With the streets filled with a smorgasbord of bars, restaurants, cafes and dessert places, Tanjong Pagar isn’t short of food options to dine at. We have even created several other listicles on affordable places to lunch in the central district.
However, some of them offer so much more than just a quick meal or merely the chance to fill an empty belly. I set out in hopes of discovering the best places that offer splendid dining experiences. Here are the top 10 places that present the most unconventional and unique food and beverage selections, and stand out on Singapore’s food scene as a whole!
ANJU is a Korean word for dishes served with alcoholic beverages. ANJU is an elegant restaurant that aims to redefine and modernise Korean dining. A series of less common Korean dishes are available here to surprise diners’ tastebuds!
Start off your dining experience with Mulhoe (S$26). The sashimi consists of red snapper, octopus, and several vegetables submerged in a dongchimi and gochujang vinaigrette. The refreshing cold dish effectively cleanses one’s palate before moving onto heavier dishes.
As a Korean barbecue fanatic, the Dwaeji Ppyeo Deungsim (S$36) was easily my favourite dish of the lot. I loved how thick the grilled pork jowl was sliced into, making it into perfect bites! Dip the tender and succulent grilled meat into homemade salsa verde for a spicy kick. Otherwise, wrap it with pickled perilla leaf for an earthy taste.
With equal emphasis on its alcohol selection, ANJU imports a carefully selected list from Korean distilleries. While soju may be the most known Korean liquor even to Koreans, Head Chef Kim wishes to expand one’s knowledge and appreciation of other Korean alcohol.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Omyrose Yeon (S$135) which boasts a pleasant fruit-forward sweetness with a mellow fermented flavour. Only available in limited quantities, the beverage paired well with both cold and hot dishes.
Leave it to the team to recommend the best drink pairing with your dishes! My favourite pairing was with Sotbap (S$36) which features scorched rice mixed with dried radish leaves. The star of the dish is none other than perfectly charcoal grilled seabass fish. It was indeed the best grilled fish I had ever eaten!
Oh, new dishes will be placed on the menu soon! These items take on a rather contemporary approach such as these Prawn Crackers. Do note that the name has not been finalised yet. Fresh prawns are diced and seasoned with Korean mustard and yuzu cream then placed onto a crunchy rice cracker.
No meal is complete without desserts done right. Sweet meets savoury in the construction of their Korean Donut (S$18). Cinnamon milk ice cream complements the sweet rice donut balls.
A surprise ingredient — parmesan introduces a sharp saltiness to balance the sweet dessert. All in all, the elements of hot and cold ignite a burst of cinnamon forward flavour which keep you going for more.
ANJU is now one of my top favourite restaurants for its creative take on traditional Korean cuisine. Regardless of which food item you purchase, I am certain that you will be surprised with its unique taste and textures!
Take your seats and be prepared to be blown away by the team’s creations. A serene and modern aesthetic is created with stone and wood elements in Fiz’s interior.
The dishes served at Fiz in Tanjong Pagar will sweep diners off their feet and on a culinary experience across Southeast Asia. The contemporary fine dining restaurant invites guests to leave the menu to the chef.
A series of episodes will be introduced every 3 to 6 months, each to celebrate the cuisines from a particular region.
Episode 1 takes inspiration from the cuisine found in the coastal town of Lumut in Perak. It consists of 8 courses and is priced at S$288, exclusive of Supplement.
Starters include variations from the flavours found in bustling night markets and childhood inspirations. As it was in old times, charcoal is the main source of heat when preparing the entire course. In particular, bakau wood takes center stage.
The Urchin initiates the course. An explosion of briny flavours is expected with this jellified singgang fish broth. Topped with only the best quality sea urchin, the clear broth is juxtaposed with its creamy element to nullify any fishiness.
Move onto one of the stars of the meal — Firefly Squid. If you thought you have covered all renditions of the local delight, you simply thought wrong. The most silky nasi lemak espuma is encased within the crunchy exterior of a house made pie tee cup.
There is only one way to enjoy this — in one bite!
The Lamb Supplement is a must have when dining at Restaurant Fiz.
Extreme care is taken as the meat is delicately cooked at over 53 degrees Celsius for an extended time period. 3 hours to be exact. No description justifies the immensely succulent and perfectly seasoned rack.
