Dining in Singapore is expensive enough. Plus, there are so many choices. When it comes to fine dining, we want something really out-of-this-world… And we have a soft spot for places that offer true value for money (read: no miniscule, dainty portions that leave you hankering for a Big Mac after).
Hey, it gets us to come back more than once a year. Here are the places that tick all the boxes when it comes to fine dining at a great price.
1. Tamarind Hill
Photo: Facebook / Tamarind Hill
This charming restaurant nestled in a colonial building is a gem for those who want an intimate meal in a rustic environment. Hidden away atop the forested Labrador Nature Reserve, it serves Thai and Shan cuisine with a luxe and contemporary twist.
Dishes are pricier than at a normal Thai restaurant, but dishes are hearty and full of flavour, and worth every cent, especially if you’re up for sharing.
Appetisers range from $14 to $28, mains from $22 to $58 and desserts from $14 to $24.
But to get the best value, go for the restaurant’s leisurely Sunday Brunch ($60++ per person or $120++ with free flow beverages) where you can order as much as you please off a set menu, including dishes such as red curry with pork, duck with lychee salad and deep fried tiger prawns with salted egg sauce. Its TGIF set lunch is at $48++ and nabs you an ice cold Chang Beer or house wine along with the chef's signature creations.
Tamarind Hill is at 30 Labrador Villa Rd, tel: 6278 6364. Visit https://www.samadhiretreats.com/tamarind-hill-singapore.html.
2. Xin Divine
Photo: Instagram/ xin_divine
Good old Chinese food is injected with modern European influences in this chic restaurant. Its value comes from the fact that the dishes are so out of the ordinary that they are a delight to try.
Take the Szechuan-style tortellini ($16 for three), which consists of heavenly parcels of Kurobuta pork wrapped in handmade skin soaked in a broth of Sichuan chilli and Zhejiang vinegar before they are topped with frothy chilli oil foam.
Or go for the Poulet De Bresse ($35), a quirky play on French cuisine, which comprises a crispy roulade of French chicken thigh that is marinated with nu er hong and stuffed with creamy foie gras.
Get more from your dollar by getting the 4-course lunch set ($48++) that comes with an appetizer or soup and a main, staple, and dessert.
Xin Divine is at 10 Duxton Hill, tel: 3100 0030. Closed on Sundays. Visit http://xindivine.com/
3. Cheek By Jowl
Photo: Instagram/ cheekbyjowlsg
This one-Michelin-starred restaurant — helmed by husband-and-wife team, Rishi Naleendra and Manuela Toniolo — serves really intriguing, mod-Australian fare, and is known for artful presentations.
Dishes are ever evolving but look for the the pretty-as-a-picture Zucchini Flower (a dash of bright green and orange). The bloom is stuffed with Sri Lankan mung beans and paired with millet.
For the best experience I’d recommend the 5-course omakase dinner ($88++) where you’ll be surprised with dish after dish of intense flavours that are derived through innovative pairings. Small portions, but so unique it’s well worth the money.
Cheek By Jowl is at 10 Boon Tat Street, tel: 6221 1911. Closed on Sundays. Visit http://cheekbyjowl.com.sg/
Photo: Instagram/ han_ig
If you love Singapore food but enjoy seeing it elevated, this is for you. Helmed by Singaporean chef Han Li Guang, this one-Michelin-starred restaurant offers dishes that are concocted from local produce.
Chef Han draws on recipes inspired by his grandmother, giving a creative spin to traditional Singapore cuisine. The restaurant’s lunch menu ($68++) gives the best value, where you can get a good glimpse of Chef Han’s gastronomical creations without breaking the bank.
Look out for Toh Thye San Farm French Poulet, a tender roulade of chicken thigh that is slow-roasted for five hours and served with keropok crumbles, glutinous rice and soy-egg yolk sauce; and the chargrilled pork collar with mixed grains, pickled local bok choy and fried kale.
Labyrinth is at 02-23 Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore, 8 Raffles Ave, tel: 6223 4098. Closed on Mondays. Visit http://labyrinth.com.sg/
This modern Chinese restaurant in the Asian Civilisations Museum marries authentic Cantonese flavours with a contemporary Oriental setting that offers both indoor and alfresco dining options by the waterfront.
