We’ve got the lowdown on all the hot new restaurants in Singapore this month, mama!
Hey, mama! Need a quick shot of inspiration for a night out on the town (no kids, that is)? Here’s our pick of Singapore’s latest restaurants and newest bars, condensed and served up in tasty bite-size pieces just for you. This month’s bumper crop features a duo of fine and fun dining in the Botanic Gardens, mod-Italian with a Michelin-starred pedigree, a fine new addition to Singapore’s poké trend, hand-foraged Ant cocktails and much, much more. Get hungry, mamas!
Ginett is the new bistro-style restaurant of Hotel G (which has taken over from Big Hotel). Ginett (pronounced Jeanette with a French accent) manages to side-step the hotel restaurant ambiance and instead boasts a buzzing brasserie-style, light-filled restaurant with soaring ceilings and a wine bar taking centre-stage.
Wines are jaw-droppingly cheap here. And Singapore is wise to it already with the place being pretty full only a few days in! With prices of $6 for a glass of wine and bottles from $30, it is easy to see why this spot is getting attention.
Two-course set lunches go for $18, or there are à la carte salads, pastas and sandwiches. If you are here for dinner en group, we recommend you get a big table and get stuck into their beautiful 1-metre boards piled high with five imported French cold cuts, a pâté and five different cheeses ($54) which change seasonally, to go with your Château Tour Bicheau 2013 ($12/52 per glass/bottle).
Other French classics are on the menu like Pâté en Croute ($19), Snails Burgundy cooked with garlic and parsley butter and Duck Confit ($29). Plus international dishes of Australian Angus Beef ($39-$120) – beautifully cooked and served with wedges, spinach or mushrooms; Kurobuta Pork ($24-$32); and free range Rotisserie Chicken ($18-24), while dessert offers French classics like Crème brûlée ($8), Baba au Rhum ($12) and a selection of Tarts ($8).
There is a DJ on the decks Fridays from 9.30pm but it’s all about Tuesday for us – ladies’ night sees groups of 4 ladies scoring a free bottle of wine just, well, because. Sounds good to us!
Ginett, Hotel G Singapore, 200 Middle Road, Singapore 188980, Tel: (+65) 6809 7989, www.randblab.com
Crackerjack is what happens when 28 HongKong Street and Proof & Company Spirits do casual cool. Crackerjack is going for the ‘members club hang out space’ except that you don’t need to be a member to chill here all day. The restaurant is filled with light from the large corner windows.
We are told new furniture is expected but for now things are very casual with white benches and large tables. It’s an all-day restaurant where they actively encourage you to hang around, work using their free Wi-Fi, charge your gear with the free charging stations, sip on a cup of bottomless batch brew coffee ($8), eat some lunch, play shuffleboard, sip a cocktail. Speaking of which, cocktails are by Peter Chua and Zachary de Git, both award-winning bartenders and given the company’s credentials as Proof & Co you can expect good things from behind their gold honeycomb motif bar.
Former sous chef at Meatsmith, Alysia Chan serves up wholesome meals called Trays (yet without an actual tray in sight but you do get a free cookie). There’s Mojo Brandt Bavette Steak Salad ($25) – tender sliced steak with a killer red pepper sauce, green quinoa and a delicious jicama cabbage slaw; or vegetarian Lentil Mushroom Scotch Egg ($18) – a brilliant concoction of crispy exterior giving way to a thyme infused lentil mushroom filling and a wobbly egg centre served with flatbread and hummus.
For dinner, a larger menu includes local Barramundi with blistered beans and potatoes ($24), half roast Chicken Chermoula ($20), or vegetarian Cauliflower Steaks with Millet Cous Cous ($20). Weekday breakfasts swing from healthy with Hippie Granola ($12), to the naughtier Horchata Pancakes with Cinnamon Whipped Cream ($12), plus topnotch coffee by 2Degrees North. Come the weekend, Crackerjack will launch their “family friendly” first brunch seating (the second seating is “kids-free”) with free babycinos to boot.
Crackerjack, 43 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088464, Tel: (+65) 8121 1462, www.crackerjack.sg
Loloku, a new poké bar and deli, has taken over the the defunct Lollapalooza. Loloku is an order-at-the-counter poké bar (for the uninitiated Poké – pronounced poh-keh– is a Hawaiian raw-fish salad that is all the rage now). The beauty of Loloku is that once you have filled in the DIY order sheets and have your poké bowl in hand, you can sit in the lovely plush surrounds of the spacious tropical sister restaurant DON HO (opening any minute), which shares the space next door, to enjoy your poké bowl, unlike many smaller grab-and-go casual outfits.
