Sushi! I’m so happy!
Anyone who knows me knows that I love my food! I’m healthy with it and I exercise a lot, but if I didn’t with the amount I eat I’d probably be the size of a house. This obsession with food is one of the many reasons I absolutely love Singapore! Singapore is a destination famous the world over as a foodie heaven, a country that prides itself on serving up some of the best fusion food in the world with a gastronomic melting pot of flavours, smells and tastes, and quite fittingly eating is one of the nations favourite pastimes! One that I am more than happy to join in, in the interests of cultural immersion of course! You can get anything you want here, from the basic and nutritious to the gastronomically sublime with more Michelin stars than Gordon Ramsay swear words, and it doesn’t have to cost you the earth. Meals at a food stall will literally set you back just a few Singapore dollars and many of them are among the best places to eat in the country. A rich heritage combined with an eagerness to embrace the new and the modern has led Singapore to have some of the best places to eat out in the world, but in a country famous for its cuisine, how do you choose where to go? In no particular order, here are just 10 of my favourite places to eat to get you started, and I’m a big guy so trust me when I say I know food!
Sky on 57. (Marina Bay Sands, Bayfront Avenue).
Okay, I admit, I love this restaurant as much for the wow factor and the view as the food. Perched right at the top of the famous Marina Bay Sands, you get an absolutely stunning view of the bay and the city, and if you really want to score some serious brownie points on a romantic date, get a table at sunset into evening time when the city lights up. Absolutely magical. The view isn’t the only reason to come here though, the food is absolutely top notch. It’s expensive, and will put a dent in a lot of budgets, but is well worth it as a rare treat! Apparently the chef is quite famous in Asia, which means to say if he can stand out in a foodie city, you know he is good!
The Loft Cafe. (South Bridge Road (right on the corner of Smith Street), Chinatown).
The Loft Cafe in Chinatown isn’t a well known place or a big fancy restaurant. In fact it is hardly very well known at all, but don’t let that put you off coming here. Hidden away in between two of the most famous eating spots in Singapore, the Loft Cafe is one of those genuine hidden surprises that Singapore often throws at you and is one of my favourite places to head for breakfast or a light dinner. It is an absolute oasis after the hustle of Chinatown, and walking up the stairs you feel like you have suddenly been transported across the ocean to an ultra modern, minimalist New York loft, hence the name! It serves mostly western fare so it is perfect for those of you who have been in Asia for a while and need a taste of something different, or familiar, depending on your outlook, and is absolutely perfect for a late lazy breakfast or lunch. The blueberry or banana pancakes (always a backpacker staple) with syrup are heaven. They also do one of the best foodgasm inducing burgers I have tasted in a long time! Do yourself a favour! Go here!
The Sushi Bar. (Scotts Road, Far East Plaza).
This is one of the best well known secrets to those in the know in Singapore! Based on the third floor of the more than slightly run down Far East Plaza, ignore the dingy surroundings and the fact that it is set up inside unappealing utilitarian units, because this sushi bar is the real deal! The fresh sashimi and set lunches are unbelievable value and some of the best outside of Japan.
Grub Bistro. (Ang Mo Kio Avenue).
This relaxed and casual bistro is a fantastic place for an easy lunch with friends. It serves basic western fare such as pasta and pan fried steak, but done really, really well! Their burgers and flash seared salmon are absolutely stunning and are really good value too. Another thing I really like about this place is that they are open about their fresh, sustainable ingredients.
Mama Panda Kitchen. (Singapore River Safari, Mandai Lake Road).
Okay, this isn’t exactly a fine dining experience. In fact it is a fast food place in a zoo and – like all crappy fast food places in this category – generally only worthy of a cold drink to cool yourself down or a quick snack at best. So why is this only on my list of favourite places to eat? Well where else can you get steamed buns filled with chocolate like this?
Tiong Bahru Food Court. (Seng Poh Road, Tiong Bahru estate neighbourhood). A little way outside of the city centre but easily accessed with the MRT system, Tiong Bahru is an amazing food court that is well worth the small journey. Set amongst rows of trendy new coffee shops in a traditional residential area, this is one of the oldest food courts in Singapore. Don’t let that put you off, the traders may have been here for the better part of a century, but the building itself is new and modern, designed well to fit in with its surroundings, and if it still brings locals by the bucketload (and not that many tourists) then you know that’s a good sign! Once you find it (it’s located in the middle of a residential street), take the escalators upstairs past the wet market (which is also well worth a visit while you are here) and grab yourself a table. You will be spoilt for choice with some of the best arrays of hawker stalls in the country. As usual you have a choice of Indian, Malay, Thai, Chinese and Singaporean fare as well as the usual array of drink and juices. Try the nasi lemak here, one of the best I have tasted in Singapore!
Ya Kun Kaya Toast. (Far East Square, China street).
