Though Singapore‘s extended circuit breaker measures affected the entire F&B industry, the inability to host dine-in guests hit brand-new restaurants particularly hard. Many had to postpone their opening dates. Others were forced to pivot to takeaway and delivery operations while building up fresh customer bases and industry clout online.
But now that Singapore has entered so-called Phase 2, restaurants, cafés and hawker centres can now host dine-in patrons again (with rigorous safe-distancing protocol).* That means patrons can finally pay the city’s newest homegrown openings an in-person visit.
Unsurprisingly for food-obsessed Singapore, these options are as diverse and exciting as ever – serving everything from crêpes and galettes to Sinhalese delicacies to modern Asian fare. And if you prefer to dine at home, many of them offer delivery and takeaway options as well – simply visit their websites to find out more.
It’s rare that a restaurant’s cocktail menu matches up with its food offerings, but that’s definitely the case at this Telok Ayer hotspot. Helmed by Leon Tan (formerly of Native and Nutmeg & Clove) and Frank Shen (the founder of popular craft beer bar American Taproom), Laut specialises in Southeast Asian-inspired fare, with a focus on regional and seasonal produce. Dishes include Thunder Tea Rice (a sumptuous rice dish that includes king prawns, thunder tea butter, century eggs and petai) and Laut Curry (made with seabass, local shellfish, fresh seasonal greens and rendang broth). As for cocktails, we recommend Soy, a fragrant and inventive concoction made with gula melaka arrack, spiced mango, tamarind, clarified fermented soy and chrysanthemum. Laut is currently open for dinner service from Monday to Saturday and also offers takeaway and delivery options.
Chef Rishi Naleendra of Cheek Bistro and Cloudstreet fame is now throwing his culinary might behind Kotuwa, a new venture dedicated to his Sri Lankan heritage. Located in Little India’s Wanderlust Hotel – which recently underwent a renovation and rebranding – Kotuwa’s menu includes a diverse range of curries (beetroot, lamb, jackfruit, black pork and cashew all feature), sambols and dishes including chicken kottu (chopped roti prata mixed with chicken and assorted vegetables) and dallo baduma (fried calamari tossed in a spicy chilli butter and veggies). The restaurant was originally scheduled for an April 2020 debut, but had to delay this to focus on takeaway and delivery orders since the circuit breaker period. Check their website for details on when they’ll officially be open for dining in.
Located at Raffles Hotel Arcade, Gather is brought to you by the folks behind brunch favourites Punch and the now-closed Ronin. The well-lit, airy space offers both sustenance and style: there’s a small retail section where customers can browse minimalist-chic homewares and a limited selection of clothing items. As for food, we recommend going for the galettes and sweet crepes. The Burnt Caramel crepe comes with Bordier butter and a thick caramel drizzle, while the Off the Bone galette is filled with ham, gruyere, cheddar and egg. There’s also the Dirty Ronin – an umami-rich sandwich with chorizo, emmental, egg, miso mayo and lettuce – which used to be served at the eponymous café. Still hungry? Finish off your feast with a sour cherry chocolate cookie or slice of muscovado chocolate banana bread. Gather is currently open daily for dine-in, and also offers takeaway and delivery.
If you’re a seafood aficionado, you’re sure to find plenty to keep you happy at Catfish, a fish grill and raw bar brought to you by Cure Concepts (also behind the restaurants Butcher Boy, Bao Boy and Cure). Located along Gemmill Lane, Catfish will serve an array of Asian seafood-centric dishes that borrow from French and Swedish culinary techniques, with ingredients sourced from local markets and suppliers as much as possible. As for the drinks menu, the focus will be on hand-crafted cocktails and highballs that feature local flavours. While Catfish was originally scheduled for an April 2020 opening, it’s currently planning an imminent soft launch (dishes will include squid and chicken wing ramen as well as sesame prawn toast). Visit their website for more details.
5. Miss Vanda by Labyrinth
This concept was originally intended to be the casual offshoot of Michelin-starred restaurant Labyrinth, but the Covid-19 pandemic pressed chef-owner Han Liguang to launch it as a takeaway and delivery operation instead (it recently wrapped up a physical pop-up at Labyrinth’s location). While Labyrinth serves deconstructed reinterpretations of local favourites, Miss Vanda offers more classic – yet equally creative – versions of the latter. Standouts include the boneless crispy har cheong (prawn paste) chicken wings; jackfruit and you tiao (fried dough) fritters with a thick peanut sauce; grilled dragon fruit and pineapple roasted pork ribs; and a homemade kaya and sea salt buttercream Swiss roll. The restaurant is set to launch new delivery menu offerings in July 2020, and promises another pop-up soon. Check out their website to stay updated.
Already polished off dinner but want something sweet to cap off your evening? Consider dropping by contemporary dessert bar House on the Moon, located at the refurbished Great World City shopping mall. Conceived by Michelin-starred chef Juan Amador, dessert chef Hüseyin Turan and Berlin-based food lab The Science Kitchen, it serves beautifully plated and visually arresting desserts at price points that won’t break the bank (expect to pay S$25 per dish). Standouts on the menu include the Moon Walk (their signature dessert made with yoghurt, nut butter and coconut); the Kalea 65 (a deconstructed cheesecake with strawberry, almond and passion fruit); and the Tarte Tatin (a modern version of the French classic that comes with apple, almond and sour cream). Each dessert includes a specially chosen tea pairing. House on the Moon is open daily.
Back at work in the CBD and in search of a lunch spot that takes you far away from the concrete jungle? Make a beeline for the newly opened Nalati, a garden-themed restaurant at Republic Plaza that offers a calming oasis decked out in lush foliage – think plenty of plants hanging from the ceiling and scattered throughout the dining area. The restaurant specialises in hearty Asian fusion dishes, including crispy pandan cereal prawns; soft-shell crab with almond flakes; tender steamed codfish with bean paste sauce; snap peas with aromatic truffle; and salt and pepper silken tofu. Rather than completely delay its opening, it operated takeaway and delivery services during the circuit breaker particularly to serve essential workers in the area. Nalati is currently open for dine-in from Monday to Saturday and also offers takeaway and delivery.
*Do adhere to Ministry of Health (MOH) Phase Two guidelines by dining out in groups of a maximum of five people and following safe-distancing measures at all times. Only remove your mask when consuming food or beverages.