A bustling neighbourhood in the city, Telok Ayer is home to many, many, amazing restaurants, bars and cafes. You can eat just about anything you want there — from Korean BBQ, Japanese izakayas to brunch and burgers, choosing what to eat has never been harder.
I know so because I frequent the area way too often for coffee, a night out or just to sit down and relax. The office crowd also hits this street during weekday lunch like a hurricane. I call it the newer and hipper Holland Village with all the bars and cafes that it now houses.
Thus, this guide is here to help you simplify your options and highlight the gourmet delights in Telok Ayer.
1. The Flying Squirrel – Private Works
The Flying Squirrel – Private Works is the place for Japanese tapas and affordable omakase-styled dining. Located on the second floor, remember to look out for its sign or you may miss it!
Even if you do, it’s worth spending just a tinsy bit more effort to look for it, because the food is worth it.
The Flying Squirrel – Private Works serves one of the best sashimi and sushi in Singapore. The sushi platter is especially interesting.
Above, we have Chu Toro with Yuzo Kosho Tobiko, Shima Aji Belly with Truffled Salt Lime, Kohada with Sping Onion Grated Ginger, Tai with Onion Shoyu, Engawa with Kimchee Sauce, Ebi with Caviar and Tamago. One of the five courses that was served.
Other dishes to note off its omakase tapas menu? The unagi. Soft, juicy and just the right amount of saltiness, you have to order it! The Japanese Tacos are also worth trying.
The Tapas Omakase is only $60. It even comes with dessert – what a bargain!
The Flying Squirrel – Private Works: 179 Telok Ayer St, 068627 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 11.30am – 11pm | Tel: 6221 7073 | Website
2. Aloha Poké
Famous for its DIY poké bowls in the day, Aloha Poké is also making a name for itself as a bar at night. Conveniently located along Amoy Street, you’ve probably seen long queues during lunch hour.
Although the menu isn’t extensive, Aloha Poké ensures that every dish on their menu is of top-notch quality. Specialising instead of spreading itself thin. The Tiki Bar menu includes signature cocktails such as the Scorpion Bowl ($55 – to be shared amongst 2-4 pax) and Fiery Passion ($18), shown above.
If you have no idea what poké is, go for the Poké Sampler ($11). Served with nachos, you could order it alongside a craft beer. The Musubi ($11) is a must try. Popular in Hawaii, this caramelized spam sushi is to die for.
The Lomi-Lomi Salmon ($12) is also a Hawaiian favourite that consists of diced salmon, tossed avocado, spices and salad covered under a blanket of onsen egg.
Once you’re sure you like poké, go for the Ultimate Poké Bowl ($18) Different from their lunch menu, this bowl includes 2 flavours of poké mounted over delicious salad, superfoods and brown or white rice.
If you want something more indulgent, go for the Loco Moco ($24). The braised beef cheek in red wine is served with flavoured rice and an onsen egg that oozes yolky goodness! Still have room for dessert? The Acai bowls ($9) here are pretty amazing too.
Aloha Poké: 92 Amoy St, 069911 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 11.30am – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 11pm | Tel: 6221 6165 | Website
*Its new branch has recently opened at Marina Bay Link Mall, 8A Marina Boulevard, #B2-46, Singapore 018984 too!
3. Free the Robot
New in town, Free the Robot is an up and coming cafe that is set to change the CBD’s F&B scene. With its quirky decor and concept, one would be surprised that Free the Robot serves more than just coffee.
Usually a place for studying or quiet afternoons, Free the Robot is bustling with customers eager to get their brunch during weekday lunch hours.
Although the Big Brekky ($15) is popular amongst regular robots, the menu is filled with brunch and lunch goodies that you have to try too.
The FTR Burger ($13), is one of the best burgers in town hands down. The bacon is amazingly cooked, not too crispy yet not too soft.
The Avocado Toastie ($7 + $3 for smoked salmon – highly recommended) is a personal favourite of mine. Filled with pesto and feta, the toastie is pillow soft and makes you feel healthy. Add smoked salmon to add a bit of saltiness to your toastie.
