Singaporeans are food-crazy. Over 6500 res-taurants and more than 12,000 food stalls are packed into a country that's a mere pinprick on the map. All kinds of international cuisine lines Singapore's collective stomach, but Chinese, Indian, Malay and regional Peranakan (Malay-style sauces with Chinese ingredients) dishes are what you're here for. Be adventurous. Looking out for the long queues at hawker centres and joining in is a sure way to partake in the familiar Singaporean ritual of food worshipping. Each ethnic group has its own food rules; if unsure, look around to see what others are doing. It's OK to ask for a fork!
Reservations are essential for upmarket eateries; a smart-casual dress code usually applies. A service charge will be added to your bill (10% + 7% GST); additional tip-ping is optional. All restaurants (except hawker stalls) are nonsmoking.
Most restaurants serve lunch from around 11.30am to 2.30pm and dinner from 6pm to 10.30pm. If a place opens for breakfast, it's usually from around 10am till noon. Hawker centres listed under Quick Eats sections are generally open from 10am until late (some 24 hours); most hawker dishes range from S$3 to S$6.
Ah Chew Desserts : Packed with locals wanting a sweet post-dinner fix, this place boasts a massive menu featuring a variety of Chinese desserts. If you've never had honeydew sago or sesame paste before, now is your chance to go Ah Chew! Bless you!
YY Kafei Dian : This modern.coffee shop pays homage to the Hainanese eateries of days past, with its ceiling fans, linoleum floors, round marble-top tables and wooden chairs. For breakfast, order the soft kaya (coconut jam) buns, half-boiled eggs (go nuts with the condiments) and a thick, sweet kopi (coffee). For lunch, try the Hainanese chicken rice. There's an extensive a la carte menu at dinner, so order with abandon.
Yet Con : We doubt that much has changed in the 50-odd years that Yet Con has been in business. The chicken rice and steamboat are popular dishes at this retro eatery... just look around. The air-con is the only modern (and welcome) addition to this joint.
Empire Cafe : Not everyone wants to get sweaty at a hawker centre over a plate of char kway reow (broad noodles, clams and eggs fried in chilli and black-bean sauce), Hainanese chicken rice or other local delights. Those people should visit the faux-1920s-style coffee house Empire Cafe. For those who want to get sweaty, there are al fresco seats facing busy North Bridge Rd.
Space @ My Humble House : Serves up humble, affordable, local favourites with just a touch of flair from the same kitchen as My Humble House. Try chef Sam Leong's chicken rice the way his mum cooks it or the wagyu beef horfun.
Wah Lok Cantonese Restaurant : Long-running Cantonese res-taurant popular with families. Staff are happy to offer suggestions if you're unable to make a decision past the exquisite Peking Duck and dim sum selections.
My Humble House : The irony of the restaurant's name is quite apparent when diners are seated in the Alice in Wonderlanii-meets-PhilHpe Starck dining room. Chow down on subtly flavoured abalone, truffles, wagyu and seafood from an elaborate menu that changes weekly. Dress snazzy; reservations essential.
Chef Chan's Restaurant : Eponymous chef gets sick of cooking for over 200 people in his large restaurant, closes shop and opens tiny restaurant with seven tables, serving from a daily changing set menu. The restaurant is decked out with Chef Chan's exquisite antique modern.coffee shop pays homage to the Hainanese eateries of days past, with its ceiling fans, linoleum floors, round marble-top tables and wooden chairs. For breakfast, order the soft kaya (coconut jam) buns, half-boiled eggs (go nuts with the condiments) and a thick, sweet kopi (coffee). For lunch, try the Hainanese chicken rice. There's an extensive a la carte menu at dinner, so order with abandon furnishings, which still pale in comparison to the food. Book ahead.
Cumber's : The dining room is akin to a museum crossed with a tomb but the service (immaculate), presentation (classy) and the food (tasty) will soon distract you from the sombre environs. If you can't decide what to order, the maitre d' does a very good show and tell using the day's produce.
Rang Mahal : Much-praised Indian in sophisticated stone and teak subcontinental surrounds. The vegetarian selection offers silky dhals, and the lunch buffets are perfect for stuffing your face - it's a holiday right?
7atenine : Euro-Asian tapas (think dishes such as crisp kurobuta pork belly with iberico cheese) accompany the long list of drinks at this popular bar-cum-restaurant. Sit outside and watch the bartenders twist and hurl cocktails into the air with careless abandon.
Equinox : Adjectives struggle to describe the jaw-dropping views from this 70th-floor restaurant. Soaring ceilings, Asiatic wall hangings and plush fabrics are mere backdrops. The view rates a 10, the food a little less. Book early for a window seat.
Garibaldi : Swish, sequestered Garibaldi is the pick of Singapore's Italian crop (and Singapore tries hard): Italian chefs and debonair staff, and over 150 Italian wines. The menu is dassico; try the antipasti, then the homemade tortellini di granchio e cozze (handmade crab tortellini with mussels, zucchini and saffron sauce).
Ichiban Boshi :Conveyor-belt sushi at reasonable prices in the sassy Esplanade Mall complex. It's a couple of rungs up from others of its ilk in Singapore.
Kuriya :Singaporeans are more ac-customed to the ubiquitous 'conveyor-belt' sushi bars, and Kuriya is a sneering 'up yours' to such plebian Japanese dining experiences. Seasonal seafood and vegetables are flown in from Japan and diners are charmed by waiters in a classy setting.
