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Best of Singapore

I am lucky enough to be able to travel to Singapore in May for three days and I am looking some great food experiences. I live near NYC and don't need to repeat what I can get there. Specifically, I am looking for:

1) Most importantly I am looking for find the number one food experience in Singapore. Is there a three star Michelin quality restaurant? I want the French Laundry of Singapore. I don’t care the cuisine, just the quality. No limit on price.

2) Top hawkers. What are the “you must try” places? Looking for that great inverse proportion experience between great food and no décor. I watched Bourdain’s show on Singapore and read around, but would love more recommendations. There is a ton already on the board. But, is there a top one that is out of this world?What will be engrained in a person’s mind to have again, long after they left?

3) Where to go for great chili crab and black pepper crab? Is No Signboard Seafood the best?

Any other great recommendations would be great. Thanks!

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  1. I can't answer your #1 question since I only go to hawkers in Singapore.

    But #2 ... you must try 328 Katong Laksa on E Coast Rd
    http://gourmettravel.blogspot.com/200...

    There are various bak kut teh (eg. on Rangoon Rd) and hai nan chicken rice places that are famous, I still can't decide which ones are the best though...

    #3 ... I think generally speaking, ppl would say No Signboard is the best one.

    Enjoy! :D
    3 days is not quite enough to really eat in Singapore, but it'll get you started!

    1. There is no Michelin quality restaurant here. Nothing would garner even one star.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Hot Chocolate

        agree with Hot Chocolate - but you could give Les Amis or Iggy's a shot

        1. re: e_ting

          The chef who put Iggy's on the foodie map, Dorin Shuster, left a few months ago, heard that he's back in Germany. Not sure who took over.

          1. re: klyeoh

            uh-oh... hope they're holding up ok, because i still haven't had time to go back!

            1. re: e_ting

              Just saw in the hotel news that Dorin Schuster is now Executive Chef at Legian Resort Bali.

              Iggy's kitchens are now helmed by Sufian Zain (Head Chef) and Koh Wei Wei (Dessert Chef), both local SHATEC alumnus.

              1. re: klyeoh

                Haven't been back to Iggy's for ages, but I loved the place. As many of you know it's also now on the list of the San Pelligrino's best restaurants.

                As for bak kuk teh, I will either go to Ng Ah Sio on Rangoon Road (go early in the morning coz they sell out, and also avoid the heat) or Ya Hua at 593 Havelock Road (only open at night but with aircon)

                Last I checked No Signboard offers chili crab and WHITE pepper crab...

                I did like the crab bee hoon that Bourdain had at Sin Huat, but the place is not exactly cheap

                1. re: Peech

                  Ah that's right, second Ng Ah Sio! I couldn't think of the name for the life of me before (my dad always drove ...) :P
                  thx Peech!

                  --burumun
                  http://gourmettravel.blogspot.com

                  1. re: Peech

                    San Pelligrino's best restaurants is the biggest joke butt and is quite worthless in my opinion. Tatsuya of Sydney is the best Japanese restaurant in the world; I have been there and it is not even in my top 100 Japanese restaurants that i have tried. The top 3 restaurants in Hong Kong are French and Japanese, not even a single Cantonese one. Not one restaurant in Tokyo is in its list. (I would rate all the 10 best restaurants on my list in Japan) I guess the list only include those restaurants that serve San Pellegrino's bottled water so no Asian restuarant is included unless catered to westerners.

                    Having said that, Iggies is good but I am not sure about the new chef there as my last visit was 6 months ago. For fine dining, my personal favorite is Gunther's at 36 Purvis Street; I think this place has surpassed Iggies and Les Amis as the best place in town. But then for anyone from NYC, I don't think this is the place I would recommend unless you have no interest to try local food.

                    Ditto Ya Huat at Havelock Road for Bar Kut Teh.

                    Unfortunately, chilli crab's standard is not as good as before. All the famous ones No Sign Board, Palm Beach are opening up new chain and the standard is no longer consistent.

                    Sin Huat is hole in the wall place but price is expensive. Owner also have an attitude problem. My own recommendation is just to walk 2 blocks away to try Crab Tang Hoon at Ya Kwang Dai Pai Dong at 709 Geylang Rd. Ya Kwang is still new and relatively unknown, unlike No Sign Board, Sin Huat etc. But i thought its Crab Tang Hoon is better than the famous counterparts.

                    1. re: FourSeasons

                      I think there has been enough flaming going on by those of us in Asia about the new SP list...

                      1. re: FourSeasons

                        would like to know ur take on gunthers... abit held back when i wanted to try the restaurant, coz i read quite a few bad reviews on hungrygowhere...

                        1. re: Lucil

                          You should give Gunther's a shot. I've dined there 3 times in the last 6 months, and it has yet to let me down. The service is as best as you can get in Singapore (which not to say much - if you know what I mean). Gunther Hubrechsen was the second chef to helm Les Amis (Singapore's oft-mentioned premier French fine-dining restaurant), taking over from Justin Quek who now splits his time between his 2 major overseas ventures: Le Platane (Shanghai) & Le Petit Cuisine (Taipei). Gunther's left Les Amis last year to take run this nifty new set-up, and he's doing pretty well so far.

