Since the end of the circuit breaker period, a plethora of new F&B concepts have thrown open their doors to hungry diners in the city-state – including the famous Luke’s Lobster that has brought its succulent Maine-style lobster rolls to our sunny island; Catfish, with its array of inventive seafood dishes that borrow from French and Swedish culinary techniques; Avenue 87, which serves up contemporary Asian fare from its sleek Amoy Street outpost; and RAPPU, a modern Japanese restaurant that specialises in sushi handrolls made with premium ingredients.
The trend shows no signs of stopping despite the depressed spending climate, with a clutch of new concepts having opened up in the past couple of months. Whether you prefer to dine on Israeli street food or sup on snacks that will transport you to straight Hong Kong, here are a few standout new kids on the block to support.
1. Hearty sushi rolls at Takeshi-san
The residential neighbourhood of Holland Village is home to a wide variety of international cuisines – from Indian to Italian, Turkish to Thai – so it takes a strong contender to stand out among the crowd. No worries with new kid on the block, Takeshi-san, which has been consistently attracting big crowds since it first opened in January 2021. The main draw is its hearty sushi rolls, such as the Mexican, which comes with a generous serving of shrimp, cream cheese and tempura bits; and the Hulk, a tantalising creation that includes ebi tempura and baked eel topped with crab salad and avocado.
Other standout dishes on the menu include the garlic fried rice, which is wonderfully aromatic and has the all-important wok hei (breath of a wok); and the mentaiko pasta, a creamy (but not too rich) dish that pairs beautifully with juicy, succulent prawns. Takeshi-san sits on the former site of casual-dining eatery Breko, and features homely wooden interiors, warm lighting and rows of Japanese spirits lining the walls. Take your pick from unique tipples such as the Shiroi Chardonnay (a milk-based liqueur) or Little Kiss, a moreish black tea shochu. They also have an extensive sake menu, served in sake cups of your choice.
2. American burgers and sweets at Shake Shack
Shake Shake aficionados, rejoice! The popular American burger chain opened its seventh outlet in the city-state at Gardens By the Bay. Alongside long-time favourites such as the classic ShackBurger, crispy crinkle-cut fries and decadent hand-spun shake, it celebrates the tropical gardens with a few exclusive offerings. The Berries by the Bay mixes vanilla custard with forest berry jam, shortbread and is topped with fresh blueberries and dried osmanthus flowers. The exclusive sweet treat being offered has been given the kitschy name Tropic Like It’s Hot. This one blends vanilla custard with mango, passionfruit, shortbread and covered with chunks of mango.
3. Contemporary omakase-style eats at Genzo
In the mood for a Japanese omakase feast that doesn’t break the bank? At new modern Japanese restaurant Genzo, located along River Valley Road, you can tuck into an 11-course omakase menu for S$100++. The dishes skew towards Japanese fare with a modern twist, with highlights including thinly sliced kampachi carpaccio with black truffle, white truffle oil and shoyu; maguro topped with caviar and silver flakes; a truffle Wagyu beef rice bowl with foie gras and crunchy garlic chips; and a unique mochi dessert that’s completely transparent. Another standout, which is available on the a la carte menu, is the cold pasta dish (you can choose between angel hair and somen noodles) with sakura ebi, white truffle oil and spring onions.
4. Israeli street food at Miznon
After taking his contemporary Israeli eatery global with openings in New York, Melbourne, Paris and Vienna, chef Eyal Shani opened the very first Asian outpost of Miznon at the end of October 2020 along Stanley Street in the Telok Ayer neighbourhood. Hailed by renowned Israeli-English chef Yotam Ottolenghi as “the voice of modern Israeli cuisine”, Shani presents a veritable feast of the vibrant colours, flavours and recipes that characterise Israeli street food: think pita bread filled to the brim with all manner of meaty and vegetable-based ingredients; a whole roasted baby cauliflower; baked sweet potatoes with sour cream; and roasted eggplant slathered with tahini and a spicy sauce. We suggest pairing the Falafel Burger, which consists of warm and fluffy pita bread stuffed with falafel, tomato, sour cream, onion, pickles, chili and aioli, with the Bag of Green Beans (assorted beans perfectly seasoned in garlic, lemon, olive oil and salt) for a moreish vegetarian feast. Carnivores can opt for the Abu Kebab (pita bread with lamb, beef, tahini, salsa, onion, parsley, pickles and chili) or the Hraime, a spicy Moroccan barramundi stew that’s perfect for a chilly night.
5. Breakfast nosh at Zorba The Greek Café
An extension of Zorba The Greek Taverna, which opened in early 2020, this café concept serves a similar menu of contemporary Greek fare, but with a morning twist. Instead of heavier dishes more befitting of a decadent dinner, the riverside restaurant in Clarke Quay specialises in bright and hearty breakfast fare that is sure to fill and fuel you up. If you’re here for brunch on the weekend, try the Giaourti, a bowl of creamy, zesty yogurt topped with fresh blueberries, crunchy granola, raspberry coulis and refreshing mint; or opt for the Zorba Breakfast Platter: a tasty assemblage of eggs, Greek sausage, bacon, roasted tomato, portobello mushroom, caramelised onion, avocado and toast. Other than coffee and tea, you’ll also find smoothies and fresh juices on the menu to get your day started on the right note.
6. Crispy tempura at Tempura Tendon Tenya
One of the top tendon restaurant chains in Japan finally made its way to the Lion City in October 2020. Located at Orchard Central, the 68-seater outlet serves the signature tendon that the brand – which boasts 226 outlets across Japan and in countries including Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines – has become so famous for. Expect a steaming bowl of Japanese Aomori rice topped with crispy, lightly battered seafood, meat and vegetables and finished with a umami-rich salty-sweet glazing sauce. You may also opt for your cooked-to-order tempura to be served with cold soba or udon instead of rice (we personally recommend the udon, which has a perfect chew, along with the fragrant ginger dipping sauce). Complete your meal with desserts such as Hokkaido soft serve made with 100% dairy products from Hokkaido, a rich chocolate brownie or some matcha azuki cake. Be sure to keep an eye out for the two robot servers (both adorably named “Peanut”) who may be roped in by the servers to help bring the dishes to your table.
7. Central Asian snacks at Kafé Samsa
A new concept by popular Central Asian restaurant The Nomads, Kafé Samsa – which operates out of the same Telok Ayer Street location as the latter – is a café by day and wine bar by night establishment that specialises in samsa: puff pastries that are native to countries such as Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Similar to croissants, pies and samosas, these baked goods can be filled with all manner of savoury or sweet fillings. The flavours on deck at Kafé Samsa include meaty delights such as lamb or Wagyu beef; an option for vegetarians in the form of a mushroom and lentil offering; as well as an apple variety for a sweet treat. Besides the pastries, you’ll also find plenty of jams, spreads and pantry provisions in its retail section for you to take home to gussy up your dishes.
8. Hong Kong favourites at Joy Luck Teahouse
Despite just making its Singapore debut in late August 2020 with its ION Orchard outlet, Joy Luck Teahouse has wasted no time in opening its second store in the city-state. Situated in the basement of Bugis Junction, the location has all of the brand’s tasty specialties such as pineapple buns, egg tarts, curry fishballs and milk tea. You’ll also find the must-try Hong Kong-style chee cheong fun, an item that’s exclusive to this branch. The delicate rice noodle sheets are served in the style of the traditional street snack and are slathered with a piquant mix of soy sauce, sesame peanut sauce, sweet sauce and chilli sauce.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.
This article was first published on 9 October 2020.