Best of Asian Travel
The top 6 places to drop in to shop (and shop till you drop) in Singapore
While Orchard Road is a ground zero for big names and blissfully air-conditioned malls, Singapore’s status as a shopping mecca is being enhanced by an endless roster of smaller boutiques and stores filled with real personality.
1. Books Actually
The heady smell of paper fills your senses as soon as you walk into this jam-packed little place, where books line the walls and perch on every flat surface, both in the front half of the store and out back where you will also find a quirky mix of second-hand titles, vintage bric-a-brac (bottles, rubber stamps, old toys) and stationery.
It’s so hipster cool; there is someone sitting behind the counter typing on a vintage typewriter, and outside there’s a book-vending machine filled with a lucky dip of tomes wrapped in brown paper. booksactuallyshop.com
Lalu is a local small chain that ticks the box for cute pieces that are on-trend but not obvious or laboured, as well as price, with lots of mix-and-match elements that can be paired up as a two for SD$29 or SD$39 combo.
3. Scene Shang
This chic store on buzzy Beach Road is ‘an ode to the old and a nod to the new’. Scene Shang is filled with an artfully curated collection of furniture, ceramics, lighting and art, much of which is created by local artists and designers. Even the tiny cup of fragrant herbal tea you are presented with as you browse is deliciously chic.
Also on Beach Road, the team behind Supermama’s flagship gallery store work with local Singaporean artists, designers and crafts people, as well as traditional craft facilities in Japan to assemble contemporary pieces that they feel reflects modern Singaporean culture. When we visited a long table was laid with what looked like blue and white Chinoiserie plates, but on closer inspection were printed with Star Wars scenes.
This light, white space on Amoy Street forms the perfect canvas for the bright, colourful design pieces that make up the store’s inventory, from all kinds of lovely hand-made ceramics to bags, toys, lighting and stationery. strangelets.sg
6. Gallery & Co.
Located just inside the entrance to the wondrous new National Gallery of Singapore, the Gallery & Co. is a browser’s paradise of design pieces, art books, children’s books and crafts, funky jewellery and clever souvenirs, like the T-shirt that states ‘No, we are not a province of China’.
Honourable retail recommendations
Little India for spices, sari material and exuberant gold jewellery pieces; The Mustafa Centre, a multi-floor behemoth stretching away from Serangoon Road for a couple of blocks, and home of absolutely everything; Chinatown’s markets where you can find everything from Disney character chopsticks to Chinese antiques.
The Changi Challenge
I’ve been to Changi Airport myriad times, but in my haste to get into town or on my plane, I have never seen half the facilities that it is famous for, and that win it the title of best airport in the world year in and year out.
So, with an hour or so to kill, I decided to take the Changi Challenge and go in search of as many of the good bits that I could find in that time.
First up was the Butterfly Garden, which I located with relative ease.
A soaring indoor/outdoor space filled with the gentle winged creature, it’s not exactly quiet, being next to a runway of one of the busiest airports in the world, but it is quite pleasant to sit in for a while in the evening when the heat of the day has subsided.
I then ticked the free movie cinema off the list, a multiplex in miniature where recent release films are played in an endless loop.
Another favourite is the cactus garden, an outdoor landscape of sculptural cacti where you can sit and watch the planes come and go, or when it is too hot, gaze out onto it from the air-conditioned food court. Still searching for: the giant slide.
Interview with Lisa Chedanne, Director-designer of Lilya label
An Australian living overseas - Lisa Chedanne Director-designer of fashion label Lilya.
Where are you originally from?
Where are you living now?
How long have you been there?
I moved to Bali six months ago officially, but have been travelling back and forth for 11 years.
What’s the best thing about it?
The freedom, the beach lifestyle and the social life… everyone is always up for doing something!
What’s the hardest?
I miss my best friends and my family. I am getting a little afraid of the approaching rainy season and getting around in the pouring rain on a motorbike.
What’s one thing people should do when they visit that only a local would know about?
I would suggest a ride through the rice fields, visiting other parts of the island, and the surrounding islands like Nusa Lembongan and the Gili islands. I want to start exploring more – next on my list is to go to Raja Ampat on my friends’ boat.
Where is the best place to get a coffee?
Revolver in Seminyak, because it makes great strong Aussie-style coffee, though there are so many good cafes and restaurants here and lots of discerning customers from all over the world. Coffee standards have definitely improved over the past few years.
Your favourite place to eat?
Right now, I love La Sicilia in Seminyak. We celebrated my birthday there recently and had the octopus carpaccio and the gnocchi, it was amazing. I also love Avocado Cafe in Canggu. There are so many good places here!
Where do you go shopping?
I have my fave fashion stores here in Bali like Sailors Falls Finery, Natasha, Auguste and Ku De Ta, but right now my all-time favourite is Kim Soo; it is to die for and totally affordable.
A post shared by LILYA (@ilovelilya) on Jan 6, 2017 at 4:29pm PST
What’s your favourite place in the city?
I love riding my motorbike, both in the busy traffic-heavy streets and empty roads. I feel absolute freedom doing this. I also love going to Berawa Beach for sunset. The vibe is super-chilled and every day it makes you remember why you live here.
What would you recommend doing for the perfect Sunday?
Well I’m a mum, so for me it’s Ku De Ta, because it has activities for kids like jumping castles, swimming pool, breakfast and the beach out the front. I see friends there and all the kids play and you get a little time to enjoy the sun.
How has living there changed your life?
I have a lot more freedom being a mum on my own with a little boy and I now travel within Asia a little more, which is exciting. I also wear summer clothes all year round… and get to go to the gym three to four times a week, which I found hard in Australia.
Maya @mayastepper wearing the Naomi velvet cami | shot by @amberlyvalentine and available online now #ilovelilya
A post shared by LILYA (@ilovelilya) on Mar 29, 2017 at 2:48am PDT
Okinawa: a closer look at Japan’s island life
An immersion in the island life of Okinawa, removed from the Japanese mainland in spirit and geography, rewards with gentle beauty, peace and poignancy. Words Leigh-Ann Pow.
Okinawans remind me a lot of Sicilians.
I know it’s not an obvious comparison given the vast and recognisable differences between the two, but anyone who has had the opportunity to visit both these island states will know that they share a passionate belief in their unique identity and a fierce pride in the trials and tragedies they have endured and overcome in the past.
The inhabitants of Japan’s southernmost prefecture consider themselves to be Okinawans first and foremost, and Japanese second, much like the Sicilians view being Italian as something of a consolation prize.
This perception of removal from the rest of Japan is influenced as much by history as it is by geography.
Situated in the southern reaches of the Ryukyu Islands, an archipelago stretching out from the island of Kyushu towards Taiwan and the Philippines, its inhabited islands are grouped into three smaller archipelagos – the Okinawa Islands, Miyako Islands and Yaeyama Islands.
The Ryukyu Kingdom was a thriving dynasty stretching over hundreds of years that was trading goods and knowledge with China to the west while most of mainland Japan was still living as an insular feudal society under the protection of the shogun.
In fact, Okinawa was only really brought into the fold in any significant way after the Meiji restoration of 1868, which ended the powerful Tokugawa shogunate that had ruled Japan for some 250 years and returned imperial rule to the country under Emperor Meiji.
Today the capital of the prefecture of Okinawa is Naha, located in the south of Okinawa Island.
This is where I land after a journey via Tokyo that passed over vast swathes of pristine water dotted with some of the hundreds of islands that stretch out for 1000 kilometres.
My guide, Yukari, is a mainlander who moved here with her Canadian husband 26 years ago; she is the first of many Japanese people from other places who now call Okinawa home that I will meet during my time on the islands.
As we leave the airport and head out into a glorious autumn day, I understand her motivation for settling here.
While winter is setting in to the north, the temperature here hovers in the mid-20s and the sun sits high in a clear sky.
As we head into Naha I am amazed by the gentle pace of the city, the lack of traffic on the wide roads.