If you’re feeling extra healthy, the Omega 3+ salad ($14) is something you should go for. The salad is full of fresh ingredients like tomato, pine nuts, cucumber, spinach, mesculin, soba and smoked salmon doused in soba sauce. Making it an excellent combination for office lunch if you’re eager for something healthy!
Don’t forget to try their coffee while you’re at it. The Free the Robot Signature ($6) is an unforgettable espresso infused with coconut oil and milk. Brewed overnight, a lot of effort has been put into making this espresso coconut-flavoured and it pays off.
The Chilled Vanilla Robone ($6) is also worth a shot if you have room. Sweet and light, this vanilla espresso is truly one of a kind.
Free the Robot: 118 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068587 | Opening Hours: Tues – Sat 8.30am – 4.30pm| Tel: 6438 1836 | Website
4. Shuukuu Izakaya 酒空居酒屋
With walls painted vibrantly by the owner himself, ShuKuu Izakaya exudes Japanese culture to a whole new level. Founded by three Japanese food enthusiasts, it is a place where you can unwind after work.
Shukuu Izakaya sources for fresh and authentic ingredients directly from Japan to be air flown and served to you.
Dewazakura Ouka Ginjyo ($45 *check for sake promotions*)
Perhaps what is most interesting about this establishment is its artisanal sake collection. They have certified in-house sake sommeliers to personally recommend bottles from their expansive collection that will complement your dishes too. A sake haven.
The Dewazakura Ouka Ginjyo goes really well with anything grilled! This Northern Japanese sake is smooth and generally lighter. Made via distilled liquor in its fermentation process, the sake is a little dry and has a fruity fragrance.
Now, let’s get to the food. The appetizers at Shuukuu Izakaya are plentiful. My favourite was the Maguro yukke ($12), shown above.
Instead of raw beef, they used decadent premium tartare-sized sashimi grade tuna which are tossed in layu dressing, and served with a raw quail egg. A must have for sashimi lovers!
A trip to an Izakaya would never be complete without some Charcoal Kushiyaki ($18) too. This mini-degustation of proteins is what a balanced diet looks like.
Above, we have the momo shio, tsukune, bacon hotate and shitake which is chicken thigh, chicken meat balls, bacon wrapped Japanese leek and sake-grilled shitake respectively.
Parmesan Chizu Chips ($16) is specially perfect with sake. Crispy baked parmesan cheese chips paired with honey and cherry tomatoes is a combination unheard of, but not here at ShuKuu Izakaya where experimentation and perfection has come a long way!
ShuKuu Izakaya: 8 Stanley Street, Singapore 068727 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm & 5.30pm – 11pm, Sat 6pm – 10.30pm | Tel:6327 9240 | Website
5. 왕대박 Wang Dae Bak BBQ
왕대박 Wang Dae Bak Korean BBQ Restaurant is the best place to experience a taste of authentic Korean food culture at Telok Ayer.
With smoke and the strong smell of barbecue in the air, you know you’re going to need a bib to save your shirt from the mess you are going to make (just for kicks, the restaurant actually provides bibs).
왕대박 Wang Dae Bak has two different menus: one for lunch and another one for dinner. For dinner, the BBQ is a must try. Go for either Set A or B (both $48). Set B is highly recommended because you get a taste of everything, from prime ribs and pork belly to marinated shoulder! The pork belly is disgustingly good… mm…
What makes the BBQ experience different at 왕대박 Wang Dae Bak BBQ is also the fact that they have steamed egg on the edges all around the central BBQ pit. As for the appetizers, they’re refillable too!
Other than the BBQ, the a la carte menu is worth trying. The Ginseng Chicken Soup ($16) in particular stood out. Home made and hearty, I wish I had soup like this to get me through harsh Canadian east coast winters.
The Seafood Pancake ($16) is also good for sharing, it is generous in portion and crispy at the side, totally worth trying.
