Singapore is a popular stopover destination but you rarely hear of travellers making a dedicated trip to this busy Asian city. I’ve been keen to visit for a while thanks to the vibrant Hawker stall culture and exciting emerging fine dining scene. Six days in this hot city was exhilarating, tiring, tasty and thrilling. It is a long way to travel for a short stay so I recommend teaming it up with a beach holiday in Bali or Thailand, but whether you find yourself in Singapore for 24 hours or longer here are a few of my favourite places to satisfy your mind and palate.
The Warehouse Hotel – This slick and stylish hotel is (unsurprisingly) part of the Design Hotels group. Housed in a meticulously restored heritage building in central Singapore, The Warehouse Hotel is found in Robertson Quay. There are 37 rooms, each decorated in a similar minimalist modern style, all ultra comfortable and calm. The hotel also has a great cocktail bar and restaurant, which focusses on Singaporean staple dishes.
To Eat (restaurants)
Odette – Odette is No.35 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and is housed in elegant dining room in the National Gallery Singapore. Inspired by chef Julien’s grandmother Odette the restaurant serves modern French cuisine often with a nod to Singaporean flavours and culinary ideas. I experienced the magical, seasonal tasting menu that featured iconic dishes such as the Kampot Pepper Crusted Pigeon with cherry, and the spectacular Rosemary Smoked Egg.
Burnt Ends – This fun restaurant is always fully booked thanks to the atmospheric open kitchen and informal vibe. Meat eaters will rejoice at the menu of irresistible dishes, don’t miss the ‘Beef Marmalade on toast’ and the ‘Berry Tart’ (which you can get at the Burnt Ends Bakery to takeaway next door to the restaurant). Australia-born chef Dave Pynt uses a ferocious open fire to create truly mouth-watering meat, fish and vegetable dishes.
Thevar – Internationally acclaimed Thevar is found in Singapore’s Chinatown district, a modern Indian grill restaurant which was recently awarded a second michelin star. Chef Mano Thevar presents tasting menus of inventive Indian recipes with delicate flair but with powerful flavours.
Forma – I loved Forma, a new eatery in the Joo Chiat district of Singapore. This trattoria style restaurant is by Yumhwa Lee of Ben Fatto, and is being heralded as the best place in town to eat authentic homemade pasta. The interiors are stylish and chic, and guests can watch the pasta being made in the next door pasta studio, where traditional methods are employed. Favourites from the menu included Tortellini in Brodo and Pappardelle e Coda alla Vaccinara.
Birds of Paradise – This super modern gelato boutique creates botanical gelato that is flavoured using real, natural ingredients: fruits, flowers, pods, herbs and spices. Try the delicate and floral signature White Chrysanthemum flavour.
Apiary – A quirky ice-cream shop in Singapore serving a range of intriguing and delicious flavours. All their products are made in the store in their tiny kitchen. The flavours are constantly changing and evolving, I liked the ‘apiary’ – honey ice-cream with cocoa nibs, but I was not a fan of the Blue milk!
Baker’s Bench – This humble cafe and bakery is found on Bukit Pasoh Road in the Chinatown district of Singapore. This neighbourhood bakery makes and sells wonderful handcrafted sourdough bakes, buttery pastries and other tasty baked treats. The Head Baker Joey worked at Apiece Bakery in Tasmania and co-founder Vera lived in the UK for several years, both gaining experience before coming back to Singapore and building their own community.
To Eat (street food)
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles – Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles are a must try from the Singapore hawker scene, and were recommended to me by friends and chefs alike. The tiny stall is found in Crawford Lane and you should expect to queue for these addictively tasty pork noodles. Once you do reach the front of the queue there are several options to choose from, the dry noodles with broth served separately were my favourite, a wonderfully balanced bowl of noodles, tender pork, crispy crackling and sweet salty broth.
Hawker Chan Liao Fan – Chan Hon Meng is a humble hawker stall owner and an award-winning Chef with more than 30 years experience, his signature Soya Sauce Chicken Rice is renowned in Singapore. Chan Liao Fan was the first hawker stall in the world to be awarded a Michelin star!
Lau Pa Sat – This evening Satay street is smoky, busy and very atmospheric. Visit in the evening and join the queue for stall 7, where you can find some of the best satay – we ordered a platter of chicken, mutton and beef skewers. Cheap and full of flavour.
Tian Tian chicken – We visited this lovely stall twice, thanks to the unbeatable fragrant chicken and rice and the charming service. Found in the Maxwell Food Centre, Tian Tian is often voted as the best chicken rice hawker stall in Singapore by local and visiting foodies. This no-fuss stall offers simple and delicious Haiwanese chicken and rice (piping hot fragrant rice, cold poached chicken eaten with spicy chilli sauce, dark soy and minced ginger). A serving costs just a few pounds and we found ourselves going up to buy second servings!
