Savory Bites: Best Singapore Dining Experiences

Local expert picks for the best restaurants in Singapore, including top brunch, vegetarian and more.

Dining out couldn’t be easier—or more enjoyable—than it is in Singapore. Practically every neighborhood on the island has at least one “hawker center”—an open-air food court featuring dishes from around the region, plus the occasional Western stall selling burgers and fries. A full meal typically costs S$3 to $5 (US$2 to $3.50).

Approaching a hawker for the first time can be intimidating, so narrow your options by picking up a copy of local food bible Makansutra Singapore 2009 (Book Clearing House, 2008). When in doubt, try the chicken rice or curry rice at Maxwell Food Centre in Chinatown, satay at East Coast Park or stingray at Newton Circus.

Restaurant options are endless as well. Since nearly every epicurean need can be satisfied in Singapore, here are the best restaurants in Singapore for a variety of cuisines and dining experiecnes. Prices are in Singapore dollars, trading at S$1 to US$0.69 (or US$1 to S$1.45) at time of publishing.

Alfresco: Screening Room 

Take in the panoramic view of Chinatown’s pagodas and shophouses from Screening Room’s rooftop bar, where the extensive wine list and quirky “bites menu” (herbed popcorn, anyone?) will keep you satisfied well past happy hour.

12 Ann Siang Road. Tel. +65-6221-1694. Average drink: $13. Average “bites menu” prices: $8 to $14.

American: Botak Jones

Botak Jones founder, Bernie Utchenik, is the first to admit he got funny looks when he opened an American-style hawker stall in Singapore’s heartland. Then the locals tried his “U-Crazy-What?!” triple-patty Botak burger with cheddar cheese, and the rest is history.

Outlets throughout Singapore. Check Web site for individual addresses, telephone numbers and hours. Burgers from $6.

Australian: Boomarang Bistro & Bar

Boomarang Bistro & Bar blends the casual comfort of picnic-style dining with an impressive, adventurous menu that includes Wagyu beef burgers, emu, crocodile and kangaroo. Try the Angus steak sandwich on flatbread—it’s delicious.

60 Robertson Quay #01-15, The Quayside. Tel. +65-673-8107. Entrées range from $12 to $60.

Brunch: Town (The Fullerton Hotel)—Sunday Champagne Brunch

Extensive brunch buffet with Japanese, Italian, Mediterranean and Western cuisine, as well as Malay curry dishes. While the food is tasty, it’s really the view over the river that makes this place special.

1 Fullerton Square. Tel. +65-6733-8388. Brunch: $148++, includes free-flow champagne.

Chinese: Cherry Garden

Cherry Garden has an all-you-can-eat dim sum buffet that changes monthly, though the regular menu features a steady stream of Cantonese classics. Recent highlights include: salmon rolls, wok-fried Kurobuta pork and a controversial shark’s fin dumpling.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Level 5, 5 Raffles Ave., Marina Square. Tel. +65-6885-3538. Entrées range from $8 to $68.

Filipino: 7,107 Flavours

With a nod to the Philippines’ 7,107 islands, this restaurant is committed to delivering an authentic cultural experience. Come for the thick, rich stews that taste like they were made by a team of hard-working Filipino grandmothers and live acoustic performances by young singer/songwriters.

6 Raffles Blvd., 2nd level, Marina Square Unit #02-02. Tel. +65-6334-7107. Entrées range from $9 to $15.

French: Gunther’s

Belgian chef Gunther Hubrechsen earned his food chops working at three-star Michelin restaurant L’Arpège in Paris before moving east. Splurge on the sumptuous tasting menu. S$128 (US$90) for dinner.

36 Purvis St., #01-03. Tel. +65-6338-8955. Entrées range from $36 to $110.

German: Brotzeit

Brotzeit serves up Bavarian cuisine using only traditional and original recipes. It’s not just a restaurant, it’s a beer bar too—with brews imported from Bavaria. Prost!

VivoCity, 1 HarbourFront Walk, #01-149/151. Tel. +65-6272-8815. 252 North Bridge Road,  #01-17 Raffles City Shopping Centre. Tel. +65-6883-1534. Entrées range from $12.90 to $29.90.