Wang Dae Bak BBQ: 98 Amoy St, Singapore 069918 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 11.30am –2.30pm, 5:30–10:30pm | Tel: 6226 0450 | Website
6. Maggie Joan’s
What strikes most people about Maggie Joan’s is how underground they are. You can’t get anymore indie than occupying an old shophouse in the warren behind Amoy Street, with its front door opening to a back lane off a back lane.
Founded by a father-and-son duo, “Maggie Joan’s” is a tribute to their grandmothers who inspired them to become chefs. The restaurant is also reflective of their grandmothers personified the Mediterranean ethos of good food, big-heartedness, and fine living with family and friends around you. Everything here is absolutely delicious.
The Hamachi Crudo, Pickled Tomato & Basil ($21) is the best way to get your meal started. With freshly cut hamachi, sea grape, alginatado (seaweed), pickled tomato, almonds, green olive, basil tips and oil, and tomato water, you could not imagine savouring something this perfect. Every element of the dish is perfectly balanced.
The Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder, Onion Date Jam & Goat Cheese ($32) follows the hamachi perfectly. Marinated in coriander, sumac, cumin, and cook for 12 hours, the shiny glaze and of the meat shows how much effort the chefs has put into making the lamb shoulder smashing.
The onion date jam was surprisingly delicious and balanced the saltiness of the lamb shoulder and dijon mustard that is served on the side too.
End your meal with the Blood Orange, Coconut & Rosemary ($12). This dessert is perhaps one of the most intricately planned dessert I have come across in Singapore. With blood orange, granola with macadamia, pumpkin seed, hazelnut, this isn’t your ordinary parfait, especially with that hint of raspberry oil!
Maggie Joan’s: 110 Amoy St, Singapore 069930 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 12pm – 2.30pm & 6pm – 11.30pm, Sat 6pm – 11pm | Tel: 6221 5564| Website
7. Burger Joint
Hidden away in Amoy Street’s Gemmill Lane, Burger Joint Singapore offers you an authentic Big Apple experience without needing to fly to New York.
With a large selection of unique craft beers ranging from the Shiga Kogen to the BBN that you can’t get anywhere else in Singapore, this is one place in Telok Ayer you have to hit up!
The burgers here aren’t sexy but simplicity is where it’s at. The Cheeseburger ($13.80), medium rare, is slabbed with melted white cheddar cheese, lettuce, B&G kosher dill pickle, Grey Poupon dijon mustard, Heinz Tomato sauce and some fresh onions. Unlike other burger outlets in Singapore, the patties are made from Nebraskan meat.
Burger Joint takes their patties very seriously – the owner, Heaney, knows exactly where the meat is from, when it’s cut, ground and pounded! – and they taste absolutely delicious. Completely made in-house, you will want to bite into your burger again and again. Help yourself to a boozy milkshake while you’re at it too.
Burger Joint: 115 Amoy Street, #01-13 (Entrance at the back at 22 Gemmill Lane) | Tel: 6221 8648 |Opening Hours: Mon to Wed 11am-11pm, Thurs to Sat 11am-12am, Sun 11am-10pm | Website
A new all-day dining concept by the people behind Maggie Joan’s and Moosehead has hit Gemmill Lane. Inspired by its namesake John Gemmill, a successful auctioneer and banker in the 1840s.
Fun fact: John donated the Gemmill Fountain, Singapore’s first public drinking fountain.
Whilst it is known for its affordable wine, Gemmill Lane is also a place where you can enjoy a cup of coffee in the day. Quiet and dimmed, it is also perfect for a first date or a simple wine and cheese to unwind at the end of the day.
Next to its selection of wines sits different cheeses and tarts too. Ever evolving, the tart of the day ($8) changes everyday and so does the cheese. Displayed above is Morbier ($8/ 50g), Gorgonzola ($6/50g), Taleggio, ($6/50g), Comte ($7/50g), and Manchego ($7/ 50g) cheeses on the cheese platter. The Morbier is highly recommended. Strong in taste, it goes perfectly with wine.
