The Food & Drink Guide for hard to impress out-of-towners
When you live in a place as eclectic and ever-progressing as Singapore, it’s no surprise that out-of-town guests are a regular occurance. But with so much to see and do, it’s hard to decide what’s worth squeezing into an inevitably tight schedule. Especially when there are so many amazing restaurants, clubs, bars, hawkers, and neighbourhoods to explore, not to mention the culture and touristy highlights. Whether you’re looking for an unforgettable champagne brunch, an authentic Peranakan dinner, a buzzing nightclub, or great late night bites, these places are sure to impress any out-of-towner.
The historic Tiong Bahru hood is awash with cute cafes, and one of the best is 40 Hands. Since 2010, these guys have been rocking the third wave coffee scene with super fresh brews and beautiful breakfasts in an artsy space. The 40 Hands Cubanos toastie with honey smoked ham, jalapenos, and cheese is a must-try. Grab a coffee by local outfit Common Man Coffee Roasters while you’re there.
40 Hands, 78 Yong Saik Street #01-12, Singapore 163078. p. +65 6225 8545. Open Mon - Fri 7am - 7pm, Sat - Sun 7:30am - 7pm
Tong Ah Eating House
Keong Saik Road is a great place to bring out-of-towners; it’s the perfect ‘hood to demonstrate the old v new juxtaposition that defines so much of Singapore. And whenever we’re in the mood for an authentic local breakfast, we head to Tong Ah Eating House for old school style kaya toast and kopi. It’s simple, straightforward, and damn delicious.
For times when you want something healthy and fresh, Carrotsticks & Cravings in Dempsey Hill is a must. Think laid-back Aussie vibes, breezy al fresco seating, and tasty clean-eating bites. Start with an iced latte or organic tea, then dig into delish dishes like the breakfast berry parfait, gluten-free muffins, or smashed avo toast with feta.
Singapore’s huge Indian population means you’re never far from delicious subcontinental spices and flavours, especially at breakfast time when it’s all about the dosas. Saravana Bhavan serves up some of the best dosas in town with a great selection that ranges from the plain rava dosa to the special masala stuffed with mashed potato, spices, and mustard.
Saravanaa Bhavan, 84 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207633. p. +65 6297 0770. Open Mon - Fri 9am - 9pm, Sat - Sun 9am - 10:30pm
If you want to experience champagne brunch Singapore style, Dolce Vita is a great option. Snag a seat by the floor-to-ceiling windows for spectacular views over Marina Bay and the Singapore Flyer, then get down to business with Italian brunch delicacies like the heirloom tomato salad, wild forest mushroom soup, and homemade orecchiette with oxtail ragu, artichokes, and parmesan. Great views. Great food. Tick. Tick.
Dolce Vita, 5 Raffles Avenue, Mandarin Oriental, Singapore Level 5, Singapore 039797. p. +65 6885 3800. Sat & Sun 12pm - 3:30pm.
Dim sum brunch is another quintessential Singapore experience for any out-of-towner, and Wah Lok offers one of the most decadent spreads in town. Be sure to try the deep-fried century egg wrapped in minced shrimp and the steamed carrot cake. If you want to get boozy, it has a fab BYOB option where you can enjoy up to four bottles of wine with no corkage fees.
Wah Lok, 76 Bras Basah Road, Carlton Hotel Singapore Level 2, Singapore 189558. p. +65 6338 8333. Open daily Mon - Sat 11:30am - 2:30pm, 6:30pm - 10:30pm, Sundays & PH 11am - 2:30pm, 6:30 - 10:30pm.
Oh how we love the ambiance and eats at Merci Marcel! This beautiful French bistro and wine bar has a multitude of seating options inside and out, all adorned with plush cushions, cool art and plenty of greenery. Your brunch could include pillowy croissants, organic scrambled eggs with truffle, and the tarte flambée thin-crust pizza with asparagus, apple, blue cheese, and Bayonne cured ham. Perfect option for when you want to eat out but keep things casual.
Merci Marcel, 56 Eng Hoon Street #01-68, Singapore 160056. p. +65 6224 0113. Open Tues - Sat 8am - 11:30pm, Sun 8am - 10pm
Por Kee Eating House
Give your guests the ultimate zi char experience with brunch at Por Kee Eating House. This old school Chinese spot is famous for its homestyle dishes like the bean curd fried until crispy on the outside and silky inside and the champagne pork ribs in a savoury sauce. The place tends to get packed out during prime brunch hours, so come early for good seats.
Por Kee Eating House, 69 Seng Poh Lane #01-02, Singapore 160069. p. +65 6221 0582. Open daily 11:30am - 2:30pm, 5:30pm - 11:30pm
We can’t think of a better place for a leisurely weekend lunch than Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House, a beautiful two-storey restaurant right on the water at Quayside Isle. Chef-owner Ricky Ng is famous for his modern takes on traditional Chinese recipes like the pomelo chili crab simmered in exotic spices. We suggest coming with a group so you can share a number of dishes.
Blue Lotus Chinese Eating House, 31 Ocean Way #01-13, Quayside Isle, Sentosa Cove, Singapore 098375. p. +65 6339 0880. Open Mon - Fri 6pm - 10pm, Sat - Sun 11:30am - 3pm, 6pm - 10pm
Old Airport Road Food Centre
As one of the largest hawker centres in Singapore, the Old Airport Road Food Centre is a great place to introduce visitors to a huge range of wallet-friendly local eats. Some of our favourites include the sambal stingray from either Mattar Road BBQ or BJ Grill, the much sought-after carrot cake from stall 01-26, and the fried Hokkien prawn mee from Nam Sing.
51 Old Airport Road, Singapore 390051. p. +65 6225 5632. Open daily 9am - 8pm
Alley on 25
Located on the 25th floor of the Andaz Singapore hotel, Alley on 25 is a unique space boasting a bar, lounge, and five different dining concepts. The natural light gives the space a nice vibe and the selection of food is superb with offerings like charcuterie from Icehaus, the black Angus burger from Smoke & Pepper, and spicy dan dan noodles from Auntie’s Wok & Steam.
Alley on 25, 5 Fraser Street, Andaz Singapore Level 25, Singapore 189354. p. +65 6408 1234. Open 6:30am - 10pm
We love the atmosphere at Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar, a bright and airy restaurant launched by Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The lunch menu includes a great selection of imaginative Asian fusion dishes, fresh salads, and pizzas that surprisingly won’t break the bank. Afterwards you can check out the marketplace next door for goods to take home.
Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar, 17 & 18 Dempsey Road, COMO Dempsey, Singapore 249676. p. 1 800 304 5588. Open Mon - Fri: 12pm - 2:30pm, Sat - Sun: 12pm - 3pm, Sun - Thurs: 6pm - 10pm, Fri, Sat & PH: 6pm - 11pm
If it’s gorgeous sunset views you’re after, you can’t go wrong with The Lounge at Spago perched on the 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands. Grab a cushioned seat at one of the low tables and indulge in a few craft cocktails or a bottle of bubbles along with contemporary light bites as you gaze out at the city skyline and east coast. The bill won’t be cheap, but it’s worth it for the great views.
The Lounge at Spago, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Sands SkyPark, Tower 2, Level 57, Singapore 018956. p. +65 6688 8888. Open Mon - Fri 6pm - 10pm, Sat - Sun 6pm - 11pm
Perched high above the CBD on the 63rd floor of 1 Raffles Place, 1-Altitude holds the title of the world’s highest al fresco bar. This is definitely a place to see and be seen, as the bustling rooftop bar draws in a pretty glamorous crowd. Come for the amazing sunset views and stay for the live DJs and open-air nightclub vibes. Note that the dress code is smart casual, so keep it classy.
1-Altitude, 1 Raffles Place, Level 63, Singapore 048616. p. +65 6438 0410. Open Sun - Tues 6pm - 2am, Wed, Fri, Sat & eves of PH 6pm - 4am
Sundowner drinks with our toes in the sand? Um, yes please. FOC Sentosa is one of the quieter beach clubs on Sentosa and a great spot to chill and watch the sunset over the ocean with a tropical cocktail in hand. Come on a Sunday and you can also enjoy laid-back beats by local DJs. We suggest rocking up a few hours early to catch some rays and have a swim in the pool.
FOC Sentosa, 110 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa, Singapore 098943. p. +65 6100 1102. Open Tues - Sun 11:30am - 11pm
When you’re looking to impress, Lantern is a swanky rooftop spot that offers spectacular views across Marina Bay to the skyscrapers of the CBD. Settle in on the sofas, snag an intimate table, or have a seat at the circular bar and sip on a signature house slings and barrel-aged cocktails as you take in the sunset and watch the city lights begin to sparkle on the water.
