THE MISSING PAN | Where to eat: From the guys behind wholesale bakery The Organic Baker comes a sleek new brunch place along Bukit Timah Road. The Missing Pan transforms an old shophouse unit into a cosy loft-style bakery-and-cafe, doling out artisanal baked goods on the ground floor while seating up to 40 in the brasserie upstairs. What to eat: Organic, artisanal and fresh-from-the-oven loaves of breads from the bakery. From organic sourdoughs to ryes to multigrain, a wide variety is available daily (from $6.80). Get them to go or grab a seat and enjoy a buttered slice with eggs and coffee. For a more substantial meal, head to the second floor. The basic brunch options here might be a tad on the expensive side, but they are given a unique reinterpretation. Their eggs benedict with smoked salmon is slow-poached and smeared with seaweed paste ($22). Try the Over Hangover, an open sandwich of chicken schnitzel, bacon, sunny-side egg on sourdough with bacon vinaigrette ($19).
COOK & BREW | Where to eat: Up on the 33rd floor of the new The Westin Singapore, this gastro-pub is more than just a venue for your office executives doing power lunches. Sure it might be in a swanky business hotel, but Cook & Brew’s casual gastrobar vibe is a welcoming place for all. We’ll go there for the magnificent view of the Marina Bay alone. What to eat: With something for everyone, the venue serves modern interpretation of classical pub favourites and local comfort food. An enomatic wine system allows customers the option of tasting wines from a meticulously-curated list before buying a full or half-glass of the chosen ambrosia. Beer drinkers will love the more than 100 selection of beers from 17 different countries (from $8).
TABLE 24 | Where to eat: After four years going around the United States and working in various fine-dining establishments, Chef Richard Lee, son of the Seng Kee Bak Chor Mee owner, has set up shop in Singapore’s Chinatown. What to eat: Serving up contemporary American fare with influences from hispanic, Italian, Middle-eastern and Asian cuisines, Table 24 features starters such as The Louisiana, with a combo of blue mussels, white clams, Pacific oyster, seafood stock, okra, tomato, garlic and spices ($15), and mains such as W Schnitzel’s Mistake (Brazilian pork loin chop Milanese, Granny Smith, frisee, parsnips, grape mostarda, cauliflower, purple taters and pecans, $25), as well as Full of Crab (Maryland-style crabcakes with tartar sauce, sweet potato hash, lettuce greens, frisee, radish and Vidalia onion, $25).
THE MUSTARD INCIDENT | Where to eat: With its loud and colourful comic-like logo emblazoned across its back wall, it’s hard to miss this spunky new hotdog joint at Tangs Orchard's basement marketplace. Inspired by the grilled hotdogs of Chicago, The Mustard Incident prides itself on offering dangerously delicious gourmet hotdogs. What to eat: Classic American favourites include the Coney Dog – pork sausage doused in beanless beef chilli, garlic sauce and chopped onions ($9); Chicago Dog – beef sausage covered with garlic sauce, pickles, diced tomatoes and chopped onions ($9); and Bar-B-Dog – pork sausage topped with garlic sauce, barbecue sauce and sauteed onions ($9). Can’t decide between pork or beef? Go for The Frankenstein – half-pork and half-beef sausage wrapped in streaky bacon and topped with hot sauce, beanless chilli and sauteed onions ($10). Or go for Duck Can Fit, a duck sausage hot dog with garlic sauce, stewed peppers and crispy bacon ($10). Wash down with a bottle of beer. On offer is a range of artisanal beers ($12 a bottle), such as Brewdog Dead Pony ale and St Bernardus Witbier.
HOMBRE CANTINA | Where to eat: Newly revived Boat Quay says "Hola, amigo!" to yet another member of the Mexican dining wave washing over Singapore. Hombre Cantina is a simple taqueria and burrito stop that also serves up a variety of Mexican beers and cocktails. The fast-food joint is opened from lunch till late, and is ideal for a quick take-out or when you need late-night sustenance. What to eat: We like that there is nothing more than $15 on the food menu, and we love that we are able to customise our own burritos, tacos, rice and salad bowls. Pick your own carbohydrate, meat, topping and salsa. Then supplement your main meal with some bar snacks, such as the burnt cheese quesadilla ($12) or chicken chicharrones ($10). Sure, you can get a Mexican beer or a refreshing margarita, but we recommend firing up the appetite with a glass, or even a flight, of Hombre Cantina’s 100-per-cent blue agave tequilas and artisanal mezcals.
