Museums aren’t just about looking at pretty pictures anymore. How great would it be to see a creation of stunning colours, and then get to eat it afterwards? Yes, I am talking about food as art.
These 10 museum restaurants located right here in our own pristine galleries have opened up a new way to savour art — on a plate. These are food that will intrigue, impress and immerse you in a sensory experience like no other.
You don’t even have to be a frequent museum-goer to appreciate this exhibition of culinary treats. Prepare yourself for a feast for the eyes, and your tummy!
Opened in November 2015, the former Supreme Court of Singapore now acts as both a national monument and a contemporary art gallery. With the Best Attraction award under its belt, you can most definitely expect exquisite and unique dining experiences from the National Gallery.
1. Gallery & Co.
This restaurant is part of the museum’s gift shop — doesn’t exactly sound like a promising start, does it? Prepare to be amazed!
Don’t be fooled by the books and souvenirs selling at Gallery & Co.. Yes, this ‘gift shop’ is a full-fledged restaurant. With a cosy coastal-style interior design, here’s a place that is perfect for fuelling up in between navigating National Gallery’s wide exhibition halls.
With its visually-appealing food offerings, Gallery & Co. has truly defined itself as a museum restaurant. It even has a menu based on the exhibitions at the Gallery.
The restaurant’s Pomme ($9), a red apple-shaped mousse cake, is inspired by the “Colours of Impressionism” exhibit showing in early 2018. With the apple’s glistening, bold and intense red hue, the dish pays homage to Impressionism’s celebration of colour.
And you can bet that the Pomme tastes as good as it looks. What really delighted me was splitting open the delicate, sweet and creamy mousse coating to find the surprising gooey core filled with tangy green apple bits. The core even had popping candy that made me feel as if I were tasting stars.
With exciting past menu entries including this yellow coconut mousse that drew inspiration from Yayoi Kusama’s artwork exhibition back in the summer of 2017, who knows what other intriguing and bizarre concoctions will come next?
Expected Damage: $10 – $25 per pax
Gallery & Co.: 1 St Andrew’s Road, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore 178957 | Tel: +65 6385 6683 | Opening hours: (Monday to Thursday, Saturday & Sunday) 10am – 7pm, (Friday) 10am – 10pm | Website | Facebook
2. Smoke & Mirrors
Sitting atop National Gallery is one of the prime rooftop bar spots in Singapore. Known for its spectacular views and innovative cocktails, Smoke & Mirrors has already garnered its fair share of praise.
But with its audacious alcoholic creations, I couldn’t possibly leave it off this list of aesthetically-pleasing museum food.
Head bartender Yugnes Susela didn’t get his long list of credentials for nothing. Perhaps the most ‘artsy’ choice is the very stylish Painting Class ($25++). Drawing inspiration from the art pieces in the gallery just below, this sweet concoction has a delightful fizziness lifted by floral notes.
Despite its innocuous appearance, this drink with pisco and strawberry sake is not one to be messed around with. Also if you were wondering, the paint on the side of the glass can indeed be eaten!
So prepare yourselves for whatever heart-stopping cocktails that might be coined next. I know I’m both excited and a little scared, considering my alcohol limit!
Expected Damage: $30 – $70 per pax (a lot more if you are a heavy drinker like I am)
Smoke & Mirrors: 1 St Andrew’s Road, National Gallery Singapore, #06-01, Singapore 178957 | Tel: +65 9234 8122 | Opening Hours: (Monday to Thursday) 3pm – 1am, (Friday) 3pm – 2am, (Saturday, Eve of & Day of PH) 12pm – 2am, (Sunday) 12pm – 1am | Website | Facebook
Holding the fort for National Gallery’s range of restaurants, fine-dining Cantonese restaurant Yàn lives up to its location. It exemplifies beauty in both its food and interior!
Its interior is adorned with posh art pieces such as this wall decor of swallows that symbolises grace and beauty. Just like its installations, Yan infuses similar elegance into its food with a strong emphasis on dish presentation.
Take a look at these vibrant dim sum trio (Squid Ink, Vegetarian, Chicken & Dried Shrimp) that can be found inYàn’s 5 Course Set Lunch Special ($38++ per pax, minimum two pax). Considering the polished plates served up, here’s a place that definitely puts in the effort to transform its plates into art.
Expected Damage: $40 – $80 per pax
With a waiting list going up to three months for a table here, Odette has earned its place on this list. This two-star Michelin French restaurant by Chef Julien Royer is renowned for its elegant contemporary dishes, certain to wow the senses.
If you weren’t already excited, feast your eyes on Odette’s Heirloom Beetroot Variation that is stunning enough to be a painting. This signature dish is composed of three different kinds of salt-baked beetroot wedges — red, white and golden — and even has a scoop of sweet beetroot sorbet. All on one plate!
