Lifestyle

10 best Singapore restaurants, as picked by local foodies

In our notoriously fickle food scene, restaurants that have survived and even flourished past a decade aren't merely noteworthy - they deserve praise
 

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Here are ten restaurants that have managed to stand the test of time

Tan Min Yan, Her World associate lifestyle editor, recommends:

1.Halia at Singapore Botanical Gardens, has been around for 14 years
1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens, tel: 8444-1148, www.thehalia.com/sbg

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“I’m always a little wary of fusion food, but Halia’s take on modern European cuisine is done with such finesse that I just have to get over my own hang-ups. Chilli crab spaghettini (above) and hoisin-glazed pork ribs? Yes, please! And I adore how gorgeous its location is – I don’t even mind that it takes a bit of effort to get to the restaurant.”

Coming soon: A new item for carnivores – Halia will be introducing a roasted mangalica pork loin with Jinhua ham, pinto bean cassoulet and jasmine rice.

2. Les Amis Restaurant, has been around for 21 years
#01-16 Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road, tel: 6733-2225, www.lesamis.com.sg
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“Les Amis was the fine-dining restaurant that everyone wanted to spend their first pay cheque on after graduation – and with good reason. The service there is impeccable (and friendly to boot!), and the food is always excellent without being pretentious. Dinner can be pricey, so go for the lunch set menu instead – from $55 for four courses, it’s affordable for the quality you’ll be getting.”

Coming soon: New seasonal menus and a wider range of cheeses from regions around France after the restaurant reopens following renovations from March 15 to April 15.

3. Senso Ristorante & Bar, has been around for 15 years
21 Club Street, tel: 6224-3534, www.senso.sg
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“When I’m tired of all the newfangled dining concepts, I always go back to Senso for some good old fashioned Italian food. While there are seasonal options (the restaurant is famous for its white asparagus and truffle menus), the a la carte menu changes so infrequently that I can go back every six months and still be able to order my favourite White Taglierini (above) – I love that. The dishes are not spectacular, but I know I can always count on them for decent, no-nonsense food.”

Coming soon: A Carnevale Veneziano, or Venetian carnival-themed brunch on March 1. Expect Venetian classics like sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines) alongside a selection of antipasti, pastas and mains.

4. Jing Hua Xiao Chi, has been around for 25 years
21 Neil Road, tel: 6221-3060, www.jinghua.sg
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“Yes, the food can be a little one-note after a while – the signatures of xiao long bao (above), pan-fried dumplings and a Chinese pizza (below) are essentially made of the same pork, shrimp and chives combo – but they hit the spot when you’re in the mood for unabashed comfort food. The same recipes and signature dishes have prevailed since the restaurant’s inception – that’s how you know you’re getting something truly ‘homestyle’.”

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Coming soon: Jing Hua will be introducing a menu of cocktails, Charles Heidsieck champagne, and a range of wines from the Italian Il Pollenza family in March.

5. Shima, has been around for 35 years
Level 1 Goodwood Park Hotel, tel: 6734-6281,
www.facebook.com/shimarestaurantsingapore
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“There’s something to be said for a restaurant that has survived 35 years of Singaporean fickle-mindedness. Loyalty to Shima probably stems from the fact that its regulars always get exactly what they’re expecting – the restaurant still uses the same griddles it’s been using for 30 years, and executive chef Michael Koh has been there since 1984. Of course, there’s also that affordable buffet lunch set ($49.90 on weekdays and $59.90 on weekends) – you get free-flow tempura, salmon sashimi, meats, seafood and vegetables, garlic rice, miso soup and dessert.” 

Coming soon: An SG50 special in March, where selected wines will be priced at $50 a bottle with a minimum spend of $100.

Maureen Ow, former journalist and popular food blogger at www.misstamchiak.com, recommends:

6. Spring Court, had been around for 86 years
52-56 Upper Cross Street, tel: 6449-5030, www.springcourt.com.sg
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“You can’t not think of Spring Court when talking about stalwarts in the local F&B scene – it is possibly the oldest Chinese restaurant in Singapore, and it used to be the restaurant of choice for wedding dinners. It is housed in a heritage building in Chinatown, and although the look has obviously gone through an update, the food remains steadfastly old-school – think items like popiah, fried soon hock and deep-fried yam ring with prawns (above). What’s not to love?”

Coming soon: A special Great World Set Menu, which will feature modern interpretations of some of their most popular Singaporean Chinese dishes from the ’50s.

Jill Sara, owner of Jill Sara PR, recommends:

7. Pete's Place, has been around for 41 years
Basement level, Grand Wing, Grand Hyatt Singapore, tel: 6738-1234, www.singapore.grand.hyattrestaurants.com/petesplace
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“This traditional Italian place (complete with chequered tablecloths and formally dressed servers) in Scotts Road was the go-to restaurant during a time when eateries located in hotels were the gold standard for high-end dining. I always zeroed in on the salad buffet bar, handmade pizzas and all kinds of pastas presented on skillets. And the desserts, especially the tiramisu, always hit that sweet spot. I still go back every once in a while for nostalgia’s sake!”

Coming soon: New antipasti and a la carte items, such as the Burrata e Caponata (a dish of fresh burrata cheese set on top of an eggplant salad), and a lobster ravioli with burrata cheese and saffron zucchini sauce.

Amanda Tan, freelance food PR consultant and co-owner of online gourmet store Zairyo, recommends:

8. Royal China Singapore, 10 years
#03-09 Raffles Hotel Arcade, Raffles Hotel, tel: 6338-3363, www.royalchinasingapore.com
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“Royal China is always packed. It’s almost impossible to waltz in without a reservation – remarkable, considering how many dim sum options Singapore has! The cuisine is simply Chinese food and dim sum done with finesse – no fusion, no pretension. A sure sign of its quality and authenticity? The fact that I’m often one of the youngest diners (I’m 26!) in the restaurant – I take it as a vote of confidence from the older folks.

Coming soon: Nothing much that’s new at press time. But hey, this means more room for their dim sum classics.

9. Tatsu @ CHIJMES, has been around for 19 years
#01-08, 30 Victoria Street, tel:6332-5868, www.tatsu.com.sg
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“Tatsu is my go-to restaurant when I want some comforting Japanese food – whether it’s a luxurious teppanyaki set or just tempura – away from the crowds. The itamae (cooks) are always
warm and welcoming, and have exacting standards for the food – I’ve never had a bad meal there. I especially love that the patrons are mostly regulars instead of trend-chasers who restaurant-hop for the sake of Instagram updates.”

Coming soon: A possible new outlet! The restaurant is in the midst of sourcing a new location. Watch this space.

10. Restaurant Ember, has been around for 13 years
Level 1 Hotel 1929, 50 Keong Saik Road, tel: 6347-1928, www.restaurantember.com.sg
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“I must have eaten at Ember at least dozens of times – before and now, with new executive chef Sufian Zain
 on board – but it remains one of those places that I never seem to tire of. The modern European-style food is always consistently good (even the bread basket is excellent), flavours are easy to understand, and I like Chef Sufian’s preference for keeping his creations uncomplicated and well-executed. The restaurant has definitely flourished under him.”

Coming soon: Menu tweaks, including the addition of one very delicious-sounding mushroom consomme with dumplings.

This story was first published in HerWorld magazine March 2015.
 

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