Shiraishi : Don't let the casual izekaya appearance fool you. This restaurant is strictly for those seeking an exquisite Japanese dining experience (and who have the cash to spare). Prop yourself at the sushi bar and watch sushi chefs bark orders before proceeding to make masterpieces from hunks of raw fish.
Colonial District food courts and hawker centres fill with a strange mix of suits and locals during lunch time. Come evening, locals fill up on beer and are content to watch English Premier League on large-screen TVs.
Victoria Street Food Centre :Seemingly manifested to fill a space between highrises, and with its small shrine outside, this is a great fallback when every other place is closed. Locals wheel and deal, friends neck bottles of beer, solo guys read books.
Coffee Express 2000 Food Court : Has over 10 stalls serving up a range of Chinese, Malay and Indian food and is air-conditioned.
Glutton's Corner : Food celebrity KF Seetoh took the hard work out of finding great hawker food by inviting the best ones here, beside the Esplanade Mall. You can't go wrong with dishes such as oyster omelette, satay and barbecued stingray. You have to try the divine kaya fondue.
For an ultracheap feed, pull up a table at one of several steamboat restaurants, where SS15.50 to S$19 will buy you an 'all you can eat' spread of meats, seafood and veggies.
Toss it all into the large steamboat in the middle of the table.
The basement and 3rd floor of Raffles City and the basements of Funan DigitaLife Mall and Bugis Junction have fluoro-lit, hygienic food courts.
CBD & THE QUAYS Asian Fusion
IndoChine Waterfront : The IndoChine cartel's riverside operation boasts Boat Quay views and sumptuous surrounds - dark leather chairs and glittering chandeliers. The menu is a sophisticated collation of Vietnamese-, Cambodian- and Laotian-inspired dishes. No MSG, colouring or preservatives are used in cooking. You'll have a similar experience (at cafe prices) at Siem Reap II next door.
Epicurious : The worn coffee-shop tables and breakfast bench here are a result of diners frantically shovelling down walnut bread French toast with orange butter, laksa pesto and other delights. Weekend breakfast single-handedly breathes life into this largely ignored quay.
One on the Bund : The Marina Bay waterfront is hardly like the real Bund, but that's not stopping restaurateurs from calling it so. Housed in the former Clifford Pier, One on the Bund has replaced boat services with Shanghainese food service. The cavernous atmosphere is a little too art gallery/mausoleum but the smoked duck helps warm you up.
Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant : Order with haste so you can start enjoying 60th-floor views. Standout dishes like braised abalone with mushrooms and smooth beancurd with wolfberries will temporarily tear your eyes away from the windows. Ask for a tea performance: tea masters assume martial-arts stances while pouring the drink out of a long-spouted teapot. There's a branch at Parkroyal Beach Rd.
Saint Pierre : While we're naturally sceptical of self-styled 'celebrity' chefs, the peroxide blond Mr Stroobant has earned his fame. The modern French menu is often inspired, and though the six types of foie gras might test the patience of animal lovers, it pulls in the crowds.
Bon Gout : This eccentric place (not to be misread as 'Bong Out') is weird enough to be straight out of Tokyo. It's a second-hand bookshop/CD store/restaurant full of students and literati, reading, laughing and slurping ramen (noodle soups), Japanese curries and Tiger beer (sometimes all at once).
Marutama Ramen ; When the ramen stock runs out, the restaurant closes up for the day. It does happen because it's that good. Sadly, ingredients are on the skimpy side and you'd best shell out extra for side dishes (S$l to S$8) or risk succumbing to McDonald's later. There's a branch at Liang Court .
Palm Beach Seafood :There's not a palm or a beach in sight (name inherited from its parent branch at East Coast Parkway), but the bay views from this split-level diner are pretty good. Groups of suits spin the lazy Susan, enjoying baked, steamed and fried crabs.
Angel'sBistro: Diners here leave with uplifted spirits thanks to the organic, vegetarian produce at this no-frills restaurant. Watch the spritely 'aunties' behind the counter whip into action.. .must be the food.
Lau Pa Sat : means 'old market' in Hokkien), this hand-some wroughtiron canopy was freighted out from Glasgow in 1894 and lays claim to being the most popular hawker centre. Wander the aisles and take pleasure in picking out your food.
Boon Tat Street hawker stalls : In the evenings, additional hawker stalls specialising in satay set up along this street beside Lau Pa Sat. Satays go for 80 a pop; the chilli crab is excellent too.
Ya Kun Kaya Toast : Though a chain of outlets have mushroomed across Singapore, this outlet most closely matches the original 1940s stall selling strong coffee, runny eggs and kayo, toast, which so many Singaporeans love.
Da Dong Restaurant: One of Chinatown's longest lasting restaurants first opened its doors in 1928. These days, it still serves up some of the best dim sum in town. Longevity hasn't equated to great service, but with char siew (barbecue pork) buns this good, who cares?
Chi Van Organic Vegetarian Health Food : Organic, 100% vegetarian food cooked sans garlic and onion is surprisingly delish. Tiny wooden tables and chairs and the spiritual book selection give this place a schoolhouse atmosphere to complement your rising sense of worthiness.
Qun Zhong Eating House : Lunchtime queues conga onto the street for seafood, pork and vegetable dumplings expertly rolled by a crew of old ladies up the back of this shophouse. The red-bean pancake is a knock-out dessert.
Sin Hoi San Eating House : The pre-and post-clubbing crowd love to pile onto the plastic chairs and load up on a variety of sze char (cooked to order) dishes. If you want to splash out, try the chilli crab. Yes, the crabs and seafood are taken from one of the many aquarium tanks that line the walls of the restaurant.
