Robuchon, Puck Tackle Land of Chili Crab: Singapore Dine & Deal
With the highest concentration of millionaires on the planet and two multi-billion-dollar casino resorts pulling in limousine-loads of Michelin-starred chefs, Singapore’s dining scene has changed like nowhere else in Asia in the past two years. Alongside brand names like Joel Robuchon and Wolfgang Puck, local chefs are also rising.
Here’s a sample of what to expect for business or pleasure:
1. Candlenut Kitchen: 25 Neil Road, Singapore 088816. Information: http://www.candlenutkitchen.com, or +65-6226 2506.
What: Malcolm Lee’s updated Peranakan dishes such as Ayam Buah Keluak that grandma used to make.
Why: A chance to savor cooking from this very local cuisine -- the Peranakans are descended from 16th-century Chinese traders who settled in the region and created a culture that mixed Malay and Chinese influences.
Where: In a traditional shophouse south of Chinatown.
When: An informal lunch or dinner to introduce a colleague to Singapore.
Private room: No.
Sound level: Soft jazz and loud chatter when it gets busy.
2. Cut: Galleria Level B1, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Information: http://www.marinabaysands.com, or +65 6688 8517.
Why: Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck’s first outlet in Asia.
Where: Next to the theaters in the Marina Bay Sands resort.
When: A pre-theater supper, or a celebratory carnivorous feast with friends. Be prepared to shout.
Bar: Yes, where you can sip a Samurai Sword, or a Devil in Disguise.
Private Room: Yes, seating as many as 40 people, with a minimum spend on Friday and Saturday of S$15,000 ($11,530).
Sound level: Loud: Freddie Mercury belting out “Another one bites the dust” as you chomp on your meat.
3. Ember: Hotel 1929, 50 Keong Saik Rd., Singapore. Information: http://www.hotel1929.com, or +65-6347-1928.
What: Modern European-inspired dishes with Asian twists, such as marinated cod with black miso, and the ever-popular foie gras menu.
Why: Ember’s small, angular dining room is consistently packed for lunch and dinner as chef Sebastian Ng continues to serve up simple and beautifully prepared food at substantially lower prices than his new Michelin-starred competitors in the casinos.
Where: Inside Loh Lik Peng’s boutique Hotel 1929 in the former red-light district of Keong Saik Road, which is now filled with offices and restaurants.
When: The weekday set lunch at about S$46 ($35) is a steal, so make sure you book at least a day ahead.
Bar: No, not even in the hotel.
Private Room: No, though the restaurant’s small enough to hire the whole thing.
Sound level: Lively conversations, especially at lunch.
4. Fifty Three: 53 Armenian Street. Information: http://www.fiftythree.com.sg, or +65 6334 5535.
What: Michael Han’s joint venture with the Les Amis group.
Why: Han’s food uses eco-friendly, sustainable ingredients to create dishes that are often interesting and fun, such as his wagyu beef, cooked for 40 hours, or his gin-and-tonic on rock -- basically a jelly shot served on a stone.
Where: In the old colonial part of town.
When: For a working lunch or set dinner menu with members of the nearby parliament or supreme court.
Private room: Yes, the ground floor room with a view into the kitchen.
Sound level: Quiet.
5. Flutes at the Fort: Fort Canning Park, Singapore. Information: http://www.flutesatthefort.com.sg, or +65-6338-8770.
What: Modern Australian. Think spiced Victorian lamb rack.
Why: The old firemaster’s villa is the perfect escape, perched among the trees on Fort Canning hill in the heart of the city.
Where: Above the Hill Street Fire Station. The entrance is next to the Singapore Philatelic Museum at 23B Coleman St.
When: Sit out on the balcony among the frangipanis for dinner, or come for the weekend brunch.
Bar: Al fresco on the lower deck.
Private Room: Two, seating up to 16, though larger sections of the main restaurant can also be hired.
Sound level: Serene.
6. Guy Savoy: Casino Level 2, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Information: http://www.marinabaysands.com, or +65 6688 8513.
What: Chef Savoy’s Parisian fine dining.
Why: The three-Michelin-star chef has brought his classic dishes from the French capital and mixed in a few new creations.
Where: Above the main gambling hall at Marina Bay Sands.
When: For a 10-plus course gastronomic blowout that will fill you with imaginative combinations of food as fast as it empties your wallet.
Bar: Yes. You can get a taste of the dishes here while you sip a glass of champagne.
Private Room: Yes.
Sound level: Quiet enough to hear the sighs of diners as the dessert trolley comes round.
7. Iggy’s: Hilton Hotel, 581 Orchard Road, Singapore 238883. Information: http://www.iggys.com.sg/ or +65-6732 2234.
What: Ignatius Chan’s gastronomic menus of dishes with seasonal ingredients and titles like “sea and soil” will sometimes delight, sometimes displease -- and usually surprise.
Why: The only Singapore joint to make San Pellegrino’s 2011 list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants -- at number 27.
Where: Relocated last year to the third floor of the Hilton Hotel on Orchard Road, giving Iggy a bigger kitchen to play in.
When: You’re going to propose.
Bar: Yes. Even more fun than the restaurant, with Iggy- style snacks to go with your cocktails.
Private room: Yes, well, semi-private off the small dining room.
Sound level: Very quiet.
8. Jumbo Seafood: East Coast Seafood Centre Blk 1206 East Coast Parkway #01-07/08, East Coast Seafood Centre, Singapore 449883; Information: http://www.jumboseafood.com.sg, or +65-6442-3435.
Why: No visitor to Singapore is allowed to leave town without tasting the nation’s chili and black pepper crab.
Where: While Jumbo has several venues around the island, head to the original beachside one on the East Coast with a big party of colleagues or friends.
