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The Best of Singapore's Chinatown: Ten Restaurants to fulfil your cravings



Singapore’s Chinatown has had a restaurant explosion in recent years, with new independent eateries popping up by the dozen. The heritage architecture and winding streets make for an atmospheric setting for a night out, and you can take your pick as to the type of food you fancy – French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Spanish – it’s all here for the taking.

 

Restaurant ANDRE heads up the pack for a memorable fine-dining experience. This highly acclaimed restaurant takes you on a culinary journey through French nouvelle cuisine via eight courses of elaborate, experimental and intricate creations. For something more relaxed (and affordable!), Restaurant ANDRE’s neighbor Oso Ristorante is one of Singapore’s best-loved Italian restaurants, famed for its high quality cuisine and convivial atmosphere.

 

The Club Street/Ann Siang Hill stretch is one of Singapore’s favorite nightspots. You are spoilt for choice here, but our top pick goes to Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chop House, tucked away on Gemmill Lane off the bottom of Club Street. Specializing in fresh raw oysters and grilled meat, the food here is sensational. Relative newcomer Ding Dong is another highlight in the area, dishing up modern interpretations of Southeast Asian street cuisine in a relaxed, yet trendy atmosphere.

 

Another dining hotspot in Chinatown is Duxton Hill. Once famed as a red-light district, the new restaurants popping up here are altogether more refined. There’s a fun-loving atmosphere in all of the restaurants here, but our top picks are Lucha Loco for Mexican street food and Sabio for tasty tapas. 


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Maxwell Road Food Centre is a much-loved hawker centre in the heart of Singapore's Chinatown. Here you will find more than a hundred stalls selling a whole host of local delights, from congee to roti prata, from wanton noodles to nasi lemak. And the best part is - it's cheap! You can expect to pay anywhere between around $4.00 and $8.00 a dish. One of the most popular stalls here is Tian Tian Chicken Rice. Hainanese Chicken Rice is a simple dish of rice topped with slices of steamed chicken and served with a clear broth, and is a favourite amongst Singaporeans. Another famous stall to look out for is Zhen Zhen Porridge, dishing up piping hot bowls of congee with pork and century egg. Be prepared to queue (sometimes up to 45minutes!) at both of these stalls, or take your chance on any other.




Yum Cha is one of the best places in Singapore to experience dim sum in an authentic setting. Tucked away at the top of a hidden staircase in the middle of bustling Chinatown, this popular restaurant packs in local families and passing tourists, creating a buzzing and convivial atmosphere. The menu includes a wide choice of Chinese dishes, but the majority of people flock here at lunchtime to indulge in a dim sum feast. A high tea buffet at $21.80++ per adult is available every weekday from 3pm-6pm, when dim sum trolleys are pushed through the restaurant with a choice of more than 60 items, including perennial favorites such as Har Gao (prawn dumplings), Xiao Long Bao (steamed pork Shanghai dumplings) and Char Siu Bao (barbecue pork buns).




Oxwell & Co has had the foodie tongues of Singapore wagging since it opened in August 2013. This heritage shophouse decked out in eclectic vintage furnishings is the brainchild of Executive Chef Mark Sargeant, who earned his stripes during seven years at Gordon Ramsay's Michelin-starred Claridge's restaurant. The modern British cuisine is kept deliberately simple, with a focus on fresh produce. Start your meal with a Prawn Cocktail or Heritage Tomato salad before diving into a Dover Sole with Seaweed Butter or the Welsh Salt Marsh Lamb Rump with roast onions and green sauce. Just be sure to leave room for a range of tempting desserts, including a Strawberry Eton Mess, Lemon Posset or Bread & Butter Pudding with Vanilla ice cream. With General Manager Luke Whearty, formerly head barman at Der Raum in Melbourne heading up the bar team here at Oxwell & Co, you know that the drinks won't disappoint either. Opt for a signature G&T made from the house distilled gin infused with home-grown herbs, or try one of their unique Japanese rice lagers.


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Located along the popular stretch of bars and restaurants at Duxton Hill, Sabio is a lively Spanish tapas bar. Its funky monochrome interior attracts Singapore's hip and happening crowd, who gather to sample a range of authentic and traditional Spanish tapas dishes, washed down with imported wine, beer and homemade sangria. The 14m-long bar counter features a refrigerated counter top showcasing the day's selection of cold tapas, while hot tapas are prepared to order. Popular choices include the Gambas al pil pil, Chorizo al vino and the famed Jamon Iberico Bellota (special aged ham from the black Iberian pig, fed solely on acorns). No reservations are taken at Sabio, so arrive early or be prepared to wait.