Chuan Jiang Hao Zi : Look around. You're not the only one choking on the fiery broth at this Sichuan steamboat restaurant. Still, locals flock here for what is arguably the best hot pot in town. Two tips: don't put veggies into the chilli stock; and do order lots of beer.
L'Angelus : Comfort-food staples at this unpretentious Provencal bistro make it one of Singapore's better French eateries. Launch into the cassoulet, escargots and the famous hot chocolate cake.
Annaiakshmi Janatha : No-frills pay what like' Indian eatery whose profits are donated to various charities. The range of vegetarian curries and dhals are served in all-you-can-eat buffet style and are popular with the white-collar lunch crowd. There's another branch in Chinatown Point (Map p517; Bl-02 Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Rd).
Broth :In a leafy oasis atop sleepy Duxton Hill, past a row of sleazy KTV bars, this welcoming bis-tro has friendly staff, bentwood chairs, ceiling fans and a wall of wine and cookbooks. The menu is typically modern with dishes such as lamb loin, steaks and risottos.
Senso : Grab a drink from the bar before retreating to the court-yard for dinner. Get a senso(ry) overload with the homemade pasta with super-fresh lobster (live from in-house tanks) and pan-roasted king prawns in saffron cream sauce.
Blue Ginger :Blue Ginger serves traditional Peranakan cuisine in a homely shophouse, enlivened by local artist Martin Loh's striking contemporary paintings. Its claim to fame is the ayam panggang (grilled chicken in coconut milk and spices).
Thanying :Thanying is one of Singapore's best Thai restaurants. Meticulously prepared Royal Thai curries and stirfries are shuffled out by efficient, unintrusive staff in a slightly ostentatious setting. There's a recently opened branch in Sentosa .
Highlander Coffee :If you're tired of the weak coffee they call lattes at Starbucks, head here for your fix. Highlander blends and roasts its own beans and the owners, Phil and Cedric, are happy to talk coffee all day. Have a smoked duck ciabatta to accompany the brew. Or sign up for a coffee-making class.
Chinatown Complex ;As you'd expect, the large, eternally busy hawker centre here has some great Chinese food stalls. The choice is vast, the smoky atmosphere appropriately unkempt.
Eric's Wuerstelstand : Eric, an eccentric Austrian, hawks low-priced sausages and sauerkraut from a street stall.
Smith Street Hawker Stalls : Some vendors have also set up along this street, beneath red umbrellas - rivulets of water run down unwitting shirt backs when it rains. It's very touristy, but locals eat here too.
Maxwell Road Food Centre :Generally esteemed as one of Singapore's best hawker centres, this is in an open-sided food barn with over 100 stalls under the roof. Don't miss the raw fish congee (Zhen Zhen, stall 54). Can't decide what to eat? Look for the stall with the longest queues and get to the end of the line pronto.
EAST COAST Chinese
Eng Seng Coffeeshop :The definitive Singapore dish - black-pepper crab - is so good here that locals are 1) willing to queue over an hour to order and 2) be rudely told how many crabs they can order by the proprietress. The sticky honeylike peppery sauce makes it worth arriving at 4.30pm for an early dinner.
Guan Hoe Soon : This modest brick-fronted restaurant is the oldest Peranakan restaurant in Singapore (established 1953). Lee Kuan Yew gets his takeaway here. The definitive Peranakan ayam buah keluak (chicken with black nut) is a standout. Ask for the babi panggang (charcoal grilled pork) on weekends.
Charlie's Peranakan Food : When chef Charlie Tan retired over 10 years ago, people kept begging him to cook for them - so he went back into business. The essential Peranakan staple is ayam buah keluak - Charlie's version is brilliant.
Gd 0' Times : A relatively late player in the Peranakan food game, but boy has this restaurant got game. Its ayam buah keluak and Assam fish head are family recipes and stand toe to toe with the best of them.
No Signboard Seafood :The irony of the 30ft crustacean-emblazoned neon signboard seems to escape the diners here - they're too busy munching plates of white-pepper crab with spring onions and garlic under a fluoro-lit marquee. There's another branch at the East.Coast Seafood Centre (below).
East Coast Seafood Centre : Overlooking the Straits of Singapore in the salty breeze, this renowned seafood centre boasts several excellent Chinese and Thai restaurants, all with outdoor seating. Don't miss the chilli crabs and the intoxicating 'drunken' prawns. Standout places include Jumbo, Long Beach, No Signboard and Red House.
Naive : The cosy dining room has communal tables, so you can rub shoulders with other diners enjoying a feel-good vegetarian fix. The menu fea-tures meatless variations on local favourites such as Golden Oat, where torn (instead of prawns) is deep fried and coated with sweet oats. Portions are a little small.
Charlie's Corner : Charlie's Corner is something of an institution, run by an old fella who's been a fixture here for years. The endless va-rieties of beer and the fish and chips are the main draws. The prices are a little high for a hawker-centre stall, but after a few beers you won't notice.
East Coast Lagoon Food Village :There are few hawker centres with a better location. Tramp barefoot off the beach, order up some satay, seafood, or the uniquely Singaporean satay bee hoon (rice vermicelli) from Meng Kee at stall 17. Expect to queue. Cheap beer available.
Changi Village Food Centre :This small but extremely popular food centre is home to various stalls selling nasi lemak. Stall 157 is the most popular but the surrounding ones are just as good minus the long queues.
HOLLAND VILLAGE & BUKIT TIMAH
AU Petit Salut : Au Petit serves up familiar French fare in peaceful en-virons. Down tenderly cooked beef cheeks, the speciality dish, to the chirping of crickets. An extensive wine list tops the experience off. The set menu (typically three courses) offers similar food to the a la carte menu but with better value.
