11 hidden restaurants in Singapore even hipsters don't know about

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Escape the crowds at Singapore's coolest hidden restaurants, from an izakaya concealed behind a nondescript wall in a faded mall, to a Thai eatery in lush Labrador Park.

11 hidden restaurants in Singapore

  • This remote halal restaurant leads to beautiful sunset views from a jetty.
  • Pick from hearty local fare like satay (barbecued meat skewers), chilli crab, mee goreng (fried noodles with seafood) and barbecued stingray.
  • Housed in the former quarters of the fire chief of the Hill Street fire station, the black-and-white colonial mansion that holds this restaurant is obscured from view by lush greenery.
  • Fine-dining Japanese-French fusion is the star here, with a focus on seasonal ingredients. You can also enjoy the multi-course sampling menu, or wine-pairing.
  • Kick back in this unpretentious eatery tucked inside a quaint wooden shophouse on the outskirts of Little India.
  • As its name suggests, Morsels dishes up small plates of fusion fare. Highlights here are the Hokkaido scallop ceviche and Firecracker Duroc pulled-pork shell pasta.
  • Offering a hearty, carnivore-friendly menu, this joint by the Kallang river is a great place to get away from the bustle of the city.
  • Seating is outdoors-only, so dress comfortably to enjoy the atmosphere and food. Don't forget to snap an Instagram shot of the majestic 30kg hog roasting on a spit.
  • Yorimichi (which means detour in Japanese) has its hidden entrance located right before the ramp leading to the carpark.
  • This dimly-lit, narrow joint could be mistaken for one found in a Tokyo alley. Wash down affordable sushi and yakitori (grilled skewers) with ice-cold Kirin beer. Favourites include grilled scallop with cheese.
  • Traditional and modern Thai cuisine is prepared skillfully here.
  • Housed in a colonial mansion in verdant Labrador Park, this off-the-beaten-track spot makes for a romantic night out.
  • Blink and you may miss The Flying Squirrel. The hip eatery with a concrete-meets-brick interior has its entrance located in a narrow alley off Amoy Street.
  • Savour Japanese fusion food here, especially its chirashi dons (sashimi rice bowls).
  • This humble joint in the heartlands of Toa Payoh is run by a Nepali.
  • It serves up lip-smacking Nepalese fare like chicken momo (dumplings), as well as value-for-money comfort Western food like steaks and lamb chops.
  • The Boiler brings Cajun boiled seafood to the warehouse-filled estate of Tai Seng.
  • Here, you can messily dig into bags of boiled seafood – including seasonal crabs, prawns, mussels and clams – without shame. The Boiler also has a good selection of sides, including crispy fish skin (coated in salted egg yolk).
  • Overlooking Changi Beach, Meyer House occupies a colonial bungalow built in 1927.
  • Inside, the decor recalls the 1930s with an elegant bar and dark wood panelling. Enjoy generous portions of pizzas, pastas and burgers.
  • Ensconced in a quiet residential neighbourhood, Cacio e Pepe serves up rustic Italian fare in a cosy space with cheery yellow walls.
  • Dishes here feature time-honoured pairings like prosciutto ham and melon, while there are also sumptuous pizzas, pastas and risotto. Look out for their weekend specials like hearty lamb shank.

1. Rasa Istimewa Waterfront Restaurant - Woodlands Jetty

This remote halal restaurant leads to beautiful sunset views from a jetty.

Pick from hearty local fare like satay (barbecued meat skewers), chilli crab, mee goreng (fried noodles with seafood) and barbecued stingray.

Restaurants at the ends of the Singapore island

  • 57 Jalan Mempurong Tel: 6475 9571
  • Right at the very northern tip of Singapore is a restaurant dedicated to all things bikes and engines.
  • In a big group with a designated driver? Then go ahead and order up a serving of frozen margarita or daiquiri because the server will whizz the entire lot in a blender powered by a motorcycle engine.
  • It’s a hell of a lot of noise but hey, INSTAGRAM-WORTHY stuff, yo!
  • Must-eats include the Blossom Onion (battered onion that blooms into a lotus-like shape upon frying), the Cocaine Wings in low, medium or high heat, and the steaks.
  • 120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa Island Tel: 6270 1355
  • Parents with kids and loads of stuff to carry will appreciate the ample parking spaces right by the restaurant’s entrance.
  • The Super Surf & Turf and the Octopus Salad come highly recommended.
  • The scenery is reason enough to visit this oasis but feel free to tuck into its sumptuous spread of food offerings and yummy cocktails.
  • Whether it’s bright and sunny, or when the sun’s down, Tanjong Beach Club is an awesome hangout for families, courting couples, and swinging singles.
  • 6 Changi Village Road Tel: 6543 9100
  • When we visited, the microbrewery still had yet to start brewing its own beer. BUT, they were already brewing their own house sodas and we fell head over heels in love with the ginger beer.
  • Overall, it’s a restaurant well worth the drive and the traffic jam!
  • The restaurant also serves up awesome barbeque. We had the beef brisket and found it to be melt-in-your-mouth tender with just the right amount of smokiness.
  • With just the right hint of heat and kick, the ginger beer is a thirst-quencher that is sure to leave an impression.
  • 71 Pioneer Road Tel: 6861 5428
  • You only come to this restaurant for the experience. More than 35 years old, this seafood restaurant started in the Tuas Fishing Village as a roadside “cze char” stall.
  • We were not disappointed by the food, but be warned that if you are looking for more creative dishes like milk-powder pork ribs, you won’t find them here.
  • We ordered the fried baby squid (not fried to death so it’s crispy yet still juicy) and the mee goreng (it’s got wok-hei, yay!).
  • Once you’ve stepped inside, you’ll be somewhat awed by its old-school Chinese restaurant interior; it’s straight out of a 70s movie set.

2. Lewin Terrace - Hill Street

Housed in the former quarters of the fire chief of the Hill Street fire station, the black-and-white colonial mansion that holds this restaurant is obscured from view by lush greenery.

Fine-dining Japanese-French fusion is the star here, with a focus on seasonal ingredients. You can also enjoy the multi-course sampling menu, or wine-pairing.

10 outdoor restaurants with amazing food in Singapore

  • Dining outdoors couldn't get any fresher than this. Imagine sitting outside next to vegetable patches and knowing that that's exactly where your food came from.
  • Open Farm Community is an initiative that spearheads local farming.
  • If you want to plan a romantic dinner for two or just an intimate dinner with your closest friends, House @ Dempsey offers quite a nice view of the luscious green while you dine.
  • If you get the chance to, try their pumpkin fries. You won't regret it.
  • If you're a fan of Italian food, then this is one restaurant you'd want to give a go while you enjoy the view of the luscious green on Sentosa island.
  • Of course, like most Italian restaurants, they serve up some very palatable wines as well.
  • Nestled gingerly in the ginger garden at the Botanic Gardens, stands The Halia which offers a beautiful view of the gardens both in the day and at night.
  • You can expect some contemporary European cuisine at The Halia with a tinge of Asian flavours incorporated into them.
  • Ahh, who doesn't love having brunch during the weekends? Complete with a brunch menu for you to choose from, Rider's Cafe is such a perfect brunch spot to bring your family to.
  • Located at Bukit Timah Saddle Club, you can bet that the ambience will be a little more nature-esque and less busy than the usual concrete jungle that we live in.
  • This one is for those living in the north. If you live in Bishan and you're too lazy to think about where to take your family out for a nice brunch, GRUB at Bishan Park can be your next alternative.
  • Of course other than your breakfast plates and French toasts, you get some burger options too.
  • Pizza lovers, you can now have freshly-made pizzas by the beach and live the beach bum life.
  • Located on Siloso Beach, Trapizza offers wood-fired, thin-crust pizza (the only types of pizzas that should exist to be honest) as well as other Italian dishes like pasta, salads and snacks too.
  • One of the best things about dining outdoors is live music.
  • Other than bringing your friends here for some pasta, pizza or quality steak, you should totally check out the live music there that happens every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Probably one of the most good looking places to go to if you feel like going somewhere with great aesthetics.
  • Whether you're sitting outdoors or indoors, you can still admire the lush beauty outside while you enjoy your meal and sip on your wine.
  • Whether you're sitting outdoors or indoors, you can still admire the lush beauty outside while you enjoy your meal and sip on your wine.
  • Even though it's slightly more expensive than your usual hawker centre food, Lau Pa Sat is such a classic to go get your seafood and satay craving fixed.

3. Morsels - Mayo Street

Kick back in this unpretentious eatery tucked inside a quaint wooden shophouse on the outskirts of Little India.

As its name suggests, Morsels dishes up small plates of fusion fare. Highlights here are the Hokkaido scallop ceviche and Firecracker Duroc pulled-pork shell pasta.

5 far-flung eateries worth driving to in Singapore

  • Stashed away amidst stables and galloping pens, Riders' Cafe remains one of the most charming yet inaccessible cafes.
  • It is a distance from the main road, which itself is a distance from civilisation. But a scrumptious brunch or afternoon tea on the patio overlooking greenery makes it all worthwhile. There is nothing quite as soothing as tucking into a runny Eggs Benedict while catching the rays of the sun on your face and watching children trot by on horseback.
  • Would anyone be deranged enough to drive all the way to a forsaken corner of Changi for a meal? If it is to The Coastal Settlement, then yes.
  • This quaint restaurant, cafe and bar retains its relative mystery thanks to its secluded location, and has been quietly purveying its delicious food for five years. One dish in particular that keeps drawing customers back is their wagyu cubes salad, which comes with perfectly cooked beef glazed with a delectable Japanese dressing.

    With a menu this good, this joint won't be remaining a secret for long.

  • Amongst the many colonial residences-turn-eateries in Singapore, the Beaulieu House is one of the lesser known outlets, in part due to its sequestered address on the edge of Sembawang Park.
  • This stately building dates back to 1910, and has been serving Western and local delights since the 1980s. The historical place also provides an atypical venue for wedding banquets and events, with a vast expanse of greenery and Sembawang beach a stone's throw away.
  • Those with a sweet tooth will know that there is no letting up when the craving for desserts strike. If you happen to be in the East and in need of chocolate therapy, head down to Wimbly Lu, a whimsical cafe specialising in all things chocolate.
  • The atmosphere is snug, perfect for a cosy tete-a-tete, while the wide range of desserts is the main draw, with the Blackout Cake, waffles with ice cream and Root Beer Cake all standing out as clear winners.
  • Humble meepok stall by day, trendy underground yakitori and cocktail bar by night; Bincho's Jerkyll and Hyde act and inconspicuous locale has further added to its legend.
  • Drop by for one of their signature lunch sets, which include beef tongue donburi and uni cream udon, or simply unwind with a playful Japanese cocktail from the bar. This is one yakitori bar worth going the distance for.

4. Camp Kilo Charcoal Club - Kallang Basin

Offering a hearty, carnivore-friendly menu, this joint by the Kallang river is a great place to get away from the bustle of the city.

Seating is outdoors-only, so dress comfortably to enjoy the atmosphere and food.

Don't forget to snap an Instagram shot of the majestic 30kg hog roasting on a spit.

Camp Kilo, a place for rustic BBQs under the stars

  • Ever wished you could escape to somewhere rustic and quiet for a good ol' barbecue with a small group of friends or family members?
  • Such places can be hard to find in Singapore, but a new restaurant in a remote part of Kallang is now offering an experience close to that.
  • Opened by the same group behind the Kilo restaurants and Grain Traders, Camp Kilo Charcoal Lounge is an al fresco roast joint whose main attraction is a whole 30kg pig roasting on the spit.
  • Prices start at $10 for 100g of pork belly or half a roast chicken, and go up to $30 for a full rack of ribs.
  • Diners can also enjoy side dishes and desserts ($6-$14) such as corn bread with honey butter, patatas bravas and dulce de leche flan.
  • The availability of the dishes depends on whether their ingredients are good or fresh enough for the day.
  • Don't forget to check the handwritten menu that hangs on the metal siding outside the open kitchen.
  • In case your ideal outdoor barbecue consists of having a beer in your hand, you'll need to bring your own booze as Camp Kilo doesn't have a liquor licence yet. There are no corkage fees, and staff will be able to chill your booze upon request.