Gemmills: 110 Amoy St, 069930 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 8am – 11pm | Tel: 6221 5564 | Website
Pantler is a Japanese-styled bakery and cafe in the heart of Telok Ayer. If you have ever walked passed Pantler, you’ll realise that there’s 100% chance that you’ll inhale the smell of freshly baked breads and pastry. The aroma is constantly wafting through the air.
Pantler takes the art of baking seriously. Sticking to its definition “a servant or officer in charge of the bread and the pantry in a great family”, the bread and pastries are truly artisanal and made from the heart; drawn from different inspirations.
The Choux a la Creme ($4.50) is a beautiful masterpiece. The pastry is soft and slightly flaky. The cream is also not too sweet. You won’t be stopping at one bite even if you were full (trust me, I would know).
The Yatsura ($8.50) and Citron Blanc ($8.50) are another two popular classics here at Pantler. The Yatsura is highly recommended if you’re a fan of all thing hazelnut, praline and ganache. The hazelnut is strong in flavour.
If you’re into something light the Citron Blanc is a good option. Made using fromage blanc and lemon confit, the Citron Blanc is definitely lighter and manageable if you’re feeling too full. The lemon flavour is refreshing.
My personal favourite however is the Almond Croissant ($4). Having lived in the beautiful city of Montreal where all things pastry are amazing, I was disappointed by Singapore’s pastry scene when I first arrived but man, Pantler really does it right.
Comparable to the ones in Montreal, the almond croissant is sweet but doesn’t taste like medicine and the croissant is flaky!
Pantler: 198 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068637 | Opening Hours: | Tel: +65 6221 6223 | Website
10. Senso Ristorante & Bar
Established in 2000 on 21 Club Street, Senso Ristorante & Bar is well-known for its authentic Italian fine-dining cuisine. Its neo-classical colonial architecture, ornate paintings, sculptures and courtyard setting is reflective of its strong Italian culture.
Although they have seasonal menus, here’s three dishes that are always on their executive lunch menu which is priced at $34++ for 2 courses, and $40++ for 3 courses, served with freshly brewed coffee or tea and mignardises (tiny desserts and sweets).
First off is the Fegato D’Anatra e Brioche Homemade Duck Liver Terrine with Mango Chutney on oven-baked Brioche Bread. Although you have to add $8 more to your course meal price, it is definitely worth the extra money. The fatty duck goes extremely well with the pillow soft brioche which absorbs its oil.
The Filetto di Manzo con Salsa al Barolo Australian grain-fed Beef Tenderloin with Barolo Red Wine sauce, young Vegetables and Senso purée is also worth adding another $14. We had it medium rare and it was cooked perfectly to our preference. The meat is superbly fresh too.
Tortino al Cioccolato Fondente Hot Dark Chocolate Eruption served with Passion Fruit and Vanilla Ice Cream is absolute chocolate haven. An addition of $8 is quite worth the investment. The chocolate melts in your mouth whilst the outer crust is crumbly making the perfect hot and cold sensation with the passion fruit and vanilla ice cream on the side.
Senso Ristorante & Bar: 21 Club Street Singapore 069410 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10.30pm, Sat 6pm – 10.30pm, Sun 11.30pm – 3pm, 6pm – 10.30pm | Tel :+65 6224 3534 | Website
11. Moosehead Kitchen – Bar
Moosehead marks its 3rd year of evolution with a newlook, hot new chef, and street-licious new menu. The hip kitchen-bar, owned by father-and-son team Glen and Daniel Ballis, has gone for an updated look, and introduced a new head chef with his new menu.
Moosehead is very much a living project’ – a community of ‘food, music and art’, drawing inspiration from travel and the street, and collaborating with local hawkers and grafitti artists. The ingredients are simple yet the presentation of the food is sophisticated.
The Bone Marrow, Ortiz anchovy & Garlic on Sourdough ($10) is something you have to try at least once. Fresh grilled in an Inka oven, bone marrow is divine.
The Fried Artichokes, Ricotta & Pickled Lemon with Radicchio ($15) and Beetroot, Sumac Yoghurt, Spiced Ponzu & Almonds ($14) are also worth a go.
