Singapore is certainly a slice of heaven for food lovers: With 69 establishments being awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand and 49 eateries nabbing Michelin stars in 2021, the number of quality food options on offer in our sunny city can certainly seem endless. Which begs the question: Where does one begin?
No matter where you hail from, you’re certain to find a local food option that will broaden your culinary horizons, excite your palate and add to your memories of unforgettable dining experiences.
From traditional favourites to bold interpretations of these classics—also known as modern-Singaporean cuisine (Mod-Sin)—here’s the lowdown on some of the culinary gems the Lion City has to offer.
Local culture on a plate
Hailing from a hybrid heritage unique to this region, Peranakan* food is a blend of Chinese ingredients with the various distinct spices and cooking techniques of the Malay community, and an apt symbol of Singapore’s melting pot of ethnic cultures.
To experience how tradition and originality merge into new forms, pay a visit to Candlenut. Helmed by local chef-owner Malcolm Lee, Candlenut is the world’s first and only Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant. The establishment serves innovative dishes that both modernise and pay homage to traditional Peranakan flavours, including buah keluak (black nut indigenous to Southeast Asia) ice cream and Westholme Wagyu Beef rendang (braised meat cooked in coconut milk and spices).
Alternatively, drop by Michelin Bib Gourmand eatery True Blue Cuisine for Peranakan fare that eschews innovation for traditional preparation. Located in the Peranakan Museum along Armenian Street, this restaurant has been dishing out authentic Peranakan delicacies (without pork or lard) since 2003. Chef-owner Benjamin Seck started True Blue Cuisine with the assistance of his mother, serving traditional dishes like minced chicken ngoh hiang (meat rolled in beancurd skin) and udang ketak (crayfish fried in spicy paste).
The traditional décor, beautiful antiques and sweet scent of bunga rampai (a potpourri of flowers and leaves) culminate in a multisensory dining experience for food lovers.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
Candlenut. 17A Dempsey Road, Singapore 249676. 1800 304 2288 (local calls only).
Daily noon-3pm, 6-10pm.
True Blue Cuisine. 47/49 Armenian Street, Singapore 179937. +65 6440 0449.
Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 5.30-9.30pm.
Great food in local neighbourhoods
With a legion of hawkers serving up local dishes, Singapore is home to some of the world’s most affordable Michelin-starred meals, many of which can be found in Singapore’s traditional enclaves, from the bustling streets of Chinatown to the vibrant district of Little India.
To get a taste of Singapore’s long tradition of excellent street food, pay a visit to the Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa. Located in the bustling Hong Lim Market, this stall dishes out a delicious rendition of laksa (spicy, coconut-based noodle soup), a beloved local comfort food.
Spice lovers and food aficionados looking to add zest to their food adventure should venture into the ethnic enclave of Little India, and sample the fish head curry at Muthu’s Curry. This local staple is made with a unique recipe, concocted by the establishment’s founder Mr. Muthu, and which remains in his sons’ safekeeping to this day.
For a feast of diverse tastes, be sure to check out the many hawker delights at Chinatown Complex. There’re over 260 food stalls at Singapore’s largest hawker centre, but we suggest getting your meal from Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice. This aromatic dish is cooked over a charcoal fire, and comes with generous portions of tender chicken, sausage and other delicious ingredients.
If you’re in a large group, make a beeline for Hjh Maimunah. This beloved establishment offers over 40 staples from Malay cuisine, making it a great way to discover local flavours while indulging in communal dining. Be sure to order local favourites like their beef rendang (braised meat cooked in coconut milk and spices) and their sambal (spicy chilli paste) prawns.
Hong Lim Market & Food Centre. 531A Upper Cross Street #02-66, Singapore 051531. +65 9750 8326.
Mon-Wed, Fri & Sat 10.15am-3pm.
Muthu's Curry. 138 Race Course Road #01-01, Singapore 218591. +65 6392 1722.
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice at Chinatown Complex. 335 Smith Street #02-197/198/199, Singapore 050335. +65 6227 2470.
Hjh Maimunah Restaurant. 11 & 15 Jalan Pisang, Singapore 199078. +65 6297 4294.
Peppered with passion: Singaporean chefs
While there’s certainly a wealth of traditional local eateries in Singapore, the city’s chefs are no strangers to invention. Pay a visit to these establishments, and get a taste of how local flavours, techniques and ingredients merge into bold new tastes and forms.
Corner House has reopened with a daringly, original new menu that showcases modern French-Asian interpretations by Chef David Thien, who has taken the helm of the one-Michelin-star restaurant since March 2020.
Born and raised in Bordeaux, Chef David Thien brings French-Asian touches and interpretations to the table from his journey working through some of the most hallowed Michelin-starred kitchens around Europe. Dubbed “French-Asian cuisine without shackles”, the concept at Corner House showcases intimate sessions where Thien prepares dishes inspired by personal stories, thoughts and memories.
For a playful take on Singapore’s traditional cuisine, head to Labyrinth and lose yourself in the complex flavours it presents. The domain of chef-owner Han Li Guang, this Michelin-starred restaurant has a new menu that fuses much-loved local flavours in whimsical modern ways, exemplified in dishes like rojak (a sweet and savoury salad of vegetables, fruits and dough fritters) made from edible garden herbs, stingless bee honey and soy bean curd made with bird’s nest.
Labyrinth’s menu is a testament to chef Li Guang’s love for Singaporean produce, with 80% of the ingredients used in the restaurant’s dishes sourced from local farms, gardens and seas.
Corner House at Singapore Botanic Gardens. 1 Cluny Road (Nassim Gate Entrance), Singapore 259569. +65 6469 1000.
Tue-Sun noon-3pm, 6.30-11pm.
Labyrinth at Esplanade Mall. 8 Raffles Avenue #02-23, Singapore 039802. +65 6223 4098.
Wed 6.30-10.30pm; Thu-Sun noon-2.30pm, 6.30-10.30pm.