5. Yorimichi Yakitori Bar - Golden Mile Tower

Yorimichi (which means detour in Japanese) has its hidden entrance located right before the ramp leading to the carpark. This dimly-lit, narrow joint could be mistaken for one found in a Tokyo alley.

Read also: Top 5 hidden izakayas in Singapore

Wash down affordable sushi and yakitori (grilled skewers) with ice-cold Kirin beer. Favourites include grilled scallop with cheese.

5 awesome izakayas in Singapore

  • This tiny hole-in-the-wall is tucked away in the back corner of Concorde hotel, sandwiched in between some shady lounge bars, and is well worth a trip to sample their mouth watering barbecued chicken skewers ranging from $5 to $8.50. Other popular favourites include squid & mayonnaise, skewered pork belly and anything wrapped in bacon, which all pairs perfectly with sake!
  • This place is tiny, so make sure you get there early during the weekends. If not, be prepared to wait. Aside from the counter seats, which have room for about 8, there are only 2 high tables you could squeeze four people each into. Perfect for your tummy-fillers before a big night out or after!
  • Raku Raku is a little but not-so-little izakaya in Duxton Hill with tastefully minimalistic interior that feels authentically Japan. Raku can roughly be translated into "comfort." Despite the desolate tranquility of the area on weekdays, you'll often find a surprising number of Japanese patrons at lunchtime here.
  • You can also find reasonably priced set meals starting from $13++ that come with a main dish, pickles, Japanese salad, miso soup and high-quality Japanese rice. Even though it's branded as an izakaya, the menu has expanded a bit to suit a variety of tastes; they have popular dishes such as Japanese curry rice, udon, soba and much more to go with your Sapporo beer. Also expect dishes that izakaya in Japan might not serve like unagi and pomfret fish.
  • The original outlet of this casual Japanese dining is in Clarke Quay but they have also expanded to Esplanade. The food they offer such as karaage (deep fried chicken) or okura bacon (okra wrapped in bacon) goes really well with the choice of warm, cold or even sparkling sake.
  • Surprise yourself with their uni shot, sea urchin sashimi submerged in sake with wasabi and soy sauce. Seafood at Tomo Izakaya is flown in from Tokyo's famed Tsukiji Market twice a week, so you know they get the good stuff. Sashimi starts from $18 onwards. It is a good place to go after work for casual drinks and a simple dinner.
  • En is a Japanese Dining Bar with a branch at Alocassia Apartment in Bukit Timah, and is a dining experience that fuses both traditional and modern elements. The earth tones in the restaurant's decor tell the story of how En came to be and create a soothing atmosphere for your meal. There is also a patio for those who prefer to dine alfresco.
  • En specialises in Okinawan dishes like goya champuru (bitter gourd and spam), so be sure to give it a try to go with your Orion beer or Okinawan sake called Awamori. Here, you can expect to enjoy service that is friendly and efficient! (Photo: TripAdvisor)
  • If you're looking for happy hour, look no further! Five Izakaya Bar is Singapore's first tachinomi izakaya. Tachinomi literally means "standing drinking," and these cheap alternatives to pricier sit-down joints are popular among Tokyoites who have spent the whole day sitting around their offices and don't mind using their legs for a bit at the end of the day. Five wants to bring this affordable dining experience to Singapore, where cheap and tasty Japanese options are few and far between.
  • They offer tons of $5 specials all day every day as there is no specific timing for happy hour! There are however, a lot of affordable alcoholic drinks like sake, shochu, Asahi and Choya as well as Japanese food so the place is constantly packed with people for after-work shenanigans. Because of its location in the financial district, it brings in troops of execs wanting to kickback in their suits. Tasty items on the menu include $5 karaage, gyoza, donburi and pizza.

6. Tamarind Hill - Labrador Villa Road

Traditional and modern Thai cuisine is prepared skillfully here.

Housed in a colonial mansion in verdant Labrador Park, this off-the-beaten-track spot makes for a romantic night out.

