Last Updated: March 19, 2020
The recent travel restrictions due to the onset of COVID- 19 has certainly put a damper on our upcoming travel plans. Before you throw in the towel and scroll through endless travel feeds on Instagram in despair, we think there might be a cure to this constant wanderlust.
Given that Singapore is a bonafide food paradise, you can technically ‘travel to’ all parts of the world without ever leaving Singapore. It is possible to tuck into a comforting bowl of lu rou fan and feast on the caramelised goodies of a Korean barbecue all in the span of a day.
Not to mention, there is no better time to #supportlocal and be #sgunited. Here is our ‘travel itinerary’ for the 12 Local Dining spots you can travel to in Singapore to savour the world.
Break out your beret and Breton stripes because Petit Pain Bakery is going to make you feel like you’ve landed in France.
Helmed by Mark and Regina, this local French bakery along Joo Chiat makes one of the flakiest and crispiest croissants across the island. These buttery Classic Croissant(S$3) definitely get a ‘oui oui’ from us.
Not only that, but you can also expect classic French loaves and other favourites like the Pain Au Chocolat (S$3.50) to suit your fancy.
Petit Pain is your little slice of France sans the 14-hour plane ride and who wouldn’t want that?
Our love affair with Italian food is unceasing, be it pasta or pizza you know we’re there. While a trip to visit the Amalfi Coast might be a little im-pastable, Bar Cicheti will make you feel like you are having one of those luxurious Italian holidays.
Here at Bar Cicheti, you can find homemade pasta that boasts the skill of an Italian nonna.
One that we recommend you to try has to be the Paccheri (S$20/S$34). This tubular-shaped pasta is paired with slow-braised polpo (Spanish octopus) and given the puttanesca treatment—fresh tomatoes simmered long and slow, folded with fiery flavours of chilli, anchovies and capers.
It’s comfort food at its best and will perhaps soothe as we are constantly plagued by depressing news updates.
Aaah, the Land of Smiles—you’ll always be happy when you’re in Thailand. The cheap and tantalising street food, the insane shopping spree, and on top of that, the endless cafes for you to take your next profile picture. I mean, that’s why they call it Land of the Smiles, right?
Well, for authentic Thai fare that will take you right into the bustling city of Bangkok, look no further than KinMoo. Opened in 2017 by Mr Jamie Lim, you’ll find authentic Thai dishes as well as their signature Thai-style wanton mee.
At KinMoo, their Baa Mee Moo Daeng (S$7.90) comes with thin, springy noodles with thick slabs of pork collar char siew and sprinkled over with nuggets of pork lard.
A little different from our Singaporean-style wanton mee, but all the more savoury. You’ll be ordering a second bowl if you’re not careful.
If its variety you’re after, KinMoo also offers typical Thai dishes such as Tom Yum Goong (S$12.90) or Thai Braised Pork Knuckle With Rice And Egg (S$8.80), if you are feeling particularly carnivorous that day.
A meal at The Nomads is to traverse the ancient and mystical realm of Central Asia. Heavily inspired by the many countries along the Silk Road, The Nomads is an experience unlike any other.
Here you can experience exotic cuts like the Hungarian Sturgeon that’s prepared in a soy butter emulsion and served with dill oil. A trip for your taste buds; this is unlike anything you’ve tried.
For something a little familiar, the colourful Hunter’s Plov is one not to be missed. This bowl is replete with the kind of goodies you’d need after a long hunt.
With tender strips of A4 wagyu striploin, bone marrow, pickled heirloom carrots, a jammy tea-braised quail egg and brandied raisins atop a bed of fluffy rice, you’ll be licking the bowl clean.
You don’t have to go to Korea to live out your Korean drama fantasy. You can find your future oppa right here in home-grown Korean Restaurant SU Korean BBQ.
Located in Peace Centre, SU Korean is owned by Mr Albert Lum who also manages various Korean barbeque restaurants. A definite #supportlocal moment for sure.
For all Koreaboos on a budget, Su Korean BBQ has a Lunch Special Menu that is going at S$9.80+, which also comes with one main and free-flow banchan (side dishes). Plus, is there anything better than banchan?
Look especially pensive as you savour the deliciously-seared slices of LA Galbi Beef (S$20.80) and wait for your leading man to burst through the doors. Dramatic entrances aside, you’ll leave Su Korean BBQ with delicious, tender beef slices in your tummy.
SU Korean BBQ: 1 Sophia Road, #02-01/02, Peace Centre, Singapore 228149 | Tel: +65 6358 3368 | Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm (Daily)
Next stop on your ‘vacation’ is the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan is another one of our popular haunts when air ticket prices are low.
Just like Italian food, there is no end to how much we love Japanese food. From the popularity of numerous Japanese chains mushrooming in Singapore, it reads like the ultimate love letter to Japanese cuisine.
The genres within Japanese food run the gamut but we’ll keep it simple with Kinobe at Amoy Street Food Centre. Kinobe serves mouth-watering and hearty dons that will make up for the fact that travel to Japan is not on the cards right now.
A local establishment tried and true, Kinobe was set up by longtime friends Genji and Benjamin.
You can’t go wrong with the Gyūdon (S$6). An undeniable classic; expect a generous portion of beef strips, a silky onsen egg and a dusting of shichimi togarashi powder (Japanese seven-spice powder).
If you are feeling indulgent, then the Wagyudon (S$10) with its luscious slabs of blushing wagyu beef slabs are sure to make lunch feel like you’re on vacation.
Our local hawker fare never fails to impress me with their rendition of overseas favourites. In times like these, there’s no better moment to boost our local community.