Keng Geng Kee Seafood – This much loved Chinese eatery has been serving irresistible dishes for three generations, Starting life as a small hawker stall in 1970s at Old Havelock Road and now operating as a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating at Alexandra Village. It is a favourite with chefs for good reason, the food is faultless and the atmosphere is convivial. Don’t miss the Coffee Pork Ribs and the Chilli and Black Pepper Crabs.
Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa – It isn’t easy to find the correct ‘Famous Sungei Road trishaw Laksa’, following their success several imitators have popped up. Chef-owner, Daniel Soo, who is now in his sixties, opened Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa 18 years ago, and his recipe is unbeatable in the city. The stall sells out fast so go for an early lunch to sample the beautifully aromatic bowls of steaming laksa, topped with crayfish.
Ah Heng Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee – You will find this brilliant hawker stall in the Hong Lim Market and Food Centre. This dish is made with bee hoon (rice noodles) or yellow-noodles in a laksa-resembling curry broth, topped with ingredients like chunks of chicken, potato and tofu. It is the ultimate addictive comfort food.
To Drink (cocktails)
Atlas Bar – This epic cocktail bar is a marvel to witness – the room is huge in proportion with high ceilings and art deco details. It is worth visiting just to see the amazing space. The grand bar is known particularly for it’s impressive collection of gin, and we opted for two drinks at the barman’s recommendation. There is also the Juniper Society, a membership-based community with monthly gin tastings and other special events.
Jigger and Pony – Jigger and Pony is no.9 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list. The bar is named after the double-coned measuring device used by bartenders to accurately pour out spirits and embraces the classic cocktail recipes, pouring them to perfection with a smile. I recommend sitting at the bar so you can be involved in the action. Our favourites from the menu included Yuzu Whiskey Sour (one of their bestsellers) and the Black Pepper Sazarac.
To Drink (Coffee)
Apartment Coffee – This dedicated speciality coffee shop is located on Lavender Street. The interiors are ultra pared back and the coffee is expertly poured. They also offer a great monthly coffee subscription.
Nylon – This cute coffee bar & roastery focuses on sourcing and roasting some of the best coffees, shipping both locally & worldwide. Tell the team what kind of drink you like and they’ll help you choose from the Nylon menu.
Community Coffee – Community is focussed on on sourcing, roasting, brewing & serving high quality coffees. They have two bars in Chinatown and Orchard and both serve delicious caffeinated drinks.
Dawn – Dawn is a relatively new coffee shop, a hidden cafe near Clarke Quay, with a mix of raw industrial and modern aesthetics serving great coffee and delicious bakes. The service was particularly charming here and they put lots of care and attention into creating lovely food and drinks.
Double Up Coffee – This trendy coffee shop serves up their own roasted beans in a spacious, relaxed space. The menu is concise, divided into “business” (coffee drinks), “pleasure” (non-coffee drinks), and “chow” (rotational pastry). I ordered a flat white and liked the taste of the beans so much that I bought some to take home.
Common Man Coffee – This speciality coffee roaster and cafe is known well throughout Asia for their great coffee. I recommend visiting for brunch paired with your coffee of choice.
Gardens by the Bay – One of Asia’s premier horticultural destinations, Gardens by the Bay offers a scenic paradise for nature and photography lovers, with lots of fun activities for the whole family. We loved walking across the Skyway and seeing the view from the above, the Cloud Forest is also very impressive.
Singapore Botanical Gardens – One of the best Botanical Gardens I’ve visited. The site is a 163-year-old tropical garden located at the fringe of the Orchard Road shopping district in Singapore. It is one of three gardens, and the only tropical garden, to be honoured as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander through and admire the plants and the wildlife.
Joo Chiat – This residential conservation area is in the eastern part of Singapore, located between Geylang Serai and Marine Parade Road. Discover the Peranakan culture as you stroll past heritage colourful houses, quaint stores and eateries – I particularly recommend checking out Tiger Lily Patisserie and Petit Pain bakery, and Forma restaurant for pasta.
National Museum of Singapore – The National Museum of Singapore is the nation’s oldest museum aiming to inspire with stories of Singapore and the world. Its history dates back to 1849. Known then as the Raffles Library and Museum, the museum moved to its current premises on Stamford Road in 1887. Make sure you also visit the Super Mama shop inside the museum.
Marina Bay Sands – This world famous hotel is worth a visit. Head to the top floor for the ultimate view, visit for a drink if you have time.