Lantern, 80 Collyer Quay, The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore 049326. p. +65 6597 5299. Open Sun - Thurs 8am - 1am, Sat, Sun & eves of PH 8am - 2am
Housed in a beautiful black and white bungalow in the Botanic Gardens, this Michelin starred spot offers what chef Jason Tan calls ‘gastro-botanica’. The concept involves pairing proteins like sustainable seafood and meats with equal portions of botanicals like roots, herbs, and fungi. The results are creatively presented plates that taste just as vibrant as they look.
Cornerhouse, 1 Cluny Road, EJH Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 259569. p. +65 6469 1000. Open Tues - Sat 12pm - 3pm, 6:30pm - 11pm, Sun 11:30am - 3pm, 6:30pm - 11pm
For something a bit edgy and unique, bring out-of-towners to Meatsmith Little India. This hot new spot takes the American BBQ concept and adds inspiration from the hood with Indian spices and sauces. Think biryani stuffed suckling pig, butter chicken hot pockets, and Madras pork cheeks. You can also grab Indian beers, whiskies, and cocktails upstairs at Rogue Trader.
Meatsmith Little India, 21 Campbell Lane, Singapore 209894. p. +65 9625 9056. Open Wed - Fri 5pm - 11:30pm, Sat - Sun 11:30am - 11:30pm
National KitchenbyViolet Oon
For guests who want to try Peranakan cuisine, National Kitchen offers some of the most authentic in town along with elegant ambiance to boot. Violet Oon is the undisputed master when it comes to Peranakan cooking, and her chilli crab, beef rendang, and buah keluak noodles are to die for. We suggest grabbing a seat on the verandah for great views over the Civic District.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon, 1 St. Andrew’s Road, #01-02 National Gallery Singapore (City Hall Wing, Singapore 178957. p. +65 9834 9935. Open daily 12pm - 3pm, 6pm - 11pm
Anyone who visits Singapore and doesn’t stop by Luke’s is missing out on an absolute classic. We can’t get enough of the fresh seafood flown in from New England, Australia, and New Zealand like the freshly shucked oysters, caviar, and chilled lobster. Be sure to save room for one of Luke’s famous thick juicy steaks with sides like lobster mac ‘n’ cheese. Pair it with a bottle of robust red for the ultimate meal.
Mezza9 has recently launched a refreshed menu features tasty salads, seafood, and grilled meats, each thoughtfully marked with symbols that indicate whether it's vegetarian, plant-based, or made with certified sustainable and responsibly farmed seafood. Some of our faves include the clam and lobster bake with smoked sausage and sweet corn, the grass-fed Australian lamb chop, and the super stacked seafood platter. They have a great mix of local and western cuisine, and mixed with a classy, yet comfortable ambiance, it's a great spot to take visitors.
Mezza9, Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road, Singapore 228211. p. +65 6732 1696. Open Mon - Sat 12pm - 3pm, Sun - Thurs 6pm - 10:30pm, Fri- Sat 6pm - 11pm
Junior the Pocket Bar
What better place to catch up with an old friend or family member than an intimate drinking den with just 10 seats? Tucked away behind Crackerjack, Junior the Pocket Bar is also unique in that it changes its theme every six months to focus on a particular type of booze or region. The current theme highlights Mexico with specialty tequilas, mezcals, and Mexican eats.
Junior, 43 Tanjong Pagar Road, 088464 (enter through the alleyway behind Crackerjack), p. 8121 1462. Open Mon - Sat: 7pm - 12am
There’s always good times going on at Going Om, a quirky, colourful spot where live bands get the crowds dancing on Haji Lane. It’s more about easy-going beers and house pours than fancy craft cocktails, which is perfect if you’re in a low-key drinking kind of mood. Bar bites include pub grub like popcorn chicken and parmesan fries.
Going Om, 63 Haji Lane, Singapore 189256. p. +65 6396 3592. Open Tues - Thurs, Sun 12pm - 12am, Fri - Sat 12pm - 2am
It doesn’t get grander than Manhattan, a gorgeous New York-inspired bar sporting luxe leather armchairs and sofas, marble topped tables, and the world’s first in-hotel rickhouse where they age spirits and craft cocktails in American oak casks. It recently won the No. 7 spot on the World’s Best Bar list, and is currently sitting pretty at No. 1 on Asia’s 50 best bars list, which gives you a pretty good idea just how seductive the atmosphere and drinks really are.
