In a foodie destination like Singapore, that boasts both amazing chefs and diversity of cooking, it comes as no surprise that the annual sounding of the Michelin gong is an eagerly anticipated day of reckoning. One that raises gastronomic pulses like no other. For foodies in search of the most accomplished cooking, it shines the light on destination restaurants worth a detour or a special journey, to use the Michelin vernacular. For ambitious chefs wanting to scale the gastronomic ladder, it is the one industry award that counts. In essence it is the ultimate accolade.
Although a newer thing in Singapore, Michelin stars have been dished out since 1926. They are an assessment of the food quality, including ingredients used, mastery of flavour and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his cuisine, value for money and consistency. One Michelin star denotes a restaurant that boasts high quality cooking and is a worth a stop. Two stars indicate excellent cooking, worth a detour, and three stars is the highest accolade and demonstrates exceptional cooking.
2021 was no different when it came to the annual announcement of stars dispensed to Singapore restaurants. Most notable was the elevation to three stars of Zen, the brilliant restaurant run by Scottish chef Tristin Farmer, who also helms Stockholm restaurant Frantzén. This joins the ranks of Les Amis, Odette, Shisen Hanten, and Shoukouwa at the three star level.
JAAN by Kirk Westaway was rewarded with two stars for the first time in 2021 which means it join the likes of Saint Pierre, Shisen Hinten, Shoukouwa and Waku Ghin at this level. And new to the one-star level in 2021 were 28 Wilkie, Art, Basque Kitchen by Aitor, Cloud Street, Cure, Esora, Lerouy, Oshino, Shang Palace, Sommer, Thevar and Whitegrass.
Here are some of our favourite restaurants rated by Michelin. The food will blow you away, give you memories that last and arm you with a talking point for months to come.
What: One of the hottest tickets in town, super-chef Bjorn Frantzen masterminds this hugely exciting, dinner-only Singapore high-flyer. It’s all about Nordic fine-dining of the highest calibre, with an Asian twist. Ridiculously expensive but peerlessly memorable, with terrific service to top and tail it all with.
Where: 41 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore, 089855
What: Omakase dining comes no finer than at Shoukouwa that delivers a sushi journey of discovery like no other. This is gastronomic temple of rich excellence and exquisite craftsmanship. Pristine Japanese ingredients will set the pulses racing even at their most simple. The place is small, intimate and beguiling in its tranquillity.
Where: #02-02A One Fullerton,1 Fullerton Rd, Singapore, 049213
What: Small, unprepossessing, intimate neighbourhood restaurant where you feel privileged to have snared one of the seven tables, but it’s the food with its bold flavours, clear thinking and attractive presentation that steals limelight. Service is friendly but professional.
Where: 3 Duxton Hill, 089589
What: Beni is a fabulous meeting of Japanese food harmony and French flair which means locals are more than happy to return on multiple occasions to this intimate and most enjoyable place. Sit at the chef-facing counter and tuck into Zuwai crab with fennel and lobster jelly or top of the range Ozaki A5 wagyu with exquisite seasonal veg.
Where: #02-37 Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road, 238897
What: A resplendent setting on the top two floors of a charming heritage shophouse overlooking the river and the bustling Boat Quay neighbourhood is just the start of this Italian fantasy that touts beautifully presented Italian cuisine along the lines of scallops and caviar or Alaskan king crab. Chargrilling in the open kitchen, tasting menus and sleek, friendly service are all specialities.
Where: 52 Boat Quay, Level 5/6, 049841
What: Modern Australian exponent of cooking-on-wood cuisine. With all that charcoal, apple or almond wood you’re guaranteed a lot of flavour in your squid, chicken or dry-aged Blackmore's OP rib. Even their infamous burger is a delight. Enjoy the sheer theatre of it all, and don’t forgo great sides and well-picked glasses of top-notch reds. They’re all part of the experience.
Where: 20 Teck Lim Road, 088391
What: Cloudstreet takes culinary decadence to a new level with its brilliantly inventive, palate-challenging cuisine and service that is doting but never suffocating. The The stunning and theatrical Art Deco setting of this large shophouse in Amoy Street reveals something of the ambition of this exciting Singapore sparkler. But it’s the exceptional and inventive food that really does the talking. For the full experience, go for the tasting menu with matched wines.
Where: 84 Amoy Street, 069903
What: Flavour-packed, quixotic and cutting edge, a meal here at Irish owner Andrew Walsh’s gastronomic playground is both a brilliant gastronomic affair and an occasion based on soul and warmth. Playing to packed houses, the ambience crackles every night, aided by hipster design and super-creative menus. Certainly an experience to remember.
Where: 21 Keong Saik Rd,Singapore,089128
What: An industrial chic setting and a curvaceous counter accommodating 26 customers is the scene of culinary fireworks courtesy of chef Christophe Lerouy. Expect Larousse style dishes inflected with fresh Asian influences and served omakase style. Prices for this level of experience are a steal.
