Where to eat and drink in Singapore: an insider guide by chef Julien Royer

Laura Price - 16/05/2019

As the Lion City prepares to host The World’s 50 Best Restaurants events next month, Julien Royer – chef-owner of Odette – shares his hidden gems

A total of 18 establishments on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and Bars lists combined sit in our host city of Singapore. Without a doubt, it can compete with any major city for fine dining and cocktails. But it’s also the home of world-class street food and casual dining for every cuisine from Chinese to Peruvian. According to French cook Julien Royer, the food scene has transformed “drastically” since he moved to the city in 2008, with the biggest change being an increase in diversity.

“The local food has always been very good and the offer was excellent,” says Royer. “What’s cool about Singapore is that you can eat something really delicious for $4 or $5. What has changed, however, is the addition of a lot of new restaurants and the multicultural aspect of the city. You have chefs from all over the world coming here from Australia, the UK, Europe, Japan, the US, South America, setting up their own businesses and adding some excitement to the dining scene with new concepts. The local food has always been extremely good but the diversity and the quality of the restaurants that are here now is much better than 10 years ago and keeps moving and evolving every single day. That makes Singapore a super exciting dining destination.”

Discover some of chef Royer’s local favourites.

For Singaporean cuisine:

Jumbo Seafood 

Various locations
jumboseafood.com.sg

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Chilli crab

“The first meal I had in Singapore was chilli crab, which is one of the famous Singapore icons, and I still really enjoy a good chilli crab. Everybody has their own address but I really like the chilli crab from Jumbo Seafood.”

Candlenut

17A Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249676
comodempsey.sg/restaurant/candlenut

“I love to go to Candlenut, where the Singaporean chef [Malcolm Lee] does Peranakan cuisine, which is really the roots of Singaporean food. I love his flavours, they are really subtle and it’s beautifully presented and really tasty.”

Tian Tian Seafood Restaurant

239 Outram Rd, Singapore 169042

“In the case of hawker centres, I would take people to a restaurant that my sous chef Levin [Lau] told me about years ago – we still go often. Tian Tian is located in Outram Park and they serve many of the Singaporean dishes such as chilli crab and chicken rice. They do amazing seafood, amazing squid with salted egg yolk. They do a lot of very typical Singapore dishes and it’s outside, it’s a big table where you can seat 10-15 people and you can just go there and order a load of food, get a few beers. It’s kind of secret but a lot of people in the industry go there because it’s open very late so you finish the service at 12 or 1am and you can still go and have food there.”

For Peruvian cuisine:

Tono Cevichería

Duo Towers, Bugis, Ground Level, 7 Fraser Street #01-49/50, 189356
ola.kitchen/tono/

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A sharing table at Tono Cevichería

“When it comes to diversity, we have a restaurant called Tono, which does Peruvian ceviche. The chef, Daniel Chavez, is originally from Peru. He does delicious food in his two restaurants [the other is Ola Cocina del Mar].”

For French cuisine:

Brasserie Gavroche

66 Tras St, 079005
brasseriegavroche.com

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Grandpa Henri’s baked pork terrine with duck liver

“When I want to go for something French – because I am French – I go to Brasserie Gavroche, which is very authentic French bistro cuisine.”

For Japanese cuisine:

Shinji by Kanesaka

76 Bras Basah Rd, 189558
shinjibykanesaka.com

Julien-Singa-Blog19-Shinji-
Aji (horse mackerel)

“I like to go to very good Japanese restaurants. Shinji does amazing sushi and nigiri-style Japanese food.”

For oysters and steak:

Luke’s Oyster Bar & Chop House

Various locations
lukes.com.sg

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Veal chop

“Travis Masiero is an American chef who’s been in Singapore for the last 10 years and he has a beautiful oyster bar and steaks – super nice and tasty.”

For Chinese cuisine:

Din Tai Fung

Various locations
dintaifung.com.sg

“I love to go to Din Tai Fung, which does amazing xiao long bao, which is a dumpling with some liquid inside so it’s so beautiful to look at. It’s very difficult to make – I have tried – because every single piece is made by hand and it has to be folded 18 times. It’s just so delicious. Every time I have friends and family visiting Singapore, I always bring them to Din Tai Fung.”

Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck

#05-42/45, Paragon, 290 Orchard Rd, 238859
imperialtreasure.com

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Peking duck

"This Chinese restaurant does an amazing crispy duck. I love that dish so much.”

Tanjong Rhu Pau & Confectionery

389 Guillemard Road

“I like to go for something really simple which is tanjong rhu pau. It’s a little savoury bun with a very thin sweet layer on top and very yummy barbecued pork filling. Tanjong rhu pau is at Lavender.”


After all that, you’re going to need a drink…

“The cocktail scene in Singapore is really world class. It has an amazing selection of bars and mixologists that make the city unique. For such a small country, we have a high number of really high-ranking bars and so many very talented mixologists, whether they’re from Singapore or from Malaysia or Japan. It’s a really good and interesting mix of bars and again with a huge diversity. You can go for something really local like Native bar or you can go for something upper class like Atlas or Manhattan bar, which have two different atmospheres and two different offers, but are two very cool bars that I love.”

Atlas

600 North Bridge Rd, Parkview Square, 188778
atlasbar.sg

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Atlas’ gilded bar and signature Martini

“As a chef, sometimes my favourite drink after service is just to grab a beer and something really simple, but there are two cocktail bars that I really like – Atlas bar and Manhattan.”

Manhattan

1 Cuscaden Rd, Level 2 Regent Singapore, 249715
regenthotels.com/regent-singapore/dining/manhattan

AsiaBars19-Blog-Manhatt-620
Manhattan bar and Corpse Reviver

“There are so many cocktail bars, they keep opening and opening but it’s good, you can really try new stuff pretty much every week or every month in Singapore.”

28 Hongkong Street

28 Hongkong Street, 059667
28hks.com

Julien-Singa-Blog19-28Hong-
Cashew Eveything Around Me

“28 Hongkong Street is one of many people’s favourites because the drinks are just so good.”

Spago

10 Bayfront Avenue L57, Sands SkyPark, Hotel Tower 2, 018956
marinabaysands.com/restaurants/spago.html

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Spago's terrace

“I also like to go to Spago on top of the Marina Bay Sands. They have really great cocktails.”

Go inside Odette with chef Royer:

Now take our 50-hour tour of Singapore:

The Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019 list was revealed in Singapore last week, with Hong Kong bar The Old Man topping the list. Watch the video highlights and stay tuned for news about #50BestTalks: Female Spirit.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 will be announced on Tuesday 25th June in Singapore. Follow 50 Best on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news, videos and interviews.