Yukari tells me that there’s no metro system like so many other Japanese cities have, so traffic can be a chore, but for a gridlock-weary-Sydneysider like myself, it all seems so calm and ordered.
I ask Yakuri about the US armed forces who are stationed here; I had expected to see some tangible evidence of their presence given there are some 50,000 Americans (soldiers and their families) stationed on Okinawa.
She tells me that the US base is in the middle of the island and that the Americans keep to themselves most of the time.
The events that brought the Americans here in the first place only added to Okinawa’s sense of isolation from the rest of Japan: as the Second World War was nearing an end, American forces arrived in Japan through the islands, and the resulting battle – the Battle of Okinawa – was one of the bloodiest of the Pacific War.
By the time it ended after 82 days, roughly 12,000 American troops, 70,000 Japanese soldiers and Okinawan conscripts, and tragically, more than 100,000 civilians had died.
Many locals chose suicide over surrender, having been convinced by constant government propaganda that the Americans were ‘ogre beasts’.
After the war the US effectively occupied Okinawa, implementing laws and administering the islands with little resistance or interest from Tokyo: Okinawans drove on the right side of the road, like in the US, until the 1970s.
After lunch (my first bowl of noodles: there would be others), we head to Shurijo Castle, a hulking, exquisitely bright rendering with decorative influences of both Japanese and Chinese including carved dragons.
Off to the side a small stage presents traditional dance; the petite-waisted, kimono-wearing women telling tales of harvests and history through their graceful movements.
Inside, my shoes come off and I follow a procession of high school students and Japanese tourists past the throne room, with its impressive carved columns with more dragons.
The castle was all but destroyed in 1945, but has been painstakingly restored and rebuilt.
Its beauty and significance isn’t diminished by not being totally original: it has actually burnt down and been rebuilt numerous times in its 600-year history.
Down the road we stop at a traditional printing workshop, where bolts of fabric are wound this way and that on a giant press and decorated using natural dyes with intricate motifs to create the island’s distinctive bingata textile.
The press is way too complicated, but I do try my hand at coral dyeing, daubing huge chunks of sliced coral with colourful dyes and stamping them onto fabric.
Later we roam the sleekly modern Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum, where I learn more about the Ryukyuan kings who ruled from the Shurijo and gain insight into how Okinawa has ended up with such a unique culture.
Heading out of Naha, we take the road south towards Nanjo and my hotel for the night, driving through green agricultural land.
As I gaze out of the window I notice the houses are adorned with matching statues of crazy-eyed lions, one with its mouth open, the other with it shut.
These are shisa, and they guard the entrance of just about every building and dwelling in Okinawa, warding off bad spirits.
After an hour we arrive at Hyakuna Garan hotel with little fanfare, slipping behind an unassuming outer wall to look out to the shimmering beauty of the sea beyond.
A study in calm elegance, the property is built around the landscape, not on top of it, with a long-established twisting tree stretching up through the middle of an open air courtyard.
I explore and find a tatami room for quiet contemplation and a library overlooking the beach below.
My room is all luxe restraint, with lots of blond wood and uninterrupted water views.
After an intricately constructed Japanese dinner including my first experience of Okinawan tofu (a soft, silky, chewy affair with a flavour of peanut – I’m told you either love it or hate it; I love it), I indulge in an outdoor bath under the stars in the rooftop bathhouse, the inky blackness of the sky pierced by stars, the lapping waters below the only sound.
The next morning Yukari takes me to the Peace Memorial Park in Itoman, the scene of the final battle for Okinawa, and now a sprawling war memorial to all who fell here during the war; Japanese, Americans and British alike.
As high school students from all over Japan have their photos taken in front of the Flame of Peace at the heart of the memorial, Yukari quietly points out the picturesque green cliffs not too far in the distance, explaining that these were the suicide cliffs that women and children threw themselves off in fear as the Americans approached.
Okinawans don’t shrink away from the horrors of the past; so many of them were affected by it for so long that talking about it and memorialising it seems like the ultimate act of healing.