LOWER EAST SIDE TAQUERIA | Where to eat: New from the folks behind Spathe is this Mexican eatery on the 'lower end' of East Coast Road (hence the name). The decor is quirky (we spotted a chandelier made with chained-up chairs) and casual; the seating is a mix of high tables and stools and low tables with benches. What to eat: Lovers of all things spicy can have their tacos and burritos seasoned with three different spice levels. We tried (and could handle) levels 1 and 2, but a tiny taste of the sauces used for level 3 had us gulping down the house made horchata (a drink made with rice milk, almonds, nut, cinnamon and condensed milk, $4). We liked best the tilapia taco (broiled fillet with tomatoes, onions, red peppers, cilantro and caper berries on a flat flour taco, $12 each) and the cumin-grilled chicken burrito filled with cilantro long-grained rice ($13).
CRAB IN DA BAG | Where to eat: Big Splash at East Coast Park is home to this convivial eatery that specialises in Southern Louisiana-style seafood served in plastic bunches and cooked with home-style recipes and local flavours. The decor is nautical and the tables are dressed with paper liners - for easy, messy eating and cleaning up. You have to use your hands to pick the juicy flesh apart so you might want to (have to) set aside your mobile phones. What to eat: Order a bag of something, anything - we tried the clams ($13) and prawns ($13) seasoned in garlic butter and the Malaysian-style curry (our favourite). The Caboodle mix (local and Cajun spices with garlic and butter) is the signature spice mix, and a must-try. Order a side of rice ($1) to mop up any excess gravy with. Large groups should spring for the Caboodle boil (serves six to eight people, $299), a bucket full of boiled and seasoned seafood like Sri Lankan crabs, mini lobsters, yabbies, crab legs, prawns, clam, sausages, potaotes and corn. Tip: dabao (takeaway) a bag of your choice to snack on the nearby beach.
TAKE 2 CAFE | Where to eat: We walked into this cute half-cafe half-hair salon at Goldhill Plaza, and from the hipsterifically mismatched furniture expected they would serve only coffee and tea cakes. What you get instead is comforting, Singapore-style coffee shop fare, kopi and teh (tea). What to eat: Start with your standard order of kopi or teh ($1.20) and head to their glass-front display for what is on offer. We tried the comforting and simple mee siam (dry-fried and spicy, $1.50) and their best-seller, the mee hoon kway (hand torn noodles, served either dry or in soup with fish balls, fish cake, ikan bilis and minced meat, $4.50). The latter is bit carb-heavy, but the dish did make for a filling and affordable lunch. Hipster-ish decor and kopitiam-fare, is this the next big thing?
CICHETI | Where to eat: Pronounced 'chi-keh-tee', this shophouse on Kandahar Street (opposite the Malay heritage centre) is buzzing for the right reasons, and those reasons are the Venice-style small plates served in an Itlian bàcari (wine bars). Small, intimate and unpretentious, Cicheti's decor has a little bit of upcycling (the tables legs and washrooms), interesting wall art and occupying pride of place is the 'imported from Italy' two-tonne oven that fires up pizzas in no more than 90 seconds. What to eat: The pizzas of course, which are mean for sharing. Play it safe with a Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan and basil leaves, $17) or try the Bismark, which is basically a margherita topped with ham, bacon, mushrooms and an egg cracked over the pie ($19). The crust is soft and pillowy and meant to be picked up, folded and enjoyed. Other mains include a delightful cioppino ($27), a hearty stew of seafood (fish, prawn, squid and clam) and tomatoes − best when soaked up with bread,
THE PROVISION SHOP | Where to eat: In case you needed more proof that Everton Park was a buzzing foodie enclave, enter Lok Lik Peng's cafe and takeaway deli - The Provision Shop. What to eat: Eat in, or take away sandwiches, salads, perogis (Polish dumplings) and cakes. From a basic Reuben sandwich (corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, $14) and a familiar Caprese salad (cherry tomatoes, balsamic, mozzarella and basil, $12) to lesser-known snacks like Polish, potato filled dumplings topped with bacon, onions and sour cream ($5 each).