For poké, there are five bowls featuring the normal tuna and salmon chunks plus there’s a tofu, hamachi (yellow tail) and wagyu beef option too which scores points on variety. Putting Hamachi on the poké menu is inspired as most places only offer the standard salmon and tuna so this we double like!
We tucked into a tasty bowl of The Ono Hamachi ($16/$18 M/L) of Hamachi, Kumbu rice, edamame, seaweed salad, pickled ginger, tobiko and ponzu wasabi sauce. The Wikiwiki Salmon ($14/$16) is another favourite of salmon, brown quinoa and Kumbu rice mix, umami kimchi, crunchy almonds, avocado and a lick spice from jalapeño slices and chipotle mayo.
You can also customise your own bowl if you are feeling chef-y, starting with a protein and then building on a choice of carbs and sides, plus the option of adding “pimped up” ingredients of slow cooked egg ($+2) and pomegranate ($+1). For drinks, fancy craft beers, wines, coffee by Sarnies or the thirst quenching homemade pineapple soda at a wallet friendly $3.
Loloku, 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109, Tel: (+65) 62235001, www.facebook.com/lolokusg
The Lo & Behold Group’s newest property, The Warehouse Hotel, has just opened its flagship restaurant Po by local talent Chef Willin Low (of Wild Rocket). Po is a tribute to popo – the Mandarin word for grandmother – and sees upmarket renditions of many of Singapore’s favourite hawker dishes.
Popiah is one such signature, and we imagine hotel guests and those new to Singapore will have fun with this posh Popiah party DIY dish (from $28). If you’re used to getting change from a $5 when you order your popiah from the hawker Uncle, the prices at Po may be a little hard to swallow. The individual elements of Popiah are brought to the table — slow cooked radish filing, the popiah skins, all the different sauces and toppings from crispy flatfish to peanuts, sambal and herbs and a choice of tiger prawns ($10 extra), or fresh flower crab meat ($30 extra). Then it’s a case of wrapping your own Popiah roll (a handy instruction card is provided for those fresh off the boat).
This element of fun runs throughout from the saucy cocktails which span the heritage of The Warehouse, to the tongue-in-cheek humour on the menu. The Charcoal-grilled Iberico Satay ($20) is a very good execution of the classic dish and we especially like the Paper Spring Chicken ($49), which arrives packaged in paper – the waiter then unwraps the parcel to reveal a whole spring chicken, moist and tender, marinated with Shaoxing wine and sesame oil and stuffed with glutinous rice, conpoy, Chinese sausage and mushrooms. Other dishes include yu sheng-inspired raw Barramundi Salad ($19) and Carabinero Prawns & Konbu Mee ($32).
For dessert there’s even a popiah ice cream offering – popiah skin filled with three scoops of ice cream – peanut, purple yam and pineapple sorbet, all topped with crushed peanuts and coriander.
PO at The Warehouse Hotel, The Warehouse Hotel, 320 Havelock Road, 169628, Tel: (+65) 6828 0007, www.po.com.sg
Botanics park lovers and those with small children and dogs are flocking to The Garage in the Botanic Gardens. This 1920’s Art Deco conservation building is made up of two establishments in the same model of Seletar’s The Summerhouse, also owned by the same 1 Group.
The casual ground floor café Bee’s Knees is open from 8am-6pm for pastries, breakfast, pizzas and pasta, and Botanico on the first level for fine dining dinner from 6pm. Most of us know the Botanics like the back of our hand by day, but by night it’s a whole new beautiful creature. Stroll through from the Cluny end by dusk and make your way to Botanico – their hidden garden bar upstairs is alfresco and aircon all in one, and a lovely spot for a botanical-inspired cocktail such as the Garage Gin’Onic.
Head indoors for dinner where the lighting is best to marvel over the clever contemporary food by Spanish Chef Antonio Oviedo (of Binomio, then Iggy’s), which takes inspiration from seasonal ingredients. From Iberico Pork Belly ($26), to Australian Lamb Shoulder ($34) sous vide for 16 hours and plated with beautiful hues of red semi-dried tomatoes and red mustard, to Chargrilled Spanish Mackerel ($28) grilled in the Inka-oven and served with a sweet umami black garlic sauce, charred Brussels sprouts and tangy grilled kumquats. Don’t miss the magnificent Idiazabal Croquettes ($14) — two crunchy golden croquettes filled with warm oozing creamy smoked Idiazabal cheese and topped with shavings of smoky salty sweet chorizo.