Lucha Loco is a casual Mexican taqueria located in the heart of hip and happening Duxton Hill. Specializing in gourmet Mexican street food, the menu, created by Chef Jason Jones of Melbourne's Mamasita fame, and Lucha Loco's very own Chef Mario Malvaez of Mexico City, features a tantalizing range of tacos, ceviches and tostados. Highlights include the juicy Chorizo and Braised Beef Brisket Taco, the fresh and zesty Mango and Kingfish Ceviche, and the fiery Elotes � grilled corn smothered in mayonnaise, chilli and crumbly cotija cheese. Like many of its Duxton Hill neighbors, Lucha Loco does not accept reservations (except for groups of over 9 people). The good news is, they serve up a mean margarita, so you won't mind standing at the bar for a while.




Senso is one of Singapore's best-loved Italian restaurants. Located on popular nightlife hangout Club Street, Senso provides a sophisticated setting for authentic fine-dining Italian cuisine, with its outdoor courtyard a unique romantic addition. Homemade pasta dishes include the Ravioli stuffed with braised veal shank in a porcini mushroom sauce, while the Risotto Senso is a traditional Tuscan-style risotto with rabbit ragout, and Ardoino olives. A range of meat and seafood dishes includes Ossobucco, 8-braised beef cheek 'al cacciatore', and Red Snapper 'alla griglia'. A Prosseco brunch is served every Sunday, allowing diners to indulge in a selection of Italian brunch favorites, including fresh European oysters, classic cold cuts, Italian cheese and more, accompanied by free flow Prosseco.




Opened in June 2013, Ding Dong quickly earned itself a cult following amongst food and cocktail-lovers in Singapore. Spanning three floors of a heritage shophouse building on the popular nighttime hangout Ann Siang Road/Club Street stretch, Ding Dong offers a relaxed, yet trendy atmosphere for an intimate date night, or fun evening with friends. The menu boasts an exciting selection of modern interpretations of Southeast Asian street cuisine, with the majority of dishes served in tapas-sized portions, ideal for sharing. Highlights include the Scallop Ceviche with fresh coconut and Chinese cabbage; Vietnamese Scotch Eggs; Carbon-battered lemon sole with red curry marinade and coriander mayo; and the 48-hour Beef Cheek rendang skewers with rice puree and crispy herbs. Don't overlook the unique and inventive cocktail list, to kick your evening off with a bang.




OSO Ristorante is a one of Singapore's best-loved Italian restaurants, housed within a traditional heritage shophouse in the heart of Chinatown. The cozy dining room always has a relaxed and convivial atmosphere, and is equally popular with large groups of friends and family as it is with romancing couples. Dishes are hearty and generous, including the Braised veal "guancia" cheek with Barolo wine and black truffle served with pumpkin; the "Ravioli" filled with veal in mixed cheese fondue and mushroom sauce; and the Black truffle "tartufo" risotto with mascarpone cheese. Desserts are equally appealing, including some of the best pannacotta in town, while another highlight is the cheese room, showcasing an impressive selection of top quality Italian cheeses and cold cuts.




One of Singapore's best hidden secrets, Luke's Oyster Bar and Chop House is tucked away in a narrow high-ceilinged shophouse on Gemill Lane, off popular nightspot Club Street. Specialising in fresh raw oysters and grilled meat, the menu reflects owner Travis Masiero's Boston roots, with a selection of New England classics such as clam chowder, oyster po'boys, crab cakes and lobster rolls. Carnivores are well catered for with succulent chargrilled lamb chops, and large juicy steaks all grilled to perfection. Casual diners can perch on a bar stool at the counter to watch the oysters being shucked, while those on a date can tuck themselves into a table-a-deux in the corner. The food is sensational, service is slick, and the knowledgeable sommelier will ensure your wine selection is worthy of your menu choices.




Restaurant ANDRE is one of Singapore's most highly acclaimed restaurants, having been named in the San Pellegrino World's 100 Best Restaurants in 2011, 2012 and 2013 (when it finally made the top 50 at number 38); voted second best restaurant in Asia by the Miele Guide in 2011/2012; and named by the New York Times as one of ten restaurants in the world worth a plane ride. Taiwanese-born chef Andre Chiang's menu is based on his own OctaphilosophyTM approach - the discovery of cuisine through eight characteristics: Unique, Pure, Texture, Memory, Salt, South, Artisan and Terroir. Confused? Roughly translated, a meal at Restaurant Andre promises to be a culinary journey like no other: eight courses of elaborate, experimental and intricate creations focusing on fresh artisanal produce and reflecting Andre Chiang's roots in Southern French nouvelle cuisine. Expect the unexpected, and expect to be wowed.


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Meet Marianne Rogerson

Marianne is a freelance travel writer, who has lived in Singapore for six years. She is the author of a travel guidebook to Singapore and has written about Singapore for a range of...  More About Marianne

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