Sam/s Curry Restaurant : For 25 years the ceiling fans have spun above Samy's munificent curries in this leafy, open-walled, timbershuttered colonial throwback. Recent renovations have removed some of the charm but the fish-head curry is still sublime. Come early for a verandah table.
Michelangelo's : Michelangelo's offers an artistic selec-tion of pastas (penne sambuca and penne vodka help uninhibit conversations), salads and meat-oriented mains. Choose between the fan-cooled streetside terrace or the romantic dining room with its Sistine Chapel-esque ceiling efforts.
Original Sin : The originally (and strictly vegetar-ian) sinful menu ranges from towering ricotta cakes to melt-in-your-mouth moussaka and excellent risottos, not to mention an expan-sive/expensive Antipodean wine list. Book a mosaic-topped outdoor table.
Holland Village Food Centre : Avoid the raft of expat locals dining at pricey restaurants across the street and join the in-the-know locals for cheap Singapore grub. A small clutch of stalls sell chicken rice, prawn noodles and other classics. Walk off the calories with a visit to the wet market behind.
Da Paolo Gastronomia : Have your travelling companion nab one of the precious few stone stables outside while you nip inside this deli for gourmet-topped pizza slices, black-truffle tagliatelle and made-to-order sandwiches.
Riders Cafe : It's a SS10 taxi ride to get here from Orchard Rd but where else in Singapore can you chow down on eggs Benedict while watching horses being groomed and trained? The nonair-conditioned setting, in an utterly charming retro black-and-white colonial bungalow, completes the experience.
Jones the Grocer : This rather trendy deli also serves up a decent feed. Or is it a restaurant with a full-service deli? It's hard to tell, as Jones has craftily blended the two into a beautiful high-ceilinged, airy space. The cheese room is a delight, as is the open-faced wagyu burger. The espresso-based coffees are top-notch too.
Indian & Malay
Zam Zam : These guys have been here since 1908, so we figure they know what they're doing. Tenure hasn't bred complacency - the touts try to herd passers-by through the door as frenetic chefs whip up murtabaks (flaky, flat bread filled with mutton, chicken or vegetables).
Pariaman Warong Nasi :Cars roll up for quick takeaways at lunchtime at this corner coffee shop, where you'll smell the food before you see the crowd waiting to order the Malay dishes. The beefrendang (dry beef curry) and sambal goreng (long beans, tempeh and fried bean curd) are dishes to try.
Cafe Le Caire :This casual Egyptian hole-in-the-wall comes to life at night and attracts a multinational crowd hellbent on de-vouring the best kebabs and dips in town. Puff onsheesha pipes (S$15) and dissect the day. AI-Tazzag ,Tiny, colourfully painted Egyptian cafe full of at-mosphere, sheeshas, dips and kebabs. The tables spill out under the five-foot ways at night and the merriment goes on into the wee hours.
Golden Mile Food Centre :Promotes the government's 'Ask for Healthier Changes' policy (less oil, syrup, fat etc), but the famous tulang soup (S$5) from basement stalls 4, T5 and 28 doesn't really comply - meaty bones stewed in a rich, spicy, blood-red tomato gravy. Gnaw off the flesh, suck out the marrow, and sop up the sauce with bread. Seedy karaoke bars and Thai food stalls proliferate in the Golden Mile Complex across the road.
BluJaz Cafe : Live jaz (sic) is only played here on Saturday nights and on the first Monday each month. This bohemian-decorated eatery is popular for its wide range of Asian and Western dishes and the belly dancer on the first and third Friday of each month.
French Stall : A cross-cultural gem! French chef Xavier Le Henaff married a Singaporean and set up this place for regular folks - the best of France (good wine, great food, better desserts and lilting accordion music) merged with Singaporean affordability and no-frills outdoor dining. No reservations; cash only.
Madras New Woodlands : This enduring vegetarian family favourite is nothing flash to look at, but sometimes you need a break from all that Bolly schmaltz. The banana-leaf thalis (veggie curries, dhal and condiment) are more than generous; the service is gracious, unintrusive and helpful to confused foreigners.
Komala Vilas :This McDonald's of Indian fare serves decent, cheap vegetarian meals all day long. Try some spicy samosas (stuffed pastries), or order the thali. Its outlet at 82 Serangoon Rd sells sugary Indian sweets.
Andhra Curry :No-frills restaurant that prides itself on fiery recipes from the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Order up some Hyderabad! biryani (oven-baked rice with vegetables and meat). Masala tea helps quell the fire in your belly. On Sunday nights it's mayhem!
Spice Queen :Self-taught celebrity chef Devagi Sanmugam serves Indian dishes with a distinctly Singaporean twist in the heart of Little India. The staff are ultrafriendly and happy to make recommendations. Fish-head curry is a must. Take home recipe books or sign up for a cooking class.
Banana Leaf Apolo :(3 lunch & dinner) Supremely tourist-friendly restaurant famed for its fish-head curry (dig into the delish meat on those fishy cheeks!). Can't face a fish face? Standards like rogan josh (tomato and red-pepper lamb curry) and lamb vindaloo (spicy Central or South Indian curry) are less confronting.
Tekka Centre : Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the original Tekka Centre was being renovated and tarted up. Sadly, these temporary premises only house 60% of the original stalls and 0% of the original atmosphere.
