Kotak Select

Gastronomic Singapore

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Food is a great way to understand a city’s ethos. And when this as diverse as a mix of Indian, Malay, Chinese and Peranakan cultures like in Singapore, you are sure to experience food coma.

With an array of choices that range from street food, high end Michelin star restaurants to authentic local fare, Singapore has a plethora of food choices. In fact I suggest that in your trip here, make sure you visit different places for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a gamut of delicious experiences that will enrich your trip to this island country.

Local Call

Traditional desserts at a bakery in Tiong Bahru

Dempsey one of the plush localities offers a perfect backdrop to enjoy good local food. This is where Singapore’s leading seafood restaurant Long beach restaurant that dates back to 1946, said to be the place where original Black Pepper Crab was made is located. This is for seafood aficionados as the restaurant has huge aquariums lined at one end with live sea animals and the food served is naturally fresh. Chatterbox at Mandarin Orchard is the place to head to for the legendary Mandarin Chicken Rice that was first served in 1971. The taste comes from a secret recipe and has been maintained as is over time and old timers vouch that the taste has remained intact through time. Executive Sous Chef Liew Tian Hong says that the taste is maintained as they only use free range chicken (grown carefully for 60 days and only the female) that makes the meat succulent and the rice has a delightful undertone of ginger and chilli. It is served with chilli sauce, ginger paste and dark soy sauce and the rice itself is cooked in chicken stock. If you love satay (seasoned and skewered meat served with a sauce with a sweet and spicy taste), Singapore has many hawker’s streets where you can sample them. At Lau Pa Sat, a street that dates back to the 19th century you will find skewers of chicken, lamb, beef and pork with a sweet honey sauce post 7:00 p.m. This is also the place to tuck into local street food like Hokkien Mee, fried oyster, carrot cake and BBQ stingray. Chuan Kee Satay located at Old Airport Road food centre, Haron Satay at East Coast Lagoon Food Village and Kwong Satay at Geylang are other places for satay fans. For an uber luxe meal, head to Monti at Fullerton Pavilion in Collyer Quay, overlooking the iconic Marina Bay. This is where you can sample iconic dishes like the Rigatoni Genovese Di Manzo, Australian Wagyu, slow cooked onions, basil and pecorino cheese. They also regularly have International Chef Showcase events with Michelin-starred chefs.

Michelin-starred meal at Monti -1
Michelin-starred meal at Monti -1

Café Culture

A quaint locality in Singapore, Tiong Bahru is home to several art deco cafes and bakeries where you can sample some great local goodies. I suggest your first stop by the Tiong Bahru Bakery an artisan bakery that serves a wide variety of coffee and freshly baked breads and pastries. The place however is best known for its croissants that are buttery and light with a crispy flaky skin that you will want to try more. The almond croissant is another good choice as well as the Mozza & Ham Focaccia. Your other stop must be at Galicier Pastry, an old school bakery that has traditional Singaporean desserts like the freshly baked Pandan Chiffon Cake, Nyonya Kuehs such as Kueh Dar dar and AngKu Kueh. The latter is a red tortoise shaped cake made with peanuts to traditionally announce the birth of baby girls! Another quaint cafe Open Door Policy serves dishes like Wagyu Rump, Beef Cheeks and Truffle Scrambled Eggs and PS Cafe Petit has some mouth-watering Sticky Date Pudding and some lovely ice cream too.

Lunch at Whole Earth Singapore's first Peranakan-Thai vegetarian restaurant
Lunch at Whole Earth Singapore’s first Peranakan-Thai vegetarian restaurant

Go Vegetarian

And if you are vegetarian, fret not. Apart from a whole bunch of Indian restaurants, Singapore has a fair share of vegetarian restaurants too but Whole Earth, Singapore’s first Peranakan-Thai vegetarian restaurant is something quite different. Being the only vegetarian restaurant listed as Bib Gourmand in the Inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore 2016, all dishes here are plant-based and make ample use of mushrooms, tofu, beans and vegetables. All the ingredients used are fresh so you know what comes on your plate is as healthy as it can be. I suggest you try the Start your meal with the Prosperity Fruit Enzyme Yusheng drink that has a sweet sour flavour. Try the Premium Black Fungus, Fresh Shiitake Mushroom, Bamboo Pith, Chinese Cabbage Soup that is wholesome and filling. For the main course go for the Succulent Abalone Mushroom and Sea Cucumber with Broccolini in Signature Angelica Root “dang gui” Wolfberry Sauce that is quite filling as well as the Signature Sambal Mixed Vegetables of Ladies Fingers, Eggplant and Long Beans with the Fragrant Lotus Leaf Rice. When in Singapore, there is so much to discover as far as food is concerned that you will be spoilt for choice so go down on the path to gastronomic nirvana when you are here next. 

Mandarin Chicken Rice at Chatterbox
Mandarin Chicken Rice at Chatterbox

Did You Know?

This is the highest alfresco bar in the world and is easily among the best rooftop bars in the world 1 Altitude Gallery & Bar is located in Singapore.

This story first appeared in Kotak Select magazine here:

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