Where: 104 Amoy St,Singapore, 069924
What: There’s much to admire about the food at Nouri, though complaints of it being pretentious, highlighted by overly earnest service, are noted. Nevertheless, there’s no denying the development kitchen is a hot bed of taste, technique and flavour and helping to catch the eye of peripatetic gourmands including the Michelin Man. The wine list is a thing of beauty, including interesting beer and properly sourced saké.
Where: 72 Amoy St, Singapore, 069891
What: In a traditional but pleasantly airy setting Summer Palace dispenses classic, some would say old school, Cantonese dishes of unimpeachable quality including top-notch dim sum. Savvy locals have it as both their benchmark treat restaurant as well as a fine place to take visitors.
Where: 1 Cuscaden Road, 249715
What: The glammed-up setting may plays second fiddle to the succulence of the steak at Wolfgang Puck’s Singapore outpost but it's a terrific package regardless. Fabulously charred cuts of beef come in all sizes, ages and provenances, preluded by fancy starters including steak tartare, pork belly and beef carpaccio. And if anyone dares go fishy and orders the (rather good) prawn cocktail, they can easily redress the balance by adding in a portion of the bone marrow flan.
Where: The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Avenue, 018972
What: What’s not to like about this light-filled room and its spectacular views across the city and bay that attracts a colourful crowd of well-healed locals? But it’s the cooking of chef Kirk Westaway which provides the trump card. Poached snapper with caviar and sweet onion or herb-crusted lamb, rounded off perhaps with Eton Mess, and that’s merely from the lunchtime set. Wines provide similar class. Elevated to two Michelin stars in 2022.
Where: Swissotel the Stamford, 2 Stamford Road, 178882
What: Tetsuya Wakuda’s inspirational showcase of Japanese and European technique mixed with top end ingredients is a beautifully balanced and precisely executed treat for the senses. Our favourite flavours include botan shrimp with sea urchin and Oscietra caviar, and charcoal-grilled fillet of Tasmanian beef cut through with wasabi. Meanwhile, the restaurant itself is a pristine Japanese-inspired bonne bouche to admire.
Where: Level 2 Dining, L2-01, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 018956
What: Refined, elegant and beautiful, the colonial-styled Lei Garden boasts sumptuous, refined elegance in abundance. If acres of wooden floorboards or sympathetic lighting, that flatters its diners, seem a touch deja vu, the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, that bring the garden views inside, are simply irresistible. The same polish and finesse is witnessed in the kitchen where recommended dishes include crispy roast pork with exceptional crackling and lobster served to order.
Where: 30 Victoria Street, #01-24 Chijmes, 187996
What: The grandest fine dining experience in Singapore. The service is an elaborate ceremony of elegance and extraordinary precision in what is arguably the best orchastrated fine dining experience in Singapore. Dishes are a tour de force of artistry courtesy of Sebastien Lephinoy and his team, and diners feel completely indulged.
Where: #01-16, Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road, 228208
What: Peranakan cuisine is sometimes referred to as Nyonya cooking which spins traditional Chinese food with delightful Javanese and Indonesian twists. It’s contemporary but authentic, tangy but also spicy, and the results are a delight to behold
Where: 17A Dempsey Road
What: There is nowhere more beautiful for a first date or a celebration than this characterful restaurant in the tropical setting of the Botanic Gardens that also attracts a glossy crowd of gourmands from far and wide to sample chef David Thien’s beautifully executed Asian food wrapped in French technique. Foie gras might arrive with grapefruit, apple, rice cracker and ginger while Hokkaido sea urchin might be emboldened with crevettes, spring peas, yuzu, pork crackling and caviar. Enlightened and friendly service delivers 100%, too.
Where: Sofitel Singapore Sentosa, 2 Bukit Manis Road, 099891
What: Perfect comfortable but bland nonetheless the Odette’s dining room, with its muted greys, off-pinks and really rather dreary mirrors and artwork, respects its National Gallery setting but is no advertisement for the fireworks that come out of the two-Michelin-starred kitchen. Sit up and be amazed by the depth of a dish that champions turbot with Obsiblue prawns and Kaffir lime, or foie gras with abalone, smoked eel broth, cut through with the tangy flavours of yuzu and delectable for its combination of richness and piquancy. Is this the most accomplished kitchen in Singapore? Michelin certainly believes so.
Where: East Coast Seafood Centre,Block 1206 East Coast Parkway #01-07/08, 449883
What: Head and shoulders the leading Indian restaurant in Singapore, The Song of India in a classic black and white heritage building is a shot in the arm for the Orchard Road and well worth a special trip. The handsome interior is given live theatre by an open kitchen while views of the lush gardens are a joy. Mushrooms from the tandoor are indicative of some supreme vegetarian dishes while prawn, lamb and chicken kebabs are exemplary, too. Nice private rooms add further reasons to go.
Where: 33 Scotts Road, 228226