Lavender Food Centre : Much less touristed than most and stays open until the wee hours. The won-ton noodles (the queues start before the stall opens and persist all day) and Hong Kong dim sum are worth queuing for.
Rochor Original Beancurd : Grab a plastic stool and order these items: bean curd, soy-bean milk and yu tiao (fried dough fritters). If it's too crowded, try the same dishes at the competition next door.
Killiney Kopitiam : The original local coffee joint, which spawned a whole host of imitators and an empire of franchisees, is still the place, for breakfast. The waiter yells your order at ear-splitting volume and the coffee - shaken by the resulting seismic dis-turbance - inevitably arrives erupted into the saucer.
Freshly Baked : Office workers drop by for the excellent sandwiches but the proverbial icing on the cake is the selection of sweets and pastries. Gorge on cheesecake and eclairs and diet later.
Casa Verde : Pet-friendly restaurant seeks pooch-loving diners for culinary fun. Smashing wood-fired pizzas attracts hordes of families and pet lovers (pets in tow). Good luck trying to get a seat. Pets optional.
PS Cafe Palais : Beautiful people blend easily into the equally gorgeous 'industrial grit meets colonial charm' surrounds. Slug back a cocktail under swirling ceiling fans and tear into the fish pie (fish, scallops and prawns cooked with chutney and pesto, enveloped in delicate pastry). There are two less-glamorous branches: the ProjectShop Cafe and PS Cafe Harding.
Din Tai Fung :The queues at this Taiwanese restaurant are a testament to its excellent food. While waiting, watch chefs at work through 'fishbowl' windows; they painstakingly make 18 folds in the dough used for the xiao longpao (steamed pork dumplings). Delicate dumplings are served steaming fresh in bamboo baskets and explode with flavour in your mouth.
Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao :The Lanzhou handmade noodles and xiao longpao keep bringing people back. It has an extensive numbered 'I want that one' menu (lots of dim sum) and several set menus. There are branches at Suntec City and Holland Village.
Chatterbox :Chatterbox has ditched its old dull lobby digs for floor-to-ceiling 38th-floor views of the city. Its chicken rice is still legendary (both for its taste and high cost). Boiled chicken is plunged into ice then served cold with warm broth, fragrant rice, rich soy, chilli and freshly ground ginger. Singaporeans still flock here to pay 10 times what they'd pay at a hawker centre.
Au Jardin :The dinner degustation is filled with wagyu, Alaskan crab, foie gras and all the good things in life. The genteel garden-house setting helps calm the nerves when the bill arrives. Come for Sunday brunch. Why? Your mind and stomach will turn to mush with the choice of 14 Provencal-inspired buffet dishes.
Rice Table :An uninspired building in Orchard Rd is saved by a restaurant serving rijsttafel (rice table) - a free-flowing buffet of 11 to 20 small Dutch-influenced Indonesian dishes such as daging rendang (spicy beef stew) and gado gado (tofu and beansprouts in peanut sauce).
Oriole Cafe & Bar : Stuck at the back of a service hotel, Oriole's modern bistro sensibilities are reflected in a wide-ranging menu guaranteed to induce dining indecision. Do you go with the beef-cheek tagliatelle, good old fish and chips or a Philly steak and cheese? Singapore's barista champion, John Ting, pulls perfect espressos behind the impressive La Marzocco machine.
The Canteen : The office-white furnishings and flooring don't deter shoppers from stopping by for local delights cooked with a twist: laksa udon, crab mee pok (flat egg noodles), curry chicken ramen, black-pepper beef spaghetti and handmade noodles with truffle oil.
Iggys :Singapore's best restaurant. Period. The suprisingly casual dining room is forgiven when the courses hit the table. Japanese and European sensibilities are meshed together in a tasting menu of epic proportions (eight courses for dinner). The wine list is as impressive as it is extensive.
Wasabi Tei :Join the queue snaking out of this 20-seat mom-and-pop sushi bar. The chef is Chinese but he sure can slice raw fish. You'd better make your choices before you sit because seconds and postorder amendments are not allowed. Nazi-like, you say? Nineteen other people will gladly take your place.
Sun with Moon : If Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami opened a restaurant, it would look exactly like Sun with Moon. The cavernous interior has light-filled seats (sun?) and dark little nooks (moon?), hanging Japanese lanterns and shag carpets. Kamameshi (rice dish cooked in an iron pot) is delicate and the desserts taste as good as they look (the tofu cheesecake is playfully served in a bird cage).
Nagomi : The stunning but dark atmosphere at this eat-ery is so moody you just want to nurse sake all night. Thankfully, the food will lift your spirits. Ingredients are flown from Japan four times a week, and meals are prepared oma-kase (there's no menu and the chef prepares seasonal specialities) and served in beautiful Japanese earthenware.
Shashlik : Oookay, a Russian coffee house in Singapore? Thumbs up for uniqueness. Additional points for doing a brave borscht and tender beef/ chicken/pork shashliks. The interior is as dated as the waiters who shuffle around behind food trolleys, expertly igniting bombe Alaskas. Fun!
Burrow into the basements of most Orchard Rd malls and you'll find great-value food courts.
Lucky Prata : You'd have to be extremely lucky to get a table at this joint during lunch-time. If you do, thank your lucky stars, roll up your sleeves and tuck into roti prata and teh tank ('pulled' tea).
Takashimaya Food Village : A crazy (but oh so good) mishmash of stalls selling everything from Japanese pancakes to bibim-bap (mixed rice and meat over rice), ice cream and sweet cream puffs.
Food Republic : A cornucopia of local food. Muck in with the rest of the crowd for seats before joining the longest queues. Roving 'aunties' push around trolleys filled with drinks and dim sum.