WORKSHOP | Where to eat: This hole-in-the-wall cafe-bar is by the team behind The Flying Squirrel. What to eat: The menu is tiny, but we spotted coffee (the cappuccino and flat white kind) for $4.50 to $5, and teas by Tea Forte. The food menu is a limited selection of sandwiches and Japanese-inspired small plates. We hear that they carry a niche selection of Japanese whiskey and sake. Plans to go back for more have already been made.
THE CHOP HOUSE | Where to eat: There are more than just steak and grills at this month-old gastrobar, which opened in September 2013. From the folks behind Wooloomooloo Steakhouse, the restaurant occupies an impressive 160-seater spot by the waterfront at Vivocity, which is a casual restaurant and a bar all rolled into one. What to eat and drink: Try the SelfTap beer bar. Purchase a cash card from the reception, walk over to one of the SelfTap machines and pour however much beer you would like. Tap out and the card is charged for the amount you poured. On tap right now are the Pure Blonde Premium (Australia) and the Mac's Great White Cloudy Wheat Beer (New Zealand). The food menu has something for everyone — cheesy chicken (or beef) quesadillas ($15), a mixed seafood grill ($42, serves two) and burgers. If we had to pick just one, we recommend the mixed meat grill platter ($48, serves two) — two juicy cutlets of milk-fed lamb, beef tenderloin and lamb and pork sausages served with watercress, grilled tomatoes and fried onions. The mains are served with three house-made condiments; beetroot chutney, onion jam and our favourite — the chili mustard. Slather on and devour.
BOOK A TABLE | BARRAKA BAR & RESTAURANT | Where to eat: Yet another drink-and-dine spot at the buzzing Robertson Quay area, but Barraka manages to look sophisticated, yet keep its prices reasonable. The restaurant is spacious and has an al fresco area large enough to hold big groups. Brick walls, a partly open-plan kitchen and a bar in the middle of the space are Barraka's main decor elements. What to eat: Offering contemporary Spanish food with a twist, try the butifarra Catalana (grilled Catalonian pork sausage served with traditional red beans, $16) and the hefty parrillada de mariscos (a seafood platter with grilled cuttlefish, prawns, mussels and clams, $30). For dessert, a scoop of their homemade gelato ($7) — where they have flavours like melon and serrano ham — is a must-try.
JUNBI | Where to eat: From Daniel Ong and Jamie Teo, the celebrity couple behind Twelve Cupcakes, their new eatery, Junbi ('ready' in Japanese) focuses on ready-made food which you can grab and go. The couple plan to open several outlets across Singapore and the first can be found at United Square, Novena. Outlets are slated to open at Star Vista and Orchard Gateway. What to eat: Think salads, wraps, pasta and sushi that are prepared in the morning. Salads begin at $3.90, pastas at $4.50 and sushi at $2.50.
BOOK A TABLE | SUSHI KOU | Where to eat: Walk past the snaking queues of diners waiting to go into Teppei to this new eatery next door at Orchid Hotel (or just book a table, its instant and guaranteed). What to eat: They serve omakase (just like their popular neighbours), which begins at $50 but we focused on their sushi and sashimi instead and it was a winner in our eyes. For $25, the kaisen don is a pretty bowl with a generous amount of quality sashimi (ebi, salmon, kampachi, hotate, surf clams, tuna, tamago, octopus and roe) on top of Japanese rice. This is served with a flavourful miso broth. Their other lunch sets are also worth a look, in particular one which offers 12 assorted pieces of sushi, miso soup and fruit for $28. Tell the waiter what fish you prefer and they will tweak the dish for you. We will be heading back to this restaurant to try out the omakase. Watch this space.
BACKSTAGE CAFE | Where to eat: Cafes with industrial-style interiors are a dime a dozen, but the Backstage Cafe kicks it up a notch by being located in an actual industrial area in Kallang. They opened in September 2013 and decor-wise, to have single tables in a spacious indoor area with high ceilings are a welcome change from communal dining tables and elbow-to-elbow seating. What to eat and drink: The coffee here here is smooth and aromatic as one would expect (the beans are from Papa Palheta). Try their Backstage signature grilled pork chop ($18) which comes in a generous portion. The well-marinated pork is lean but still remains juicy. Other mains such as the eggs benedict ($13) and grilled snapper ($16) are also reliable options. Visit before the crowds start pouring in.
