A bustling neighbourhood in the city, Telok Ayer is home to many excellent 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 more challenging.
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.
To help you simplify your options and highlight the gourmet delights available around the area, here are 19 best places in Telok Ayer for foodies to discover.
1. The Flying Squirrel
Inspired by travel, coffee, art and music, The Flying Squirrel is a humbly-sized, hole-in-the-wall hideout tucked in the corner of Amoy Street.
The menu here offers Japanese-inspired cuisine that ranges from fresh cuts of sashimi and handmade makis to the occasional twist on familiar favourites, such as the Truffled Ebi Fry (S$15 for 5 pieces) and bowls of chirashi dons.
For a light bar bite to go with their in-house pours and cocktails, don’t forget to try the restaurant’s housemade tacos! To go with your seaweed taco shell, opt for the Tuna & Avocado (S$16). Otherwise, Wasabi Chicken (S$14) makes for a great filling to complement a traditional wanton shell.
The Flying Squirrel also serves up a variety of Executive Set Lunch priced from S$28 to S$60 to suit all budgets. Each set comes with a salad and miso soup. If you are around the area, why not drop by for a hearty meal?
For opening hours, click here.
With walls painted vibrantly by the owner himself, Shukuu Izakaya exudes Japanese culture to a whole new level. Founded by three Japanese food enthusiasts, this is a pretty happening spot to come to unwind after work.
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, so expect to find around 60 different types of sake from various renowned breweries in Japan at any point in time.
An interesting appetiser on the menu is the Maguro Yukke (S$13), Shukuu Izakaya’s inventive take on beef tartare. The premium sashimi-grade bluefin tuna is sliced and tossed in a Japanese layu (chilli oil) dressing and served with a quail egg. Mix it all up to savour the smooth, fresh chunks of firm tuna flesh with a hint of spiciness that cuts through perfectly.
For an Izakaya classic, the humble Tsukune (S$4.50) features soft and juicy chicken meatballs that have a surprising bite to it from the chicken cartilage. Another dish we enjoyed was the Yaki Gyu Tan (S$16), a premium grilled beef tongue which was soft, chewy and beautifully seasoned to match its heavenly meaty flavour.
3. Wang Dae Bak Pocha BBQ
To experience a taste of authentic Korean food culture, Wang Dae Bak Pocha BBQ is one of the best places in town to do so.
It has two different menus: one for weekday lunch and another one for dinner. For dinner, the BBQ is a must-try. They have a selection of various sets depending on the number of people dining.
If you’re in a comfortable group of two, they have the Couple Set with options like the Beef Set (S$62), which gives you a platter of boneless prime rib, marinated prime rib and thin sliced beef belly.
If you like a variety of meats, the Set A (S$53) has thin sliced beef belly, pork belly, marinated pork collar and marinated chicken— what a good deal!
What makes the BBQ experience different at Wang Dae Bak BBQ is also the fact that they have steamed egg on the edges all around the central BBQ pit.
Alati, or salt from the ancient Greek word, 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 the moment you step into the premises.
So what should you eat at Alati? Well, if you want something light, the Horiatiki (S$27) 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.
Are you a fan of fish? Then don’t miss out on the Salt-baked Milokopi from the Aegean Sea (S$14/100g, additional S$15 for salt bake). Milokopi, or otherwise known as bearded umbrina, is baked in a crust of salt to retain the moisture in the flesh and dry out the skin to ensure that the meat remains juicy and sweet.
If you’re looking for a light, delicious and healthy meal, Alati should be near the top of your list. The food here might be prepared and cooked in healthier options, but they are certainly not lacking in the flavour department!
Sarnies is a popular little cafe known best for their coffees and mean sandwiches. Nonetheless, they are so much more than that. From massive salads to classic pasta, you’re guaranteed to have a good time dining in this cosy eatery.
Indulge in their Beef Bolognese (S$25) or Mortadella Bagel (S$17) (which has pistachio ham, Roma tomatoes and stracciatella cheese enveloped in a sesame bagel drizzled with basil pesto).
Don’t forget to wash your meal down with a good cup of freshly roasted coffee! Latte (S$5.50), Flat White (S$5.50) and Cappuccino (S$5.50) aside, the cafe also offers a refreshing glass of Iced Coconut Long Black (S$7.50) (for lovers of the tropical fruit).
Sceptical about healthy food and think it’s limited to just salads and grain bowls? Then let Genius Central change your perception.
