Local Haunts

Where to eat with tourists

Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013

Here’s a common problem: you have visitors in town and you don’t know where to take them. Or – all they want is “local food” but your waistline can’t afford a week of hawker fare. We have your answer.Let’s make one thing clear: Singapore is a foodie haven – and we love it the way it is. For out-of-towners there is always the list of must-try dishes: chilli crab, char kway teow, chicken rice, more hawker food, spicey Peranakan dishes. Trust us – no Italian visits Singapore and has a list of Italian restaurants to hit up.

So the next time you’re craving Western and your guest needs local fare, try these restaurants:

Violet Oon’s Kitchen
The beauty of this one is that there are two menus – Peranakan and Western, and both are executed well. While your guest is cautiously poking at the Buah Keluar Ayam (you won’t regret ordering this one) or Beef Rendang, you get to dine hearty on Meatless Meatballs and Shepherd’s Pie. We also highly recommend the dry laksa for an unusual pasta meets Singapore hawker twist.
PS. VOK also has a vegetarian menu available.

Immigrants – The Singapore Gastrobar
Even The New York Times picked up on this one. The fare here is unabashedly Singaporean and Peranakan – and we like that there’s good heat to the dishes. If you can’t handle your chilli, make sure to let them know beforehand. Try the Squid Bombs (one of our faves), the Buah Keluak Fried Rice, and the Ngoh Hiang (a non-spicy option). The drinks list here is extensive, so knock yourself out with a cold beer (or 3).
Tip: Immigrants is in the charming East, so make sure to show the out-of-towners around the neighbourhood.

The Halia at Raffles Hotel
The Halia at Raffles Hotel is a crowd fave, and here’s why: it’s a local icon (10 years and counting in The Botanic Gardens, guys) in an even bigger local icon (The Raffles Hotel – must-visit for every tourist!). What we like about the food at this branch is that it’s more sharing plates (they have big and small plates, all to be shared), and while their cuisine is predominantly European, there are surprising (and well-done) Asian touches. Make sure to order the Halia Chilli Crab Spaghettini and Oriental Pulled Duck for the guests.
Tip: try the Singapore Sling at The Halia, or head upstairs to Long Bar and knock back the original cocktail recipe.

mad nestMad Nest

Mad Nest
A restaurant with not one, not two, but four different menus. With Italian-Asian, North Indian, Japanese, and all-day breakfast, Mad Nest is a break from the popular local pickings – and oddly enough, a safe choice. Guests can take their pick of cuisines from around the region (once they’ve had their fill of local food) and trust us – you’re not going to be complaining with a selection this wide either. The restaurant is also a shining example of the growing F&B culture in Singapore – and the bonus artwork on the walls (all done by locals) makes this dinner a pretty picture too.

My Cosy Corner
So you want the hawker experience but can’t quite brave the heat? Head to My Cosy Corner at Coronation Shopping Plaza, which has – and we’re not afraid to say it – Singapore’s best Popiah. They also do better than decent Mee Rebus, Mee Siam, and Laksa, and their Kueh Pie Tee is also a popular choice among diners.  Be warned though: My Cosy Corner is a tiny, grubby shop that blares hymns all day long, and the service is what you get with top hawkers in Singapore: fast, no-nonsense, and rarely friendly. But as personal fans, we can overlook all that – the food is that awesome.
587 Bukit Timah Road, Coronation Shopping Plaza #02-02, Singapore 269707

Top image: Immigrants

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