Although Singapore is gradually opening up following the two-month circuit breaker, we’re still a while away from international travel. Thankfully, Singapore is a truly global city, and you don’t have to look too hard to immerse yourself in another culture.
In this series, we spotlight a few local establishments – from bakeries and restaurants to design stores and other retail outlets – where you can experience the best of destinations such as Scandinavia, the UK, Paris and the deep south of the United States, without ever taking off from Changi.
With its world-class cultural institutions, cutting-edge fashion and delicious multicultural eats, it’s no surprise that New York ranks high on many people’s travel bucket lists. According to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2019, which ranks cities based on the number of international overnight visitors, New York notches 13.6 million tourists and clocks in at an impressive seventh place. While you may not be able to experience the Big Apple for yourself anytime soon, these seven spots in Singapore will help to satiate your wanderlust.
1. For freshly baked goods: Two Men Bagel House
Few foods are as instantly associated with New York as the bagel. First introduced to the city by Jewish immigrants in the late 1800s, these dense and chewy bakes are found throughout the five boroughs – from delicatessens and corner bakeries to bodegas and traditional Jewish appetizing shops. To get a taste for yourself in Singapore, head over to one of Two Men Bagel House’s three locations (Holland Village, Tanjong Pagar and Novena, with each spot having a slightly different menu). Founded in 2014 by bagel-loving buddies Jerome Lam and Jereborne Lam (no they’re not related), the casual-style eatery specialises in bagel sandwiches. If you visit the outlet at Holland Village, try the Zoidberg, which comes with beet-cured lox, cream cheese, alfalfa sprouts, pickled beets and onions and capers.
2. For sweet-smelling delights: Le Labo
Cult-favourite luxury scent brand Le Labo, which hails from New York, opened its first flagship location in Singapore earlier this year. Located at Ngee Ann City, the store is done up in an industrial-chic aesthetic reminiscent of its original location on Elizabeth Street in Nolita, with exposed brick walls, natural wood furnishings and concrete surfaces. Pop by the charming atelier to discover, sample and shop for some of the brand’s famous products, which range from perfumes and candles to body moisturiser and shower gel, or choose to create your own blend in-house. Favourites include the brand’s iconic scent, Santal 33 – a unisex fragrance that features sandalwood, cedar, cardamom, violet and amber – and Baie 19, one of the newer offerings that’s made with juniper berry, patchouli, green leaves and musk.
3. For pretending like you’re on TV: Central Perk
Whether or not you’re a fan of Friends – which is set in New York – you’re likely to have heard of Central Perk, the iconic coffee shop that Rachel, Ross, Joey, Phoebe, Monica and Chandler frequented during the hit show’s 10 seasons. This Central Perk-themed café at Central Mall was designed to replicate the fictional hangout – from the signage all the way down to the orange sofa – and has reproductions of other set locations, such as Monica’s kitchen. Items on the menu similarly take their cues from the show: six coffee blends are named after the comedy’s main characters, while dishes have monikers such as Joey’s Fisherman Stew (a seafood medley of mussels, prawns, scallops, octopus and seasonal fish) and Monica’s Lasagne (made with ground beef, eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms).
4. For working up a sweat: SuperPark
Baseball and basketball are two beloved pastimes of New Yorkers. The city boasts two Major League Baseball teams in the form of the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, while the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets represent the city in the National Basketball Association. While it’s currently temporarily closed in order to adhere to safe-distancing measures, SuperPark at Suntec City is an ideal venue to get a taste of both sports. Try to hit a home run at the batting cages, where you get to strap on a helmet, grab a bat and hone your baseball swing. If basketball is more your thing, head to the street basketball court where you can crossover dribble, Euro step and alley-oop your way to victory. Be sure to check its website to see when it reopens.
5. For a classic tipple in moody and gilded surroundings: Manhattan
Currently ranked as the eighth best bar in Asia according to the 2020 edition of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list, this sophisticated and suave drinking den at the Regent Hotel effortlessly exudes old-world New York glamour. Helmed by head bartender Sophia Kang – who’s been with the establishment since its inception in 2014 and took over the position from Cedric Mendoza in 2019 – the bar boasts an extensive menu filled with classic and creative tipples. We recommend the Bada Bing Bada Boom, a stiff one made with whisky, chianti, spice syrup and cherry tobacco bitters that’s served with a chocolate cigar. Another highlight is the adults-only Sunday cocktail brunch, where you can sample craft cocktails, boozy milkshakes, beers and wines while munching on bagels, seafood, meats, waffles and assorted charcuterie.
6. For chic threads: T by Alexander Wang
Known for his unisex, minimalist and edgy designs, fashion designer Alexander Wang has played a key role in shaping the evergreen New York “it girl” aesthetic –denim jeans and a casual T-shirt finished with a leather jacket. Wang studied at Parsons School of Design in New York and thereafter founded his eponymous fashion label, which was met with instant acclaim by industry insiders including Anna Wintour. Fans of his T by Alexander Wang range – a casual offshoot of the main line that specialises in basics – can find the brand at either Takashimaya or Club21 stores. The current collection includes poplin shirtdresses, cropped denim blazers and terry sweatpants, all in Wang’s trademark understated colour palette of black, whites, greys, blues and earth tones.
7. For a New York-style pizza: Lucali BYGB
One of the most hyped restaurant openings of this year is Lucali BYGB, a collaboration between local company BYGB Hospitality and the famed New York pizza joint helmed by Mark Iacono. The star of the tightly curated menu is the Lucali pizza – an eighteen-inch pie made with a special “four-hour tomato sauce” recipe passed down from Iacono’s grandmother, mozzarella and fresh basil. You have the option of adding toppings, which include pepperoni, anchovies and sweet peppers. There’s also a hefty and delicious calzone (available in either a full or half portion), a decent selection of pasta (we recommend the fragrant and velvety cacio e pepe) and a range of salads (go for The Big Salad, which features radicchio, asparagus, salami, provolone, olives and tomato).
For updated information on the Covid-19 situation, please visit the MOH website. Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.