7. The Flying Squirrel - Amoy Street

Blink and you may miss The Flying Squirrel. The hip eatery with a concrete-meets-brick interior has its entrance located in a narrow alley off Amoy Street.

Savour Japanese fusion food here, especially its chirashi dons (sashimi rice bowls).

3 out-of-the-way restaurants in Singapore

  • It's not uncommon in Singapore to dine out in the open, facing a body of water and watching ships sail by. But what if you could dine facing a runway, and watch private jets as they take off and land?
  • That was the vision of 60-year-old artist Poon Kng Joo when he came up with the idea to open his own cafe, and next week, that dream will come true with the official opening of Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe at Seletar Aerospace.
  • The credit all goes to his wife, says Mr Poon, for finding the advertisement on Google and flagging it to him around August this year. Despite some friendly advice that the space would be too out of the way to attract any business, he decided to make a bid for it anyway, because of how much he loved the unique view.
  • "Previously (the cafe) was a Japanese restaurant, and we knew business here would be very difficult. I was unsure at first but then I came to talk to the landlord and really liked the view. It's very exciting, sometimes you will see a whole helicopter passing by on a trailer," he describes animatedly.
  • Before you write it off as yet another hipster cafe, however, know that the 20-odd bicycles hanging around the cafe are not simply for show. In fact, these classic and modern classic bicycles that go as far back as the 1950s are all in perfect working condition, and were lovingly restored by Mr Poon himself - a well-known bicycle enthusiast. These 20 are a mere fraction selected from his personal collection of over 100 bicycles.
  • Restoring bicycles is a pretty simple task for him too, says the easy-going Mr Poon with a laugh. As the owner of Soek Seng Motor Pte Ltd, and experienced restorer of classic and luxury cars including Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, and Porsches, it takes him up to a year to put together one car, so doing three bicycles in a week is a cinch.
  • Aside from showcasing his collection, Mr Poon also looks forward to the cafe as a space to display bicycle-related artefacts and artworks, such as his own installation of classic metal bicycle bells, and the bicycle-related cartoons he has personally hand-painted on the surface of every table.
  • Foodwise, the menu will be taken care of mostly by his in-laws, who have experience in the F&B industry. His 29-year-old nephew Tan Ying Hao, the cafe's manager, says some of the items on the menu will be local fare such as seafood hor fun or mee goreng (S$5.50) for lunch, while the all-day menu will see familiar Western comfort food such as a sirloin steak (S$10.50), chicken chop (S$8.50), and beef kebab (S$13.80).
  • Says Mr Poon: "When I first said I wanted to open a cafe, people were doubtful, but now that it's up and they see it, they are stunned. There was an impact, and when I do things, I always want an impact - I want to be different."
  • He adds: "(The cafe is) far, but that's not a bad thing. There are many cafes that are very out of the way, but people still go. People can drive here, cycle here, so you'll get a different crowd - I would like that."
  • More than four years after relocating their biker-themed restaurant to a forested corner of Sembawang, the owners of Handlebar have launched their second venture at yet another unconventional location.
  • Called Kontiki, their new restaurant is located at the first floor of the newly constructed PAssion WaVe @ Marina Bay - a community lifestyle and water sports hub along the Marina Reservoir, opposite Gardens By The Bay.
  • Although it is rather inaccessible via public transport, owner Jan Pek explains that they love the location not only because of the view of the marina, but also because of how quiet the area is.
  • She says: "As the Singapore lifestyle becomes more stressful, people will be looking for this kind of place to chill at. So I'm basically providing an escape for them."
  • Kontiki opened in late August this year, and is named after a 1947 expedition across the Pacific Ocean, made entirely on a raft. Naturally, this means the restaurant's decor carries a nautical theme, all designed by Ms Pek herself.
  • The menu is largely similar to the one at Handlebar, with signature dishes such as their cheeseburger (S$14), pork chop (S$22), and beef short ribs (S$34), plus a few new additions such as mussels gumbo (S$26) and portobello mushroom burger (S$16).
  • Their hope is for this 100 to 120-seater restaurant to give off a completely different vibe from their biker-themed restaurant, hopefully one that is more family-friendly, says Ms Pek, who used to work in the motorcycle industry before making the switch to F&B.
  • According to her, the reason they keep a look-out for unconventional spaces to open their F&B establishments is that they want to give people a unique dining experience.
  • She recalls: "When we were young, we would always go on bike trips to places tourists don't often go to. Like we'd go to Malaysia, and stay at a small obscure resort. I think we like the personal touch you get when interacting with people in a small town, rather than in a bustling city where everything is catered to the masses."
  • She also points out that "no matter where we have our restaurant, it still won't be very far away. There are quite a lot of people who drive all the way to Malaysia just to have good food. So if they can find it in Singapore, why not? I think they will come."
  • As far as destination dining goes, Smith Marine has got to be one of the hardest ones to get to. It isn't even located on mainland Singapore, but instead, the restaurant sits on a kelong next to Pulau Ubin.
  • They call it a "modern kelong", says its marketing manager, Jessie Toh, who explains that "when you say kelong, people know straightaway that it's in the middle of the sea". What makes it "modern" however, is that it's not the usual rickety wooden structure, but instead has a solid tiled floor, is covered with a roof, and even has a portable air-conditioner.
  • "My boss opened this restaurant because he wants to promote fresh seafood," says Ms Toh, who adds that it has been a challenging process to get the restaurant up and running, especially because of its unique location. "That's also why we require advance reservations for example, because it's not like there's a FairPrice next door for us to run to," she jokes.
  • Smith Marine Restaurant is part of a 5,000 sq ft structure under marine agriculture company Smith Marine Culture and Trading, which also consists of a fish farm that is not accessible to the public, but supplies the restaurant with live flower crabs, mussels, and lobsters, among others.
  • The menu is a typical one that you might expect at a zi char restaurant, with dishes such as salted egg sotong (S$12, S$18), fried seafood noodles (S$6, S$8, S$12), and sauna prawns cooked on hot stones (S$30, S$55).
  • There's a pre-meal activity you could take part in as well - catching your own fish from what they call their "sure-catch pond", with rod and bait provided. It's the best way to make sure your fish is fresh, although you won't be able to predict which of the two types of fish - sea bass or snapper - you are going to get, says Ms Toh.
  • Later, you can either take your catch home at S$15 per fish, or have the restaurant cook it for you at S$35. Cooking methods include Teochew-style, in soy sauce, wine, or even as a curry.
  • Of course, getting to Smith Marine Restaurant is only possible by boat.
  • So aside from driving your own boat to the kelong and parking it there, customers can also make their way via a 10- to 15-minute bumboat ride from Changi Village Ferry Terminal, at S$100 for a two-way trip, with a maximum of 12 persons per boat.
  • Says Ms Toh: "We don't want people to just come here, sit down, order, eat and then go. That's no fun. We want you to bring your kids, play some pool, then sit around and relax."

