 1 Cuscaden Road, Level 2, The Regent, 249715.
Tiong Bahru Market
When it comes to Singaporean cuisine, nothing beats local, and Tiong Bahru Market is known to have one of the best and most varied selections of hawker fare in the city. The Chwee Kueh (water rice cake) here is a must try. Think of it as a savory puto, or rice cake, ladled with an umami-packed sauce made with diced preserved radish and chili. Try not to miss the Wanton Mee here, too, where glazed roasted meats are served atop a bed of springy egg noodles. Don’t forget to have with some pickled green chilies on the side!
Tiong Bahru is also known as a heritage neighborhood in Singapore that’s now dotted with hip cafés and delicious bakeries. After a filling lunch at Tiong Bahru Market, drop by Plain Vanilla for their delicious cupcakes, or Tiong Bahru Bakery for their buttery kouign amanns, pan au chocolats, and earl grey scones.
Come here for: Hawker food
Tiong Bahru Market is at 83 Seng Poh Road, 168898.
Heap Seang Leong
If you’re looking for an old-school kopitiam, then keep Heap Seang Leong at the top of your list. One of the longest-standing kopitiams in Singapore, Heap Seang Leong not only serves an array of traditional Singaporean breakfast favorites such as kaya toast with soft-boiled eggs, curry puffs, and nasi lemak, but it is also one of the last remaining traditional kopitiams that serves kopi ku yew (coffee with butter).
Come here for: An authentic Singaporean breakfast
Heap Seang Leong is at 10 N Bridge Road, #01-5109, 190010.
If you’re looking for a place that does barbecue right, then you better make a reservation at Burnt Ends. Here, the menu changes every day, and the quality is always at an optimum. Chef David Pynt is at the helm of the Burnt Ends kitchen, which he has built with customized machines that can grill, bake, barbecue, and smoke various ingredients and yield immaculate results. Raved by foodies from all over the world, it is not a surprise why getting a seat here can be a nightmare—but it’s worth the trouble, especially if you will be rewarded with one of the most unique dining experiences in the city and possibly, the region.
Come here for: Some of the best barbecue you’ve ever had
Burnt Ends is at 20 Teck Lim Road, 088391.
Swee Choon Dim Sum
If you’ve been out drinking and looking for a place to feast on some cheap and fast dim sum, then head over to Swee Choon. Open until late, they serve quick, no-frills steamed goods that are extremely tasty yet friendly on the wallet. Their Mee Sua Kueh, which are cubes of deep-friend vermicelli noodles, makes for a unique snack that’s crisp on the surface yet soft in the inside. Swee Choon is also known for its sinful Salted Egg Custard Buns that come piping hot, so be careful not to burn your tongue! You’ll be spoiled for choice here and choosing may be difficult given all its offerings, but maybe you can end up ordering one of each as the price point is easy on the pocket anyway.
Come here for: Late night dim sum
Swee Choon Dim Sum is at 183-191 Jalan Besar, 208882.
Craving some soft-serve? Drop by Sunday Folks at Holland Village. The easygoing vibe of this charming place has its share of regulars and occasional visitors that come to get their sweet tooth satisfied. Popular menu items are the waffles, which are served with your choice of soft-serve. They have classics such as Dark Chocolate and Madagascar Vanilla, as well as more complex flavors such as Earl Grey Lavender and Sea Salt Gula Melaka. Their array of toppings is equally mouth-watering, especially with the likes of Dark Chocolate Covered Honeycomb, Popcorn, or Lavender Jelly to tempt your palate. Apart from soft-serve, Sunday Folks also has a great selection of cakes and coffee by Papa Palheta specialty coffee roasters. It’s the perfect place to unwind and spend a lazy afternoon.
Come here for: Soft serve
Sunday Folks is at 44 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-52 Chip Bee Gardens, 278116.