Furnished with its chic bronze exterior and warm lighting, the restaurant is a 150-seater establishment akin to a cavernous department store. From vegan to gluten-free options, Genius Central’s menu will surely have a dish to accommodate and suit the liking of everyone around your dining table.
A great sharing option would be their Pumpkin Ricotta Pizza (S$22). This vegan pie won our hearts over as the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash and caramelised onions contrasted perfectly with the saltiness of the cheese. It’s a medley of flavours that will make you drool as you think back to it— a sign of pizza done the right way.
Additionally, there is the Khichdi (S$18), a one-pot rice and lentil dish cooked with dal to a thick, mushy texture. Beautifully seasoned, each spoonful is warm, comforting, and luscious. This is undoubtedly an incredibly hearty and scrumptious dish that will leave your tummy full and your heart even fuller.
Meadesmoore is more than just a quaint name; the food, drink and ambience here is inspired by the grand British and American steakhouses of the early 20th century. It pairs that authenticity with a decidedly modern twist, striking a unique balance that has catapulted Meadesmoore into regional fame in the Telok Ayer area.
The clientele here is distinctively corporate and it has become a popular place to meet for a business lunch. Come evening, though, Meadesmoore transforms into a buzzing date night destination for stylish couples and groups of friends catching up around sharing plates and large-format steaks.
Contemporary industrial décor notwithstanding, much of its popularity is inspired by the specially curated premium menu. Meadesmoore prides itself on specialising in unique cuts of meat, each sourced from an intimate network of highly regarded, award-winning beef producers.
A beautiful introduction to Meadesmoore’s wonderful philosophy of elevated but relaxed dining is their Executive Set Lunch (2 courses S$38++, 3 courses S$48++). Available Mon to Fri, from 11am to 2.30pm, it is a crowd favourite that changes regularly to showcase the freshest produce selected by the chef.
The basic starters are Seasonal Root Vegetable Dip or Chopped Salad. My preference, however, is for the Pan Seared Japanese Scallops (add S$10++) with its vanilla carrot purée and furikake tuile.
For your main course, choose between Slow-Roasted Scandinavian Salmon, Primrose Farms Pork Ribeye Cap, Braised Tripe & Tongue Tartine and Steak Frites (add $15++). It’s a toss-up for me between the pork and the steak with the latter being the clear winner if the prices were the same.
When it’s time for sweetness, Meadesmoore introduces you to boozy, brandy cream-infused Fat Belly’s Tiramisu, the signature dessert of its sister restaurant, FBG. A fine alternative is traditional English Eton Mess. Meadesmoore changes the flavour monthly and, for October 2022, it is Peanut Butter and Jelly.
You can always buck the trend by ending your lunch with the Chef’s Selection of Cheese (add S$6++) instead.
If you prefer to order à la carte, the Breaded Pig’s Head (S$10++/S$18++) of slow-braised nuggets shaped like a pig’s head is nice. The homage to kway chap is served with preserved lemon mayonnaise & pickled jalapeño.
Saving the best value for last, I recommend the Snake River Farms Wagyu Ms 7/8 Rump Cap (S$150++) from Idaho. This is what meat should taste like.
Carrying on with this bridging of Western and Asian palates is Bone Marrow (1 pc) ($26). House smoked Hokkigai clams served with a topping of fried garlic gremolata allude to the traditional raw fish salad that pairs with congee.
8. 13% Wine Bistro
Along Telok Ayer, there is a quaint but well-loved wine bar hidden in plain sight called 13% Wine Bistro. It’s located on the second floor of a historical Peranakan shophouse, and if you spend some time focusing, you might just spot it thanks to its iconic large white balloon on the second level.
While most people come here for its extensive wine list, which spans an impressive 16 pages on its menu, its Lunch Menu allows you to pick from eight mains such as 13% Duck Confit (S$23) and Steak Frites (S$28).
To make things more awesome, each main course will come with a complimentary Veggie Dip, and if you’re looking to pair your meal with a glass of wine, you’ll only need to top up S$10 per glass.
Note that 13% Wine Bistro’s lunch menu is only available from Mondays to Fridays, from 12pm to 3pm.
9. Tandoori Culture
I do not know about you, but I do have days when I crave Indian food. Aren’t you glad that Tandoori Culture which is located along Boon Tat Street in Telok Ayer exists? It’s a hidden gem in the CBD with authentic North Indian food.
It was set up in 2015 by Mr. Chandradev Kumar and Mr. Gilbert Rego, and collectively, they have about 40 years of F&B experience between them.
