5 Best Restaurants in Singapore that Combine Delicious Food and Classy Ambience
It’s a challenging time for restaurants but these new arrivals thrive with the perfect pairing of great food and good design
While interior design and gastronomy are different fields, these go hand-in-hand in the makings of a great restaurant. That said, chefs and restaurateurs are upping the dining experience in their new dining concepts with innovative menus complemented by well thought of designs. Here are five of them.
Legendary pizza joint Lucali from Brooklyn, New York has finally made its way to Singapore. Lucali Bygb is a collaboration between chef-owner Mark Iacono and Singapore-based hospitality expert Gibran Baydoun. “We want the restaurant to be an interpretation of all that we love about Lucali but done our way,” shares Baydoun. The restaurant’s original DNA is reflected in the interiors, which has an industrial flavour overall but is jazzed up with contemporary artworks on the walls, lit candles set atop long dining tables, and an open kitchen for diners to watch chef Ariana Flores prepare pasta dishes, salads and pizzas. The signature pizzas come in a standard 18-inch pie, cooked until light and crispy and topped with the Brooklyn cheese combination of buffalo mozzarella, low-moisture mozzarella, and shaved grana padano. Diners can also choose their preferred extra toppings.
In celebration of his birthplace of Portugal, architect-turned-restaurateur Carlos Couto opened Portuguese restaurant Tuga in Taiwan in 2015. Now five years later, in partnership with F&B and hospitality group The Supermarket Company, he set up the Singapore outpost. “Tuga is an immersion of Portugal through its food, wine, music and art,” affirms Couto, which is why the 4,600sqft space is surrounded by artworks of key historical Portuguese figures as well as 21,000 bottles of the country’s wines prominently displayed across the restaurant. Couto has brought in prized tipples, such as the Quinta de Chocapalha 2016 and Villa Oliveira Portugal Vinha Das Pedras Altas 2014, to pair with classic dishes including the popular bacalhau à bràs prepared with salted cod, potatoes and eggs.
(Related: A Food Lover's Guide To Porto)
As its name suggests, gastro wine bar Rebel Rebel does not follow the rules. “It’s important to continue pushing the boundaries with refreshing concepts that offer diners a truly unique experience,” explains head chef Deborah Yeo. It starts with the impressive 200-bottle list of terroir-driven natural wines produced in small quantities, such as the 2014 Beau Paysage from revered Japanese winemaker Eishi Okamoto. Yeo’s menu also reflects the establishment’s unconventional streak with innovative offerings such as pig’s head tagliatelle tossed with chopped pig’s face and ears and enlivened with a squeeze of lime juice. It is also sprinkled with chilli and chilli-fried pig’s ears for a fiery kick. The interiors are designed to be welcoming thanks to the use of muted earth tones, natural light and candid photos of winemakers displayed within the space. But the piece de resistance is the collection of rare and beautiful wine bottles stacked on custom-built cavernous walls.
Bar Milano, the latest offering of restaurant and nightlife company SJS Group, is fashioned after classic European tavernas. To achieve the look, the group behind hotspots such as Pasta Bar, LuLu’s Lounge and Employees Only hired a movie set designer (instead of an interior designer) who decked out the 38-seat restaurant and bar with Italian hand-painted tiles, vintage wooden furniture and a well-stocked bar serving a variety of spritzes. Start with the Bianco Spritz, concocted with prosecco, Italian basil and house-made sweet and sour mix, which is an ideal match to the dishes to come. Don’t miss the deep-fried pizza frittas topped with fresh ingredients. Popular choices include the Napolitana, loaded with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil, and the Mortadella, which comes with mortadella sausages, stracciatella and basil pesto.
Another new addition to the island’s buzzy dining scene is chef-owner Andrew Walsh’s Catfish, a modern Asian restaurant specialising on seafood-centric fare. "It was conceptualised based on the idea of making seafood exciting, creating dishes that are complex yet simple and easy to enjoy," explains Andrew, so you can tuck into dishes such as bluefin tuna, wasabi, as well as sesame prawn toast topped with uni and caviar. Complementing the overall dining experience is the welcoming interiors, designed by The Artling founder, Talenia Phua Gajardo. The lounge-like space, decked out in long tables and comfortable seats, brings the outdoors in with its tropical urban style accented with olive hues and lush natural greenery.