It has also instilled in them a heightened appreciation of peace and harmony, something they seem to carry with them on a day-to-day basis, and apparent in their gentle demeanour.
Leaving the past behind, we forge on to the airport to take an up-then-down flight to the island of Ishigaki, 444 kilometres south over the East China Sea.
More of a tropical paradise than Okinawa Island is allowed to be, given its place as the pragmatic heart of the island prefecture, Ishigaki has a wistful holiday feel.
On the road to the celebrated turquoise waters of Kabira Bay, we drive past lush tropical trees wrapped with flowering vines, so dense in places that they block out the sun.
At Kabira Bay we wait out the cloud cover that has started to roll in – the water is at its most potently blue when the sun shines on it – and walk the soft sand.
Later we visit the Ishigaki-yaki pottery studio where Haruhiko Kaneko makes fused glass pottery pieces in deep shades of blue that reflect the colours of the sea here.
His mesmerising works have been exhibited worldwide.
My literal immersion in the island life of Ishigaki continues the next morning when I catch a ride to the reefs that lie just off shore.
The water here is filled with a curious array of fish; I float on the ebb and flow taking in the underwater scene, and notice the outline of a neighbouring island in the distance as I surface.
Taketomi Island; my next destination.
The ferry ride to Taketomi takes just 10 minutes, but all concessions to the modern world melt away here.
Bitumen is replaced by sand and crushed coral, and we navigate narrow laneways of traditional Ryukyu houses hiding behind walls made from stacked coral and drenched in bougainvillea. It is picture-postcard stuff.
Pausing just a moment at my homely guest house, Cago, a lovely little compound of three free-standing rooms run by a delightful couple, more mainland transplants, I take to a bike (the preferred method of transport on the island, apart from the bullock carts that ferry day-trippers).
Riding around the village I pass Kihōin, Japan’s southernmost temple, a tiny affair that is made more interesting by the eclectic collection of some 3000 artefacts accumulated by the priest here.
Heading further afield, down bike paths lined with vegetation that attracts an abundance of butterflies, I arrive at Kondoi Beach where the silence is almost otherworldly; interrupted only by the sound of the ferry returning to Ishigaki in the distance and the occasional fish broaching the surface.
The shore is moody and blissfully deserted in the fading afternoon light.
Before heading back to Cago I indulge in the novelty of trying to find star-shaped sand at Kaijihama Beach, which is supposed to bring good luck.
Over a delicious homemade dinner I make conversation with my fellow guests, a father and his young daughter making their way around the islands for a week.
They don’t speak much English and my Japanese isn’t great, but we are content to smile and enjoy our meal together.
The next day we head back to Ishigaki.
Here, we stop at Murutaka Nouen, a small market garden where the gorgeous Ms Takanishi conducts cooking classes from an open air kitchen next to her house.
We head out to her garden and pick ingredients, vegetables, herbs and leaves that promise health-giving benefits, and she then takes me step by step through the process of making them into stir-fries and salads.
We end up with three dishes, which seems like the perfect sized lunch. But as I am sitting down Ms Takanishi’s grandson appears with a tray groaning with 12 additional dishes, a feast of local delicacies like the celebrated Ishigaki beef, bitter melon, and more unctuous tofu.
As I sit eating and being watched over by the spry Ms Takanishi, I am reminded that I did actually find a few grains of star-shaped sand the previous day.
And I do indeed feel very lucky to have glimpsed the gentle beauty of Okinawa, and can now well appreciate why Okinawans are so Sicilian about their heritage, their culture, their history and their beautiful island home.
Details about visiting Okinawa:
Getting to Okinawa:
ANA flies daily from Sydney to Tokyo Haneda Airport, with conneccting flights on JAL to Naha Airport.
Staying in Okinawa:
In Okinawa: Hyakuna Garan in Nanjo is a luxuriously restful hotel experience; hyakungaran.com
In Ishigaki: Fusaki Resort Village is a family-friendly resort hotel that provided one of the most breathtaking sunsets I have ever seen from its beach pier.