Their Lunch Menu is available from Mondays to Fridays (11.30am – 3pm), and the one thing you should consider going for are its sets, which start from S$10.
Pick between crowd favourites such as the Chicken Meal (S$13), which includes the chicken of choice for the day, vegetables, dhal, rice, naan or roti, and papad, or the Chole Bhature (S$10), featuring hot and fluffy puffed bread served with chole. For a fuller meal, you can try its Biryani Meal (S$10 for veggie, S$11 for chicken, S$12 for mutton).
10. Park Bench Deli
From cheesesteak to cured meat and grilled cheese, Park Bench Deli has been changing the definition of sandwiches in Singapore. The sandwiches here aren’t ordinary. Yes, they have the classics, but that aside, the cafe is also known for its innovative creations.
The two items on their breakfast menu you have to try are the BLT (S$18) and the Turkish Eggs (S$16). The BLT consists of smoked pork belly bacon, Roma tomato, butter lettuce, roasted garlic mayo and fried egg sandwiched between a potato bun.
If not, for something more exotic, opt for the Turkish Eggs. Soft boiled eggs accompanied by lemony Greek yoghurt, spiced brown butter, sumac and crispy shallots, served with toasted sourdough— definitely delicious!
For a taste of Argentina on our sunny island, Bochinche is where you should be. Here to dispel the notion that Argentinian cuisine is just about meat, this place does just about anything out of the ordinary.
The Burrata Artisano (S$32 for 300g) is a starter featuring silky and smooth burrata dashed with smoked salt, champagne vinegar, olive oil and a sprinkling of chives.
The dry-aged steaks at Bochinche are meticulously aged in their state-of-the-art Himalayan salt dry-ageing chamber before they are cut in-house. They are then grilled on wood and charcoal to tender perfection.
Savour the A5 Satsuma Japanese Wagyu Striploin (S$155 for 200g) served with fried garlic and champonzu sauce that’s dry-aged for 21 days.
Amoy Street might be an area well known for cafes and upscale eateries, but WANTON Seng’s Noodle Bar fits right in with its bold, modern take on the humble wonton mee.
Breathing new life into the original Seng’s Wanton Noodles found at Dunman Food Centre, WANTON Seng’s Noodle Bar prides itself on its Char Siu Noods (S$8), a bowl that features slow-cooked pork belly in place of the standard hawker char siew. Beautifully glazed with a charred exterior, every bite of the pork belly exudes a unique smokiness that is more than just addictive.
Dishes here come with free-flow broth and pork lard. For that added texture, be generous to yourself when it comes to these little nuggets of pork fats. I’m pretty sure they will add a lot more flavour and character to your noodles!
Exclusively only on Fridays, they offer late night snacks such as XO Sauce Fried Wontons (S$8.50) and Fried Kawaebi (S$8.80) (which are fried Japanese river shrimps served with lemon) from 9.30pm to 12am.
The name Birds Of A Feather draws inspiration from the idea of people flocking together like birds do. This Western-Sichuan inspired restaurant and bar is located in the hip Amoy Street neighbourhood housed within two conserved shophouses.
You’ll be able to find interesting dishes in their menu, like the vegetarian Yu Xiang Eggplant (S$17), which has Japanese eggplants drizzled in an exclusive rendition of their Yu Xiang sauce, with the addition of bocconcini cheese (small mozzarella cheese balls).
Another dish to look out for is the Bang Bang (S$14). Originally bang bang chicken was a Sichuan dish with bold flavours. The tender chicken here has a four-dimensional taste of spicy, sweet, salty and sour notes, and it’s topped with an edible cork coaster which must be broken before you can enjoy it.
Built to bring the taste of authentic Xinjiang—the largest Muslim province in China— cuisine to diners in Singapore, Restaurant Aisyah is a modern Muslim Chinese eatery situated adjacent to Thian Hock Keng Temple.
While waiting for your mains to arrive, the Chicken Dumpling with Spicy Sauce (S$15.80) makes for an excellent appetiser to kick start your meal over idle chatters. Freshly made daily, these dumplings are not only generously filled, they are also drenched in a fiery chilli oil that is numbingly spicy yet amazingly fragrant.
Restaurant Aisyah’s pièce de résistance has to be their Braised Mutton Noodle (S$16.80). Here, the broth carries a woody earthiness that is heaven-sent to those who love a healthy dose of subtle pungency. Crowning the top of the springy noodles are chunks of mutton chops that peel off the bone with ease. A lovingly tender bite that will surely leave you wanting more.
