Eating in Singapore can be such a polarising experience. On the one hand, you can eat dirt cheap, from the hawker centre’s that I featured in my last post, from colourful plastic crockery surrounded by families and the awesome badass seniors who just hang and chat to whoever’s around.
On the other hand you can also spend an absolute fortune in Singapore on food (especially with the current exchange rate!) and go hit up all of the restaurants serving new and modern, with Western influences, that with no doubt cater to the more affluent and a lot of the expats.
So from pennies, to bills, here’s a short round up of the more upmarket places in Singapore I enjoyed in my last visit in August.
As mentioned in my last post, Tiong Bahru is the upcoming hipster central of Singapore, with an independent heart and a love of unique. Although I loved the hawker centre, and the market below it, I also very much enjoyed visiting Tiong Bahru Bakery across the road from the market.
This bakery (from my understanding) really helped to put Tiong Bahru on the map, where it’s distinctly western, however, with Asian influences littered through the branding. It’s bright and airy, but warm and welcoming as well. It gets a bit cosy, with lots of tables squeezed into a relatively small space, but the nice thing here is that you can walk in, be given a table and only then go and order, knowing you have a space to come back to later.
It’s the kind of place where young and pretty Singaporeans pop in for a little nibble, and where expats and tourists are found aplenty. It’s the kind of place where a very charismatic silver haired expat (in very good shape) attempts to pick you up, but then sits down with you to have coffee when he finds out you’re not single to talk about relationships in general. Good way to pass a couple of hours as Singapore’s scattered rain blows through! I loved that they just let me keep topping up my tea with hot water all through that time and didn’t hurry us out!
But back to the more important things. You kind of want to eat everything, with a tempting display of sweets and savouries, there’s something for everyone here. I’m sorely tempted by the matcha croissants, but I’m here for one thing. The Kougin Aman’s. They were all out of the classic flavour when I first arrived, so I tried the chocolate version. Lovely and flaky, but a little dry. I returned another day to find the original’s were in stock, and enjoyed those much more, which were more flaky, and a little more sweet from the honey involved. Lush.
56 Eng Hoon Street
56 Eng Hoon Street
I missed the Orange Thimble completely the first time I visited Tiong Bahru. I returned a second time to meet a friend and popped into this gorgeous little cafe, which just neighbours the bakery.
Not quite as new and shiny, but definitely a little more genuine and rustic at heart. It’s a great space to wander through, where you order at the front (where there are plenty of tables), but creep out to the back and you’ll find a little pocket with cosy couches, and a lovely little courtyard out the back…but being in Singapore, it’s hard to be out there for long!
They have a delectable selection of ice-cream, and the earl grey and fig flavour is absolutely to die for for any tea lover.
Plain Vanilla is a gorgeous little bakery, with a sumptuous selection of cakes, cupcakes and all other treats (was sorely tempted by a brownie), with a cute communal area out front.
I didn’t actually end up eating anything here (because I was far too full!) but I just wanted to share this spot because it’s so gorgeous, and I hope anyone else visiting Singapore might be able to pop by and let me know what they think!
I mean how do you not love that swing at the front of the store? So cute.
38 Tg Pagar Road
Although I would have liked to indulge in more schmancier meals, with the current exchange rate (pretty much dollar for dollar) I was feeling the pinch, so limited myself to one nicer meal by myself.
And I could not have made a better decision than to pop into the Tippling Club.
It’s casually located on the side of a main road in Chinatown. However, take a step in, and you’re transported somewhere completely else.
On a Monday at lunch time, I had no issue walking into the contemporary, yet soothing space, and getting a seat for one up at the counter. The counter is a beautiful space, especially if you are a solo diner, as despite the size of the restaurant, which is surprisingly big, you feel like you’re in an intimate and cosy space, peering into a beautiful green tiled laboratory of flavour as chefs work precisely and neatly.
I opt for the three courses, where you’re given a menu to choose one dish from each section, and then commences with three snacks prior.
I loved that the chef’s served you your food, it really felt like they were taking ownership of the food.
The tom yum curry, with tempura coriander and desiccated coconut simply takes my breath away when it is first presented. That bowl, the delicateness of it, have you seen such a pretty interpretation of curry before? The curry was like a foam, but denser, buttery in the mouth with a real hit of flavour. I loved the crunch from the coriander to break things up a bit.