My knife sliced through the meat as if it was softened butter. After just one mouthful, I declared this coconut flavoured grilled lamb to be my favourite meat dish ever.
Once again, Chef showcases his talents in extracting the best from his produce through his presentation of the Sea Bream. Take caution as the seafood is too delicate to be eaten rashly. Enjoy the fish with its fragrant complements such as Young Jackfruit Salad and Jasmine-scented Adan rice.
As if the dishes mentioned above have not captivated you already, Beef Tripe Curry wishes to achieve more. Once again, perfection is executed. A series of flattery is not needed for this meat, simply scroll down and admire its grain and fat-to-meat ratio.
Of course, expect twists and turns of flavours, textures and aromas throughout the dining experience. All in all, this meal should be saved for special moments with that special someone!
21 Tg Pagar Road, #01-01/02, Singapore 088444
+65 9679 8021
Tue to Sat: 6pm – 10pm
Closed on Mon & Sun
3. Night Hawk
You’re going to have to look closely to find this speakeasy bar in Tanjong Pagar. Night Hawk is all about appreciating one’s past and present while anticipating the future. Aesthetics-wise, the bar is decked out in a red and gold colour scheme. You can be sure to leave it to the team to create the most unique drink selection.
Focused on the collaboration of flavours, the Gamma-ray Holiday (S$25) is set to please adventurous drinkers. The fruit-forward thirst quencher features melon, pineapple and citrus in a gin-based concoction. Bitter gourd is thrown into the mix and finishes the drink off on a bittersweet note.
For a twist on a classic poison, Nighthawks (S$25) sees a jazzed-up version of an Espresso Martini. A mix of rum, vodka, amaro and coffee creates the base of the beverage. Chocolate is then added to the pot to introduce an element of creaminess alongside the hot coconut foam. This one fits the qualities of a dessert done right, if I may add.
Pair your drinks with elevated American dinner dishes including the very addictive Buffalo Hot Wings (S$16) and Grilled Baby Corn (S$12).
4. The Elephant Room
The Elephant Room pays tribute to the people and history found in one of Singapore’s culturally richest streets — Little India. Little India’s culture is taken in and expanded through an extensive list of cocktails and bites.
Looking through their cocktail menu alone, I find myself dumbfounded at the team’s creations. The Laddooooo (S$25) may be the most familiar option on the list purely because of its name. Two indies rum sets the base for this concoction with a saffron infusion that is topped off with a toasted marshmallow stick.
Those looking for sweet-savoury creations should not give the Cocktail Asura (S$25) a miss. After all, what can ever replace the components of a lime and curry leaf distillate or charred curry meringue?
For food, I would order a serving of their Amma’s Chicken Curry (S$24). Warm and comforting to the soul, the spiced curry is served alongside warm chapati to complete the hearty dish.
5. Badaro Korean Seafood
Located in an unassuming spot under an HDB block in bustling Tanjong Pagar, Badaro Korean Seafood specialises in Korean-style fresh seafood dishes.
Their online presence is minimal with no official website or active IG page. Most of their customers are Koreans who have been introduced to the restaurant through word of mouth.
Nonetheless, many patronise the restaurant for their super fresh Korean-style sashimi. Come with your best mates and get the Badaro Set Meal (S$200) that feeds 3 pax.
Sit back and relax while the team brings out large portions of assorted sashimi including oysters, tuna, abalone, octopus and salmon. Each set also comes with a boiling pot of clear fish soup.
With a more affordable price tag, Badaro Korean Seafood is truly a gem in the vicinity. It is also a big plus point that its standards are comparable to high-end Korean restaurants. Save this spot for your next dinner meet up!
District 2, Tanjong Pagar, Tanjong Pagar Plaza, #01-106, Singapore 080008
+65 6443 2283
Mon to Sat: 12pm – 2.30pm & 5.30pm – 10.30pm
Sun: 5.30pm – 10.30pm
6. Unagi Tei
You are going to have to come early for this one. With extremely long queues and endless waiting, Unagi Tei has earned a reputation for being one of the must-eat restaurants in Tanjong Pagar. They specialise in only one item — grilled eel.