Indian: Banana Leaf Apolo

Though you can’t go wrong anywhere on Race Course Road, Banana Leaf Apolo is consistently good, drawing locals and tourists alike with its wide selection of Northern and Southern Indian food. Try the cheese-garlic naan and juicy chicken tikka. Plus, the portions are large, and you eat directly off a banana leaf.

56/58 Race Course Road. Tel. +65-6297-1595. Entrées range from $9 to $20.

Indonesian: Rice Table

At this Dutch-Indonesian buffet (known as a Rijsttafel), they serve 14 small plates at lunch and 20 at dinner. It’s the perfect place to sample from Indonesian favorites such as satay and beef rendang.

360 Orchard Road, #02-09/10 International Building. All-you-can-eat lunch starts at $17.88 per person. All-you-can-eat dinner starts at $28.49 per person.

Japanese: En Japanese Dining Bar

One of the few late-night restaurant options, En Japanese serves sake, sushi and more until 3 a.m. on weekends at its River Valley Road outlet. The atmosphere is lively, the service attentive and the food never disappoints.

01-57/58 UE Square, 207 River Valley Road. Tel. +65-6735-2212. 01-14 Crown Centre, 557 Bukit Timah Rd. Average cost per person: $40 to $50.

Korean: Chang Korean BBQ Restaurant

Korean charcoal barbecue is all about grilling your own meat on the hotplate at your table. It’s an entertaining, albeit smoky, way to enjoy your meal. Try the prime rib.

Blk 18C Dempsey Road. Tel. +65-6473-9005. Entrées from $16. 

Malay: HJH Maimunah

Trust a restaurant that’s been serving nasi padang for 20 years to get it right. The prices are reasonable, the food fresh and hearty—particularly the tender chunks of beef in savory or coconut gravies. Come for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

11 Jalan Pisang. Tel. +65-6291-3132. Entrées: $3 to $20.

Middle Eastern: Café Le Caire

A great place to come with a group—everything about Café Le Caire encourages lingering, from the shisha-smoking to the large mezze starter platters and rich Turkish coffee. It’s also one of the best value meals in town.

39 Arab St. Tel. +65-6292-0979. Entrées range from $5 to $17.

Neighborhood: Dempsey Hill

Features more than 20 food/beverage outlets, including White Rabbit (modern dining in a refurbished church), Western brunch spot P.S. Café, whimsical alfresco bar Hacienda and steakhouse Prime Society.

Blk 8D #03-01, Dempsey Road. Prices vary.

Seafood: Long Beach Seafood

Long Beach Seafood has been perfecting its black pepper crab and chili crab since 1946. This is about as close to Singaporean restaurant royalty as you get—you can’t go wrong.

1018 East Coast Parkway. Tel. +65-6446-8833. Entrées from $34.

Thai: Kha

Rated the “best new restaurant” by Time Out Singapore magazine (July 2008), fine dining local Kha serves modern Thai in a lush, leafy setting in HortPark.

HortPark, 33 Hyderabad Road. Tel. +65-6476-9000. Entrées range from $12 to $30.

Vegetarian: Original Sin 

Original Sin’s Mediterranean menu has something for everyone, including octo lavo, vegan or jain (no onion, egg or garlic) vegetarians. I love the moussaka—oven-baked layers of eggplant, potato, tomato and lentils in a béchamel sauce.

Blk 43 #01-62 Jalan Merah Saga Holland Village, Chip Bee Gardens. Tel. +65-6475-5605. Entrées range from $22 to $28.

Vietnamese: Le Tonkin

Going for an “Old Hanoi” vibe, this restaurant/lounge has rich, velvety décor with a beef pho to match. Traditional dish cha ca la vong—grilled sea bass smothered in turmeric, shrimp paste and fresh dill—is a favorite as well.

18 Mohamed Sultan Road. Tel. +65-6235-6006. Entrées range from $22 to $36.

Destinations: Singapore

Themes: Culinary

Activities: Eat

User Comments

Singapore is my favorite place to eat. The options are limitless: Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, and of course Singaporean, which is the great fusion of cuisines. When I was there in '06 I asked my hotel concierge to recommend the best curry in town and he sent me to Muthu's Curry. They are famous for their fish head curry, which I ordered and devoured by myself. Awesome: Muthus Curry, 72-78 Race Course Rd. 10 AM-10 PM daily.