                          Gunther's cooking style tends to be lighter, verging on the "Provencal". The menu at his restaurant is seasonal. To give you an idea of what he serves, during my last visit, I had:

                          Starter: beetroot, jamon, cepe mushrooms & egg confit - where the beetroot was sliced paper-thin & laid on the plate resembling beef tartare slices (for a moment, I thought I was being served the wrong dish!). The dressing was undecipherable - olive oil (?), with a slight tang (almost as if the ghost of a lemon had floated through it), but combination of tastes & textures was incredible. I was really tempted to order a second helping then;

                          Soup: Okay, so I ordered a French onion soup - I was just so curious as to whether Gunther can carry off such a basic bistro fare well in his cutting-edge fine-dining restaurant (he did);

                          Entree: Australian black pig, with confit tomatoes & potatoes souffle - it was really (and I do mean really!) the best piece of pork I've ever had in my life - simply marinated in perhaps a bit of good quality olive oil, sea salt & some herbs. The potatoes souffle was divine as well (almost as good as those you get in Paris, but the French did theirs in horse-fat, which I don't think you'd find in Singapore);

                          Dessert: Pasta, served with blood orange & chocolate ice-cream - okay, so Gunther needs to get himself a pastry chef. It was bleah! During a previous visit, I tried his signature apple pie - one of those rich-buttery galettes, thin enough to slide under a laboratory door. It wasn't too remarkable either.

                          Gunther's also served an amuse geule in the beginning which, in my 3 visits, invariably turned out to be a sole shrimp tempura perched on a glass spoon. It's nice, but not mind-blowing (unlike Pierre in HK, where its complimentary amuse-geule packs more variety & calories than your appetiser & entree put together).

                          Petit fours which came with the coffee consisted of: canele (good), hibiscus macaroon (okay) & a piece of Varlhorna choc.

                          Gunther's has got one of the best wine selection in any restaurant in Singapore (numero uno in this department is still Les Amis).

                          1. re: klyeoh

                            nice write up thanks ... i'll give it a try.. trying to go to Iggy's on Friday ... this will be next.

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              wads the damage like??? i wasnt too impressed with iggys lunch the last time i went.. some of the dishes were pointless..like the bellini

                            2. re: Lucil

                              klyeoh is the Michelin expert here, and I would trust his review more than the folks from hungrygowhere.

                              I have been to Gunther's twice, the first time for dinner and the second time for lunch. I wrote a brief review onthe dinner (certainly not as well written and detailed as klyeoh) on a past thread. You may look for it through the "Search" engine above. I certainly enjoyed the dinner very much. The lunch was value for money at less than $50 per head, but quite frankly, I was not fulled at the end of the meal. If my recollection is correct, it was seafood soup as appetizer and pasta for the main dish. Both were delicious. I ordered an extra rib eye steak. While it was good, it was not as good as the Porterhouse or Rib eye that I frequent in Morton's. In my opinion, Morton's remained the best steak house in Singapore. But for fine dining, I thought Gunther's is one of the best, if not the best, in town now.

                2. re: Hot Chocolate

                  Hot Chocolate,
                  I agree with you there is nothing close to a Michelin quality restaurant in Singapore. Les Amis is, at this moment, probably the best choice.

                3. I just got back from Singapore since a 5-year hiatus. The amt of stuff to eat there is just unbelievable!

                  For starters, I would recommend Straits Cafe at Grand Hyatt (Scotts Rd). This is a US$30 buffet of all the local cuisine. At least you get an idea what SG can offer before scouting around the island for food.

                  The other place for great food is Geylang.

                  Avoid Newton Circus and Lau Pa Sa.

                  PS: Watch Anthony Bourdain No Reservations on Singapore.

                  1. Check out Little India (Serangoon Road) for amazing indian foods, both North and South. Anandabhavans is my favorite for South Indian fast foods. Race course Road also has nice North Indian restaurants.

                    I personally don't eat at fine dining restaurants in Singapore. I live in LA, and can eat that type of food at home. I always like to eat local food so I prefer to eat at hawker centers and hole in the wall type of places.

                    I'll be there again in June for 2 weeks for my cousin's wedding and I can't wait -- already planning what to eat!

                    1. In Singapore, people talk about dining at hawker centers, the name for outdoor eating places occupied by many individual stall-holders who each specialize in a particular style of food. Dishes prepared amid flames and the clanking of pots, pans and woks, are mainly local Malay, Chinese and Indian. Although, there are branches of each category of cuisine, such as Hokkien Teochew, and Cantonese, reflecting the rich cultural mix of Chinese influence in Singapore.