With a Michelin Bib Gourmand in hand, expect only the freshest and most tender grilled eel to be served. Most customers are satisfied with their Medium Unagi Don (S$37.45). A generous slab of grilled eel is placed on top of Japanese rice. That is it.
Perfectly seared on a high fire, the fish becomes flaky and extremely tender. It is most apt to use the term ‘melt in your mouth’ here. A slightly sweet and savoury marinade is then slathered over the fish which results in a juicy and flavourful bite.
Do note that only charcoal is used for the blazing heat so you can enjoy its smoky aroma and beautiful charred flavour.
Order delivery: Deliveroo
1 Keong Saik Road, #01-01, Singapore 089109
+65 6222 0678
Mon to Sat: 11.30am – 2.25pm & 6pm – 10.30pm
Closed on Sun
7. Cumi Bali Indonesian Restaurant
All my Bali fans unite! Tanjong Pagar’s Cumi Bali Indonesian Restaurant is a family-friendly restaurant that strives to provide a warm dining experience representative of Bali’s culture. The service is kept simple and unpretentious while their menu spans everything from appetisers to desserts.
A must-get item is the Cumi Bali (S$35). A whole squid is chargrilled until it is tender but holds a snappy texture. A heavy spoonful of chilli sambal is then brushed across the entire length of the seafood to give it a smoky flavour.
For meat options, one cannot go wrong with their Ayam Sate Madura (S$18). A crowd favourite, the Javanese-style satay consists of large meat cubes stacked on a stick and grilled till succulent and charred.
To end off the meal, there is no better dessert than Chendol (S$6). The refreshing coconut milk-infused shaved ice is drizzled with thick gula melaka syrup and topped with green pandan jellies.
8. Kafe UTU
Kafe UTU is an African-inspired cafe and restaurant that takes on a moody bar aesthetic after sundown. One of its kind in the vicinity (and across the entire Singapore), it features Kenyan elements in everything from the interior design to their menu offerings.
Every diner has to try their Bidi Bado (Abracadabra) (S$7) which is a mocha-based drink with subtle flavours of nuttiness from the use of toasted almonds and peanut butter. Since Australian Mork chocolate and house blend Ubuntu coffee sets the base, expect the drink to be rich and heavy.
Heavy rice dishes are offered by the team, too, and include the Caribbean Goat Curry (S$28). This beautifully plated dish consists of white coconut basmati rice centred on a pool of curry gravy.
For dessert, most guests order the Nakupenda (S$8) which features a fried doughnut and soft serve ice cream. The combination of hot and cold is enjoyed thoroughly with this sweet pairing.
9. RAPPU Handroll Bar
I have another restaurant that specialises in only one item and does it exceptionally well — RAPPU Handroll Bar. I was initially sceptical that hand rolls were going to suffice for dinner. But you have nothing to worry about as the team has you covered with their Set of Six Hand Rolls (S$42).
For each selection of seafood, a spicy and non-spicy version is available. They have already captured my attention with the first item on the menu — Hotate. I love that the restaurant explores premium seafood options instead of just boring old salmon.
The Engawa is a fan favourite with its signature oily and milky texture. The natural sweetness of the fish is lightly highlighted by the light yuzu nikiri seasoning used.
If you’re feeling extra peckish, I would recommend browsing their Izakaya selections. Think Hamachi Collar (S$21), Yamada Bay Oyster (S$12) or Grilled Unagi (S$21).
An authentic Swiss restaurant so close to us, found in Tanjong Pagar! Begin your dining experience at Coucou Restaurant with their addictive Frites Maison (S$10). You will not have seen thin cut fries as slender as the ones here. They take on a distinctive matchstick width and come lightly salted.
Now, it will be a crime to enter a Swiss restaurant but not order a cheese fondue. The Original Coucou Fondue (S$38 per person) is a must-get from the restaurant. Do note that a minimum of 2 persons are required to enjoy this menu item — the perfect reason to tag your date along to this meal!
Another must-try item is none other than their One Cheese Dome (S$12). Essentially, it is melted Gruyere cheese taking on a dome shape. Otherwise, the Rosti Saucisse de Saint-Gall (S$28) will be sure to please. Did you know that authentic rosti recipes are served with onion sauce and not sour cream? Ahem.