Newton Food Centre : Near Newton MRT, this food centre gets a bum rap thanks to aggressive touts and overcharging. Still, the atmosphere is lively. Make sure to check prices before you confirm your order. Try the oyster omelette at Hup Kee.
Imperial Herbal Restaurant : Located in new premises, it still retains the scorpions on the menu and the in-house Chinese physician who checks your pulse, examines your tongue and then prescribes something on the menu to rebalance your yin and yang. Boost your libido, lose the zits, or stop the grey-hair onslaught - something tasty will save the day!
II Lido : Starry-eyed lovers and suits on corporate accounts share the simple al fresco dining space for stunning views of the South China Sea while twirling squid-ink fettuccine on their forks. Alcoholics rejoice for there's a S$98 champagne brunch on Sundays.
Despite ludicrously high alcohol prices, high disposable incomes and relaxed licensing laws fuel a lively bar scene in Singapore -you'll always find somewhere to suit your mood. Hit the bars early to cash in on happy hours, typically stretching from 5pm to 9pm, when you'll often get two-for-one drinks. On Wednesday nights some bars have cheap or free drinks for women. Watch out for higher age limits at some bars (usually 18 for most, though some require men to be 21 or 23).
The main party places are Circular Rd, Boat Quay, Mohamed Sultan Rd, Chijmes in the Colonial District, Club St in Chinatown, Emerald Hill off Orchard Rd, and Holland Village. Unless otherwise stated, bars have free entry, most opening around 5pm until at least midnight Sunday to Thursday, and through to 2am or 3am on Friday and Saturday.
If you don't want to go home broke and don't mind plastic tables and fluoro lights, bottles of Tiger, Heineken and Tsingtao cost S$6 to S$8 at hawker centres and coffee shops.
Chijmes :Perennially popular Chijmes is a high-density collection of bars and chilled-out patio areas.
New Asia Bar : Save the S$30 you would have spent on the Singapore Flyer and spend it on drinks here instead! The 70th floor and panoramic views help your drinks go down a little easier. Come early for sundowners, and 6nce you tire of the views, shake it on the dance floor.
Loof : This rooftop bar gets its name from the Singlish (local slang) mangling of the word 'roof. Ambient beats soothe away the city noise and comfy leather-clad seats are scattered around the deck.. .perhaps these are to blame for the mellow crowd. For privacy (and air-con), ask for one of the seven'semi-enclosed seating areas.
Orgo : Yawn. Yet another rooftop bar with stunning views. But this one has the added bonus of Japanese mixologist Tomoyuki Kitazoe crafting crazy drinks such as soursop calamansi martinis in addition to panoramic views of Marina Bay. Air-conditioned glass enclosures available for wilting patrons. Let's orgo to Orgo!
Paulaner Brauhaus :A brassy, three-storey German microbrewery bar and restaurant serving up brothy tankards of Munich Lager and Munich Dark and platters of sausage and cheese 'knacker'. There's live music in the evenings.
Raffles Hotel :we know it's a cliche, but a visit to Singapore is practically incomplete without a drink at Raffles. The Bar & Billiard Room has two billiard tables and a verandah perfect for postcolonial posturing. The courtyard Gazebo Bar is a tasty spot for a tipple below rattling palms. Sipping a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar and throwing peanut shells on the floor is a quintessential Singapore experience...just go in the day to avoid the horrid evening cover band. A frosty glass of the sweet, cherry-red intoxicator will set you back S$25. Cheers.
Over Easy : The egg dishes on the menu aren't anything to shout about but the drinks are easily done over, given the stunning Marina Bay views and one-for-one happy-hour specials (6pm to 8pm).
Boat Quay & Circular Road
Penny Black :Fitted out like a 'Victorian' London pub (without the tuberculosis and dodgy gin), Penny Black specialises in hard-to-find English ales for the swaths of expat Brits that work in the area (who keep one eye on their pints and another on the Premier League matches screened on TVs).
Archipelago Brewery : Asia Pacific Breweries (makers of Tiger) decided to jump on the microbrewery bandwagon with their line of yummy Asian-accented beers. This is their flagship pub on a Y-junction on mildly seedy Circular Rd.
Molly Malone's : Molly Malone's has moved to larger premises. Well-travelled drinkers will have seen the Irish interior and the genuine Irish stew and fish-and-chip menu 100 times before, but that doesn't make it any more appealing:
Harry's Bar : Harry's has spawned an empire of bars across the island but the original is still the best. This financial-district hang-out gained infamy as the haunt of Barings-buster Nick Leeson. Grab a pint and toast his misdeeds.
Brewerkz :Across the river from Clarke Quay, this large microbrewery (the irony doesn't escape us) brews eight beers on site, including an Indian Pale Ale, Pilsener and Golden Ale. Happy hours run from opening to 9pm, with prices escalating throughout the day.
Cuba Libre : The live Cuban music surges with energy and will compel even the most wooden of legs to start moving. If you can resist the siren of salsa, nurse drinks and Robertson Quay & Mohamed Sultan Road
Next Page : This is where Hunter S Thompson would have hung out if he d been a journo in Singapore. Dark timber bar, red lanterns, exposed brickwork, booths, pool table, Carlsberg on tap and quirky bartenders - sit down and write the next page of your novel. Brussels Sprouts Belgian Beer & Mussels . Cute restaurant bar that lays it heavy on the Belgian theme with mussels trappist ales galore and Tintin murals on the wall (the whole gang's there down to Thompson & Thompson).