The house-made ricotta is outstanding. As for the beetroot, the ponzu is interestingly infused with chilli padi making it spicy. The yoghurt and pomegranate balances the spiciness and saltiness of the ponzu.
Moosehead Kitchen – Bar: 110 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068579| Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm, Sat 6pm – 10.30pm | Website
ALATI, or salt from the ancient Greek word ἅλας, serves the freshest produce wild-caught by the hands of the fishermen at the Aegean Sea. Donned in blue and white, you will feel like you’ve been shipped to Santorini!
Grilled, salt-baked, deep-fried, ALATI serves up Greek classics how ever you want, in a way Singaporeans have never seen before.
Everything in the menu, from the meat to the pastry to the bread, are made by hand, making each and every part of your meal phenomenal, even the complimentary bread! The perfect starter to a very Greek meal.
So what should you really eat at ALATI? Well, if you want something light, the Horiatiki ($22) is something you should order. With fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and olives showered in extra virgin olive oil and peppers of feta, this Greek salad is healthy and delicious at the same time.
The dips are also worth trying and there’s a variety of them. The Fava ($15), Tzatziki ($15), Taramosalata ($16) and Melitzanosalata ($16) are all options you can choose from. For those with a fishy taste, the Taramosalata, cod roe cream, would be perfect.
The Fyllo-wrapped Feta ($18) and Gambari ($22) are noteworthy as well. The Fyllo-wrapped Feta is fried with honey and sesame. Hence, it is sweet with an Asian twist. Whilst the Gambari is also a Greek favourite, especially if you dig fried crispy and juicy prawns!
Saving the best for last, the Salt-Baked Fresh Fish of the Day… Tsipoura ($10.20 per 100g + $10 for salt baking) – otherwise known as Sea Bream – is highly recommended. The Sea Bream keeps in the most moisture resulting in a more tender texture that will make the meat come off the bone easily and melt into that mouth of yours.
ALATI: 73 Amoy St, 069892 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 12pm –2pm & 6pm –10pm, Sat 6pm – 10pm | Tel:6221 6124 | Website
13. Dapper Coffee
A little cosy spot hidden atop the stretch of shop houses on Amoy Street, Dapper Coffee is definitely a cafe in Telok Ayer that you have to check out.
Unique and quirky, the menu’s experimental take on classic coffees is fascinating. Its brunch meals are pretty dope too.
The Earl Grey Yuan-Yang ($8) is highly recommended, especially for those with a more bitter taste. Different from the Hong Kong Classic but different isn’t bad. Instagram-worthy and cold, the Earl Grey Yuan-Yang is your go-to mid-afternoon chill drink.
The Gold Brew ($10) is also a must-order, especially if you believe in unicorns. I mean, what other coffee has glitters swirls?
If you need a little sweet snack to balance the coffee, Dapper Coffee also has amazing cakes on offer. The Gula-Melaka Walnut Oat Cake and Salted Egg Black Sesame Cake (6″, $50 | $9 per slice) are both one of a kind. And what’s even better is that they taste amazing. They serve booze too, just saying.
Dapper Coffee: 73 Amoy Street, Second Floor (Above Alati Restaurant) | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 8am – 5pm | Tel: 9005 4790 | Website
Infamous for their snaking queues on the weekdays, GAEST is best known for their Nordic Pulled Pork Sandwich. However, their soups, salads and weekend brunch is pretty neat too and it is something you should definitely travel to the CBD for.
For weekend brunch, the Brunch Plate #1 ($20) should be your choice at GAEST. A breakfast for champions, it is probably why you’ll always see early bikers and runners hanging around for food or a cup of coffee.
As for daily lunches, go for the soup ($14) and salad ($15) of the day if you aren’t up for something too heavy. The days when they have watermelon salads on offer are the best!
