First published on 22 Feb 2013. Updated on 26 Feb 2013.
Eat: Like a local
The staggering range of cuisines in Singapore is a result of its history as a magnet for immigrants from all over Asia – the earliest form of fusion. The Indians, for instance, thriftily plonked fish heads into saffron-tinged sauces and created the now iconic fish-head curry, a dish not found in Mother India, but available in Little India favourite Gayatri Restaurant (122 Race Course Road, +65 6291 1011), where you should learn from a local to eat using your hands.
Long Beach has been around for as long as anyone can remember, and judging from the weekend crowds of multi-generational families at their outlets around the city, it will remain for a long time to come. Concentrate on the huge Sri Lankan chilli crabs or the famous black-pepper crab. Another favourite crab shack, serving a similar menu, is No Signboard Seafood – of the four locations in Singapore, the Geylang outlet has the most personality.
Combining the flavours of their Chinese and Malay heritage – and plundering from Indian, Indonesian and Thai kitchens – the Peranakans blend fresh lemongrass, pandan leaves, shrimp paste, coconut, tropical fruits and vegetables to create a richly layered cuisine of stews, curries and elaborate desserts. The Blue Ginger Restaurant (97 Tanjong Pagar Rd, +65 6222 3928), a two-storey shophouse, offers a menu filled with all of the classics. Chef Willin Low’s chic Wild Rocket (10a Upper Wilkie Rd, +65 6339 9448) restaurant gives classic Singaporean dishes a modern, multi-textured twist. His laksa pesto linguine with tiger prawns and quail eggs is a show-stealer. In recent years Duxton Hill, near Chinatown, has been flooded with a wave of chic European-style bistros, but Wok & Barrel (13 Duxton Hill, +65 6220 0595) brings in local flavour. Reimagined stall classics (‘Wok’) are paired with ciders, lagers and ales (‘Barrel’).
Eat: At the top end of town
Along with two casinos, a theme park and countless designer labels, Singapore’s two integrated resorts introduced the city to a group of celebrity chefs – all keen to get in on the action. Big-name restaurants at Marina Bay Sands (10 Bayfront Ave) include orange clog-sporting American red-head Mario Batali’s Osteria Mozza (#B1-42/46, +65 6688 8522), with a mozzarella bar and drool-worthy Italian classics. Splurge on a lavish and memorable modern Japanese dinner courtesy of Tetsuya Wakuda at Waku Ghin (Casino Lvl 2, +65 6688 8507), the acclaimed Australian chef’s only outpost beyond his much-garlanded Sydney mothership; or try the Singapore-inspired menu from the only local celeb, Justin Quek, at Sky on 57 (Sands Skypark, Tower 1, Lvl 57, +65 6688 8857) with panoramic views. Resorts World Sentosa (8 Sentosa Gateway) has brought in Joël Robuchon – the world’s most Michelin-star-studded chef – for not one but two outposts. Try the Discovery Menu at L’Atelier (Lvl 1, Hotel Michael, Resorts World Sentosa, +65 6577 7888) for mouth-watering modern French creations.
A more recent addition to the skyline, Gardens by the Bay has also introduced a noteworthy dining establishment. British chef Jason Atherton’s Pollen (#01-09 Flower Dome, 18 Marina Gardens Dr, +65 6604 9988) is set up on two floors of the climate-controlled Flower Dome conservatory and is serving a Mediterranean menu. To take in fresh views of the city, book a table at Catalunya (The Fullerton Pavilion, 82 Collyer Quay, +65 6534 0188), where ceiling-high glass windows show off Marina Bay Sands and its neighbours, and Spanish chef Alain Devahive Tolsa – who spent a decade at elBulli – introduces diners to tapas-focused Catalan cuisine.
Free-standing, fine-dining establishments have popped up on the streets as well. Perhaps the most buzzed about is the three-storey Chinatown shophouse where chef André Chiang mixes food and art at Restaurant André (41 Bukit Pasoh Rd, +65 6534 8880). His MO: Mediterranean accents and cooking techniques picked up during his 14-year stint in France. Each dish in his set menu resembles an artist’s palette, whether in the colours or shapes of perfectly partnered ingredients, or the dishes on which each course is served.
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