The pièce de résistance however, is the dessert. While chocolate lovers might zone in on the Ceiba ($14), a bowl of organic chocolate warm foam, brownie croutons and heady ginger ice cream, for us it was the experimental offering of the fittingly named Tropical Fruits ($14) that stole the show: an unusual laksa leaf ice-cream, white chocolate turmeric ganache, with a medley of interesting textures from the sea coconut, jackfruit, longan, crispy deep-fried laksa leaf and crunchy meringue.
The Garage, 50 Cluny Park Road , Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 257488, Tel: (+65) 6264 7978, www.thegarage.sg
Little Bastard is a new secretly located drinking den linked to The Refinery (now there’s a clue!). Enter through a bookshelf that turns into a door, James Bond style, up a creaking stairwell and you emerge into a drinking and gambling den complete with bright green Mahjong tables and wooden chairs, low lighting and industrial ceilings. The secret hard-to-find concept is enough to warrant a visit in itself!
But when we tell you that this little outfit serves up deliciously moreish food, too – we hope we won’t have to fight our way in next time we stop by. If Little Bastard was born in New York or Hong Kong, the place might be heaving, but for now, the secret’s not yet out (famous last words) so you can still get yourself a quiet table.
If the idea of eating duck confit with chopsticks intrigues you, step this way. The menu is a bastardized mix of Chinese and Thai with some French techniques thrown in. Whatever you do, order the Cold Tum Yum Noodles ($20) — cold, slippery udon noodles in a chilled chicken consommé full of fragrant aromatics with salty-sour tom yum flavours and bites of sweet crab meat. The dish is served cold, making all the flavours so clean and bright. Get Pok Pok ($15) to share — little popcorn-sized bites of fried chicken with an addictive umami salty sweet sauce (just be deft with your chopsticks).
Other dishes include Swee Kueh ($12) of tofu medallions topped with salted bean soy, chilli and puffed rice, and a Wagyu Tartare with spicy Szechuan seasonings ($20), Duck Confit Penyet served with homemade sambal and kecap manis ($20), and Duroc Pork LuRouFan ($18) braised pork belly tender and sweet with a huge rice patty, pickles and shallots.
In lieu of desserts, there are cocktails – because why eat cake when you can drink a Cut-Leg Milo Peng ($22) of Bourbon sous vide with Milo, Vermouth infused with Coffee beans, Irish syrup and condensed milk?
Little Bastard, (secret location) somewhere on 115 King George’s Avenue, Tel: (+65) 8459 9893, www.therefinery.sg/little-bastard
Native Bar is a tiny hidden bar on Amoy Street that has been making headlines with their eclectic cocktails featuring local and regional ingredients, amongst them – actual ants. The spirits that line the bar aren’t the big international brands but instead, regional bottles (like Ceylon Arrack from Sri Lanka and Nepalese rum in a wonderful glass bottle shaped like a dagger).
Order up the Antz ($23) to get in on the action: this cocktail is served in a lovely mug, a huge basil leaf balances atop the drink filled with crunchy ants). Native Bar is founded and owned by local talent Vijay Mudaliar, the man behind the often foraged ingredients for each cocktail. Cocktails are pre-made (giving them a chance to infuse – in this case, the Thai ants with the Thai rum, aged sugar cane, salt baked tapioca, soursop and coconut yoghurt concoction). It really is a delightful drink and would tick the exotic element if you have guests in town. Red Light District ($19) screams for attention with its ingredients of Rose Aperitif, performance drugs (aka Tongkat Ali, a medicinal root used for sexual prowess in Chinese medicine), calamansi, basil seeds, pink dragon fruit and water kefir.
Bar snacks are on the horizon and there is a cute boutique room above the small bar which is just asking to be the haunt of private parties.
Native Bar, 52A Amoy Street, Singapore 069878, Tel: (+65): 9876 8910, www.tribenative.com
Another joins the growing South Beach fold. This is Atmastel, a smart looking Italian restaurant that is more modern minimalism than traditional Italian rustic. Atmastel is helmed by Andrea Tarini, a chef with a 3-michelin star background (ULIASSI, Italy and Taste of Italy by Heinz Beck). Service is noticeably friendly and well informed which is always worth a mention. Dishes are well executed and presented thoughtfully.
