People are always asking my wife or me where they should go eat. Whether it’s for a family meal, a special occasion, or just a quick bite, we get queries by phone, email and SMS on a regular basis. Not that we mind too much. After all, for a good part of our professional lives, the two of us (separately) wrote about and critiqued restaurants. And although we don’t travel as often as we’d like to, we do try to keep current on the new cool places to eat in cities we like.
But since Singapore is home for now, and since long posts tend to strain eyeballs, I’ll limit this (first) very short list to just a few picks from Singapore, for now.
Best gourmet experience (European): Iggy’s
This to me is a no brainer. While other Western restaurants often pull off amazing meals (especially Les Amis, Garibaldi, and Oso), for a special degustation meal as delicious as it is inventive, there’s no place better than this tiny, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon inspired, restaurant in the Regent Hotel. Lunch is a great deal here. They have 2 course and 3 course menus, as well as a 5 course for S$55. I recommend sitting at the bar and asking Iggy himself to suggest wines for each course.
Best Japanese: Tatsuya
While many prefer Shiraishi and Aoki, I have always found the first too expensive, while excellent, and the latter too expensive, but not worth the money. I’ve known and amired Chef Ronnie, owner and sushi-master of Tatsuya for over a decade. This is the one restaurant my wife always wants to go to on special occasions.
Favourite Chinese: Hu Cui
Many will question this choice. There are, after all, a large number of excellent Chinese restaurants in town. And specifically for that reason, I have listed this as a “favourite” and not “best”. Quite simply, I like the style of food here. I love the river shrimp in salted egg yolk sauce; the tofu with crab roe; the bean curd sheets with broad beans; the braised pork belly; the xiao long bao; and many more dishes. Maybe it’s because I’m one quarter Shanghainese. But this is my favourite Chinese restaurant in town.
Best Burger: (big) Seah Street Deli, (tiny) Iggy’s
I used to be loyal fan of the burgers at Whitebait & Kale. Honestly, it was the only thing I would order there. More recently, however, I have found a burger I like better. Sadly, I’ve forgotten the name of the specific burger, but at Seah Street Deli, in Raffles Hotel, they serve a burger with cheese and onions on toasted rye bread that I love. The bread is always very fresh and light, and the meat always juicy and tender. If, however, a big burger is not for you, go to Iggy’s and try the one there—bite for bite, it is the best burger in town. The only problem, though, is it’s size, maybe 3 inches across at best.
Best feels-like-eating-in-someone’s-home experience: Mag’s Wine Kitchen
My wife and I have only discovered this institution recently. Tucked into a cosy room, Mag’s whips up good Continental food nightly on what may be the smallest restaurant kitchen in town—well, actually Buko Nero’s might be smaller. The menu changes daily, according to what’s fresh. Since the kitchen is open and the room is tiny, interaction with Mag and her staff is requisite. Which is fun, especially when one specific, occasional but always tipsy waitress is on duty.