It’s been said that there’s no better way to understand a country than through its cuisine.
From humble local fare to fine dining experiences, Singapore is one big gastronomic adventure. At the last count, our little island registered more than 5,200 establishments – this works out to about seven dining spots per square kilometre, or 18 per square mile!
There is such an excess of options for the discerning palate when it comes to gourmet food that recommending a restaurant can be a mind-boggling affair. Many top hotels boast excellent menus to tempt the gastronome, but distinguished independent restaurants, like the members-only China Club atop Capital Tower, the Peach Garden (Cantonese), Les Amis (French), Da Paolo (Italian) and Santaro (Japanese) boutique chains, and countless other solo eateries, have carved their own firm niches in international cuisine. Fine dining clusters are also forming at Sentosa (including modern Chinese restaurant Cassia) and the revamped Collyer Quay. We even lay claim to having a homegrown French fusion restaurant, Iggy’s, on the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. You may like to pick up a food guide or search online for a wave of reviews on fine dining choices.
And then there is location. You could make gastronomy an unforgettable affair with one of Singapore’s unique dining experiences, like a Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife, a romantic skylight dinner overlooking the harbour in a cable car or on board the Singapore Flyer, or else 70 storeys above the city at the Equinox complex. Be dazzled by celebrity chefs and acclaimed vintners when you attend masterclasses at the annual World Gourmet Summit.
Whether in the city or the suburbs, the plethora of international fare will excite you. From heritage foods to popular Thai and Japanese restaurants to classic European or exotic Middle Eastern cuisines, you’ll never be bored eating in Singapore! Even celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is set to open his signature chain of Jamie’s Italian restaurants here. Soak in the ambience in different dining precincts; whether you prefer to relax or to party, epicurean enclaves like Dempsey Hill, Clarke Quay, and Chijmes are guaranteed to charm.
While the ethnic quarters of Chinatown, Geylang Serai, or Little India are the obvious stops on a food tour, you can always get a good feel for local food at one of the kopi-tiams (coffee shops), hawker centres or air-conditioned food courts all around the island. You’ll find within them a diversity of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures offering a genuine taste of local favourites. The best of them include the Makansutra Glutton’s Bay, Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, and the Newton Food Centre. While the standard of cleanliness at such centres is generally high, you will be assured by the hygiene ratings plastered prominently on individual stalls, with ‘A’ being the cleanest.
At night, head out of the city to the East Coast Seafood Centre at the beach, to sample some of Singapore’s famous chilli or black pepper crabs. You’ll understand why the traffic there tails all the way back down the expressway on a weekend.
When such range and devotion abound, you’ll soon come to share Singapore’s passion for food. To start on your adventure, do browse the internet or pick up a local food guide such as Makansutra for reviews and tips. For opinions galore, check out epicurean blogs, including www.hungrygowhere.com and http://ieatishootipost.sg, prepared by food-obsessed Singaporeans.