This franchised restaurant is perfect for a quiet breakfast of Kaya toast, a Singaporean delicacy that will set you up for the day and then some! A whole franchised cafe based solely around toast may seem strange, but trust me, once you have tasted the half boiled eggs and thick toast with kaya jam (a coconut flavoured butter) you will instantly get it! The fact that breakfast sets are only a few Singapore dollars seals the deal. Sit back and enjoy a strong coffee and tasty treat in the cool morning air as you watch the locals heading to work, as it is unlikely you will see many tourists heading this way.
Jaan. (Equinox Complex, Swissotel, Stamford Road).
This is another amazing, Michelin starred fine dining experience that is perfect for a romantic or intimate dinner. Try and get a table by the window for the stunning view out over the Marina Bay Sands, it is the perfect accompaniment to the mouth watering French cuisine on offer. The service is impeccable, which isn’t always guaranteed in Singapore anymore, and the food is stunning, as much for the artistic arrangements and themes as for the taste! It isn’t cheap here, but again this is Singapore, and the expense would be five times what it is in say London or Sydney. Spoil yourself here while you have the opportunity!
Club Street. (Club street, (off Ann Siang road and Erskine road), Chinatown). This isn’t just one place to eat, it is a whole smorgasboard of upscale bars and restaurants spread out along a winding street, and is one of the hottest places to be on a Friday or Saturday night. The whole road (as well as the adjoining Ann Siang Road) is closed off on weekend nights and the pedestrianised streets – filled with tables and chairs spilling out from the restaurants and surrounded by rows of old Chinese shop houses – creates a perfect ambience for a great dining experience. There are a whole range of restaurants to choose from with Chinese, Japanese, Italian, French, Singaporean and a whole host of other cuisines tempting you inside their ultra swanky interiors. Noti, an Italian restaurant is particularly good. Prices can get pretty steep, but are seriously good value compared to anything of comparable quality back home.
Maxwell Road Food Court. (Maxwell Road, Chinatown). This is perhaps one of the single best hawker stalls in all of Singapore and is famous for the array of cheap but absolutely stunning meals you can get here. Everyone, from locals to tourists come here at some point, and considering that many locals think it is one of the best places to eat, that says a lot. You really can fill up on just a few dollars, and the food is amazing! Maxwell Road food court is particularly famous for its Hainanese chicken rice, probably the closest thing Singapore has to a national dish, and there are plenty of options to choose from here. If you only have time to try one thing here, then I would absolutely suggest you try it, especially at the absolute bargain price of a couple of dollars a dish!
Top Tips: Food courts are easy places to navigate, but they can be a little daunting at first if you have never used one before. All you have to do is walk around, choose what food you want, get it then sit down. Simple. There are however simple rules of etiquette to follow. Always remember that no table is sacrosanct, it is first come first served. You can however reserve a seat at any table simply by putting a packet of tissues on the table. I have no idea where that tradition started, but it is one no local would violate! If you get there and are bewildered by the array of choices, just see where the biggest queue is and join it! If all the locals are heading to that one place, it’s going to be good!
Food Street/Temple Street. (Temple street, Chinatown). It absolutely pains me to relegate this place into obscurity. For years now this has always been right up at the top of my list without any question, but recent changes have knocked it out of the running for any favourite list. It was a hard fall, as this used to be great. Quite simply Temple street (also known as food street for this very reason) used to be one of the best places to eat in Singapore. Smack bang in the middle of the famous Chinatown tourist market and lined with fantastic restaurants, it was centrally located and a great place to come and find something tasty to eat after a days sightseeing. The best part about it wasn’t the restaurants, it was the myriad of vendors and food stalls that set themselves up down the length of the road, with plastic tables and chairs to sit on and enjoy some cheap, tasty street food. The rule of the day was quick, cheap and easy, and it was a perfect spot to sit down, enjoy some amazing pork buns or satay chicken and watch the world go by as tourists passed through looking hot and sweaty and getting overcharged for cheap tat. Cheap amazing food and free entertainment all in one! But in the way things so often happen in Singapore, the march of gentrification and progress couldn’t be held back any longer and in February after months of building and revamping, Smith street reopened with a whole new look. Gone were the street carts and stalls of old, now there are fixed booths where the stalls set up shop. Gone are the simple rules where you could walk up, grab something cheap and be sat down eating it in the time it takes to cook over a fire and now there is an incomprehensible and god awful queuing and ticketing system to get food, with modern computerised tills! A rubbish system which took 45 minutes to get me some satay chicken damnit! RIP Temple street, you will be remembered fondly.
*Important note: This post is in no way sponsored or incentivised by the businesses or places mentioned. I received no payment or favours for writing this. This is just my own personal opinion on my personal favourite places to eat in Singapore. Being a world famous foodie destination, there are of course so many other amazing places to eat in Singapore, these are just some of my personal favourites after years of practically living in the country. They are just the tip of the iceberg though and I’m sure some of you will have your own favourites, so feel free to let me know in the comments section below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.