1. Bincho – Hua Bee
It’s easy to miss this yakitori-slash-cocktail bar joint in the largely residential neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru. It is hidden behind Hua Bee, an ordinary-looking watering hole where aunties sell delicious piping hot bowls of mee pok from morning till lunch time. By sunset, the back door (accessible via the car park) that leads to Bincho opens and welcomes guests to a tiny narrow space with dim lighting, transporting diners to another world. The best seats in the house is by the bar, where guests can face the kitchen and prepare grilled Japanese bar bites while sipping on a highball.
Nearest MRT station: Tiong Bahru
2. W39 Bistro and Bakery – Jalan Mas Puteh
Tucked beneath walk-up apartments at Jalan Mas Puteh, a sleepy street in the west, this bright and inviting bistro could pass off for a beach cottage. Surrounded by white clapboard walls and shelves lined with colourful knick-knacks, try jazzed-up local dishes such as mee siam (rice noodles in a spicy gravy) with a blend of 20 fresh spices and ingredients. This is cooked for at least three hours and topped with a poached egg.
Nearest MRT station: Clementi
3. Cacio e Pepe – Chu Lin Road
Ensconced in a quiet residential neighbourhood, Cacio e Pepe serves up rustic Italian fare in a cosy space with cheery yellow walls. Dishes here feature time-honoured pairings like prosciutto ham and melon, while there are also sumptuous pizzas, pastas and risotto. Look out for their weekend specials like hearty lamb shank.
Nearest MRT station: Bukit Gombak
4. South Union Park – Jalan Kembangan
An unlikely culinary destination ensconced in the quiet residential estate of Kembangan, this unpretentious nook showcases a small but well-thought-out menu of dishes. The quality of the contemporary western cuisine here is a reflection of young chef-owner Terrence Chuah, who has interned at Spain’s 2-Michelin-star Mugaritz. Though they rotate their menu from time to time and introduce specials on a regular basis, do try the popular homemade duck confit tagliatelle (above), drizzled with hazelnut cream and garnished with roasted hazelnuts and lemon zest.
Nearest MRT station: Kembangan
5. Woody Family Cafe – Andrews Avenue
Lovers of spicy food will find a haven in this little corner of Sembawang. The eatery specialises in Peranakan (Straits Chinese) fare with a twist, so go if the thought of umami-laden dishes such as buah keluak (black nuts) omelette excite, rather than intimidate you. Do also order their signature dish, nasi ulam (rice mixed with shredded herbs such as wild betel leaf and turmeric leaves).
Nearest MRT station: Sembawang
6. The Flying Squirrel – Amoy Street
Blink and you may miss The Flying Squirrel. The hip eatery with a concrete-meets-brick interior has its entrance located in a narrow alley off Amoy Street. Savour Japanese fusion food here, especially its chirashi dons (sashimi rice bowls).
Nearest MRT station: Telok Ayer
7. Rasa Istimewa Waterfront Restaurant – Woodlands Jetty
This remote halal restaurant is the perfect spot to enjoy beautiful sunset views from a jetty. Pick from hearty local fare like satay (barbecued meat skewers), chilli crab, mee goreng (fried noodles with seafood) and barbecued stingray.
Nearest MRT station: Woodlands
8. The Boiler – Howard Road
The Boiler brings Cajun boiled seafood to the warehouse-filled estate of Tai Seng. Here, you can dig messily into bags of boiled seafood – including seasonal crabs, prawns, mussels and clams – without shame. The Boiler also has a good selection of sides, including crispy fish skin (coated in salted egg yolk).
Nearest MRT station: Tai Seng
9. Morsels – Dempsey
Kick back in this unpretentious eatery tucked inside lush Dempsey. As its name suggests, Morsels dishes up small plates of fusion fare. Highlights here are the Hokkaido scallop ceviche, the Firecracker Duroc pulled pork shell pasta, and the sakura chicken with chicken liver mousse, pickled beet and beetroot vinaigrette (above).
Nearest MRT station: Holland Village (free shuttle available)
10. Yorimichi Yakitori Bar – Golden Mile Tower, Beach Road
Yorimichi (which means ‘detour’ in Japanese) has its hidden entrance located right before the ramp leading to the carpark. This dimly-lit, narrow joint could be mistaken for one found in a Tokyo alley. Wash down affordable sushi and yakitori (grilled skewers) with ice-cold Kirin beer. Favourites include grilled scallop with cheese.
Nearest MRT station: Nicoll Highway
11. Tamarind Hill – Labrador Villa Road
Traditional and modern Thai cuisine is prepared skilfully here. Housed in a colonial mansion in verdant Labrador Park, this off-the-beaten-track spot makes for a romantic night out.
Nearest MRT station: Labrador Park
12. Tims Restaurant and Cafe – Lorong 4 Toa Payoh
Run by a Nepali, this humble restaurant in the heartlands of Toa Payoh serves up lip-smacking Nepalese fare like chicken momo (dumplings), as well as value-for-money comfort western food like steak and lamb chops.
Nearest MRT station: Toa Payoh
– TEXT BY HANNAH KOH
PHOTOS: CACIO E PEPE, MEYER HOUSE, THE BOILER, TIMS RESTAURANT AND CAFE, THE FLYING SQUIRREL, NEW UBIN SEAFOOD, TAMARIND HILL, YORIMICHI YAKITORI BAR, CAMP KILO CHARCOAL CLUB, MORSELS, LEWIN TERRACE, RASA ISTIMEWA WATERFRONT RESTAURANT, LE BINCHO TAN W39 BISTRO AND BAKERY, WOODY FAMILY CAFE, SUPPLIED
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings