Hokkien Mee? Char Kway Teow? Laksa? If none of these sound familiar, then you are already on the right path for an interesting visit to Singapore. These favorite Singapore culinary dishes are ones you should not miss trying during your trip, along with Indian, Chinese, Malaysian and Indonesian ones. Japanese dining in Singapore are also exceptional. Below are some top recommendations for dining in Singapore, but don't ignore your hotel restaurants, some of which are the finest in Singapore, and a visit to Singapore is never complete without sampling some of the finest hawker street food in Asia (bottom).
Singapore’s fine dining is world-renowned, but for a taste of the dishes locals enjoy everyday, you must visit a hawker center. These casual food courts are down-to-earth, unpretentious, featuring amazing street food by hawkers (cooks) who specialize in serving up just one or a few dishes which they have perfected over many years. Singapore’s legendary hawker cuisine features a delicious and unique variety of freshly cooked Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian cuisines. Sample favorite dishes such as Hokkien Mee (yellow egg noodles sautéed in a rich prawn and pork broth and served with fish cake, squid, prawn and pork slices), tasty satay (grilled meat skewers) served with delicious sauces, and popular Laksa, a spicy noodle dish of rice noodles, stir-fried tofu, fish cake, mollusks, shrimp and eggs bathed in a coconut curry broth.
Au Jarden Les Amis is located in Singapore’s Botanic Gardens set within a refurbished colonial style-house decorated by local artist Chua Mia Tee. The cooking is imaginative contemporary French, with starters such as grilled langoustines with caviar and mango accompanied by a bonito gelée, and Alaskan crab in a radish "ravioli" dressed in a honey-mustard vinaigrette. Main courses include sea bream baked in a salt crust with truffle butter, a lobster scented with curry leaves, and roast suckling pig with a side of crisp skin, cider apples and a small salad. If your appetite is ambitious, you can order a seven-course tasting menu. There is also a three-course table d’hôte menu. The wine list is one of the best in Asia and priced likewise. EJH Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens Visitors Centre, 1 Cluny Road, $$
Blue Ginger is one of the great culinary traditions of Singapore is Peranakan cooking, a striking blend of Chinese and Malaysian styles (also known as Nonya and Straits-Chinese). It is generally considered the province of home cooks, but Blue Ginger has brought it to the fore in this handsome restaurant set in a restored shophouse. Peranakan cooking relies heavily on spices. House specialties include braised chicken flavored with a blend of seasonings and cooked with Indonesian black nuts, deep-fried eggplant with chili paste and soy sauce, and sautéed prawns with coarse black pepper and soy sauce. This is an upscale restaurant that will nonetheless give you a real taste of local cuisine. 97 Tanjong Pagar Road, $
Hai Tien Lo offers stunning views of the city and harbor from this 37th-floor aerie alone make a visit worthwhile. The food here is Cantonese, with some of the standout preparations being deep-fried prawns with wasabi mayonnaise, and over-the-top crisp Peking duck skin served with seared foie gras. The restaurant is also noted for its wonderful dim sum. The wine list is good, with most of its selections coming from New World wineries. Pan Pacific Hotel, 7 Raffles Boulevard, $$$
Inagiku is the place to go for top-quality Japanese food. Where you sit determines what you eat. There are a sushi and sashimi bar, a teppanyaki area and a tempura counter, as well as private tatami rooms and the main dining room. The sashimi platter is a swirl of exquisitely presented seafood that includes swordfish, yellowtail, salmon and tuna nestled on ice packed into a seashell. The tempura assortment is just as impressive. A notable dish is the lobster in special creamy "Inagiku" golden sauce. Choose from among a good selection of wines and sakes. Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah Road, $$$
Created by the chef who holds the most Michelin stars in the world, L'Atelier De Joël Robuchon offers a unique dining experience in a vibrant atmosphere. Based on the concept of the Atelier – which means ‘workshop’ – Joël Robuchon’s restaurant draws inspiration from the simplicity of Japanese cuisine, combines it with French techniques, and delivers exquisite dishes in an atmosphere much like a Spanish tapas bar. Using a lavish selection of ingredients from countries all around the world, including foie gras and lobster, the restaurant offers classic French and Mediterranean dishes, as well as those with an Asian twist. $$$$
Famed for its exquisite sushi, Shinji Kanesaka is considered to be the best Japanese meal you can have in Singapore. Brainchild of well-known Tokyo chef Shinji Kanesaka, who has two Michelin stars, the restaurant offers diners a minimalist menu that serves only fish and seafood. $$$
At Thanying you'll find authentic Thai food in a serene, elegant setting. Prawns in a red curry sauce come with just the right bite of heat. Deep-fried grouper is classically prepared and perfectly spiced. Also try the papaya salad, a skillful blend of sweet and salty with a nice touch of nuttiness from fragments of toasted coconut. The dessert buffet is hard to pass up, with custards, tapioca and the sweetest seasonal fruits. Amara Hotel, 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, $
Waku Ghin by Chef Tetsuya Wakuda (whose Sydney restaurant has a global reputation for being one of the best in Australi) has received gushing reviews since it opened in 2010. European and Japanese menu. At the Marina Bay Sands, $$$$
White Rabbit, located in a remodeled church on Dempsey Hill featuring European style favorites. After dinner, head up the hill for a chilled mojito at Margarita's.
Singapore's hawker food courts are legendary, serving up such favorites as Hainanese curry rice, chicken satay, pork chops with gravy. With hundreds of hawker food spots all over Singapore. something interesting is often only a short stroll away. A few top choices to browse food stalls are:
Old Airport Road Food Center (7 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.)
Chinatown Smith Street Food Center at Blk 335 Smith Street (12:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)
Henly Huat Drinks Food Court, Blk 116 Bukit Merah View.
Lau Pa Sat Festival Market at 18 Raffles Quay (chili crab—yum!).
Read more about Singapore Street food on Dr. Leslie Tay's ieat-isgoot-ipost, a popular food blog. We especially recommend his Top Ten to Eat in Singapore.
For evening clubbing, Zouk is a popular favorite with locals as is Ministry of Sound that is a larger venue.
Read our recommended and most popular Singapore tour ideas, or contact us to plan out your own itinerary ideas by clicking below or calling us in San Francisco at (415) 680-3788.