                      There are Indonesian and Thai stalls and also Nonya dishes developed by early Chinese settlers from Malay food, and even vegetarian dishes to suit Hindus and Buddhists.
                      Hokkien food. A traditional favorite is "Hokkien mee" (noodles), a delicious mixture of thick yellow noodles and rice vermicelli (bee hoon) cooked with prawns, squid and beansprouts spiked with a squeeze of lime and fresh red chilies. http://restaurantdiningcritques.com

                      1. Hi there, I just came across your query and hopefully its too not late, but I would suggest that if you were here only for three days you shouldn't aim for any of the European/Western fine dining establishments here at all. In that respect I don't think Singapore can compare with the best fine dining restaurants of NYC as yet. What you should be going for in that short period of time is definitely the hawker / local food places instead, it would definitely be something different from food in the US and provide you with a more localised cullinary experience. With sufficient planning, three days would be comfortable for you to sample the cross section of local cuisine. There isn't a single top hawker out of all hawkers because there is quite a bit of variety in terms of local food here and it isn't possible to compare apples with oranges. However, if you have the time to you could do a quick readup on the various kinds of foods you can get a feeling of which establishments are highly regarded by the local foodies. Sites like the forum at www.makansutra.com and http://ieatishootipost.sg/ are also useful starting grounds for research and both sites have a list of places they think are hawker food "must tries".

                        I don't really browse the SEAsia/Singapore section of this forum so I'm not sure what has been recommended. But off my head, some places you would have to go would be Maxwell Food Center for lunch where you get that really famous chicken rice stall Bourdain ate at (Tian Tian Chicken Rice). There is also a really good salted dough fritter stall (hum jin beng) which is run by a single person who prepares the dough - the customers actually help fry the fritters. Lots of other good eats there in Maxwell as you might be able to see from ieat's blog and makansutra's forum, but do go in the daytime (around 1, or 2 if you want to avoid the office lunch hour crowd) as more stalls would be open then. The Geylang Serai area would be good for Malay food (Hamid's Briyani at the Geylang Serai food center is good, as is Warong Sudi Mampir at Haig Road food center for their beef and mutton satay). From thereon you could head down to Katong for laksa, as well as eggskin popiah at Glory which is my favourite place for that dish. Theres more of course but its a long list. I'm not very fond of chilli crab and black pepper crab but being a tourist I think you should do the touristy thing and try it anyhow.

                        Since you are disposed to spending more on food, other things you might like to consider are the Asian cuisines such as Japanese cuisine, Cantonese dim sum, Northern Indian food etc in good restaurants. I'm not sure how good/authentic the Asian places at your locality are like, but depending on how well travelled/exposed you are, coming to Singapore might be a decent opportunity to sample a range of foods from various Asian countries.

                        1. I do not understand the concept of going to Singapore for western food. The number one food experience in Singapore is definitely this:
                          In a hawker center, with 10+ empty Tiger bottles, pile of crab and shrimp shells, wet napkins with chili and soy sauce, you in shorts, sandals, and red faced. It's 2 AM and you just ate all night with pocket changes.
                          Some people chose to believe in the so called "fine dining" idea, spending thousands chasing celebrity chefs. I do not think that's the majority of Singaporeans or in fact most SE Asians. Honestly, when I was on expense I went to a lot of "fine dining" places and I would sit there missing the street food of SE Asia. But that's me - many French dishes take forever to prepare and "plate" (how I hate that!) but I would prefer the one pot wonder from a street vendor cooked in no time. :-)
                          By this time you should have been back, any reports?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: shengtang

                            i can't speak for the poster who clearly has never set foot in singapore and is looking for someone to give the easy answers. but some of us live in SE asia (i.e. me) and like to go to a nice restaurant that isn't local food maybe once or twice a week. I second Four Seasons Bonta in UE square. went there and the food was excellent. Had the Foie Gras (strange that in asia everywhere seems to serve very generous portions of foie gras compared to the US where you get a quarter sized medallion). the Spinach Crispelle was fantastic and my date had the risotto with sea urchin in prosecco and we split the veal milanese. I could have used more salt on the veal milanese but the roasted tomatoes / argula was a very nice compliment. i was impressed with the portion sizes of everything.

                            1. re: Hot Chocolate

                              I said I don't understand the concept of "going" to Singapore for western food, but I totally understand "living" in Singapore but some time want non-local food. :-)
                              Ironically we all want something that's not readily available to us. When living in SE Asia I never crave local food as much as I do now. But to be honest, I am still more of a street food guy than fine dining guy. Again, that's just me. There is nothing right or wrong about it.

                              1. re: shengtang

                                it's hard to argue against 20 bhat pad thai or 3 sing fried hokkien prawn mee or a 5 ringitt bowl of laksa. but for taking a date to ... or for entertaining clients :D

                                1. re: Hot Chocolate

                                  Don't I know that! :-) You are right, both types of dining have their merits!
                                  I will also admit my own "sin" of liking abalone and shark fins probably because they still have the street version, at least I can fool myself with glass noodles. Honestly I do enjoy foie gras too. Truffle ... still can't figure it out. :-)