CHINATOWN & THE CBD
The following Chinatown bars are closed on Sundays unless otherwise specified.
Bar Sa Vanh : Gorgeous svelte things flit through Sa Vanh's dusky candlelight watch students go through the motions.as expats sink into sunken lounges and Asian tapas while ambient tunes snake into the night -all under the gaze of Buddha himself,
Beaujolais Wine Bar : A tres cute shophouse bar with chequered Montmarte tablecloths, bentwood chairs, slate floors and low-key jazz. It's a welcome relief from the raft of tres chic industrial-looking bars now dotting the city.
Oosters Brasserie : (noon-midnight Mon-Fri, 5.30pm-midnight Sat) Grab a seat at one of the booths or on a bar stool and order from an extensive list of Belgian beers (Leffe on tap!) and trappist ales (expect Orval and Chimay). Get some mussels cooked any way you like. There's a branch at Suntec City ,Suntec City Galleria; open noon to midnight Monday to Saturday).
Helipad : Yes, this bar's claim to fame is its position on top of a helicopter pad. Well, a faux one at least. The vibe is decidedly partylike and there are one-for-one housepours from 6pm to 9pm.
Zsofi Tapas Bar : Inspired by their travels through Spain, two mates decided to open a tapas bar named after a travelling companion. Chill out at the eclectic bar downstairs; sit down on the floor on the 2nd level or at a table on the rooftop. All drinks come with a tapas dish of your choice. Now that's choice!
Alley Bar : Sky-high ceilings, dark timbers, candlelight and slick stylings paint this alleyway bar with restrained melodrama. Yuppies and expats converse in shadowy, cushioned nooks, quaffing wine and on-tap Belgian beers.
No 5 : Not much imagination went into naming this long-running boozer in a 1910 Peranakan shophouse. Expect retro-Asiatic touches, vats of chilli vodka and smoky snooker vibes. It's damned touristy around here, but the cool evening ambience is sweet relief from Orchard Rd.
Que Pasa : Next door to No 5, this is a classy wine and tapas bar.
Ice Cold Beer : It's back to raucous international beer-swilling (to rock tunes) at this spot.
Dubliners :Dubliners gains kudos for its whitewashed plantation architecture and quality pub food. No sign of James Joyce, but you can toast his efforts with a pint of the black stuff on the verandah.
Wala Wala :This extremely popular bar is loud, raucous and friendly. Seating downstairs is open and breezy while the live-music bar upstairs focuses on danceable, singable, air-punchable tunes.
2AM Dessert Bar : Chef-owner Janice Wong opened this brave venture in her mid-205 in 2007. Here, the chic bar concept is taken to a whole new level with the focus being 13 drool-worthy desserts, each paired with a wine recommendation. Where else can you satisfy your chocolate cravings at two in the morning?
Sentosa has recently shaken off its tacky image and become something of a fashionable hang-out, especially at weekends, when its beach bars are busy day and night with the tanned and scantily clad. Beach parties are held fairly regularly. Coastes and Cafe del Mar are all Ibiza-inspired restaurant-bars.
Singapore's nightlife gets a bum rap (mainly from Singapore Sling-swilling package tourists) but there's really no excuse for an early night in Singapore.
Clubs generally close at 3am and are strictly drug-free; get your kicks instead from local acts and touring DJs who regularly stop off in Singapore. Dress is smart casual - no shorts or sandals.
In contrast, the live music scene is pretty dismal; cover bands, tinkling Richard Clayderman piano classics and karaoke bars rule the roost. Thankfully, there are several bars that actually hire decent local artists.
Singaporeans adore the cinema - mainstream US blockbusters are standard fodder. The city's theatre scene is surprisingly vibrant, staging everything from experimental originals to repertory standards. You'll also find some quality classical and tourist-friendly opera performances.
Tickets for most events are available through Sistic or Tickets.com. Check websites for the nearest outlets. The Straits Times, I-S Magazine and Time Out have listings for movies, theatre and music. For nightlife, pick up the free street mags I-S Magazine and Juice at cafes, hotels and music stores.
COMEDY & MAGIC
Howl at the Moon :This rock bar also hosts monthly comedy nights with mostly UK, US and Australian stand-ups hamming it up. Check the website for schedules.
Arena : Watch local magician JC Sum and his 'babe' (their words) assistant Ning channel David Copperfield nightly. The venue also hosts music acts and DJs, so call before you head down.
Chinese Theatre Circle : Every Friday and Saturday night at 8pm there's a brief talk (in English) about Chinese opera, followed by a short excerpt performed by pro-fessional actors in full costume. Lychee tea and cakes are included in the SS20 price. For S$35, turn up at 7pm and enjoy a full Chinese meal beforehand. Bookings recommended.
Movie-going is huge in Singapore, and at around S$9 per ticket it's good value. Films are mainly Hollywood blockbusters and Chinese, Korean and Japanese crowd-pleas-ers, f\us a few art-house hits from around the world. Non-English films are subtitled; admission prices vary according to session times. Weekend screenings sell out (even midnight sessions) so book ahead. Check the Straits Times for session details. Dress warmly -Singaporean cinemas are notoriously chilly.
The Singapore International Film Festival (www.filmfest.org.sg), held each April, brings an enormous collection of independent films to the country.
There are multiplex cinemas around the Colonial District at Bugis Junction and Iluma, Suntec City and Marina Sq. Around Orchard Rd you'll find cinemas at Cathay Cineleisure Orchard and Plaza Singapura, Lido cinema at Shaw House and the Picturehouse at the Cathay.
