Chinatown is the most popular neighbourhood in Singapore and it’s not hard to see why: heritage shophouses line the winding roads, while traditional lanterns zigzag above the streets. Around every corner, the sounds of sizzling woks and smells of fresh ingredients fill the air, tempting you in for a taste. From Michelin-starred restaurants to no-frills eateries, Culture Trip has selected the 10 best restaurants in the precinct.
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Burnt Ends is a modern Australian-style barbecue restaurant, situated within a cute little shop house along Teck Lim Road. This Michelin-star eatery also happens to be the only establishment in Singapore to make it into the exclusive World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 list. Everyone comes here for Burnt Ends’ impossibly delicious Sanger Burger: flavourful moist slow-cooked pulled pork, crunchy coleslaw and layers of melted cheese are stuffed between fluffy brioche buns. This life-changing pork burger is seriously worth the average three-month waiting list.
Home to a whopping 226 stalls, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre is the largest hawker centre in Singapore. But that’s not all. The massive complex is also where people can enjoy a stellar lineup of award-winning meals at unbelievably affordable prices. For a start, Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre is the birthplace of Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle (aka the world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant). You can also dine at Lian He Ben Ji Claypot Rice – which has been awarded an honorable Michelin Bib Gourmand status.
After a multi-million dollar revamp, the iconic Chinatown Food Street reopened to the public in 2014. The 100-metre-long street features an impressive internal spot cooling system and a tall glass shelter – so that patrons can dine al fresco rain or shine. The variety of food offered at these 24 hawker stalls is as diverse as Singapore’s population. Look forward to freshly grilled satay skewers, fragrant char kway teow, crispy roti pratas, dried chili frog porridge and more.
Esquina is a contemporary Spanish tapas bar tucked away on the corner of Jiak Chuan Road. Barcelona-born Head Chef Carlos Montobbio, whom several Michelin-starred chefs have personally trained, helms this successful two-storey restaurant. Recommended dishes include Esquina’s Spanish Omelette and Grilled Spanish Octopus. Customers can definitely expect a superb dining experience from start to finish.
Located on the second floor of Chinatown Point, five-month-old Haikee Brothers might be a new tenant in the mall, but its history actually dates back to 1959. Third-generation hawkers James Wang and Joseph Wang have continued their grandfather’s soya sauce chicken legacy by preparing it word-for-word according to the family’s heavily guarded recipe. The soy sauce drumstick noodles will blow you away with unbelievably tender chicken and springy noodles.
Hong Lim Market and Food Centre is a local gem that Singaporeans hate to share. For many years, this huge hawker center went largely unnoticed by foreign travel publications. However, it is now hailed as a must-visit destination for budget Michelin-rated meals. Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa, Tai Wah Pork Noodles and Outram Park Fried Kway Teow are just a few of the many hawker stalls here that have received the thumbs up from the Michelin Guide Inspectors.
Proudly presented as one of the Singapore Chinatown Heritage Brands, Mei Heong Yuen Dessert is truly an institution. Beat Singapore’s unbearable heat with a bowl of refreshing snow ice. From banana chocolate, chendol to soursop, there are 18 different snow ice flavours to choose from. Health-conscious folks can indulge guiltlessly in a healthier range of desserts such as water chestnut with sweet corn and almond paste.
Despite having many local and overseas outlets, Song Fa Bak Ku Teh has successfully retained its food quality in every store. This Michelin Bib Gourmand eatery specialising in pork ribs has very humble beginnings – starting as a simple roadside pushcart in 1969. Over at Song Fa Bak Ku Teh, visitors can sink their teeth into fall-off-the-bone pork ribs and fill their stomachs with unlimited refills of piping hot peppery soup. For maximum satisfaction, complete your hearty meal with salted vegetables and sliced dough fritters.
Tong Heng Confectionery’s signature egg tarts have been feeding generations of Singaporeans – with surely many more to come. The household brand takes immense pride in serving smooth egg custard encased in a diamond-shaped pastry shells. Unlike most egg tarts, Tong Heng Confectionery’s rendition is unique – the pastry base is a lovely hybrid of buttery cookie-like tart and flaky shortcrust. This traditional bakery’s interiors have recently undergone a facelift, and can now accommodate sit-down guests.
Yum Cha Chinatown is one of the rare few places in Singapore where diners can order dim sum from old-school pushcarts and feast on retro circular communal tables. The restaurant’s traditional ambience is reminiscent of Hong Kong’s local eateries. Do not leave Yum Cha Chinatown until you have tried their steamed pork dumplings. Also known as xiao long bao, these delicate dumplings filled with soup are served steaming hot in a bamboo basket. Their best-selling custard buns filled with salted egg yolk is another must-try dim sum here.