8. Tims Restaurant and Cafe - Lorong 4 Toa Payoh

Run by a Nepali, this humble joint in the heartlands of Toa Payoh serves up lip-smacking Nepalese fare like chicken momo (dumplings), as well as value-for-money comfort Western food like steaks and lamb chops.

9. The Boiler - Howard Road

The Boiler brings Cajun boiled seafood to the warehouse-filled estate of Tai Seng.

Here, you can messily dig into bags of boiled seafood - including seasonal crabs, prawns, mussels and clams - without shame. The Boiler also has a good selection of sides, including crispy fish skin (coated in salted egg yolk).

5 unexpected locations in Singapore where you'll find good food

  • 82, Sungei Tengah Road

    Come admire the flowers and while you are here, have a meal or two. That is the pitch owner Joseph Phua has for his restaurant.

  • Mr Phua's offerings are healthy, with reduced sodium and sugar.
  • "But it doesn't mean it's tasteless. The taste comes from the freshness - the vegetables are from our farm and the seafood is from the market," he says.
  • And the signature dishes they zoom in for? "Our famous crispy fusion pork knuckle with salad and curry fish head," says Mr Phua.
  • Another dish the restaurant serves is sliced pork.
  • 3, Chu Lin Road

    In the quiet and placid Hillview estate sits a lively little Italian joint.