Don’t miss the excellent starter of fried Calamari and Zucchini Fritters ($18). Slightly misleading in description, these are not fritters but a pile of thinly shaved fried zucchini perched precariously atop a pile of fried calamari, everything beautifully crispy and pairing well with the sweet jam sauce. Dishes of pastas, pizzas and mains range from the signature Black Ink Seafood Tagliolini ($34) of al dente black tagliolini flecked with garlic and chilli with a good amount of seafood (prawns, squid, clams, mussels and lobster bisque), to San Daniele DOP Pizza ($36) to Barramundi with Peperonata ($24.90) and Meatballs in Pizzaiola sauce ($21.50).
Dinner sees a larger menu of meats including Braised Beef Tenderloin in balsamic vinegar ($46) and Grilled Pork Chops ($45). Dessert takes Tiramisu ($14.90) to a whole new modern level with the pretty presentation of deconstructed Tiramisu made from coffee soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, frozen foam espresso blocks and chocolate soil.
Don Meijin offers a great variety of donburi bowls. The locally-inspired Spicy Chilli Crab Tendon ($14.80) is touted as the highlight: tempura prawns, asparagus, pumpkin, seasonal fish fillet, eggplant and kakiage drenched in a homemade spicy tomato based chilli crab sauce flecked with snow crab.
Our favourite dish, however is the Signature Tendon ($13.80), comprising mixed vegetable and seafood tempura perfectly crisp, served on a bowl of very good Japanese short grain rice imported from Hokkaido. Opt for the extra $2 Dashi served in a pretty teapot with wasabi and rice crisps on the side, a wonderful way to eat the leftover pearly rice with this broth poured onto it Ochazuke style.
Other dishes on the menu include Mille Feuille Katsu Don ($12.80) made up of 14 compacted slices of marinated pork loin which are then panko crumbed and fried, or the Soft Shell Crab Don and Unagi Katsu Don which keep the menu interesting and varied. Don Meijin is located within Ramen Champion Bugis+, which consists of a handful of Japanese eats.
Don Meijin, Ramen Champion, Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street, #04-10, Bugis+, Singapore 188067, Tel: (+65) 6238 1011, www.facebook.com/pg/donmeijin
Porta Fine Food and Import Company has taken over the ground floor of Park Hotel. This brightly lit hotel restaurant overlooks the busy side street and is popular with with hotel guests. It is a multi concept space of restaurant-cum-mini-gourmet-grocer.
Porta offers a fairly compact menu that still spans pasta: Truffle Carbonara ($24) and Ravioles De Royans ($22) of cheese raviolis in a vegetable tomato coulis with pesto sauce, to fancier dishes like the Spanish Octopus ($18), cooked till tender and served with patatas bravas and Iberico Pork ($26); a marbled shoulder of pork with pommery honey mustard served with mash and tomatoes. They do a decent burger with the works of caramelized onion, cheddar and bacon in a brioche bun ($23) though for extra ketchup you’ll have to cough up an extra $1.50 as it’s Alain Milliat stuff.
For dessert: Valrhona chocolate lava cake ($14), or for something a little more creative Coconut Blancmange ($12) of creamy coconut custard topped with passionfruit coulis. While the restaurant’s evening ambiance is still being fine tuned, the best bet is Porta’s set lunches from an affordable $18 for 2 courses to a remarkable $22 for 3.
Porta Fine Food & Import Company, 1 Unity Street, Level 1 of Park Hotel Clarke Quay, Tel: (+65) 6593 8855, www.porta.com.sg
- Atlas Bar has opened in the iconic Parkview Square building. This Art Deco Bar and restaurant dining boasts one of the world’s largest Gin collections and we are waiting on tenterhooks for a look-see when it opens any minute.
- Morsels (pictured) – one of our favourite experimental small plates spots – has moved to 25 Dempsey Road #01-04 Singapore 249670. Expect fun dishes like compressed watermelon with whipped burrata ($18), Charred Octopus with Salted Egg ($26) or plump for the Omakase ($85pp). Free corkage on BYO Tuesdays only.
- Hattendo’s cream buns (one/$2.50, five/$12.50): bready-soft sweet buns filled with custard, whipped cream, matcha, azure beans or chocolate are now in town at Tanjong Pagar Centre.
- AquaMarine at Marina Mandarin goes Thai for March with a spread of Salmon Gravlax Thai, Crispy Catfish and Green Mango Salad, Thai Street BBQ Prawn, Giant Squid, Chicken and Flower Crab. Lunch is $60/30 adult/child) and buffet dinner is $70-80/$35-40.
- New Akira Back at South Beach has been giving Japanese aficionados their fix of stellar food with their offering of Japanese cuisine with a twist like tuna sashimi with gochujang sauce and tuna pizza ($25), with ponzu mayonnaise and truffle oil and shiso leaf.