Manhattan, 1 Cuscaden Road, Regent Singapore Level 2, Singapore 249715. p. +65 6725 3377. Open Sun - Thurs 5pm - 1am, Fri - Sat 5pm - 2am
Ranking at No. 25 on The World’s Best Bars list, 28 HongKong Street is another must-visit watering hole when you’ve got guests in town. Everything screams chill here from the cosy booths to the cool jazz and hip hop playing in the background, the classic American style tipples with slight twists, and the comforting bar snacks like mac ‘n’ cheese balls (trust us, these will change your life).
28 HongKong Street, 28 HongKong Street, Singapore 059667. p. +65 6533 2001. Open Mon - Thurs 6pm - 2am, Sat 6pm - 3am
Bitters & Love
Quirky coffee shop by day and killer craft cocktail bar by night, Bitters & Love is the kind of spot where you can just as easily have a chill night chatting with a friend over a few drinks at the bar as you can slinging back bevvies with a rowdy group of newfound besties. Great place to introduce an out-of-towner to the expat drinking scene.
Bitters & Love, 118 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068587. p. +65 6438 1836. Open Mon - Thurs 6pm - 12am, Fri - Sat 6pm - 2am
No. 5 Emerald Hill has been going strong for 25 years and is a much-loved fixture with tourists, locals, and expats alike. This a sweet spot for laid-back beers and a few rounds of darts or pool. Happy hour runs from 12pm to 9pm every day, so you can get the party started early, and after 9pm they have a great deal on martinis where you get two for just $19++.
No. 5 Emerald Hill, 5 Emerald Hill Road, Singapore 229289. p. +65 6732 0818. Open Mon - Thurs 12pm - 2am, Sun & PH 5pm - 2am
Avry has a two-in-one concept going on with sleek cocktail bar Hairy Canary on one side and a 6,000-square-foot nightclub on the other. Start with some gastro bites and bevvies at Hairy Canary, then head into Avry for fist-pumping beats in a massive space decked out in giant bird cages that double as booths, huge LED screens, and a stylin’ Dom Perignon VIP lounge.
Avry, 9 Raffles Boulevard, #02-02 Millenia Walk, Singapore 039596. p. +65 9111 2868. Hair Canary: Mon - Sat 6pm - 12am. Avry: Wed, Fri, Sat 10pm - 5am
Good vibes runneth over at Kilo, an underground type of club where more often than not the dancefloor is packed. The DJs really know how to raise the roof even earlier in the evenings, and past acts have included some seriously sick players like Grandmaster Flash, A Guy Called Gerald, and Adi Shabat. Work up a sweat on the dancefloor, then refuel with tasty bites at the bar outside.
Kilo Lounge, 21 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore #01-02/04. p. +65 9824 9747. Open Tues - Wed 5:30pm - 1am, Fri 5:30pm - 3am, Sat: 7pm - 4am
If your out-of-town guests are from the States, they might appreciate ghetto fabulous Skinny’s for its dive bar feel. But wait… what’s that? A KTV room in the back? Yep, you’re actually very much still in Asia. Grab a vinyl booth and quaff a few Coors Lights before heading to the back to belt out your favourite tunes. Ladies can swing by on Wednesdays for free bottles of sparkling rosé.
Skinny’s Lounge, 82 Boat Quay, Singapore 049870. p. +65 9653 8886. Open Mon - Fri 5pm - 3am, Sat 7am - 4pm
Iconic Zouk was the first club to bring house music to Singapore 25 years ago and it’s still consistently being listed as one of the best clubs in the world. The massive new space on Clarke Quay offers a multitude of spaces to party including the main room for up to 1,500 clubbers, hip hop haven Phuture, sleek Capital for whisky aficionados, and Red Tail, a craft cocktail joint next door.
Zouk, 3C River Valley Road, The Cannery, Singapore 179022. p. +65 6738 2988. Open Wed, Fri & Sat 9pm - late
Late Night Bites
Hai Di Lao
After a big night out in Clarke Quay, Hai Di Lao will sort you right out with steaming Sichuan style hotpots packed with good eats like thinly sliced mutton, beef and fish balls, handmade noodles, dumplings, and veggies. Extras include fruit and popcorn while you wait for a table, endless soup and drink refills, and plastic cell phone protectors.
