When In Singapore, You’ll Want To Keep On Coming Back To These Three Favorite Restaurants
When it comes to food choices, you are spoiled for options in Singapore. Local hawker favorites harmoniously co-exist with highly-rated restaurants on the Michelin Guide and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and there is always a long list of new restaurants to try. But sometimes, I prefer to return to a tried-and-tested restaurant that I love, and that’s exactly what I did during my last visit to the “little red dot” earlier this month.
If you’re not up to joining the long queues at the usual hawker centers or dining without air-conditioning in Singapore’s hotter and more humid weather, then these three favorite restaurants are great options if you’re just looking to treat yourself to a really good meal in the comforts of a well-appointed space, with air conditioning and friendly service to boot.
20 Teck Lim Road, IG @burntends_sg
Slaying (social media term for doing a great job) it on a hip alley in Singapore’s Chinatown is this Michelin-starred Australian-style grill haven that is currently number 10 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. It was founded by the super friendly and down-to-earth Australian Chef Dave Pynt and is now co-helmed by one of the rising stars in the culinary world, Australian Head Chef Jake Kellie who placed second at the San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year 2018 and was 2015 Winner-Chef of the Year in Australia.
Kitchen action at the counter
This is a restaurant that I randomly stumbled on exactly a year before it debuted on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2014, thanks to its proximity to the hotel I was staying in around the corner. During that first visit, it was love at first bite with the “Sanger,” its very popular pulled pork shoulder, cole slaw, chipotle aioli, brioche bun, belly chop, apple and raspberry sandwich, which up to this day remains a personal favorite.
Beef Marmalade with House Pickles
The narrow rectangular shaped restaurant boasts of highly customized steel grills and wood-fired ovens that dominate the cozy open kitchen, with a counter seating setup that fits less than 30. Given the small space, reserving ahead of time is highly recommended as it remains one of the most popular restaurants in town. Aside from the “Sanger,” don’t miss the Beef Marmalade with House Pickles and the Belly Chop with Apple and Raspberry Sauce, and do save room for its “rustic” tarts and torched marshmallow.
Belly Chop with Apple and Raspberry Sauce
Block 17A, Dempsey Road, IG @candlenutsg
Candlenut’s Chef Malcolm Lee’s talk on “Preserving his Grandmother’s Peranakan Culinary Heritage” during the inaugural Asia’s 50 Best Talks in 2013 got me hooked on anything Peranakan. Thus, I ended up following his culinary journey that started when he first opened Candlenut, a restaurant serving his distinct style of Peranakan or Straits-Chinese cuisine at its original Dorsett Hotel location in 2013. The restaurant, which is now heralded as the first and only Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant in Singapore, just recently moved to a swankier and more spacious new location at Como Dempsey, where Chef Malcolm continues to serve his creative twist on his mother and grandmother’s heirloom recipes.
Blue Swimmer Crab Curry
Adventurous first-timers may opt to try Candlenut’s famous “Ah-ma-kase” tasting menu to have an overview of the whole menu. Those who would rather go à la carte should try the Westholme Wagyu Beef Rendang, the Blue Swimmer Crab Curry, and the to-die-for Sambal Petai Sotong or wok-fried baby squid with sambal belachan, tamarind, and petai or stink beans.
Wagyu Beef Rendang
Do save room for some of its Instagram-pretty and delicious Nyonya desserts like the Homemade Kueh Salat and Kueh Bingkah.
The Naked Finn
Block 39 Malan Road, Gillman Barracks, IG @nakedfinn
Located in the artsy area of the conserved Gilman Barracks, a contemporary arts cluster in Singapore that now houses several international galleries, is this modern take on a seafood shack. Naked Finn simply serves straightforward seafood dishes using the best seafood sourced from around the world. The seafood is perfectly cooked to its owner, seafood mad-scientist Ken Loon’s high standards. You won’t find the usual ubiquitous chili or pepper crab here, but trust me, you won’t miss it.
Roughscale Flounder Flat Fish
A must-order are the Connecticut-style Lobster Rolls loaded with 90 grams of American lobster meat cooked ala plancha, smeared with unsalted butter and crème fraiche, that comes with shoestring truffle fries topped with grated Parmesan.
Connecticut-style Lobster Roll
Other must-tries include the Grilled Baby Indian Squid, as well as the deep-fried on its eye-side and steamed on its blind-side Roughscale Flounder Flat Fish, which is served with a light Cantonese-style sauce, and finished with a generous topping of crispy fried ginger shavings. Then finish the meal with the to-die-for Coconut Sorbet or Coconut Cocktail
“Ugly delicious” Grilled Baby Indian Squid
Photos by Cyrene de la Rosa
Follow the author on Instagram and Twitter @cyrenedelarosa