The smoked and charred pepper with soy wasabi dip might not have been the most beautiful dish, especially after the first snack, but my goodness. The batter around the pepper itself was almost unbearable light, it was hardly there it was so delicate. The sweetness of the pepper I felt was lost, once you dipped it in the miso, but my god, that miso was amazing. It seemed to be lightly aerated, and totally packed with umami that almost blew your brains out. Rich stuff, but delicious.
The last snack was an olive oil, basil oil and tomato gazpacho, looked like a lava lamp, but totally surprised when you shot it down in one go. It was so light, with plenty of smooth sweetness from the tomato, but with a jolt of contrast with the intensity of the basil. Kind of felt like drinking a caprese salad!
On to the meatier stuff, my first course of my three was the Nymphes A L’Aurore (minus all the accents in the right places); frog legs, chicken oysters, a garlic emulsion, garlic chips and savoy cabbage. Possibly one of the prettiest dishes I’ve come across all year. The frog legs were lovely and delicate, the garlic emulsion, obviously combined with herbs as well made for a beautiful combination together, very French. The chicken oysters had a slight chew to them, reminding me of gizzard, and adding some contrast in texture to the dish. Well balanced, and so easy to eat!
I had brought a book with me to the Tippling Club, fully looking forward to having some time to catch up on reading…but between taking pictures of my food and eating, there was really no time! I was so impressed with the rhythm of the meal, not a single beat was missed; by the time you finished one dish, the next one materialises in front of you in a matter of minutes. It didn’t feel rushed at all, it was just right.
Second course was the slow roasted Mangalica pork collar, with a scattering of chanterelles, mozzarella milk skin and black truffle puree at the bottom. Goodness. What a rich little bowl of deliciousness. I don’t recall having pork collar before, and I have to wonder why; such a gorgeously muscly piece of meat, but with just enough beautifully rendered fat around it to give it that slightly oily lip licking goodness that we love. Whilst I didn’t find the truffles as aromatic as I thought they would be, I did love the chanterelles which were really very flavoursome.
How do you not ooh and aah when dessert comes out? The Cherry Ripe souffle with a cherry and chocolate mini magnum on the side was executed to perfection, so perfectly risen. I was surprised at how rich the flavours were, definitely chocolate and definitely cherry, but so light in texture. The mini magnum also made me squeal (on the inside) with delight; they must have used so many cherries to make this ice-cream as the flavour was so rich and concentrated. Whilst rich, it was also very refreshing.
Petit four are adorable and delicate, ranging from yuzu and black sesame tulle to a maple pannacotta and something chocolatey and delicious at the end.
By the end of it all, I was very impressed with how filling the meal was, you can’t possibly leave hungry and by the overall experience. It was theatre watching the chefs, the waitstaff were friendly but so professional and the setting just beautiful. Highly recommended, even if you must go by yourself…or more like, especially if you have to go by yourself!
My last dinner in Singapore was at the relatively new Open Farm Community, a sibling restaurant actually to Tippling Club, so expectations were high!
Open Farm Community is a lot more casual, but still quite beautiful, surrounded by gardens of fresh produce, which get used in the making of their dishes, obviously!
The menu is quite contemporary but approachable as well, with some clever tricks which remind me of Tippling Club, but also just some well executed and simple to enjoy food.
Take the carrot tartare for example, this was possibly my favourite dish of the evening, finely shaved carrots, which you combine with egg yolk and a variety of condiments. Sweet, surprisingly smooth and yet decadent at the same time.
Pasta is kept simple to let the produce shine, like this hearty dose of truffles, which simply smell like heaven when placed on the table!
My pan fried barramundi is cooked to utter perfection, smooth, silky and well supported by a hearty ratatouille.
The main thing I was personally a little let down by was the desserts and cheese platter. Whilst perfectly nice, they lacked the wow factor for me. The presentation of the chocolate brownie just did not excite me, and the mille fiuelle whilst beautiful, just wasn’t delicate enough for me.
Regardless though, I think Open Farm Community makes for a lovely and pretty relaxed meal, and I would love to return for lunch, to see what the space looks like in the day with beaming in through the large windows.