With its contrasting textures and flavours of beetroot, this garden of beetroot magic will certainly excite your palate. Also, do look out for the creamy Stracciatella “Artigiana” (burrata) interspersed in the dish.
While set menus start from $88, Chef Julien’s masterful creative play on only the best ingredients is definitely worth paying for. With eye-popping dishes worthy of your Instagram feed, Odette’s whole dining experience will be a treat for the senses.
Expected Damage: Set menus for $88 – $268 per pax
Odette: 1 St. Andrew’s Road, National Gallery Singapore, #01-04, Singapore 178957 | Tel: +65 6385 0498 | Opening Hours: (Monday) 7pm – 9pm, (Tuesday to Saturday) 12pm – 1.30pm, 7pm – 9pm, (Sunday) Closed | Website | Facebook
5. National Kitchen by Violet Oon
Museums are all about delivering information. Well, what better way to learn about the Peranakan culture than to eat it? Presenting National Kitchen by Violet Oon, a restaurant that serves up some of the best Peranakan food in Singapore, all with Chef Violet Oon’s visionary artistic flair.
This is National Kitchen’s ingenious Singapore High Tea Set ($56++ for 2 pax). Filled with a repertoire of Peranakan-inspired bites served on fancy tiered-trays, you be will be taken on a gastronomic adventure of all the best food that the Nyonya culture has to offer.
With dainty servings of dishes such as Otah Crostini and Roti Jala With Gula Melaka and Banana Sauce, enjoy familiar Nyonya flavours in the unique and elegant presentation of a high tea. Your friends will be so jealous when you show them pictures of the food!
Thanks to Chef Oon, guests can now savour the Singaporean classic in a different light.
You can read our full review of National Kitchen by Violet Oon.
Expected Damage: $40 – $60 per pax
National Kitchen By Violet Oon: 1 St. Andrew’s Road, National Gallery Singapore (City Hall Wing), #02-01, Singapore 178957 | Tel: +65 9834 9935 | Opening Hours: (Daily) 12pm – 2.30pm, 3pm – 5pm, 6pm – 10.30pm | Website | Facebook
—Singapore Art Museum—
Housed in the former St. Joseph’s Institution campus, the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) focuses on contemporary art from South-East Asia. Naturally, I had to make a stop at this museum which has “Art” in its name.
6. Standing Sushi Bar
Disclaimer: you don’t actually have to stand at the Standing Sushi Bar. With its affordable selection of sushi that’s freshly flown imported, this sushi franchise has already garnered a lot of popularity in recent years.
Following ‘eat-and-go’ sushi bars in Japan, its original Standing Sushi Bar at One Raffles Place catered to office crowds that wanted to grab a quick bite. Rejoice, as the chain’s expansion came with the introduction of seats.
However, the best part is still the signature sushi rolls offered here. Standing Sushi Bar really steps up its creative game with never-before-seen concoctions such as this Thousand Year Maki ($16.90) that rolls uni (sea urchin) and century egg into one. Better yet, they go at 50% off every Wednesday here all-day at SAM!
While seating is available, you’ll probably still get the full standing experience as you endure the long queues for a seat!
Expected Damage: $25 – $50 per pax
Standing Sushi Bar: 8 Queen Street, Singapore Art Museum, #01-03, Singapore 188535 | Tel: +65 6333 1335 | Opening Hours: (Monday to Friday) 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10.30pm, (Saturday & Sunday) 12pm – 10.30pm | Outlets | Website | Facebook
—Red Dot Design Museum—
Boasting one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary design in the world, the Red Dot Design Museum even breaks convention with the unprecedented “design food” served in its cafe bar.
7. Food Anatomy
In case you were wondering, those aren’t cakes behind the glass counter. Well, not exactly. Say hello to food that is so innovative, it is a brand of its own.
Recently relocated to Red Dot Design Museum’s cafe bar, Food Anatomy invites you to try their unorthodox savoury “cake” food!
Here’s the very popular Nasi Lemak ($2.50) with layers of egg, pandan coconut rice and otah, topped with sambal chilli and ikan bilis. The distinct layering even gives the choice of savouring the components individually or together as a whole.
At $7.50 for 3 pieces, you won’t have to break the bank to try these visually-stunning and inspired ‘cakes’. With quirky flavours such as Laksa Pasta, perhaps the most mind-boggling aspect would be choosing only three for your plate!
You can read our full review of Food Anatomy.