15. Royz et Vous
As an 80s baby, I love my dose of classic 80s/ 90s pop and rock anthems, and a place that has a stellar playlist on loop is Royz et Vous.
What better dish is there to feast on while bobbing your head to ‘YMCA’ than a tender and juicy Roasted Chicken Leg (S$25.90). It is first sous vide and then roasted, to lock in all the juices. Grilled cauliflower, broccoli and carrots are served together with wholegrain mustard mashed potatoes served on a bed of chicken pan sauce.
To end off your meal on a sweet note, they have a selection of cakes like Strawberry Cheesecake (S$12.90) and Ondeh Ondeh Cake (S$11.90).
For something more unique, try their Cempedak Creme Brulee (S$13.90) which uses fresh cempedak meat and is topped with berries.
16. Sichuan Alley
Sichuan Alley specialises in Sichuan cuisine that is notorious for its bold spicy flavours resulting from the extensive use of garlic and chilli peppers in their recipes.
To fire up your appetite for your main meal, try out their selection of small plates. If you’re a mala enthusiast, the Mala Black Fungus Salad (S$4) and Sichuanese Mala Beef Jerky (S$7.50) will be right up your alley. Otherwise, if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, the Ox Tongue (S$11) and Fried Pig intestines (S$7) might do just the trick.
When you’re ready to move on to your mains, they have 10 options of noodles for you to pick from. Choose from their signatures like the Signature Braised Beef Noodles (S$14.50) and Signature Dan Dan Noodles (S$10).
For something a little more unique, try the Burnt Chilli Crab Noodles (S$15) and Back To The Work Pork Belly Noodle (S$12.50) for a satisfying and interesting experience.
17. Plain Vanilla
Plain Vanilla has expanded to six outlets islandwide, with one branch located at Telok Ayer as well. Their menu differs slightly across all their stores and includes a wide variety of deli mains, brunch items, baked goods, coffee and other homemade beverages.
Head over here on weekdays for lunch and choose from their selection of six toasts which includes savoury ones like the Smashed Avocado Toast (S$22), which has two poached eggs, ripe avocado, San Marzano tomatoes, pine nuts and watercress resting atop two slices of toasted sourdough bread.
If you have a sweet tooth, the Roasted Stone Fruit Tartine (S$22) is one to succumb to. This dessert features a toasted sourdough toast with caramelised stone fruit, honey cream cheese and ricotta spread, dill, chia seeds, and pine nuts dressed with spiced honey.
Make a reservation at Plain Vanilla outlets: East Coast | Neil Road
Chope: Save up to 15% at Plain Vanilla: ION Orchard | Telok Ayer | Tiong Bahru
Opened by the people behind Lola’s Cafe, Dumpling Darlings is an inconspicuous restaurant at Amoy Street that stood out with its dark minimalistic exterior and simple logo. Besides being known for their variety of noodles and dumplings with unique flavours, Dumpling Darlings has also been garnering attraction for their creative cocktail mixes.
To make the most out of your penny, opt for their Lunch Set (S$17). It comes with a bowl of noodles, a set of four dumplings and an iced beverage of your choice.
The noodle choices include Miso Mushroom Noodles, Sichuan Pork Noodles or top up S$4 for XO Prawn noodles.
For the dumplings, there are seven varieties to choose from. Choose between Smoked Duck, Veggie Mandu and Fried Pierogi (which consists of smoked bacon, truffle potato, caramelised onion, cheddar and sriracha crema).
Located just a stone’s throw away from Telok Ayer MRT is Miss G’s Grill & Bar, a mouth-watering bar serving an array of Japanese-inspired comfort food.
Usual bar bites like fries and wings aside, the eatery’s California Maki Dip (S$12) also makes for an excellent complement to go with their extensive selection of alcoholic beverages.
The dip is a mix of crabmeat, cucumber, avocado and mayonnaise, garnished with some spring onions and a generous portion of tobiko. Paired with the crisp, deep-fried wanton skins, it is a simple yet highly-addictive dish that you unknowingly will wipe clean even before you realise.
For a wholesome dish that will surely satisfy, go for their Iberico Char Siew on Rice with Onsen Egg and Chilled Kangkong (S$18.90). The thick, melt-in-your-mouth slices of Iberico char siew are juicy and flavourful. With uneven charred bits on its surface, every bite will leave a robust smoky aroma lingering on your tongue!
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