On Takatomi Island: Cago is a sweet guest house with smiling, gracious hosts, and delicious home-cooked meals, including fresh rolls baked by the man of the house every morning.
On Ishigaki, the best sushi is served at Hitoshi Ishiganto in town (197-1 Okawa, Ishigaki).
A local specialty worth trying is salt ice-cream, locally made creamy soft serve that is infused with salt, and then sprinkled with all manner of flavoured salt (wasabi, sakura, lime, chilli), like savoury hundreds and thousands.
Shopping in Okinawa:
You cannot visit Okinawa and not bring home a set of shisa. They are absolutely everywhere, and can be bought in the traditional terracotta colour or exuberant rainbow hues.
Want to know more about Okinawa? Check out Five tropical hideaways to visit in Okinawa
A photo journey through Vietnam via the Mekong
Cruising down the Mekong is a journey into the old heart of Vietnam, its rich culture and arresting landscapes. Writes Elise Hassey
Legend has it that the Vietnamese people (Kihn), the largest ethnic group in Vietnam, are the children of Au Co, who sat on 100 eggs and smashed as many giants to protect them.
It was the eldest of these children who supposedly inaugurated the Hong Bang dynasty, whose 18 kings ruled Van Lang, a kingdom in the Red River Delta, until around 257BC.
This is an altogether more lyrical take on Vietnamese history than the story that many would know from the 20th century, when the country was ravaged by war.
But Vietnam is finally emerging from its dramatic past and looking to a much more positive future.
One aspect of this is the lure it now presents to travellers, with its rich cultural identity, exquisite cuisine and curious, welcoming people.
With eight million people living in the country’s largest city Ho Chi Minh (all of whom apparently own a motorbike with a horn), one of the less frenetic ways to experience the country is via the mighty Mekong.
At 4350 kilometres long, the river rises in the highlands of Tibet and empties into the sea south of Vietnam.
Photographer Elise Hassey cruised the Mekong on Scenic’s Luxury Mekong cruise (from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap).
Here, her travel diary of the Vietnam leg of the journey, and arresting images.
Men riding motorcycles in Cai Be Shore Excursion Afternoon
We encounter a floating market selling pineapple, water melon, pumpkin, banana flowers and various fruit and vegies.
The Mekong Delta is considered Vietnam’s rice bowl, but it’s also its vegetable garden too.
We catch a sampan [flat-bottomed wooden boat] to a village, strolling the streets and meeting the locals before touring the Ba Kiet, one of the oldest houses in Vietnam.
One of the largest cities in the Delta, we spend the afternoon at the local market where they sell everything from toads, eels and water beetles to marigold flowers and vegetables.
Everywhere I look there are men playing Chinese chess in the street, and motorbikes buzzing every which way; according to the Ministry of Transport, of the 90-plus million population here, 37 million have a registered motorbike.
Men riding motorcycles in Cai Be Shore Excursion Afternoon
We catch a sampan along tributaries to Evergreen Island and glimpse authentic rural life.
The village has between 150 and 170 families, most of whom grow chilli for a living; apparently every meal in these parts includes chilli. It is a humbling experience walking through the village, where everyone is so warm and friendly.
At one point a group of children run out to say ‘Hello’, but hesitate at the last moment.
Their grandmother tells them, “They won’t eat you”.
Children swimming in Cai Be
As lunch approaches, women take to the streets with their mobile food shops.
Fisherman in Cai Be
Woman weaving in Evergreen Island
At a nearby house we watch a young girl practise traditional weaving.
Before heading back to the boat we ride in a Xe Loi [tuk tuk] to the beautiful Cao Dai temple; it’s prayer time so we only stay a few moments out of respect.
The Beautiful Cao Dai temple on Evergreen Island (photo: Elise Hassey).
We watch fishermen catching carp and catfish on the way back and visit a local fish market. It’s an intense experience, much like the rest of Vietnam.
It’s a country that undoubtedly has issues, from poverty to environmental damage as it forges forward, but what stands out are the people, and their respect and love for the river they thrive off.
