Why: The decor at this popular Little India hotspot ensures expectations are never overblown – with plastic chairs and knockabout furnishings there’s really no chance – but it’s the terrifically flavoured Punjabi food and often electric that has fans rushing back for more. Pan-fried fish and tandoor chicken are signatures, side dishes not to be missed, and pickles a joy. Service by alarmingly helpful staff.
Where: 166 Serangoon Road, 218050
Why: Sunny and straightforward Greek style cuts through every aspect of the Bakalaki operation, from the look and feel to the welcome and the food. And it goes down a storm with an army of loyal fans. The menu takes few risks but the execution of the taverna favourites is peerless, from crispy, lemon-drizzled fried anchovies to grilled seabream or perfectly done rib eye.
Where: 3 Seng Poh Rd, 168891
Why: Big bold flavours, kalaidescopic textures and a bucket-load of creative flair are the foundation blocks of a restaurant for whom full houses are the stock in trade. If it’s not comfort favourites like harissa prawns, crab and bacon toast or excellent stuffed squid, it’s the lambgasm that receives wide and tumultuous applause. But there’s more besides: the rustic tropical terrace provides the perfect setting for a great night out, all against a backdrop of 90s hip-hop and 60s soul. Friendly, casual and well priced, too.
Where: 161 Middle Rd, 188978
Why: Paired-back minimalist decor sets the tone for the contemporary dining courtesy of super chef Colin Buchan. Big flavoured highlights include Nduja arancini with a muhammara dip and beef tartare with smoked chipotle which might provide preludes to the more simple likes of burgers and, admittedly, reasonably inventive pasta dishes. Grilled food (whole prawns and Wagyu entrecote), artisanal cheeses and a short but well-curated wine list are further pluses. People like the vibe, stoked by a DJ and open kitchen.
Where: The Working Capitol Building, 1 Keong Saik Road #01-05, 089109
Why: Elbow room is in short supply at the cool laid-back bar at Bochinche where chilling with with a glass of Malbec and a slab of Argentine steak is one of life’s great pleasures. It doesn’t have to be red meat since ceviche or Galician octopus are superb, too, washed down perhaps with a cocktail or two.
Where: 115 Amoy Street #01-02, 069935
Why: What’s not to like about Le Bon Funk’s winning formula of sharing plates of cheese and charcuterie as a foodie foil for its particular calling card of natural wines. Food ranges from the simple and classic (sourdough, olives, burrata and chips) to the more creative (marinated zucchini with walnut and Parmesan, gnocchi with jamon Iberico and grilled corn, and carrot cake with ricotta ice cream). Push your vinous boundaries with their dynamic wine list that divides what’s on offer into bubbles, white, skin contact, rosé and red. [See also feature hero picture, at top]
Where: 29 Club Street, 069414
Why: This is Japanese izakaya eating with a modern, cosmopolitan twist, designed to appeal to the thirty-something crowd eager to max out on their socialising time. Floor-to-ceiling front windows and an almost self-consciously trendy space create a happily open, in-your-face atmosphere but why not when it works this well. Expect crab rolls, yakitori thighs and kurobuta pork wraps plus sashimi and tempura, of course. Street art and funky beats add appeal.
Where: 1A Keong Saik Rd #01-03, 089109
Why: This lovely little Italian in a two-storey old shop house on Kandahar Street is an object lesson in Italian restauration: urbane space, first-rate front of house, genuine warmth of welcome and a great place to tarry over a double espresso. But best of all is the food offering, made up of tasty small plates and a menu bookended by authentic, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas at one end and superb pan-fried fish at the other.
Where: 52 Kandahar Street, 198901
The newest offering from Super Loco follows post-pandemic protocol for casual fun which in this case has touched down in Marina Bay and benefits from outside dining and wonderful cityscape views. Not every local can be bothered with Marina Bay, but Super Loco redeems itself with distinctive, well-made Mexican food and unintimidating prices. A good night out!
Where: 70 Collyer Quay, Customs House #01-04, 238252
Why: Craft beer, comfort food and a down-to-earth sense of fun are the cornerstones of this well-received neighbourhood favourite where you’re guaranteed a great evening out. What sets The Guild apart is an eye for detail and good management in both the kitchen and front of house. Expect tried and tested classics, often with a twist, as in mac ‘n’ cheese with scallions and a house cured egg yolk or crispy calamari with mushroom mayo and chilli jam.
Where: 55 Keong Saik Road #01-01, 089158
Why: This is modern but authentic Spanish cuisine with soul – and very good it is too. Patatas bravas, mushroom and Iberico croquetas, big-flavoured cheesy churros with truffle paste may be the pre-cursor to first-rate paella or super-fresh pan-fried squid. A fun and garrulous vibe centred on the main counter aided by well chosen Spanish wines completes the happy picture.
Where: 40 Hongkong Street, 059679