Whether you are looking for a new tasting menu to try or just looking for a break from eating hawker food, here’s a short list of some of my favorite non-hawker eating places in Singapore to help narrow down your options.
84 Amoy Street
This elegantly designed, cozy, bi-level restaurant on Amoy Street is run by Australian-trained, Sri Lankan born chef/owner Rishi Naleendra and his wife Manuela Toniolo. It offers a multi-course seasonal, ingredient-driven degustacion menu that draws a lot of inspiration from Naleendra’s past experiences as a chef in Australia, combined with the influences of his Sri Lankan heritage.
Some of its noteworthy dishes include its perpetually evolving signature dish of Sri Lankan Curry of Western Australian Marron with Aromatic Coconut Broth and its to-die-for Sri Lankan Stout and Liquorice Bread, all served on beautiful tableware that’s also meticulously paired with the food, befitting of a Michelin two-star restaurant that’s also concurrently the 26th best restaurant in Asia.
Wine lovers will surely miss out if they opt out on the optional alcohol or wine pairing here, as Cloudstreet’s wine program is known as one of the best in town, if not in Asia.
9 Mohamed Sultan Road
From its debut as a sleek spot serving Modern Asian cuisine on 9 Keong Saik Road in 2015, to its more homey second iteration just a few storefronts away at 1 Keong Saik, one Michelin-starred Meta just recently stepped up its game, when it moved to an intimate 26-seat dining room beautifully done in neutral colors within a conservation building on Mohamed Sultan Road.
At its new location, this very popular restaurant that has been recognized on both the World’s and Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards last year is determined to evolve further and morph into a better version of itself while it continues to focus on serving seasonality-led, produce and ingredient driven menus that highlights Busan-born, Australian-trained chef/owner Sun Kim’s own interpretation of Korean food
1 Neil Road
Housed at the beautifully refurbished Jinrikisha Station, an iconic Singapore historical landmark built in 1903 that served as a rickshaw depot, is Restaurant Born.
Currently the 38th best restaurant in Asia and a recipient of a Michelin star in its first year of operations, this is the brainchild of Chef Zor Tan, who honed his chef skills as a former executive chef of not one but, three award-winning restaurants in Asia, namely; the defunct Restaurant Andre in Singapore, Raw in Taiwan and most recently, Sichuan Moon in Macau, before starting Born.
He is now sharing memorable snippets of his culinary journey through each bite via a tasting menu inspired by his ‘Circle of Life’ philosophy, where he combines his mastery of French cookery with his in depth knowledge of Chinese flavors and ingredients to come out with a well-curated selection of contemporary courses that’s bound to propel Chinese fine dining to new heights.
161 Telok Ayer St.
One Michelin-starred NAE:UM is chef/founder Louis Han’s first restaurant venture, serving what he coined as “contemporary Seoul cuisine” — modern Korean food inspired by feelings of nostalgia for his motherland and his global sensibilities. The restaurant only serves tasting menus that they call episodes, with themes inspired by some of Chef Han’s memories from his native South Korea.
What I got to try was Episode 5: Front Yard Barbecue, which served ‘atas’ (Singlish term for sophisticated or elegant but, means more like the word ‘sosyal’ in Tagalog) version of dishes that Chef Han used to cook, eat and serve, when his family would host an outdoor barbecue party at their front yard.
Via the episodic menus, Chef Han seeks to recreate not just the food but, also the good vibes, hoping that his customers will find a happy respite when they dine at NAE:UM. If you haven’t tried Korean fine dining yet, I highly recommend that you try it first at NAE:UM.
Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Avenue #02-23
Since opening in 2014, and garnering its first Michelin star in 2017, Restaurant Labyrinth, led by chef-founder Han Li Guang or LG as he is fondly called, has been continuously serving an interactive and fun tasting menu of modern Singaporean dishes inspired by his own own experiences and childhood memories. An old favorite on its tasting menu is his signature chili crab dish that’s now on its ninth to 10th iteration.
Just recently, Chef LG made a really good version of it using aligue or crab fat from Manila when he visited Manila to be part of a sustainability-themed collaboration dinner, hosted by the Singapore Tourism Board last September at Toyo Eatery.
In 2021, Labyrinth bagged the Asia’s 50 Best Sustainable Restaurant Awards for its impressive commitment to sourcing sustainable ingredients from local sources and just recently won the highest climber award — as it climbed 29 spots from No. 40 in 2022 to No. 11 in 2023 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
7 Fraser St., Duo Galleria
Named after the street where Malaysian-born chef-owner Kevin Wong’s family home is located at the Klang district of Malaysia is Seroja, a restaurant that seeks to explore the flavors of the Malay archipelago. Seroja works with farmers, fishermen, and artisans all over Malaysia to source out the best sustainable ingredients to highlight and use to create their culinary masterpieces.
Last July 2023, after just being open for eight months, the restaurant scored a hat trick or three feat, when Seroja was awarded its first Michelin star followed by a Michelin green star, the first Singapore restaurant awarded a Michelin green star, with Chef Kevin bagging the Best Young Chef award, too.
In my opinion, this is one of the best restaurants to open in Singapore in the last quarter of 2022. I was fortunately able to try twice last year — first in Singapore last February and then in Manila last April, when Chef Kevin flew to Manila for a collaboration dinner with Chef Josh Boutwood at Helm.