  • "Being new in this business, we were not comfortable spending too much on rental. We want to focus on the quality of the food we serve to customers. And this, essentially, has been the working formula in the six years since we started," says one of Cacio E Pepe's partners, Ms Chia Bee Eng.
  • Cacio E Pepe was originally located in Rochdale Road and moved to Chu Lin Road in 2011. It offers restaurant quality home-style food.
  • As for its menu, Ms Chia says there is no focus on a particular region of Italy.
  • "Our wide and extensive menu includes appetiser, soup, risotto, salad, pasta, pizza, meat and fish. We make our own dessert too," she adds.
  • Some of its specials in recent weeks included rack of lamb and mackerel with mash and salad.
  • Seven out of 10 customers are locals who travel from different parts of Singapore. Others even come from overseas.
  • "We had a prince from Saudi Arabia dining here with his family during their visit in 2010," Ms Chia recounts.
  • 27, Cosford Road

    Wanting a place with a rustic feel away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the owners of The Catch decided to go deep in the bowels of Cosford Road.

  • The Catch is near Changi Prison and Selarang Camp and is not easily accessible by public transport as the nearest bus stop is a five-minute walk along a dark and deserted road.
  • Says The Catch's operations manager, Mr Danny Tan: "We were located at Pasir Ris Farmway 2, but had to move. We were looking for a place that is far from town and could accommodate our large tanks. When we came across this place, it was a perfect fit."
  • Having officially opened only six months ago, Mr Tan says it is quieter during the weekdays, with the lunch crowd comprising mainly airline workers, freight personnel and prison officers.
  • "It is generally more crowded during evenings and weekends. We see people from all walks of life coming here. Many spend the weekend here and have meals in the evening."
  • The Catch's signature dish is roast chicken stuffed with glutinous rice. Its mee pok with XO sauce, and lala clam boiled in Chinese wine are also worth trying.
  • 251A, Arcadia Road

    Tucked within the nature reserve and obscured by rows of condominium, this old-school restaurant offers home-style Chinese fare in a cosy setting.

  • Owner Grace Lee says her joint has been a fixture in the area for 15 years.
  • Ms Lee maintains that she does not advertise her business and much of the publicity is through word of mouth.
  • The signature dishes worth the drive here include fried chicken, pork chop and homemade tofu with a sprinkling of minced pork and turnip.
  • 18, Howard Road, #01-06, Novelty Bizcentre

    Located in Tai Seng Industrial Estate, the communal dining concept restaurant is just a short walk from Tai Seng MRT station.

  • Owner Malcolm Hong says he picked the location because of the space, cost of rental, ease of parking and human traffic.
  • "We would be paying over four to five times higher in hot spots such as Holland Village or Mohd Sultan Road," he explains.
  • With the changing landscape of industrial areas, The Boiler serves "the younger executives and business owners with decent purchasing power. No longer are they (industrial estates) populated by only blue-collar workers", Mr Hong says.
  • "We see a more sophisticated and younger group of executives and business owners who are deprived of a casual dining and drinking place," he adds.
  • The food here is American with a strong Southern influence and its speciality sauce, The Works, uses many Cajun ingredients.
  • The Boiler's Bombdiggity Bagconsists of, among others, crab and prawns.

10. Meyer House - Changi

Overlooking Changi Beach, Meyer House occupies a colonial bungalow built in 1927. Inside, the decor recalls the 1930s with an elegant bar and dark wood panelling.

Enjoy generous portions of pizzas, pastas and burgers.

5 good cafes hidden in the HDB heartlands

  • 01-315, 38 Telok Blangah Rise, tel: 9127-7147.

    Squirreled away at the old housing estate of Telok Blangah, this cafe is also a vintage collector's haven. It not only serves up good old cafe food like pasta, sandwiches or casserole, it also sells wares ranging from old license plates and antique posters and signage to vintage toys and decor pieces.