GV Gold Class; VivoCity These swanky cinemas feature plush carpeting and single and double reclining seats complete with footrests, table service and a reasonable menu. Tickets cost S$28.
Sinema; B1-12 Old School, 11B Mt Sophia Rd; tickets S$8-10; Started off as a local-movie theatre and soon ran out of steam (erm, someone doing the business plan should have realised there are like, what, five local films?). Has since expanded its repertoire to 'Asian' cinema.
Screening Room :Get your ticket, order some food and drinks and settle down on a comfy sofa for a movie. After the film, wander out onto the rooftop bar for views of Chinatown.
Most clubs have cover charges of around S$15 to S$35, often including at least one drink; women usually pay less (or even nothing!). Clubs are forever folding and revamping; check I-S Magazine and Juice for reviews.
Zouk : Nineteen going on one, Ibiza-inspired Zouk is still Singapore's hottest club. It features five bars, with the capacity to hold 2000, and a roomy dance floor with plenty of space to cut the rug - it's a world-class contender and a regular destination for globe-trotting DJs. You'll also find the alfresco Zouk Wine Bar, avant-garde Phuture and the Moroccan-inspired Velvet Underground hung with Keith Haring and Andy Warhol originals. Be prepared to queue.
Butter Factory : At over 700 sq metres, Butter Factory's new digs is double the size of its old premises and slick as hell. Street art on the walls of Bump, the hip-hop and R&B room, betrays its young crowd. Fash is its chilled-out 'art' bar, and walls are plastered with colourful pop-art reminiscent of underground comics (yes, the ones you hid from mum).
Zirca Mega Club : After the Ministry of Sound Singapore was shut down owing to contractual issues, licensee Lifebrandz quickly rebranded the club into Zirca. Mash with the mainly 20-somethings in Zirca (dance club), Rebel (hip-hop arena) or Yellow Jello (retro disco).
Dbl 0 : An outrageous three-bar dance club, popular with young clubbers wearing very little and older people who like to look at them. Music ranges from Top 40 on Thursdays, house on Fridays and retro on Saturdays. The reason for its popularity? S$3 house pours.
LIVE MUSIC Classical
Singapore Symphony Orchestra .The 1800-seater state-of-the-art concert hall at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay is home to this respected orchestra, which also graces the Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall (opposite). It plays at least once weekly; check the website for details and book in advance. Half-price student and senior (60-plus) discounts are available; kids under six years old are unceremoniously banned.
Singapore Chinese Orchestra : Performs regular classical Chinese concerts throughout the year, featuring traditional instruments, including the liuqin, ruan and sanxian. There are occasional collaborations with Japanese, jazz and Malay musicians.
Crazy Elephant :Anywhere that bills itself as 'crazy' should set the alarm bells ringing, but you won't hear them once you're inside. This touristy rock bar is beery, blokey, loud, graffiti-covered and testosterone-heavy -rock on!
Prince of Wales :This Aussie-hewn pub has backpacker accommodation upstairs. Rub shoulders with resident surfy beer-boffins effusing over acoustic rock on week nights and original indie bands on weekends. Harley riders take over the place on Saturday nights. Music is from 9pm most nights.
Timbre@0ld School :At night, groups of art-school types hang out and bob heads to live acoustic sets while downing pints of Erdinger, their hands oily from one too many buffalo wings. It's quite a hike up a hill, so take a cab.
Howl at the Moon : The superbly talented band can play any song request you fling at them (no matter how obscure) and the duelling pianists bashing away on the ivories are entertaining.
Jazz & Blues
Jazz@Southbridge : This intimate jazz bar sets plush sofas in front of a small stage. In-house crooner Alemay Fernandez ably entertains, and famous internationals often take to the stage (Pat Metheny did an impromptu jam once). Sets kick off around 9.30pm.
Bellini Grande : The swing and jazz band at the St James Power Station was such a huge hit they moved their three lead singers, 14-piece band and backup dancers to a swanky larger place. The crowd seems to agree with the move.
Singapore Indoor Stadium : Most of Singapore's big-ticket sports and entertainment events - from international bands to celebrity wrestling - are played out here; check the website, the Straits Times or www.singaporesports.com.sg for details. To get here take bus 11 from Kallang MRT or bus 16 from Orchard Rd.
Singapore Turf Club : The website claims 'It's more exciting with horses!' We're not sure what 'it' entails, but the races sure are rousing. Seats range from grandstand (S$3) up to Hibiscus Room (S$20). Dress code is collared shirt and pants for men; closed shoes for women. Betting is government controlled; check the website for race schedules (usually Friday nights and all day weekends); Kranji MRT station is right outside. Giddy-up.
THEATRE & DANCE
Singapore's more dynamic and contempo-rary theatre groups produce edgy but accessible home-grown and international work at various venues around town. Look out for shows by Theatreworks (www.theatreworks.org.sg), Toy Factory Ensemble (www.toyfactory.org.sg), Action Theatre (www.action.org.sg), Necessary Stage (www .necessary.org) and Singapore's sexiest theatre company, Wild Rice (www.wildrice.com.sg).
Singapore Repertory Theatre : The bigwig of Singapore's theatre scene, producing Shakespeare and other mainstream standards. Their Little Company stages plays to entertain the young 'uns.
Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society : For classical Indian dance and vocal and instrumental music check out this company. It even stages Shakespeare in Kathakali (Indian story form)!
Singapore Dance : Produces traditional ballet favourites alongside contemporary works. Don't miss July's 'Ballet Under the Stars' season at Fort Canning Park (S$25).
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