The best tapas bars in Singapore
When Singaporeans love something, we have a tendency to go overboard. The latest flavor of the month? Tapas bars.
In the last quarter alone, four have sprung up in the Little Red Dot. Over at Clarke Quay, Tapas Tree -- one of the early starters, it debuted in 2005 -- was recently re-acquired by the original founders and rebranded as Octapas.
In August, Don Quijote set up a third outlet at Dempsey village, after its first outlet in Macau and a second outlet at Bukit Timah.
New to the mix, the upbeat Sabruso threw open its doors at Holland Village in early October and has been packed most nights.
"Tapas is not a new concept," says Clark Martin, founder of Tapas Tree and co-owner of Octapas Spanish Tapas Bar at Clarke Quay. "Singaporeans are well traveled and they are beginning to appreciate the Spanish art of grazing, just as they’ve enjoyed Chinese dim sum.”
Herewith, the Lion City’s best tapas bars.
Don Quijote @ Dempsey
Why come? Don Quijote’s outpost at Dempsey is arguably the hottest tapas bar right now.
The streams of Spaniards dining there are evidence enough. Sink into Don Quijote’s popular seafood options, fresh from the market every day.
The perfect tapas meal? Garlic fried shrimp rolled in eggplant, broken eggs with sliced chorizo and thick wedges of potatoes.
From the market menu, try the clams imported from the Philippines done with garlic, onions and a sweet white wine sauce.
Where to place your paella bet? It’s a tough choice, but the Paella Especial Don Quijote gets our thumbs up for the generous spread of perfectly cooked seafood that crowns the paella pan. The squid ink pasta offers handsome oodles of angel hair pasta steeped in a savory squid ink-sauce.
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5
#01-02, Blk 7 Dempsey Road, tel +65 6476 2811
Why come? If you enjoy puffing cigarettes while sipping on wine and eating tapas, this is your new home.
Unlike most tapas bars, in which you find only Spanish wines in the cellar, Sabroso carries a good selection of both new and old world wines.
The perfect tapas meal? Roasted bacon-wrapped Iranian dates glazed with honey and lime zest; Australian pork ribs soaked in milk and marinated with Spanish BBQ seasonings; and Canadian scallops cooked in shallot butter with cava and white wine sauce.
If you're feeling adventurous, ask chef Alfred G to whip up off-menu tapas.
Where to place your paella bet? Seafood paella studded with pre-shelled seafood bits -- great for those who don’t want to dirty their fingers peeling prawns.
Overall rating: 4 out of 5
26A Lorong Mambong, tel +65 6766 0053
My Little Spanish Place
Why come? This home-style restaurant reminds you of a rustic Spanish meson (Spanish for casual restaurant) where you can come back time and again for the heartwarming Spanish fare.
In keeping with the Spain's late dining tradition, the restaurant has extended closing time to midnight.
The perfect tapas meal? Chef Sevillano’s heirloom recipes, snails with jamon and chorizo in white wine sauce, pan-fried artichokes with jamon and dessert of cinnamon-dusted fried milk cube with whipped cream.
Where to place your paella bet? The flavor-filled House Paella with chicken, prawns, mussels, squid, fish and bell peppers.
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5
619 Bukit Timah Road, tel +65 6463 2810
Why come? Choose to have your tapas indoors with live entertainment booming in the background -- after 9:30 p.m. nightly -- or in the sexy glass veranda or by the riverfront and people watch as you graze.
The perfect tapas meal? The menu may not be extensive, but the small plates are big on flavors.
Recommended: toasted bread with mashed aubergine, peppers, onions and Parmesan cheese; minced chicken stuffed in roasted piquillo peppers base in a dense sauce with melted cheese; and grilled squid with balsamic vinegar reduction.
Where to place your paella bet? The vegetarian Paella Veduras topped with artichokes, peppers, asparagus and olives.
Overall rating: 3.5 out of 5
3D River Valley Road, Clarke Quay, tel +65 6837 2938
The Club Tapas
Why come? The experience at The Club Tapas at the newly opened The Club boutique hotel is akin to a dining safari.
Start at the underground tapas bar, with dark wood walls and exposed brick walls with a central island bar.
Warm tapas are ordered from the a la carte menu and cold tapas are laid out in a chilled display case. Adjourn to the white-washed alfresco terrace on level two to dine on paella and main courses.
The perfect tapas meal? The 24-month-cured Iberico ham, perfectly-fried morsels of chicken croquette and deep fried potatoes doused in a piquant tomato sauce.
Where to place your paella bet? The moist squid ink paella.
Overall rating: 3 out of 5
28 Ann Siang Road, tel +65 6808 2188