  • Food-wise, they have comfort eats such as Crispy Chicken Sandwich ($14.50), featuring a tempura chicken fried that is "fried to max crisp" and sandwiched within a multigrain toast as well as a local fusion dish Simply Salmon ($15.50), where a spicy pan-fried salmon is set atop spaghetti mixed with belachan olive oil. For desserts, a must try is the Coconut Kueh ($6.50). Topped with vanilla ice cream, the hot-and-cold sweet treat is just like a bread and butter pudding, except it has an old-school vibe to the taste. Coconut flakes in the pudding base give it a nice texture.
  • 01-73, 346 Jurong East Street 31, tel: 6425-1517.

    If you think the good eats are only in the East of Singapore, you'll be pleased to hear about this HDB cafe located in the wild west of Jurong East. This cafe stands out among the neighbourhood shops with its grungy, industrial-style façade. But what makes this a hidden gem to go back again and again are its prices and no GST or service charge policy!

  • Cafe staples such as its Eggs & Cheese Benedict ($9.90, and only available during the weekends) and Truffle Fries ($7) are a steal for its generous portions. Another must-try is their Salted Egg Prawn Pasta ($12.90). The salted egg sauce is creamy and flavourful with an amount that is just enough to cover the pasta.
  • 01-49, 915 Tampines Street 91, tel: 9185-8173.

    Shibuya toasts seem to be catching on in Singapore. And there's no better place to get them than in Meet & Melt, which offers an arresting array of flavours. These includes the savoury dessert Mentaiko Toast ($14.90) which is topped with mentaiko sauce and bonito flakes. Another recommendation is the Ferrero Rocher Lava Toast ($12.90), which is drizzled with Nutella sauce and is topped with a thick and rice chocolate and hazelnut ice cream. The toasts are huge, so you can choose to share or have it for lunch all by yourself.

  • Other items on the menu include their over-the-top milkshakes and waffles, which, while decent, are but not as Instagram-worthy. While this cafe isn't the most accessible or the most conducive (there is very, very limited air-conditioned seating), its appeal lies in its innovative desserts that you can't help but want to come back for more.
  • 01-1881, 332 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, tel: 6452-0810.

    If you love salted egg everything, then this cafe is the place to be. They have Salted Egg Chicken Pasta ($15.90), Salted Egg Chicken Burger ($16.90), Salted Egg Wings ($12.90) and Salted Egg Potato Wedges ($11.90). If you plan to only try one, our recommendation is for the burger, which comes with an ultra juicy buttermilk fried chicken patty that complements really well with the salted egg sauce and the curry leaves and chilli padi bits in it.

  • Dessert choices are fun. There's the S'moreffles Supreme ($29.90), where three waffles are stacked atop one another and then liberally festooned with marshmallows, strawberry jam, Oreo biscuits, whipped cream and four scoops of ice cream. If you prefer a less heart-stopping dessert, the TWB Purple Sweet Potato Waffle ($12.50 with ice cream) is good choice. The treat features sweet potato waffles drizzled in homemade gula melaka sauce and paired with a scoop of ice cream.
  • 01-63, 462 Crawford Lane, tel: 6648-0178.

    Tolido's Espresso Nook is perhaps better known for its coffee rather than its food. They use Yahava coffee blends here. The Sea Salt Caramel Latte ($6) is smooth, creamy and not too acidic, with a sweet and salty amalgam that has us hook on the first sip. The Mocha ($5.90) is also decent with a dark chocolate aftertaste. Besides drinks, they do have a couple of mains worth a try.

  • The Rosti ($14.90) is comfort on a plate. Their rosti, which comes with a pair of cheesy sausages, is handmade with shredded russet potatoes, so they are fresh and crispy. Want a taste of something local? Try the Pandan Pancakes ($10.90), which comes with a couple of pancakes topped with a vanilla ice cream and gula melaka sauce. It feels indulgent because of how fluffy the pancakes are.

11. Cacio e Pepe - Chu Lin Road

Ensconced in a quiet residential neighbourhood, Cacio e Pepe serves up rustic Italian fare in a cosy space with cheery yellow walls.

Dishes here feature time-honoured pairings like prosciutto ham and melon, while there are also sumptuous pizzas, pastas and risotto. Look out for their weekend specials like hearty lamb shank.

This article was first published in Singapore Airlines’ travel magazine, SilverKris. Go to silverkris.com for more travel stories.