Eight Ways to Experience Singapore's World-Class Dining and Cocktail Scene
From expertly crafted cocktails to seriously tasty street eats, Singapore's food and drinks landscape is among the most impressive and diverse you'll find.
August 22, 2022
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If you know only one thing about Singapore, it's most likely its reputation for fantastic food. And it's not just the cuisine that's earned high esteem with foodies around the world. Alongside the world-class eats, the city's bars are making waves on the global cocktail scene.
There's no quicker way to unravel the complexities of Singapore's cultural heritage than by eating your way through the city, from Michelin-starred European fine-dining to humble hawker centres selling affordable but delicious dishes. Then there's the drinking, which ranges from quirky speakeasies to opulent cocktail dens.
To showcase the depth of Singapore's drinking and dining, we've partnered with the Singapore Tourism Board to present some of the city's can't-miss experiences. From art deco bars and urbane craft breweries to authentic Peranakan restaurants and French fine dining, these are the places to bookmark for your next visit.
If you try only one cocktail bar in Singapore, make it Atlas — currently 16th on the World's 50 Best Bars list. First, you'll be blown away by the grand art deco space with its vaulted (and frescoed) ceilings. Then you'll be awed by the lofty bronzed gin tower that requires bartenders to scale a ladder to access the more than 1,300 gins (though the extensive menu also includes seriously fine wines, champagnes and whiskies).
Going beyond the booze, there's a European-inspired food menu, a lavish afternoon tea service, and the must-try #SundaysAtAtlas which includes free-flowing cocktails, champagne and nibbles. Reservations are essential.
JIGGER & PONY
Singapore has speakeasies aplenty but there's no finer example than Jigger & Pony. The proof? It currently holds the ninth position on the World's 50 Best Bars list. The buzzy spot, located at the Amara hotel, is swanky yet relaxed but shakes up a serious cocktail.
Jigger & Pony's drinks list — cheekily titled "A Decent Menu" — elevates 24 classic cocktails with clever twists. Think yuzu whisky sours, black pepper sazeracs and sakura martinis. Pair your tipple with a next-level bar snack — we're looking at you, black truffle macaroni and cheese — and go home with some of the bar's bottled cocktail selection to enjoy another day.
KENG ENG KEE
Zi char is a term derived from the Chinese Hokkien dialect that translates to 'cook and fry' and refers to casual home-cooked Chinese food meant for sharing. Third-generation zi char restaurant Keng Eng Kee has been firing its woks since the 1970s and has truly perfected its craft.
The food here is largely of the Hainanese and Cantonese influence, with popular dishes including the chilli and black pepper crabs, coffee pork ribs and Marmite chicken. The late Anthony Bourdain was a fan, as is feted British chef James Martin, and that's good enough for us.
Singapore may be the home of Tiger Beer, but LeVeL33 is the place to go for a brew with a view. Known as the world's highest urban microbrewery, this award-winning concept serves up freshly shucked oysters, lobster bisque, and pasture-fed Australian steaks, while brewmaster Gabriel Garcia whips up everything from lagers and pale ales to stouts and Bavarian-inspired wheats. Order a tasting paddle for the full experience.
The beer menu pairs expertly with LeVeL33's views of the Singapore skyline as well as the "contembrewery dining" of elevated pub grub like baby back ribs and Wagyu beef chunks.
NATIONAL KITCHEN BY VIOLET OON
France may have Alain Ducasse but Singapore has Violet Oon, the doyenne of authentic Peranakan cuisine. Oon's flagship is an elegant, colonial-inspired space of dark woods and Straits Chinese tiles tucked into the grand National Gallery of Singapore — but it's the authentic plates infused with fine, fresh ingredients that'll thrill.
Dig into refined takes on popular local dishes like kueh pie tee, beef rendang and the signature dry laksa, all of which are full of flavour and beautifully presented. There's also a dedicated plant-based menu that features meat-free takes on classics. Round off the experience with a selection of locally inspired cocktails for a sophisticated Singapore meal.
MAXWELL FOOD CENTRE
Hawker centres are a quintessential Singapore experience. And while the well-known Lau Pa Sat and Newton are on every tourist's hit list, insiders head straight for Maxwell. This go-to destination began life in 1929, but its current iteration opened in 1987.
Inside you'll find a smorgasbord of popular food stalls so this is very much a choose-your-own foodie adventure. There's rich laksa at Old Nyonya, Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded chicken rice at Tian Tian and traditional sweets at Heng Heng tapioca cake stall. And that's before you get to the rare culinary finds like the alluring Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake and DIY China Street Fritters.
Three Michelin stars? Number 36 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list? Step into Odette and it's easy to see why this is among Singapore's most lauded restaurants. Named after chef Julien Royer's grandmother, Odette delivers dishes inspired by Royer's French farming heritage and Asian culinary experiences, all laced with high-quality luxury ingredients handled with impeccable technique.
Expect plates like the signature organic egg with ibérico chorizo, Normandy brown crab with wasabi oil and nashi pear, and kampot pepper-crusted pigeon. All of this is served in a graceful, elegant dining room and paired with polished service and a curated wine list.
It might be located at the Regent Singapore but Manhattan isn't your average hotel bar. Drawing on old New York glamour for its art deco-esque interiors and artisanal spirits for elevated cocktails, Manhattan is one of the city's best drinking dens.
The onsite rickhouse produces exquisite liquid like solera-aged negronis and barrel-aged spirits, while the menu brings together classic and forgotten cocktails that revive Golden Age drinking. There's even a collection of over 150 rare American whiskies and tipples inspired by New York personalities like Whoopi Goldberg and Andy Warhol. Did we mention it's ranked 15th on the World's 50 Best Bars list?
When Aussie chef David Pynt ran his Burnt Enz pop-up in London, he probably didn't know it was going to evolve into Burnt Ends, a modern Australian barbecue restaurant that currently holds one Michelin Star and is on the list of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.
Pynt translates his love of flame cooking (found while working with Victor Arguinzoniz of renowned Spanish restaurant Asador Etxebarri) into a daily menu of grilled delights. You might find items like flatiron steak with burnt onion and bone marrow or grilled leeks with hazelnut and black truffle, all complemented by a convivial, unpretentious atmosphere and boutique wines.
For more incredible ways to experience Singapore, head to Singapore Tourism Board's website.
Top image: Nauris Pukis (Unsplash)
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