Next stop, we have ‘destination’ that is exciting, vibrant and sure to send your tastebuds on a trip. You won’t miss the bright and colourful decoration at Senor Taco at CHIJMES. If you haven’t guessed it by now, we are making a stop in Mexico!
Hailing all the way from Monterrey, Mexico, 46-year-old Alejandro Blancos is the man behind Senor Taco. Not only is he the owner of El Mero Mero but he also owns the mini Mexican grocery mar La Mexicana. So, there is a little Mexico right here in CHIJMES no less.
If you have never had Mexican food, you’re in for a treat. Indulge in the likes of the Creamy Poblano (S$28). This feast for the eyes is heavily loaded with a mountain of toppings, made from frijoles, grilled fajita chicken and cheddar cheese.
As for their tacos, the Wild Fish (S$10/piece, S$28 for three) is sure to delight. Zingy, with pan-seared wild fish, tempura-battered onion ring and shishito peppers, it all made for the perfect bite.
As a little tidbit, Alejandro told us he acquired Singapore citizenship about seven years ago. This was along with his wife and two young children. He professed that he appreciates how safe, culturally diverse, dynamic and welcoming towards food culture Singapore is.
A fine addition to our local food scene.
This next pit stop is probably one that is pretty close to our hearts: mala. You can find Peppercorn along the streets of Kandahar and you’ll be surprised at their lighter rendition of mala.
One of the must-try items here is their Malatang. Just like any other mala establishment, you’ll have your pick of ingredients first.
The soup was much lighter than we expected and not so overwhelmingly spicy that it would immediately numb your palate. Plus, Peppercorn is also certified Halal, so you can bring all your friends when you ‘travel’ to Sichuan.
Peppercorn: 30 Kandahar Street, Singapore 198890 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 2.30pm & 5.30pm – 9.30pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sun | Facebook
The Middle East has been always been a long time fascination but long flight hours always give me pause before I book those tickets. However, Fat Prince near Tanjong Pagar will bring the Middle East right to you.
I could write hymns about hummus and Fat Prince certainly delivers with theirs. Their Cashew Hummus (S$10++), came with Turkish flatbread that’s baked to soft, fluffy perfection.
Fat Prince uses roasted cashews to minimise the unpleasant “raw” aftertaste, and tops the hummus with even more chopped nuts.
Or if you feeling ravenous in the Middle Eastern leg of your ‘trip’, The Menemen (S$28++) is sure to satiate big appetites.
Dollops of labneh (Greek yoghurt) dot the thick spiced tomato sauce base, and toasted pita is served on the side. Accompanying the sauce are broken eggs, and cherry tomatoes scattered all across. This is a place for you to feel like the royal you are.
Fat Prince: 48 Peck Seah Street, Singapore 079317 | Tel: +65 6221 7794 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 3pm & 6pm – 12am (Mon to Fri), 11.30am – 3pm & 6pm – 12am (Sat), Closed on Sun | Website | Facebook | Instagram
This one is a fun one; we have now reached the land of countless bubble tea brands and exuberant night market. When ‘in’ Taiwan, one must feast on the archetypal Taiwanese favourites.
The Salted Plum along Circular Road fits the bill for sure. With Taiwanese tapas starting from S$5 and Lunch Bowls going from S$10, The Salted Plum is ‘travel-friendly’ indeed.
When in Taiwan, I suggest you go for the jugular with this hearty bowl of Lu Rou Fan (S$10). An unbelievably thick and luscious cut of pork belly drenched with sauce awaits.
The pork was soft and falling apart, this is a bowl to remember on your travels.
If you still need your bubble tea fix, then the Red Tea Jelly & Pearls (S$5) will be a sweet way to end this leg of your journey. It’s a deconstructed nai cha (milk tea), with red tea jelly cubes, tapioca pearls and milk cream. What more could you want?
Lad & Dad at Maxwell Food Centre sure whips up classic British food fare that even the Queen will approve of. I’m talking essential pub grub like the Bacon & Chip Butty (S$4) and the decadent English Fry-Up Platter (S$12).
This baby takes a good ten minutes to prepare and is greasy enough to clog up your arteries. A bona fide cheat meal, this is only for special occasions or when you want to treat yo’self. With so many items in the platter, you won’t know where to start.
With bacon rashers, two perfect sunny-side eggs, chunky English sausage, baked beans—I think a tally-ho is in order.
Lad & Dad: 1 Kadayanallur Street, Stall 79, Maxwell Food Centre Singapore 069184 | Tel: +65 9247 7385 | Opening Hours: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 9.30pm (Mon to Sat) | Facebook
Hello, IKEA and meatballs. At least that’s what comes to mind when I think about Sweden. On the last stop on our travels, we venture into Scandanavia with FIKA Swedish Café & Bistro in Bugis. Helmed by a Swedish/Singaporean duo, they started this cafe because they missed Swedish food.
To keep things interesting the cafe’s menu changes every season. So, do keep your eyes peeled.
To do things the Swedish way, have the Gravlax, Kale and Potato Pancakes (S$10). A common Nordic breakfast food, this is also served with a tangy homemade Nordic yoghurt. Each mouthful was a delicious burst of starchy potato goodness, which blended well with the yoghurt and kale.
For traditional halal Swedish cuisine, Fika Café and Bistro is the way to go. It’ll elevate your Nordic food experience beyond IKEA.
For those mourning their cancelled trips and dashed dreams of travelling more this year, hopefully, this list can tide you over for the time being. Sometimes, we do forget that we have nearly every fathomable cuisine at our fingertips and even at a push of a button.
After all, there is nothing like being a tourist in your country.