Can't get enough of Vietnam? Check out the beginners guide to Vietnam
3 Singaporean culinary delights worth trying
1. What is 'Mod Sing'?
The culinary vogue for creating modern interpretations of traditional Singaporean dishes has given rise to the much-used term ‘mod sing’, the melding of new ingredients and techniques with traditional methods and recipes to create dishes such as coconut laksa barramundi with turmeric potato cake and baby bok choy (Open Farm Community), and wagyu beef char siew with pickled papaya and cherry tomato (Ding Dong).
At National Kitchen by Violet Oon, a gorgeous dining hall in the stunning new National Gallery of Singapore, Violet Oon, the grand dame of Peranakan cooking, serves up modern takes on nonya (a spicy cuisine that combines Malay and Chinese ingredients and techniques), classics such as rojak (guava, sour mangoes, rose apple, pineapple, cucumber, julienne of pink ginger flowers, jellyfish and crispy crullers tossed in a sweet, sour and mildly spicy sauce) and a hae bee hiam sandwich (spicy dried shrimp floss finger sandwiches).
And if you want to take the whole hybrid thing one step further, Whitegrass (situated in a former Catholic convent diagonally opposite Raffles), the passion project of chef-owner Sam Aisbett (ex-Quay), does a fine dining Oz-Sing-Japanese thing that is creating a lot of buzz.
2.Their Coveted Coffee
Coffee culture has well and truly arrived in Singapore, offering up an alternative to its traditional milky, super sweet brew.
Check out PS.Cafe, a small-scale local chain serving insanely indulgent cakes and decent-brewed coffee; the bright, casual cafe in the National Gallery of Singapore’s Gallery & Co. retail and dining space; and the painstakingly brewed coffee in the ultra-hip CSHH Coffee Bar in the Chye Seng Huat Hardware, a repurposed Art Deco shophouse compound.
Singaporeans also have a current fascination with Scandinavian cafes, where locals indulge in Swedish baked goods in bleached wood surrounds: look out for Konditori on Bussorah Street and Fika on Beach Road.
3. What is a Milo dinosaur?
Milo is a staple for Singaporeans; sit down at any hawkers’ market or kopitiam (traditional coffee shop) and the Milo dinosaur will be on the menu.
And what is it? Quite simply it’s a long glass of Milo filled to the brim with ice and topped off with mounds of crunchy Milo that you can eat with a spoon or stir into the already Milo-heavy liquid below.
In true Singaporean style, the Milo dinosaur has recently got bigger and better with the invention of the Milo Godzilla: Milo, milk, ice and a scoop of ice-cream, which is then also weighed down with more Milo.
A word of warning though: Singaporean Milo apparently comes from Malaysia and it is a lot sweeter than the stuff we are used to here in Australia.
MORE... We know you just can't get enough of Singapore?
3 stroll-worthy neighbourhoods to visit in Singapore
Leigh-Ann Pow discovered that Singapore is a frenetic, fantastical place that evolves and changes and reinvents itself on a dizzyingly constant basis.
Removed from the bustle of downtown Singapore, the Katong neighbourhood, a 15-minute drive from Changi Airport, retains a charmingly unaffected air, with locals coming and going past gelato-hued traditional terraced shophouses.
An enclave of Peranakan traditions, you can happily ignore the lure of showier parts of town, shopping and eating and sightseeing at an altogether slower pace.
Check out the historic edifice of the former Katong Bakery & Confectionery on East Coast Road, shop for Peranakan antiques at Rumah Bebe (also on East Coast Road), stroll the residential streets off Joo Chiat Road and visit the Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple.
2. Tiong Bahru
Built in the 1930s as the island’s first housing estate, Tiong Bahru has a delightful halcyon days vibe to it, with its pristinely maintained Art Deco apartment blocks.
The area was an enclave for Chinese businessmen to keep their mistresses, and while it is still largely residential and laid-back, it is undergoing something of a gentrification, with cafes, restaurants and boutiques moving in.
Authenticity can still be found in the daily wet market and in the surrounding streets.