WORKING TITLE | Where to eat: Amidst fabric shops and Hookah bars on Arab street, look for a cafe with mismatched and upcycled furniture and duck in. Working Title occupies the ground-floor space and the same owners own the Shophouse backpackers hostel located on the second floor. The hip backpacker crowd will like the quirky wall art and the table propped up by vintage Macintosh computers. What to eat: Really simple bites here, sandwiches with a side of chips ($5-8), sunny side up eggs and toast ($4) and coffee. As they are located in hipster central, the coffee is unpredictably good. They source their beans from the Dutch Colony Coffee Co. and the result is a smooth yet intense brew with just the right amount of kick.
LOWERCASE | Where to eat: What used to be a cafe called 15 minutes within the La Salle College of Arts on McNally Street is now Lowercase — a cavernous cafe and art/performance space. We are always on the lookout for cafes that can seat big groups and double up as a space for working lunches. This place fits the part. Housed over two floors, there is a performance stage on the ground level where local indie bands perform at night.What to eat: Try the hot ($5) or iced chocolate ($7), made with specialty African red chocolate. There are simple, home-style sandwiches like egg mayo ($2.90) and chicken mayo ($3.90) and pasta dishes like veggie aglio olio ($9.90) on offer. They host a multitude of ad-hoc events (music performances, flea markets, workshops and talks) so do check their Facebook page before dropping by.
THE DISPENSARY | Where to eat: Just when you thought that Tiong Bahru's cafe scene couldn't get more crowded, out pops The Dispensary which opened in place of (you guessed it) an old Chinese Medical Hall dispensary. Walk in and the glass counters filled with cakes, cupcakes and other desserts sit next to the old wooden shelves containing small drawers which used to house Chinese herbs. Other features of the old medicine hall (signages, murals, cabinets) have been retained without them being too in-your-face. What to eat: The cupcakes ($3.50 for one, $9 for three, $17 for six and $33 for twelve) are what you notice first as you step in. We recommend you try the violet dream (butter cake topped with blueberry cream and a strawberry) and the sea salt caramel (butter cake withn buttercream frosting topped with caramel and sea salt flecks). They even have one topped with meringue and kaya (it is called the kaya kup). There is a small dine-in menu with toasties and bagels, which we will be back to try.
THE TIRAMISU HERO | Where to eat: The guys behind the popular 'tiramisu in a jar' now want a slice of the cool new Jalan Besar pie. Not only do their desserts retail at cafes around Singapore, they now have their own at Tyrwhitt Road (a few doors down from Chye Seng Huat Coffee). What to eat: The menu is a mixed bag of eats, we spotted tables ordering the Jayne mac and cheese ($8.90) and even a Thai basil pork rice ($12.50) but we were there for their signature tiramisu, which comes in other flavours like Milo, Horlicks, Ovaltine and chocolate. We still think their original tiramisu is the best. It can be ordered in a larger jar which they call the MommaHero ($7.50) and that can be shared by two people.
CRITICS' PICK | BINCHO AT HUA BEE | Where to eat: An addition to the recent Jekyll-and-Hyde trend for eateries is Bincho at Hua Bee, part of much-lauded hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng’s Unlisted Collection. It is a mee pok (noodle) coffee shop by day and a yakitori bar by night. Carved out from a tiny space behind the original Hua Bee kopitiam, Bincho squeezes in an open kitchen of charcoal grills, a dining counter and a few tables amid an edgy decor of copper and metal-cage-like features. What to eat: Chef Asai Masashi serves up yakitori in three omakase-style menus that are priced between $80 to $120. The menu changes regularly to feature fresh ingredients, but expect the small-plate items to be dominated by grilled chicken parts – think neck, thighs, wings, gizzards and bonjiri (chicken butt) – and specials like a beautifully grilled whole squid. To jazz things up, Masashi uses a variety of unique sauces and dips sourced from Japan, and several made in house. For the thirsty, a "Japeritif" menu showcases specially cocktails with sake being the base for several. Try the Paper Crane, a heady concoction of saffron shochu, Amaro Nonino, aperol, lemon and raspberry ($23) or the Ichi-go-ichi-e(ginger sencha, Nikka whiskey, lemon, maple and wasabi salt, $23).