GAEST: 21 McCallum Street, #01-01 The Clift, Singapore 069047 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 7.30am – 9.30pm, Sat – Sun 8.30am – 3.30pm | Tel: 6634 0922 | Website
Started a few years ago by Aussie Ben Lee, Sarnies is a popular little café. Known best for their cafes, Sarnies also serves up some mean sandwiches. Living up to its name. Nonetheless, they are so much more than that. Massive salads, pasta classics… Fear not, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
The Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich ($14.50) is a popular sandwich on the menu and it isn’t hard to believe so. I mean, have you tasted the homemade mayonnaise? Creamy and smooth, it also tastes healthier than your off-the-counter bottle mayonnaise from the supermarket.
The chicken schnitzel is also deep-fried really well. Although it is deep-fried, the sandwich isn’t drenched in oil yet the romaine lettuce still has a fair amount of juiciness from the chicken – quite an achievement.
Newly added to the menu is the Spaghetti & Meatballs ($18). Although the spaghetti isn’t made in-house, it is springy and loose. However, the beef meatballs and tomato basil sauce are made in-house, giving it a very homely vibe. The added parmesan adds that little bit of sourness to the sweetness of the tomato, balancing the flavours.
Sarnies: 136 Telok Ayer St, 068601 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 7.30am –11pm, Sat & Sun 9am –4pm | Tel:6224 6091 | Website
16. Matt’s – The Chocolate Shop
Matt’s The Chocolate Shop was founded by former-banker-turned baker Matthew Chow in July 2012. After years of perfecting his recipes, Chow went from sharing them with his colleagues to opening his own chocolate place. Fudgy, moist, rich… his chocolate cakes are to die for and perfect for rainy days in the CBD.
If you haven’t tried Matt’s chocolate fudge cake, start with the Small Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake ($4), which isn’t too sweet nor is it too bitter. You can still taste the cacao and the warmth of the fudge wrapped in its chocolate sponge. The ganache finishes off the dessert with a bang, leaving you wanting for more.
The Whole Dark Chocolate Cake ($30 for 6″/0.5kg & $50 for 8″/1kg) needs to be ordered in advance. Famous for making birthdays fabulous, make sure you place your order early to enjoy this chocolatey goodness on your loved ones’ or your big day!
Matt’s – The Chocolate Shop: 44 Amoy Street, Singapore 069870 | Opening Hours: Closed on PH & Sundays, Mon – Fri 11am – 6pm, Sat 11am to 3pm | Tel:6557 2274 | Website
17. Park Bench Deli
From cheese steak to cured meat and grilled cheese to PB&J, Park Bench Deli has been changing the definition of sandwiches in Singapore. At Park Bench Deli, sandwiches aren’t ordinary. Yes, they have the classics, but Park Bench Deli is also known for its innovative creations…
… and for having amazing cold brew that comes in black ($7.50) and white ($8.00). The white one tasted so, so good. Milky and creamy, although the coffee taste is diluted, it is certainly a refreshing drink.
The two sandwiches that you have to try are the Cubano ($16) and the Kong Bak Bahn Mi ($16). The Cubano consisted of seared pulled pork and ham accompanied by melted cheese, oozing mustard and pickles (or as they say in the UK, gerkhins). If you love mustard, this sandwich would be perfect for you.
If not, for something more local, go for the Bahn Mi. You can’t really go wrong with braised pork belly.
For a sweeter option, go for the PB&J. Deep-fried in cornflakes, the chocolate-milk bread is crunchy on the outside but fluffy on the inside. The peanut butter is really crunchy too and its texture and taste is balanced out by the smooth and sweet berry jam. Truly on of a kind. Grubby and sinful, maybe better before a workout so you can burn the guilt after.
Park Bench Deli: 179 Telok Ayer St, 068627 | Opening Hours: Mon — Fri 9am – 10pm | Tel:+65 6815 4600 | Website
Recently relocated to the Telok Ayer neighbourhood on 23rd June 2016, boCHINche is Spa Esprit’s most “exotic” eatery. boCHINche serves Argentinian cuisine and is out to dispel the notion that Argentinian cuisine is just all about meat. From brunch to fine dining, boCHINche does just about anything.
