Breakfast, lunch and dinner Singapore
TRAVEL

Words: Steve Ryan   Photography by Steve Ryan

Breakfast, lunch and dinner Singapore

Where to eat tips in the Lion City

 

Singapore has always been presented to me as a place you stop at only when on the way to somewhere else. Always the airport, never the destination. In truth, this was how we approached it this summer when my wife and I booked our belated honeymoon to Indonesia. However, she was born in Singapore, and having never been myself, we decided to break the journey up with a few days either side in the nation city. Apparently, they have wonderful botanical gardens, a zoo you can visit at night and some great museums, but if you can’t eat it we didn’t care to see it. 

 
Breakfast: The Chinatown Complex
 
 On the first floor of this otherwise unassuming pink shopping centre you’ll find a network of equally small stalls, each selling their speciality Chinese dish. There are canteen-style tables and chairs nailed to the ground in the common areas throughout, allowing you to choose your own adventure and then meet and share, family-style. This is the biggest hawker centre in Singapore and home to cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant in the world, Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle. Looking no different to any of the others, you can easily find it among the 250+ food stalls, as it’s the only one with a queue. It’s a good feed but I can’t say it was the obvious belle of the food hall ball or worth the 30 minutes I waited in line. I spent that time eyeing up the opportunity cost of kway teow and bak chang at stalls without any lines, which we had immediately after and was the better choice. You can eat like a king here for under $10SGD.
335 Smith St, Chinatown Complex (U/C), Singapore 050335
 
 
Lunch: 328 Katong Laska
 
 When we asked around about where to find the best chilli crab or drink a Singapore Sling*, everyone had their own favourites, but when it came to laksa, everyone we met agreed on 328 Katong Laksa. It’s 15 minutes in a cab from Chinatown in the direction of the airport, but it was nice to see a bit of residential Singapore for a change. Our taxi driver, a middle-aged local man, agreed on our choice but spent the journey warning us about its high cholesterol. For a country where theft is nearly non-existent due to a heavily enforced penal code, Singapore loves a plastic chair bolted to the ground. At 328 Katong Laksa they were McDonalds red and just as difficult to climb into as they were in the Chinatown complex. The Laksa itself was the most delicious coconut creamed cholesterol I’ve ever inhaled in minutes; I had to get a second sidekick dish while my wife finished hers in a more elegant and timely fashion. *avoid at all costs – taste like a violated jammy dodger.
51 East Coast Road; 65 9732 8163
 
Dinner (1): Burnt Ends
 
 The purpose of this feature is to recommend a breakfast, lunch and dinner in a city. I came up with this column idea three issues back, but this is my first time writing one and I’ve already failed. I can’t decide on the dinner option. Lunch was hard enough as there were three contenders, but of the four dinners we had, two were exceptional and rank as some of the best meals I’ve ever had, so you’re getting both. And in my defence, they were each awarded Michelin stars two weeks after we visited. Burnt Ends was recommended to me by none other than David Carter of Smokestak. Note: if he tells you to eat BBQ somewhere then you must go there immediately. We booked it for our first night. You may remember Owner/Head Chef David Pynt from his popup Burnt Enz at Climpson’s Arch 2012 or Meatopia 2014. He left London following his popup to open Burnt Ends in 2013. The restaurant has a narrow interior with just a single row of seating that starts at the bar by the door and leads along the pass. Every seat has a view. We were sat in pole position on the pass and left our ordering in the hands of David. Fourteen courses later, we were in ember heaven. Everything is licked with smoke and cooked in a custom four-tonne, two-oven brick kiln designed by David or on one of his custom grills. Despite being known for its meat, it was the aubergine dish and the langoustine that I’ll be taking to my grave. You can go light or heavy here. We went large at £150 pp.
20 Teck Lim Road; 65-6224-3933;
burntends.com.sg
 
Dinner (2): Nouri
 
 Ivan Brahim was development chef at The Fat Duck’s experimental kitchen for four years before moving to Singapore, where he earned a Michelin star for Bacchanalia in 2016. He opened his own restaurant, Nouri, in June last year, where we celebrated the last evening of our honeymoon. His ethos is nourishment through ‘crossroads cooking’, in which he breaks the national borders of dishes by infusing them with flavours and ingredients from around the world. His kitchen sits in the centre of a modest-sized room, where every action is in full view; unlike anything I’ve seen before there are no borders between it and the restaurant floor. In one instance, a guest, on his way to the bathroom, squeezed between a sous chef and another chef while they were plating up and they didn’t miss a beat. Ivan personally brings each course to the table, where he talks about the inspiration behind the dish, the ingredients, where he sourced them and why. Singapore imports 100% of all its food but being a nation that’s mainly a large city, this is understandable. Ivan works closely with a farm in neighbouring Malaysia where he sources a lot of his ingredients; with access to the global produce that Singapore imports it only helps his concept and places it so well in this city. Through all sixteen courses, the common bond was the sauce. No matter what nation had inspired the dish, the sauce was wrapped in the kind of comfort that only nostalgia can bring and as we journeyed around the world through flavour, each dish gave a sense of home. Each course was paired by Matthew Chan, whose choice of sake was a particular highlight. The Set Meal is £70-£120 pp not incl. pairings.
72 Amoy St; 65-6221-4148;
nouri.com.sg
 
 
Late Night: Ting Hen Seafood
 
 We were the last diners in Nouri that evening and when Ivan heard that we were leaving his sixteen-course dinner in search of a chilli crab, he directed us to his personal favourite, Ting Hen Seafood. We were stuffed but determined. After all, we were married now and could finally let ourselves go. Ting Hen is open until 4am daily and when we arrived at 1am it was just us and the loitering waitresses enjoying the alfresco dining area. For once the plastic seats stood free from bolts and were placed without the uniformity I was used to seeing. This was by far the most reckless thing I had seen in a city where nothing is out of place. Our Singaporean Chilli Crab came with implements to crack and gouge the shells and this slow process presented the opportunity for our next appetite to emerge and take on the task at hand. The steamed bread accompaniment was the highlight. Dip that into the chilli crab sauce and you’ll never be as happy in life again. This Chilli Crab fetches a price of around £30 but easily feeds two people who have already had dinner.
82 Tiong Poh Rd; 65-6323-6830
 
Where to stay
 
 We stayed at Naumi in the heart of the city centre. In a city where space is a premium, I greatly respected Naumi’s use of space with considered design that served both purpose and aesthetic. It’s roof top pool and bar offer great views and the hotel’s location is walking distance to bars, restaurants and Singapores metro.
naumihotels.com