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Apr 16, 2013 01:59 PM

Best non-Hawker asian restaurants close to Raffles hotel

Love all types of asian food. Love all types of restaurants from dives to fancy if they are GREAT. Will be hitting as many Hawker stands as possible but also have a few questions. Is there a great Thai restaurant comparable to Celadon in Bangkok? Or just something really good not as fancy? I figured so close to Thailand must be some killer spots. Also, is Wakughin by Tetsuya fantastic and worth it? Or is it like most of he restaurants in Las Vegas where the chef isn't there and the food is not as good as his flagship restaurant. I like Nobu in USA. Was disappoined with Tojos in Vancouver.
Any other not to be missed spots close to Raffles for something distinctively Singaporean and hard to find in USA or any other recommendations. Thanks in advance.

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  1. There's a 70-year-old Hainanese restaurant called Yet Con on Purvis Street, 5 minutes' walk from Raffles Hotel. Quintessentially "Olde Singapore" - try their signature Hainanese chicken rice, roast pork, stir-fried fish-maw with seafood and Chinese white cabbage, and Hainanese glass noodles in black sauce and dried cuttlefish & pork.

    For killer Thai cuisine - try Thanying at the Amara Hotel (10-15 minutes' taxi ride from Raffles Hotel)

    1 Reply
    1. re: klyeoh

      seconding thanying (caveat: have not eaten at celadon, so have no idea how thanying compares to it). had a most delicious tom kah gai there two weeks ago. yet con is very famous in singapore, but i have not actually tried it before.

      not particularly "singaporean", but the moluccas room at MBS can be considered quite unique (mod-indonesian; can't imagine anything being quite like it in the states). gajalee at its new location at the esplanade serves up excellent indian dishes (they specialise in goan seafood dishes) - the green chili crab is delicious.

      for "singaporean food", i guess it's still better to stick to the hawker centres (maxwell is nearest - around a 15-20 min walk from raffles area, and a number of stalls open late if you have any supper cravings). although i must say that i had an excellent mutton murtabak at empire cafe at raffles hotel (although wa-y-y overpriced at 21 dollars - hawker centres typically charge 4-5 dollars for it, but the quality can be middling).

    2. Is this your first time in Singapore or have you been before? I only ask because if it is your first time, then I might suggest someplace like Straits Kitchen over at the Hyatt hotel as a nice place to sample a wide range of regional cuisine in a non-hawker style setting (well... sort of!). If you have been to Bangkok and you are not a newbie to Asia, I also suggest you try the Betel Box food tour. It is a bit awkward to get details via the internet, but if you start with the Betel Box hostel web-site you should find a link. Essentially, it is a 5-6 hour evening tour in and around the Joo Chiat neighbourhood. In addition to the food, your guide will tell you everything you ever wanted to know (and perhaps a few things you probably didn't) about life in Singapore. Regarding the recent spate of marquis restaurants opened by celebrity chef's in Singapore...I find the trend somewhat depressing. I understand the need for high end dining options for business travellers, wealthy tourists or food enthusiasts in general...but in my opinon, they are all a bit sterile and often prove disappointingly similar to what is on offer elsewhere. I always try to seek out the truly unique or special experiences in my travel destinations and this is especially true in Asia. If you are interested in Indian, and don't want to venture far from Raffles, then you will enjoy the buffet lunch in the Raffles lobby. Personally, I would head over to Racecourse Rd in little India and hit Banana Leaf Apolo or Samy's Curry in Dempsey Rd. Yantra on Tanglin Rd is also good value. In my opinion the only reason to venture anywhere near the Marina Bay Sands is to take in the view from the rooftop bar...otherwise, I suspect you will realise your fears re the quintessential Vegas experience. That being said, Jason Atherton's Pollen is a nice spot. If you like dim sum, then be sure to hit Jade at the Fullerton Hotel (the old post office building...not the "Fullerton Bay" property). The Majestic also does a nice job. If you are staying at Raffles, and you are feeling peckish, walk across the street and head to the lower level of the Raffles City shopping mall. There is a branch of Din Tai Fung there and you can enjoy the signature xiao long baos. Lastly, you should buy a copy of Leslie Tay's book when you arrive (and check out his web-site before you get there) as it has a wealth of useful info on everything "Hawker" in Singapore. Makansutra guide is also helpful, but in my opinion not nearly as user-friendly. Have fun.

      2 Replies
      1. re: StayThirsty

        Thanks. I was there in 1986 just passing thru and have been to Bangkok a few times. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me-too many great places.

        1. re: greybanded

          Yes, you do..but luckily there are some fantastic people on this site that can help you wade through all the choices. I also started visiting Asia regularly in the mid-80's. You are going to notice an unbelievable degree of change in Singapore since your last visit (although I experience the same senstation every six months!!)...and also in terms of the difference from Bangkok. Again, there are some terrific resources on the web and elsewhere which will make your research and time there a blast. As you refine your search, just post any questions and I'll offer whatever assistance I can...I'm sure you will also get plenty of feedback from Sing based members and other frequent visitors. I would approach the task by cuisine type (i.e. Indian, Chinese, Malay Peranikan (Malay/Indonesian) and western) and then decide on your desired price point to make some selections. As you wil soon is almost impossible to have a bad meal in Singapore. Just make sure you have an extra hole or two in your belt for the flight home!!