The Signature Empress menu ($65++ per person) comprises a five-course sharing menu that includes two appetisers (for sharing), soup, its signature Triple Roast platter, a main, a choice of rice or noodles, and dessert.
If you're going with a companion, you won't want to miss out on its Extraordinary Empress Evenings package. For $88++, you'll get a bellini and pre-dinner bites at the alfresco terrace, followed by a four-course dinner with traditional Chinese dishes as well as exquisite desserts in the dining room.
Want to turn up the romance? You'll even get option of adding flowers to your table, from $40 for 6 roses.
Empress is at #01-03 Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place, tel: 6776-0777. Visit www.empress.com.sg.
6. 1919 Waterboat House
Photo: Instagram/ 1919waterboathouse
Not only does this elegant spot give you the best riverside view, dining here also evokes feelings of a bygone era. Lit warmly with old school bulbs and a rather over-the-top Art Deco chandelier, the European-style dining room housed in a colonial heritage building is an inviting and comfortable spot for a quiet meal. European meals made with fresh seasonal ingredients are key here.
Their set menu is just $28 for two courses and $35 for three courses, where you get to choose from appetisers such as a Trio of Saumon and Truffled Crab Pasta, and mains such as a Bar de Ligne of pan-roasted sea bass, dashi mushroom essence, potato mousseline and enoki crisp and a Beef Bourguignon of braised beef short ribs, wasabi kale and patatas bravas.
End off the meal with a Cassis Noir of rich dark chocolate mousse, cassis sorbet with a mixed berry medley, a La Pomme of caramelised apples, cinnamon ice cream, sour apple granite and spiced crumble or a cheese plate. What a great deal.
1919 Waterboat House is at #03-01, 3 Fullerton Road, The Waterboathouse, Singapore 049215, tel:6538 9038. Visit https://www.1919.com.sg.
7. Osia Steak and Seafood Grill
Photo: Instagram/ justinfoodprints
There’s a reason why this Australian grill restaurant received a Michelin star. Expect creative dishes, fresh ingredients and carefully plated meals in this modern restaurant that boasts a friendly atmosphere and an open kitchen. Come during lunch, where you get to enjoy its affordable lunch sets under the glow of natural light in the day. Two courses cost $39 while three courses cost $49.
Appetisers include a cauliflower cream soup with milk bath salmon or a coconut lime cured kingfish with pineapple, while mains include a spiced lamb rump with garam marsala dhal and cucumber apple mint yoghurt or braised beef cheek with potato rocket purée, parmesan cream and wild rice. Dessert is an intriguing hot chocolate soup with black pepper ice cream and sesame crisp that is a flavourful blend of sweet and spicy.
We recommend adding $14 for one of their stone hearth oven flat breads — freshly baked and perfectly crisped, they are served with butter and a macadamia ricotta spread that will make any bread lover swoon with pleasure.
Osia Steak and Seafood Grill is at #02-140 and 141, Resorts World Sentosa, Festive Walk, 26 Sentosa Gateway, tel: 6577 6560. Visit https://www.rwsentosa.com/en/restaurants/osia
Skai is at Level 70, Swissôtel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road, tel: 6338-8585. Visit https://skai.sg.
Mediterranean-meets-Asian at Bam! Tapas Sake Bar, where you'll get to dig in to Spanish-influenced tapas with Japanese techniques amidst a sophisticated, industrial chic space. (Also read: 12 Spanish restauants and bar to check out in Singapore)
No two days are the same since Bam!'s transition to a full-blown omakase concept, with the chef deciding what to serve that day, and only the freshest ingredients available will make it to your plate.
A set lunch is at $40 and includes two starters, a main course of Yellow Belly Flounder or Iberico Pork Jowl, and dessert. Its omakase set starts at $98++ for a four-course menu (additional fee of $58 with sake pairing).
Tapas selections start from $6 for Nori and Sakura Ebi Rice Crackers to $32 for Beef Short Ribs.
Bam! Tapas Sake Bar is at 38 Tras Street, tel: 6226-0500. Visit http://bam.sg.