Hai Di Lao, 3D River Valley Road #02-04, Singapore 179023. p. +65 6337 8626. Open daily 10:30am - 6am
Who says dim sum is just for brunch? Swee Choon stays open late for all the nightowls who have a hankering for Hong Kong and Shanghai style eats. The menu features dim sum classics like fluffy bao buns filled with pork, siew mai stuffed with shrimp, and steamed pork ribs. We’re also big fans of the drunken chicken in shaoxing wine and spicy Sichuan wonton la mian.
Swee Choon, 183/185/187/189/191 Jalan Besar, Singapore 208882. p. +65 6225 7788. Open Mon - Sat 11am - 2:30pm, 6pm - 6am, Sun & PH 10am - 3pm, 6pm - 6am
25 Degrees Burger & Liquor Bar
Burgers are the perfect post-club grub, especially the towering creations from 25 Degrees, a hip and happening gourmet burger spot that comes to us by way of L.A. The Number One signature is just awesome with 200 grams of Angus beef, caramelised onions, creamy crescenza, gorgonzola, bacon, arugula, and thousand island sauce. Honestly, once you’ve had it, you’ll never go back to fast food again.
If it’s late and your out-of-town guests are craving something local, Boon Tong Kee is the solution. The Balestier branch stays open until 4:30am nearly every night and serves up a mean chicken rice along with other Chinese classics like seafood claypots, crispy cereal prawns, and BBQ suckling pig. Visitors can also pick up jars of BTK’s own sauces and pastes to take a taste of Singapore home with them.
Boon Tong Kee, 399, 401 & 403 Balestier Road, Singapore 329801. p. +65 6254 3937. Open Mon - Sat 11am - 4:45pm, 5:30pm - 4:30am, Sun 11am - 4:45pm, 5:30pm - 3am
Your Crazy Rich Asian Tour of Singapore
If you happened to catch the movie Crazy Rich Asians, then you already know that the majority of the scenes take place right here in Singapore with multiple shots featuring some of our most beloved spots. Follow in the footsteps of the stars on your own Crazy Rich Asian tour around the island.
Rachel and Nick stayed in the iconic Raffles Hotel, one of Southeast Asia’s last remaining grand dames. Currently the 131-year-old hotel is undergoing renovations, but it’s slated to reopen in the first half of 2019 with a slew of luxurious new suites. There will also be plenty of new dining concepts on site including restaurants by world-renowned chefs Alain Ducasse, Anne-Sophie Pic, and Singapore’s own Master Chef Jereme Leung.
CHIJMES is a picture-perfect place for a wedding, so chances are you’ll see other couples getting hitched here just like Amarinta and Colin did. Built in the 19th century, this former convent houses a gorgeous Gothic-style chapel and a complex where you’ll find enticing eateries like Coriander Leaf for modern Asian cuisine and Whitegrass for modern Australian.
After the wedding, Amarinta and Colin's reception was held at the Supertree Grove in Gardens by the Bay. These instantly recognizable structures soar 25 to 50 metres in the air and house vertical gardens. There's also a skywalk connecting the trees where you can peer down at the gardens 22 metres below. Stick around after dark because every evening the Supertrees offer a spectacular show with brilliant lights and music.
What better place to end the film with panache than at Marina Bay Sands, one of Singapore’s most spectacular landmarks? The rooftop infinity pool is for hotel guests only, but outside guests can head to Spago on the 57th floor for craft cocktails and bar bites against a backdrop of the city skyline. Keep the party going at CE LA VI where you can dance the night away to beats from some of the city’s best DJs.
Singapore is famous for its open-air hawker food centres, so it’s no surprise that they feature in the film. Eat where the stars did at Newton Hawker Centre, a collection of nearly 100 food stalls selling everything from sugar cane juice to BBQ sambal stingray, carrot cake, and oyster omelettes. The La Pau Sat market also makes an appearance in the movie and is another great spot to grab authentic local eats.
Newton Food Centre, 15 Clemenceau Avenue North, Singapore 229495. Open daily 12pm - 2am
La Pau Sat, 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582. Open 24 hours
No film featuring Singapore would be complete without at least a few shots of our famous pastel-hued Peranakan shophouses. In the scene where Rachel and Peik Lin meet on Bukit Pasoh Road they don’t say which restaurant they’re sitting at, but we can tell it's clearly Humpback, a fab seafood joint where you can grab freshly shucked oysters, baked clams, and lobster rolls while gazing out at the Chinatown scenery.
Humpback, 20 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089834. p. +65 9772 9896. Open Mon - Fri 5pm - 12am, Sat 5pm - 11pm, Sun 11am - 3pm