Expected Damage: $7.50 – $15 per pax
Food Anatomy: 11 Marina Boulevard, Red Dot Design Museum, #01-01, Singapore 018940 | Tel: +65 6514 8268 | Opening Hours: (Monday to Thursday) 10am – 10pm, (Friday to Sunday) 10am – 11pm | Outlets | Website | Facebook
—Asian Civilisations Museum—
Perched along the Singapore River, the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is right in the middle of bustling Singapore. Dedicated to putting Asia’s artistic heritage to the forefront, it is the prime location to house the next restaurant boasting artistic food.
Frequent diners of Chinese food often come to savour traditional flavours reminiscent of family recipes. Well, at this contemporary Chinese restaurant, Empress, their imaginative Western-inspired desserts are a twist on traditional recipes.
Check out Empress’ popular rendition of Teochew “Orh-Nee” ($12) with pumpkin tuile. With Empress’ signature style of reimagining Asian desserts, it has transformed the sweet yam paste ordinarily served in a bowl by presenting it like an exquisite Western dessert.
Another impressive entry is Empress’ stunning version of a Western classic, its Jasmine Tea-Poached Pear ($13). With Asian elements such as cheng tng ice, longan and red dates, this poached pear and granita dish easily draws similarities with Cantonese Tong Sui (sweet soup) dessert.
Considering Empress’ “cross-cultural” desserts, foreigners who come to the ACM will be introduced to Asian flavours presented in a more accessible manner. Truly, what better way is there to put traditional Asian ingredients at the forefront?
Expected Damage: $40 – $60 per pax
Empress: 1 Empress Place, Asian Civilisations Museum, #01-03, Singapore | Tel: +65 6776 0777 | Opening Hours: (Monday to Friday) 11.30am – 3pm, 5pm – 12am, (Saturday & Sunday) 11am – 12pm | Website | Facebook
—National Museum of Singapore—
As the oldest museum in Singapore, the National Museum is probably the best place to learn about Singapore. While the building is steeped in so much history, don’t expect the next restaurant located inside to serve up food from past trends. In fact, the food at this avant-garde restaurant could make its own history!
9. Janice Wong Singapore
Priding itself as “the only sweets boutique in Singapore that creates interactive, edible art for imaginative souls”, Janice Wong Singapore fits snugly into this list of artistic food. As no stranger to the culinary scene, Janice Wong’s mastery of translating food into art has earned her an international reputation.
Perhaps the best showcase of Chef Wong’s limitless creativity is her Mini Pots ($12), a psychedelic trio of siew mai. Stay sane as you try to wrap your head around the impossible feat of making that gorgeous rainbow-coloured dumpling skin. If this isn’t art, I don’t know what is.
Coming from a pastry chef, expect some pretty spectacular desserts. Here’s her sophisticated Cassis Plum ($24) which reminds me of the vibrancy of Japanese Spring. Umeshu liquor fans will also be delighted to know the crushed granita beneath the cassis bomb is made from Choya.
With food that completely ignores convention, it seems that Chef Wong’s imagination has no boundaries. If you are looking for traditional cooking, you might have better luck looking elsewhere.
Expected Damage: $40 – $80 per pax
Janice Wong Singapore: 93 Stamford Road, National Museum Singapore, #01-16, Singapore 178897 | Tel: +65 9712 5338 | Opening Hours: (Monday to Thursday) 11am – 11pm, (Friday to Saturday) 11am – 1am, (Sunday) 11am – 6pm | Website
With a state-of-the-art design, you won’t be able to resist looking at this gorgeous piece of architecture overlooking Marina Bay. Apart from the regular art exhibitions held here, the last entry on this list of artistic museum restaurants finds its home right here in the iconic ArtScience Museum.
10. FabCafe Singapore
Time to get your hands dirty! With its Singapore outlet opened in 2016, FabCafe is spreading its fun cafe concept where diners can go crazy and play around with cutting-edge tech.
Housed in the avant-garde ArtScience Museum, FabCafe meshes art and science together with food. Here, you can mess around with a 3D-printer or attend creative workshops, all while grabbing a mean cup of premium coffee from $4.
You can also take advantage of the state-of-the-art digital fabrication tools available exclusively at FabCafe. From laser-cutting personal designs onto your laptop to make your ideas come into three-dimensional reality with 3D-printers, impossible is not within FabCafe’s vocabulary.
Perhaps one of the most interesting things at FabCafe Singapore is that you can sample its laser-engraved macarons, made using cool laser cutters! There’s no better way to learn about science than with these beautiful treats.
No other eatery will let you unleash your inner artist as much as FabCafe. As “Fab” stands for ‘fabulous’ and ‘fabrication’, go ahead and fabricate your own fabulous dining experience!
Expected Damage: $5 – $20 per pax
As seen in these extraordinary restaurants featured here, food is now coming to the forefront as a new means for museums to introduce people to art. And what a fantastic way indeed! Who wouldn’t love to admire beautiful art-on-a-plate and get a good meal at the same time?