3. Dempsey Hill
A former nutmeg plantation, Dempsey Hill has been transformed into an eating and lifestyle destination, but it still retains something of an out-of-the-way, rustic vibe, with walking trails and abundant greenery.
Make your way up the hill for unique eating opportunities like COMO Cuisine, a restaurant and retail offshoot of COMO Hotels and Resorts, which will boast a collection of eateries and a hotly anticipated outpost of Dover Street Market coming soon.
So good you’ll want to see it again:
Kampong Glam, the former seat of Malay royalty in Singapore, is rich in ethnic diversity and Islamic architecture (the Sultan Mosque), making it the perfect neighbourhood to explore at a strolling pace.
Wan to know more about Singapore? Check out _____________________
Our list of top Singapore restaurants to dine at
Singapore has forged its place in the food lexicon as the home of award-winning cheap eats.
Ask any local the best places to eat and they will eschew fine dining and instead send you down narrow streets lined with repurposed shophouses and to outlying neighbourhoods to sample outlets that have earned a mention in Bib Gourmand (Michelin’s directory of 'good meals at moderate prices’ and a must-have app on Singaporeans’ phones) or even a coveted star.
And the best thing is that most dishes come in under the SD$10 mark.
Our top 3 list of restaurants to eat at in Singapore
328 Katong Laksa
A tiny storefront on a corner in the Katong neighbourhood, with outdoor seating on plastic chairs, the traditional Peranakan laksa served here costs around $5-7 a bowl and is so good it has earned the unassuming establishment an actual Michelin star.
On the wall there are pictures of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay who challenged it to the equivalent of a soup-showdown and came off second best.
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Equally unassuming, the bak chor mee (minced pork noodles) served at Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle at Crawford Lane (use Lavender MRT station) are also a Michelin star recipient. Originally founded in the 1930s, and still family run, the line at lunchtime here snakes out the door and around the corner and can take quite a while to clear.
Locals are adamant it’s worth the wait.
HJh Maimunah Restaurant
Located in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood, Bib Gourmand inclusion Hjh Maimunah Restaurant is bustling at lunchtime with family and friends making their way through plates piled high with spicy and aromatic dishes, from crumbly, dark beef rending to sweet coconut chicken curry and all manner of vegetable dishes drenched in spicy sambal.
There are also a selection of snacks like samosa and tiny sweet doughnuts for a few dollars each.
One of our plates with a selection of five or so vegetable dishes came to just over $3.
New eats to treat yourself to
Ding Dong is a neon bright space serving up mod sing creations; start with a cocktail at the bar before working your way through the menu of small plates designed to be shared.
Potato Head Folk
In a corner shophouse in Chinatown, Australian artist David Bromley was given artistic free range, daubing one entire floor of the building with his distinctive works and filling many of the spaces in between with installations of his distinctive sculptures.
It is all delightfully whimsical, and perfectly complements the menu of burgers, organic dishes and homemade sodas, Potato Head Singapore is definitely a place to visit.
Open Farm Community
Sitting high on a hill above the Botanic Gardens, Open Farm Community is an earthy, honest proposition, with dishes constructed from locally grown and sourced ingredients, many of which come from the market gardens (complete with chickens) that surround the main dining room, providing a lovely green outlook.
The menu, created by big deal UK chef Ryan Clift, is huge on taste and goodness, and represents value for money considering the hearty portions served up. This place became an instant favourite as soon as I stepped in the door.
Open Door Policy
Another little local getting big kudos for its sustainable and now totally gluten- and dairy-free cuisine, which also happens to be filled with taste. Open Door Policy grow their own herbs and vegetables inside the narrow space they occupy in Tiong Bahru that is constantly filled with bright young things.
Located on Robertson Quay, the chosen neighbourhood for ex-pat Australians, Sprmrkt comprises two floors and two concepts: downstairs in Sprmrkt Daily it’s casual outdoor dining overlooking the Singapore River, and upstairs Sprmrkt Kitchen & Bar is a little fancier.
More Sing-formation? All of Singapore at your feet...
Free Travel Brochures
Browse our carefully selected brochures from
across the world.