Classic Provoleta, Almonds and Oregano Honey ($17). The dish came seasoned and thick in a hot pan, alongside a box of toasted bread. The gooey, caramelized cheese went very nicely with the fluffy parts of the bread while the crunchy bits of almond topping gave the dish a lovely added texture. The cheese did harden after a while but it was still deliciously packed with flavours so we enjoyed it nonetheless.
But of course… you wouldn’t leave an Argentinian restaurant without trying its meat. The Lomo Beef fillet 300g ($78) is 300g worth of grass-fed tenderloin. Good for sharing and perfect for someone with a voracious appetite for beef, the beef tenderloin fillet was well grilled. The flavour was robust and absolutely delicious.
BoCHINche: 01-02, 115 Amoy Street, 069935 | Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs 12pm – 2:30pm & 6pm – 10.30pm, Fri 12pm – 2.30pm & 6pm – 11pm, Sat 11am – 3pm & 6pm – 11pm, Sun 11am – 3pm | Tel: 6235 4990 | Website
19. Wang Dae Bak POCHA
POCHA means “Korean Street Food Wagon” in Korean. A term used back in the 70’s and 80’s that described a place where people got together by the street-side to eat and drink.
Wangdaebak POCHA is the first street-styled Korean dining and drinking experience. Set in the past, the restaurant encourages you to sit back, relax, and remember the good ol’ times over authentic street food and Korean cocktails.
So what should you order while having those shots of fruit-flavoured soju? The Jumbo Fried Chicken Set ($28) is a must order. Crispy all over, the honey garlic fried chicken is super yummy but getting the entire set will allow you to try everything.
The Seafood Pancake ($19) is also really delicious. Crisp on the sides but warm and moist on the inside, you can taste the seafood too. While you’re at it, treat yourself to the Pork Knuckle ($38) too.
Wang Dae Bak POCHA: 93 Amoy St Tanjong Pagar Singapore 069913 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm & 5.30pm – 1am, Sat 5.30pm – 1am, Sun 5.30pm – 11pm | Tel: 6220 0322 | Website
20. FYR Cycene Ond Drinc
FYR: CYCENE OND DRINC, which means Fire: Kitchen And Drink in Gaelic, takes you back in time to the stone age. Don’t even bother dressing up to dine here… I mean did our ancestors wear any clothes? But in all seriousness, your clothes are really just going to get real dirty…
… especially with the Caveman Supper Plate ($150). Able to feed 4-5 people, this mammoth platter is a monster. With 800g of suckling pig, 800g of a whole chicken, 300g of beef short ribs, 200g of lamb ribs, 200g of pork belly, 300g of bone marrow and 100g of tripe, this is taking the paleo diet to a whole new level.
The platter comes with grilled and roasted vegetables, bacon and potatoes too. Sauces like black truffle, green chili pesto, peppercorn and the signature FYR sauce of jalapeños, peppers, chilli, garlic and herbs are also on offer to soak your meat in.
FYR Cycene Ond Drinc: 19 Boon Tat St, Singapore 069619 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 11pm | Tel: 6221 3703 | Website
21. Bitters & Love
Bitters & Love moved to Telok Ayer on 9th May 2015. Despite the change, the amazing team behind its bespoke cocktails remained the same. Serving up bar snacks and unique cocktails, it is one of the busiest place at night in Telok Ayer.
The Kaya Toast Cocktail ($25) is one of the rarest cocktails in Singapore and definitely something you should try once in your life, especially if you’re from Singapore or Malaysia.
Served with a kaya toast and kept chill in a kaya tin, it looks like a very high class kaya-infused calamansi. Overall, the cocktail was really sweet, lumpy and even a bit eggy! The earl grey taste was subtle though.
Bitters & Love: 118 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068587 | Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs 6pm – 12am, Fri & Sat 6pm – 2am | Tel: +65 64381836 | Website
22. Wanton, Seng’s Noodle Bar
WANTON isn’t your typical noodle bar. Ramen, udon… I bet you haven’t heard of a noodle that serves time-perfected wanton noodles. Derived from Seng’s Wanton Mee highly praised original recipe at Dunman Food Centre, these humble bowls of noodles doesn’t care about today’s fickle trends.
