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Eat by type: 6 new Singapore restaurants
It’s new restaurant season again and all kinds of eateries are popping up around town. Here are the ones to try first
Every year in Singapore there are a few months during which restaurants open up, one after another, leaving foodies utterly confused as to where to go.
Follow this checklist for a sampling of the best of the new crop.
Paradise Pavilion: The deal makers
The scene: Because Paradise Pavilion is located in the thick of Singapore’s new financial district, it is swarming with corporate types. Entry to the restaurant is via a private lift. A good portion of the dining area has been set off for private rooms. Service is quick, attentive and discreet.
Must try: The apple wood-roasted Peking duck. This traditional Chinese favorite is extra tasty here, with the delicious scent of apple wood on crispy duck skin and light, flour wrappers to go with it. The rest of the menu is fairly typical of a high-end Chinese restaurant with classics given a deluxe twist: foie gras and lobster in a truffle mustard dressing, wok-fried ramen with six-headed abalone.
Eye-catcher: The brick oven in which the ducks are roasted is the first thing you see when you enter the restaurant. Plump, brown ducks glistening in the fragrant wood fire whet the appetite.
Good to know: The walls here don’t have ears. Soundproofed walls line each of the private rooms so you can rest assured trade secrets will not be leaked. Perfect for brokering deals.
#02-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre, Ground Plaza, 8A Marina Boulevard, +65 6509 9308; www.paradisegroup.com.sg
Fine Palate Café: The arty set
The scene: This café and museum neighborhood draws the well-dressed intelligentsia of Singapore who appreciate fine food. Housed in one of Waterloo Street’s old school buildings converted into a lifestyle venue, Fine Palate has wonderful character and is quiet enough to ensure you can actually hear your conversation over a meal.
Must try: The salads are exceptional. The quinoa bean salad with mint lemon vinaigrette is an excellent lunch choice, as is the baby spinach salad with bacon and egg in an apple cider dressing. Try the rare tuna in capellini with a sesame shoyu dressing -- we’ve come back just for this. There's also an array of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and excellent desserts.
Eye-catcher: The drop dead gorgeous Gaggenau show kitchen. Taking up a whole corner of the café, the kitchen impresses with its stylish refrigerator, steam oven and teppanyaki grill. Ogle and dream.
Good to know: Heather Barrie, the lady behind Fine Palate Café, is the founder of one of Singapore’s first gourmet caterers. Full of ideas, Barrie is always adding new dishes to the menu and planning ways to extend her business -- soon she'll be conducting workshops.
51 Waterloo St., +65 6336 5120
Buyan Russian Haute Cuisine & Caviar Bar: The connoisseurs
The scene: As one of Singapore’s only Russian restaurants, Buyan has a hold on Singapore’s mid-size and growing Russian community. Its location in the rapidly gentrifying Duxton Hill sees a regular crowd trickling in from offices nearby for a drink and a meal after work.
Must try: The vodka and caviar bar. Any Russian restaurant worth its blinis will want to do this well, and Buyan has. Oscetra to beluga caviar is served here alongside 52 vodkas, a range of Russian sparkling wine and more than 100 beers -- just remember to leave room for the hearty Russian food.
Eye-catcher: Buyan’s wine collection, a good part of which is spread out through the restaurant in floor-to-ceiling wine fridges. Worth a mind-blowing S$3.5 million, this collection is one of the most valuable in town and has a number of rare bottles of wine and champagnes. The best part? All the wines stocked are available by the glass. And if it is your birthday, you’ll receive a free glass of Armagnac from your birth year.
Good to know: Buyan uses only ethical methods of extracting caviar and only farmed sturgeon. Its game and fowl are also only from farmed sources.
9/10 Duxton Hill, +65 6223 7008; www.buyan.sg
Chef d’Table: For leisurely diners
The scene: Set in a quiet corner of CHIJMES, this small, elegant restaurant is where you’ll find a mix of island residents and tourists taking some time out and relaxing over a meal.
Must try: Chef Jason Lee prides himself on offering value-for-money degustation menus with dishes such as a cold angel hair in truffle oil served with barbecued prawns, roasted duck fillet with vanilla mash potatoes and a hearty lobster bisque cappuccino. Break out into the à la carte menu for dessert -- the sago panna cotta with gula melaka is spectacular, as is the warm chocolate fondant and carrot cake with freshly grated coconut.
Eye-catcher: The 24-seat alfresco area set next to the beautiful CHIJMES chapel, best visited in the evenings for a sunset cocktail.
Good to know: Chef d’Table is the official caterer for CHIJMES. If you have an event there, you know you’ll be getting Lee’s top-notch food.
#01-29 CHIJMES, 30 Victoria St., +65 6338 4898; www.cheftable.com.sg
Kha: For social scenesters
The scene: While this is technically not a new eatery, more newly relocated, it’ll be new to hipsters who rarely venture out of certain suburbs. Now that Kha has shifted to a more convenient location, you can bet there will be a whole new crowd heading down to Singapore’s latest dining hot-spot, Martin No. 38.
Must try: The modern Thai cuisine offers an interesting take on traditional Thai dishes. Try the red curry rubbed Wagyu beef with papaya salad, yogurt and chili jam; roasted spare ribs in a honeyed herbs, kaffir lime and dill sauce; and any of the rich curries. For drinks, exotic house cocktails, such as the frozen tamarind margarita, add a dash of novelty.
Eye-catcher: The fashionable crowd. Do this stylish joint justice and dig out your designer threads, even if they’re from Shenzhen.
Good to know: Kha was formerly at Hort Park and now moved to a more central location. Also at Martin No. 38 are Graze’s second restaurant and a gourmet takeaway shop, Provisions.
Martin No. 38, 38 Martin Road, +65 6476 9000; www.kha.sg
The scene: Different from the social scenesters, the trendsetter does not care to be seen. He/she goes where the food is good and the vibe invigorating.
That’s what Kilo serves up.
Owners Javier and Sharon have kept the same vibe going as they did at the now closed Raw Kitchen Bar, switching from the leafy surroundings of Upper Bukit Timah for the Kallang River. They’ve kept most of the signature Japanese/ Italian comfort-style dishes, something regulars will be stoked to hear.
Must try: The braised duck leg is terrific. Fork tender and glazed with a sweet caramelized coffee sauce, it’s a mouthful of pure bliss. The ebi capellini with tiger prawns is done just right with a creamy sauce that coats, not drowns, the dish.
Eye-catcher: At Raw, the turntables were in the kitchen, at Kilo they’ve moved it out the far end of the room, conveniently located next to the bar and its stock of single malts.
Good to know: Owner Javier makes a mean special tenderloin stuffed with crab and blue cheese. But it's not on the menu and you have to call in advance to see if he's up for making it.
2/F, 66 Kampong Bugis (opp. Kallang Riverside Park), +65 6467 3987