When: A messy dinner to introduce folks from overseas to a very Singaporean feast.
Private Room: No; some of the other branches have one.
Sound level: A clattering din.
What: Robuchon has two restaurants in Singapore’s first casino resort, serving his French haute cuisine.
Why: The chef’s 20-odd restaurants worldwide have picked up a total of 26 Michelin stars between them and the Michelin man will surely be in Singapore soon to add some more.
Where: In the Hotel Michael on Sentosa, Singapore’s island of entertainments and millionaires’ villas.
When: Dinner during the week. The traffic to and from the island at the weekend is awful.
Private room: Groups of about 20 can book the unusual indoor winter garden, complete with tree.
Sound level: Quiet.
10. Les Amis: 1 Scotts Road, #02-16 Shaw Centre, Singapore. Information: http://www.lesamis.com.sg/, or +65-67332225.
Why: The flagship restaurant of Les Amis group’s sprawling fine-dining empire remains a favorite spot for the city’s elite. Austrian-born Armin Leitgeb adds a few central European touches to the classic French fare. Try the “Poulet de Bresse” with foie gras dice.
Where: In the heart of Singapore’s Orchard Road shopping district.
When: Good for a business lunch with four courses at S$88 per person or an anniversary dinner.
Bar: A very small one by the entrance.
Private Room: Five, with a maximum party of 30.
Sound Level: Well-spaced tables and the elongated shape of the dining room keeps the noise to a minimum.
11. Rang Mahal: Level 3 Pan Pacific, 7 Raffles Blvd., Marina Square, Singapore. Information: http://www.rangmahal.com.sg,or +65-6333-1788.
What: Indian haute cuisine with a variety of regional dishes, from bread that’s baked to order, to excellent kachori, to dishes such as tawa-seared foie gras.
Why: With an Indian community that goes back almost to the birth of the city and good South Asian meals available for $10 from the ubiquitous food stalls, it takes something special to make it worth paying S$120 per person for the cuisine in Singapore. Rang Mahal, now with an outpost in one of the casino resorts, has what it takes,
Where: In the Pan Pacific Hotel.
When: For the times when you want more than a decent curry and are prepared to pay for it.
Bar: In the hotel.
Private Room: Yes, though you probably won’t need one in the dim, cavernous interior.
Sound level: Quiet.
12. Restaurant Andre: 41, Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089855. Information: http://restaurantandre.com/ or +65-6534 8880.
What: Taiwanese Chef Andre Chiang’s French-inspired, eight- point menu, mixing dishes such as hot foie gras jelly with black truffle coulis, or ravioli of scallops with Japanese chives, purple cauliflower consomme and herb flowers.
Why: Chiang’s years of apprenticeship in France in the kitchens of Pierre Gagnaire, Pascal Barbot, Robuchon and others made this the only spot in Asia on the New York Times 2011 list of 10 restaurants worth a plane ride.
Where: In a half-hidden 1920s townhouse next to the Majestic Hotel in Chinatown.
When: Dinner rather than lunch to have time to savor the eight courses.
Private room: The three-story establishment provides space for a chef’s table downstairs, a private room and even a private pottery studio where Chiang makes some of the crockery.
Sound level: Hushed in the upstairs dining room.
13. Sky on 57: Sands SkyPark, Marina Bay Sands Tower 1, 10 Bayfront Avenue. Information: http://www.marinabaysands.com, or +65-6688 8857.
What: Justin Quek’s Franco-Asian takes on local dishes, such as fried Maine lobster “Hokkien Noodle,” or foie gras xiao long bao.
Why: Quek is a local hero of the dining scene, a Singaporean trained at Roland Mazere’s Le Centenaire in Perigord who isn’t afraid of making his version of dishes like bak ku teh soup that locals will all say is not bad, if not as good as the one at their neighborhood coffee shop.
Where: On top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel.
When: For a business lunch or dinner offering a local twist, great views and tables far enough apart so you don’t have to worry about being overheard. Or put overseas guests in the hotel below and come for a working breakfast.
Bar: Yes, with tables out on the terrace.
Private room: One private room seating up to 20 and three semi-private.
Sound level: Buzzy at lunch and dinner.
14. The Tippling Club: 8D Dempsey Rd., Singapore. Information: http://www.tipplingclub.com, or +65-6475-2217.
What: Molecular gastronomy.
Why: Ryan Clift’s deconstructed creations (think foie gras frozen in liquid nitrogen) and Matthew Bax’s smoking cocktails.
Where: In the bustling Dempsey Road dining park on the edge of a stretch of jungle. Look for “House” when coming by taxi.
When: While set lunches are offered, it’s better for dinner when you have the chance to swallow a few cocktails and the few hours needed to work through the 10-course tasting menu.
Bar: The whole thing is really a bar.
Private Room: No.
Sound level: Chatty, especially at the bar seats.
15. Wild Rocket: Hangout Hotel, 10A Upper Wilkie Road, Singapore 228119. Information: http://www.wildrocket.com.sg/ or +65-6339 9448.
What: Self-styled “Mod-Sin” (Modern Singaporean) food from lawyer-turned-chef Willin Low.
Why: Cozy, stylish surroundings with young, enthusiastic staff and fun twists on local delicacies.
Where: In the boutique Hangout Hotel on Mt. Emily, a place that manages to be both remote and in the center of town at the same time.
When: A relaxed date or dinner with a group of colleagues to celebrate the end of another day.
Private room: Yes, for up to 22 people.
Sound level: Quiet with occasional bursts of laughter.
(Adam Majendie writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own. This report is the 12th part of the 2011-12 series of Bloomberg Dine & Deal, surveying good restaurants for business and pleasure in the world’s top cities. For more Dine & Deal reviews, click here.))
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