Staying true to its Singaporean roots and decades of local artistry, WANTON is a noodle bar that combines hawkerism and modernism.
Above is a rough picture of what the night menu looks like. With deconstructed wanton noodles, you’re in for a night of not only great wanton noodles but also zhi char.
A modern twist to the traditional wanton noodles, you’ll be spoiled for choices as the variety of sides is extravagant.
The nudles ($1 per bowl) are also bouncy, springy and soft at the same time, perfect with the endless flow of hearty broth and Seng’s chilli at your disposal. There is even bottomless pork lard to go with your noodles. Other things to note is WANTON’s bar where you can get pandan-infused vodka!
WANTON – Seng’s Noodle Bar: 52 Amoy Street Singapore 069878 | Opening Hours: Mon – Thurs 11am – 11pm, Fri 11am – 1am, Sat 6pm – 11pm | Tel:6221 1336 | Website
23. Chong Wen Ge Cafe 崇文阁
Chong Wen Ge is the newest cafe to hit Telok Ayer. Located at the old Chong Hock Girls’ School, beside the famous Thian Hock Keng Temple, it is a charming cafe that injects heritage into Singapore’s cafe culture, bringing the cafe game a notch up.
What makes Chong Wen Ge different too is the fact that their cafe good tastes pretty good.
Decorated with Peranakan tiled tables and wooden chairs, it is a lovely place to spend the afternoon eating Nonya Delights, coffees and tea. A refreshing concept that the cafe scene in Singapore has never seen before.
The Assorted Nonya Kueh ($1.50 each) is a spotlight stealer here. If you’re having a kopi or teh with a friend, pay $10 for any 5 kuehs!
Chong Wen Ge Cafe 崇文阁: 168 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068619 | Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 7.30am – 6pm, Sat & Sun 9am – 6pm | Tel: +65 86883028 | Website
Known for its extensive rum collection, Sugarhall is the place to be for great food, edgy cocktails and great music.
They have a great happy hour here that goes on from 5.30PM to 7.30 PM. Amongst the drinks, get a Whiskey Sour ($14) if you like something girly or the Darjeeling Fizz ($14) if you prefer something more soothing and gentler. The Whisky Sour was a personal favourite of mine, the bourbon went super well with the lemon acidity.
As for their cocktail menu, I liked the Oriental Note ($22) and the Legado Rosa ($22). Although both are really girly and sweet, they are undeniably different.
The Oriental Note has a touch of sparkling wine and is more floral in taste with a hint of peach and lychee whilst the Legado Rosa has a strong passionfruit taste.
As for the food, start with the Kale ($14). Deep fried and dehydrated, the kale is crispy yet not oily. You don’t feel bad for consuming it at all. The parma ham also goes well with the pecan powder which kept the taste really balanced.
Then head on over to the main courses; the Short Ribs ($19) is amazing. With bone marrow, onion, pickled cabbage and sweet potato puree, this dish is detailed and is an example of pure quality.
The meat is soft and slides off your cutlery yet soaks up the sauce and is balanced by the sweet potato puree and pickled cabbage.
If you’re more of a fan of seafood, go for the Grilled Prawns ($18). Served with spiced barley risotto and desiccated coconut, the prawns is a show stealer. Undoubtedly fresh and from Thailand, the prawn oozes flavour and adds that much oomph to the al dente risotto.
And if you don’t like beef or seafood, chicken is always a safe option. The Whole Spring Chicken with rosemary brine and cucumber yoghurt ($32) is sous-vide to perfection. The chicken is tender and the yogurt balances the heat of the chicken, cooling it down in your mouth. Yum.
For dessert, go for the Banana Crumble ($13)! The banana chips are crispy and sweet whilst the crumble melts in your mouth.
Sugarhall: 102 Amoy St, 069922 | Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 5.30PM – 12AM | Tel: 9732 5607 | Website
That wraps up my go-to’s in Telok Ayer. There are way too many bars, restaurants, cafes and bistros to choose from around the area so do share your own recommendations too!
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