Chinatown is, and has always been, a bustling food haven. With all the hawker centres and eateries around the corner, it is little wonder why the area is such a tourist hotspot. But if one decides to go for a spot of exploring, Keong Saik Road would turn up as a pleasant discovery. Don’t just hear it from us: Lonely Planet’s even listed the district as one of its top 10 must-see Asian destinations.
Stowed away from the heart of Chinatown, the hip enclave is a relatively peaceful respite from the crowds. It’s also a cosy spot, compared to Telok Ayer, with colonial buildings all tightly packed together. Yet, each small pocket of space sees a unique dining experience from laidback bistros to innovative restaurants.
The best way to check out Keong Saik Road is to stroll down and try any restaurant. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bad time at any of these places. If time’s not on your side, this quick guide to Keong Saik’s star eats will prove helpful.
(Hero image: Singapore Tourism Board, Featured image: Singapore Tourism Board by Darren Soh )
While the chefs here are barbecue masters, there’s much more to expect at Burnt Ends than just expertly cooked meats. The ever-changing menu from this one-Michelin-star restaurant often sees creative bites (think brioche stuffed with bone marrow). There are only counter-seats here which are the best places to see the kitchen’s custom grills and ovens fired up.
(Image: Burnt Ends)
Cure is a modern-European restaurant led by chef Andrew Walsh, formerly from neighbouring restaurant Esquina. The casual fine-dining spot is now promoting sustainability on its bistronomy menu. Expect different seasonal offerings each time. Biodynamic and organic wines are a must-have here. Find out more from our review here.
Just a few steps away from Keong Saik Road is Esquina, a tapas restaurant showcasing Spanish and Catalan cuisine. The open kitchen counter seats are great places to catch chef Carlos Montobbio (an El Cellar de Can Roca alumnus) in action. Alternatively, you can enjoy cannellonis and paellas upstairs for a bit of privacy.
One-Michelin-starred Meta has moved to a bigger space just down the road. Here, you’ll find a fusion cuisine of French and Asian ingredients and flavours. Chef Sun Kim injects a bit of his Korean heritage in his dishes too.
A new kid in town has taken over Meta’s old space. Thevar, a project between the eponymous chef Mano and Sun Kim, is a modern Indian restaurant with some fierce gastronomic creations on the menu. The selection of large and small plates makes for a semblance of communal dining in traditional Indian meals. Find out more from our review here.
The sister restaurant of Italian restaurant Chicheti prides itself on two things: pasta, and wine. The chic-elegant spot takes inspiration from the Italian trattoria and offers a good variety of pasta such as gnocchi, beetroot-infused sacchetti ‘dumplings’ and casarecce. Diners can go for tasting or sharing portions of each pasta.
(Image: Bar Chicheti)
Just a few doors down from Cure is sister restaurant Butcher Boy. It’s a much more casual concept serving up smokey grilled meats and sharing plates with heavy Southeast Asian influences. We recommend knocking back a few cocktails after dinner. Find out more from our review here.
(Image: Butcher Boy)
Gaston, a Burgundy wine bar and bistro, is one of the latest establishments along Keong Siak Road. Unlike most wine bars that tend to be on the luxury end, Gaston keeps things unpretentious. You can expect great pairings here with Burgundian dishes from the menu. Find out more from our review here.
You won’t be doing much cafe-hopping in this Keong Saik’s coalition of restaurants. But you should still put Kafe Utu on your radar. This cafe offers coffee brewed from Kenyan beans and has a list of African curries and stews (alongside cafe staples) to enjoy.
(Image: Kafe Utu)
The Guild bills itself as a craft beer bar, but has a fascinating menu to go along with drinks as well. It’s a stickler for working with local produce and farmers, and diners can expect items such as locally grown oysters (from Pulau Ubin) and bak chor mee-inspired pasta. The beers are, of course, a must-try. Find out more from our review here.
(Image: The Guild)