It’s no secret that F&B establishments in Singapore haven’t exactly been having an easy time. The past few months have seen sporadic lockdowns – most recently, the second round of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) – along with accompanying dine-in restrictions.
But despite the dampened climate, a few brave new restaurants are continuing to throw open their doors. Now that restaurant dining is finally allowed again, why not consider dropping by for a hearty meal at one of these fresh openings?
Cuisines run the gamut from casual Cuban-Miami delights and Japanese barbecue to modern Indian delicacies and picture-perfect pastries. Here are a few that we’re particularly excited about.
ONDA by Park Bench Deli
You won’t find Park Bench Deli’s beloved Cubano sandwiches on their recently revamped menu. Instead, grab them at sister café ONDA, which dishes out Cuban-Miami fare from its Lor Telok space near Boat Quay.
Besides the famous Cubano (sweet ham, lechon, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on a soft roll) and small bites like fried pork rinds and seasonal fruits with spicy Tajin seasoning, they also do a nice selection of Cuban-style coffee drinks. The La Rosita, a caramel-flavoured iced latte, is perfect for cooling down on a hot day.
ONDA by Park Bench Deli, 21 Lor Telok, Singapore 049033
Headed up by chef Louis Han, formerly of the defunct Kimme, NAE:UM is the new go-to spot for contemporary, high-end Korean cuisine. The inviting dining area is decked out in warm wooden tones, and offers the perfect setting to tuck into a seasonal rotating menu that blends innovation with a sense of nostalgia.
The current line-up includes dishes like buckwheat noodles tossed with white kimchi, chives and truffle oil before being topped with caviar and velvety uni; plus Han’s rendition of bingsu, which combines makgeolli with mascarpone and fermented fruits.
NAE:UM, 161 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068615, Tel: +65 8830 5016
Think prawn noodles, but make it modern. Located at Cuppage Plaza, this new casual spot serves up everyone’s favourite humble prawn noodles, but with a modern and elevated twist.
Springy ramen-style noodles that are made in-house take the place of traditional mee, and the umami-laden broth is painstakingly prepared over a period of up to ten hours. Still not quite enough flavour for you? The menu also contains interesting “Broth Boosters” – tiny shooters that come in varieties such as miso, truffle and mala.
Ebi Bar, 5 Koek Road, #B1-21, Singapore 228796, Tel: +65 8922 1284
The team behind Michelin Plate awardee YEN Yakiniku has opened a new concept at Duo Galleria. Like its counterpart, YEN Social specialises in sumptuous, grill-it-yourself Japanese meats. The contemporary space has a few different table configurations that – true to its name – cater to communal dining.
On the menu you’ll find high-quality, premium cuts of meat such as Japanese Waygu Striploin Steak and 21 Days Dry-Aged Wagyu Ox Tongue, as well as fresh seafood and pork imported from Japan.
YEN Social, 7 Fraser Street, #01-25/26, Singapore 189356, Tel: +65 8669 6788
Don’t know where to get good Peruvian food in Singapore? Now you can make a beeline for Canchita. Located within the lush Dempsey Hill enclave, it offers an extensive line-up of authentic and accessible Peruvian dishes.
Menu highlights include a range of refreshing seafood- and vegetable-based ceviches; grilled octopus plated with lima beans and tiny cubes of avocado; and the popular Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian-Cantonese stir-fry dish that combines beef tenderloin, tomatoes, onions and fried potatoes.
Canchita, 9A Dempsey Road, Singapore 247698, Tel: +65 6232 7895
This dual restaurant-and-bar concept in the Tanjong Pagar ‘hood offers a unique take on traditional Indian flavours. And with an opulent and dramatic interior that looks straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, we can think of few better places to celebrate your first meal out in a month.
The kitchen is helmed by head chef Thiru Gunasakaran, formerly of Spago by Wolfgang Puck. He’s whipped up an array of inventive dishes including the Holi Cow, which consists of crispy masala beef and pickled shallots sitting atop bone marrow.
Firangi Superstar, 20 Craig Road, #01-03, Singapore 089692, Tel: +65 6304 3022
What began as an online bakery during circuit breaker has evolved into a botanical-themed café along Joo Chiat Road that does bakes that are almost too pretty to eat. It’s run by head baker Maxine Ngooi, formerly of Michelin-starred establishments Les Amis and Joël Robuchon Restaurant.
We recommend sampling the Tomato & Artichoke Tart if you want something savoury. Or, for a sweet treat, there’s The Beehive: their eye-catching signature creation of lemon sponge, jelly and honey parfait encased in zesty yuzu mousse.
Tigerlily Patisserie, 350 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427598, Tel: +65 8887 0988
La Fez Bakery & Café
Take a jaunt to Morocco without leaving Singapore at this Siglap restaurant. The gorgeous interior – complete with dusty pink walls, rattan furniture and lots of plants – will transport you straight to the Mediterranean, as will the menu that’s filled with Moroccan favourites.
Begin your feast at La Fez with appetisers including falafel, crispy calamari rings and assorted dips with pita bread. For the main course, we suggest the vegetable tagine cooked in a signature mix of spices; or the spicy green harissa prawns.
La Fez Bakery & Café, 907 East Coast Road, #01-03A, Singapore 459107, Tel: +65 8322 5939
Chura Sushi Bar
Recently debuting at Suntec City, Chura Sushi Bar specialises in artfully plated Japanese delicacies that taste as good as they look. Besides being a feast for the eyes, the food here is made with fresh and tasty ingredients – and is surprisingly affordable given the quality.
Try the signature Chura Nigiri Set, with features ten colourful nigiris perfectly positioned on a marble slab. Diners can also sample a range of rolls, donburis and temari sushi (where the rice is rolled into round balls instead of the typical cylindrical spheres).
Chura Sushi Bar, 3 Temasek Boulevard, #B1-122A, Singapore 038983, Tel: +65 6970 9101
Casa by Remy Lefebvre
French celebrity chef Remy Lefebvre – who previously helmed Butcher’s Block – has embarked on a new chapter with this CHIJMES venue, Casa by Remy Lefebvre.
It specialises in the chef’s signature wood-fired cuisine, with a focus on seafood and vegetables: think smoked prawns mixed with wasabi, uni, yuzu and pine nuts; bourguignon-style bluefin tuna served with marrow and vegetables; and Palermo peppers with smoked lemon oil. Of course, there’s also the requisite beef dish in the form of grass-fed, dry-aged Wagyu.
Casa by Remy Lefebvre, 30 Victoria Street, #01-20, Singapore 187996, Tel: +65 9722 8171
This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.