New cafes & restaurants around the CBD for lunch

PHOTO: Instagram/basdban.sg

Back in the office and on the lookout for lunch options in the CBD? Of course, there are the various hawker centres like Amoy Food Centre and Maxwell Food Centre, if hawker fare is what you’re craving.

But if you’re up for cafe fare, or a nice ambience to kick back and relax with coffee or a drink during your lunch break, here are the new spots to check out.

Basdban

Sichuan food isn’t just about mala.

Chef Pang Kok Keong, former chef-owner of French cafe Antoinette, is putting an experimental spin on Sichuan at the new Sichuanese gastrobar Basdban. The concept is helmed by the same team behind the Sichuan-influenced restaurant Birds of a Feather.

Think oven-baked Bone Marrow ($16++) with traditional burnt chilli salsa, Sichuanese Skewers ($22) that are a snackable riff on mala hotpots, the Barramundi en Papillote ($32++) given a piquant edge with pickled vegetables and bamboo shoots, and the classic Mapo Tofu ($20++) updated with ikura and crabmeat.

Basdban is at 51 Telok Ayer Street, #01-01 Singapore 048441. Visit its Facebook or Instagram pages for more information.

Mr Holmes Bakehouse

For post-lunch sweet treats, cruffin maker Mr Holmes Bakehouse has opened at the MYP Centre at Raffles Place.

At the time of writing, its seasonal cruffins ($6.50) available are the Coconut Cream, an earthy Pistachio Cream with a silky oozy custard, and a Raspberry Mocha. Or if you enjoy its brioche doughnuts ($5.80), there’s its Rose Lychee with rosewater-infused lychee curd, the Banoffee with housemade toffee and banana cream, as well as a tart Strawberry Lemonade creation.

If you’re after a quick lunch bite, this outlet has savoury sandwiches and salads, too. Options include the Spam & Egg w/ Kimchi Croissant ($13), Egg Mayo & Candied Bacon ($10) and vegan Roasted Veggie & Hummus ($10).

Mr Holmes Bakehouse is at #01-01 MYP Centre, 9 Battery Road, Singapore 049910. Open Mon to Fri, 8am to 6.30pm. 

Panquecas’

Muslim-owned steakhouse Picanhas has opened a crepe cafe right door, named Panquecas’, which means pancakes in Portuguese. The spotlight is mostly on desserts, but you’ll also find two savoury pancakes here — the Picanha Roll ($18++) with 100g of picanha steak, calrose rice and greens, and the Panqueca Roll ($18++) with chicken sausage, cheese and egg.

For those with a sweet tooth, eat your way through a choice of seven decadent crepes (from $11++ to $13++), starting with a classic one served with toppings like creme pattisiere, chocolate dipping sauce, fresh berries and a scoop of ice cream. Then there are the Chocolate Dream, Apple Crumble, Kopi O, Apam Balik, Lemon Yuzu and Blueberry Earl Grey creations.

Panquecas’ is at 92 Club Street, Singapore 069460. Visit its website for reservations and more information

L’Arte Pizza & Focaccia

If your workplace is around the Tanjong Pagar area, check out L’Arte Pizza & Focaccia located at Wallich Street, opened by Bulgarian chef Radostin Kiryazov.

The award-winning pizza maker’s first outpost outside of Bulgaria, the highlight of the Romana-style pizzas lies in the hand-kneaded dough, which yields a crisp, crackling base.

There are 10 flavours to munch on, from the light and creamy Burrata Cheese ($9.50 per slice/$34 whole) to the Tartufata ($9.50 per slice/$34 whole) with mozzarella, a thick truffle cream and ricotta cheese, and the spicy and hearty  Diavola, topped with spicy Italian sausage and tomato sauce.

There aren’t many seats available for dine-in, but they’re great if you’re looking for an easy takeaway option. You can also pre-order for pickup – dates are available on its order page.

L’Arte Pizza & Focaccia is at 5 Wallich Street,#01-14, Singapore 078883. 

Upshot Coffee

Need a caffeine boost during lunchtime?

Make your way to Upshot Coffee, an open minimalist space located within One Raffles Place. Here, the specialty is coffee from Indonesia, with a choice of single-origin Arabica bean from Sumatra or a house blend of Arabica and Robusta beans from Sumatra.

But you can also fill your belly with a decent menu of light bites and sandwiches, which include Caramelised Onion Mushroom & Cheese ($11.50++), Egg May ($10++), Truffle Garlic Cheese ($10++), and Philly Cheesesteak ($12.50++). Otherwise, there’s also the Mac & Cheese ($8.50++), as well as pastries like croissants, muffins and kouign amann.

Upshot Coffee is at #04-31, One Raffles Place, 01 Raffles Place, Singapore 048616. Closed on Sundays.

Bytes Station

When you’re short on time for brekkie or lunch, swing by sandwich and smoothie kiosk Bytes Station located at Raffles Place MRT. There are a few seats inside but is mainly a grab-and-go joint.

It’s opened by Crown Coffee, which is also behind robotic barista Ella (you’ll find her here as well as Plaza Singapura). Apart from coffee made by Ella and healthy smoothies, you can also order a variety of hearty sandwiches, wraps, and pastries like the loaded Pesto Chick Ciabatta ($10.90) with juicy chicken thigh chunks and homemade pesto in a sundried tomato ciabatta, Chicken Mango and Brie Pocket ($9.90), and a Rendang Ribeye Ciabatta ($11.90).

Ordering and payment are made via the Ella mobile app or at the self-ordering terminal. You can also make your order before you reach, and collect it from a digital locker when you’re there.

Bytes Station is at 5 Raffles Place, #B1-55/56, Raffles Place MRT, Singapore 048618. Visit its website for more information.

California Republic

Decked in dim lighting and 60s retro-chic furnishings, California Republic serves up Italian fare with a Southern Californian (So-Cal) influence. For lunch, it has a daily Pizza Set ($38++), which includes a San Francilian-style pizza, a salad, a soup of the day, and a gelato dessert.

There’s a different pizza option each day from Wednesday to Sunday (it’s closed on Mon and Tues). For instance, you’ll be digging into a Fennel Sausage and Braised Leek pizza on Wednesday, and a Brussel Sprouts and Parmigiano creation on Thursday. On Fridays, it’s White Clam and Nduja.

There’s a separate menu for dinner, with plates like grilled oysters,  and pasta, like the Celery Root Cappellacci, and Smoked Bucatini (read more about it here).

California Republic is at 88 Amoy Street, Singapore 069907. Visit its website for reservations or more information.

Sushi Yujo

Also at Tanjong Pagar is Sushi Yujo, located within Amara Hotel and helmed by chef Desmond Fong, formerly of Sushi Jin. While the Japanese restaurant specialises in omakase, there’s also a set lunch that starts from $38++ for a salmon or unagi don, and comes with an appetiser, miso soup and dessert.

Otherwise, its lunch omakase is at $98++ for the Rikai menu, and $198++ for the Shinrai menu. The latter sees luxe additions like Yujo Wagyu Don with A5 wagyu, glazed foie gras, uni and shaved truffle, and the Yujo Toro Don with lightly torched toro.

Sushi Yujo is at 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Amara Hotel #02-26 Singapore 088539. Email sushiyujo.res@gmail.com or call 8877 8831 for reservations. Closed on Mondays.

This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly.