Last Updated: April 23, 2019
Own a car or have a friend that does? If you are sick of convenient crowded shopping mall restaurants and want to try out more exotic makan spots in Singapore, this ulu restaurant list is for you, the food adventurer at heart.
Singapore may be a relatively small country with a good transport system, but there are still many hidden restaurants in extremely ulu (hard to find, 鸟不生蛋) corners of the island simply worth a visit.
Part of the reason for their ulu location is because not many business owners can afford to pay the crazy rental in those shopping malls. Despite that, many local restaurateurs nonetheless have brilliant ideas that need to be expressed in some unknown corner of Singapore. I hunt down these brilliant restaurants and present them to you here.
One of the best hidden prata finds in Singapore is ENAQ restaurant in the far west. This Indian restaurant serves amazingly crispy yet not too oily roti prata along with a special ikan bilis belachan chili on the side.
Generous portions at affordable hawker prices, this is a very underated prata place. Things to try include the crispy Cheese Prata ($2), the fish curry and Chicken Murtabak ($6).
Opening hours: 24hrs
The Cajun Kings serves French Acadienne or a Louisiana style of cooking, which uses a lot of powerful Cajun flavours; rich, buttery and spicy. A casual, fun hands-on dining experience can be expected.
Amazing, robust sauces with a fiery spice. Prices can be a bit steep though, but its seafood yea. Recommended to try out the Cajun Kings Combo ($65) which comes in a boiled spice bag mix of Red sea prawns, manila clams, sausages and corn. They also serve craft beers like the Hitachino, one of my favorites.
Opening hours: Tues – Sun 4.30pm – 10pm | Closed: Mon
Opened by bikers, for bikers- this motorcycle-themed restaurant is suitably located near the northern edge of Singapore, accessible to bikes, cars and marathon runners (the nearest Sembawang Mrt is 2.7 km away). This is one of the coolest themed restaurants in Singapore, with makeshift motorcycle parts adapted into furniture all around. A much better choice than a certain bicycle cafe yard, which in comparison looks like kids’ toys.
Handle Bar serves western cuisine predominantly and is very packed over the weekends. The signature Spicy Cocaine Wings ($12) even at medium spicy level almost melted my tongue. Steak and eggs ($32) is simple but very delicious, while the Slap Yo Momma Pork Chop ($24) came in a HUGE portion larger than my hand.
Despite my praises, I was quite vexed they forgot my cocaine wings all the way till I finished my mains and asked for the bill, then still tried to charge me for it. It took a good 1 hr 10 mins to get my wings, and I had to dabao it in the end. Service was overall friendly, but they need to work on customer service recovery and handling the wait.
Opening hours: Tue – Fri: 5pm – 1am | Sat – Sun: 3pm – 1am | Closed: Mon
Located amongst car mechanical workshops in Sin Ming, New Ubin Seafood adds a unique twist to the Singaporean Zi Char restaurant, introducing different dishes with a more global influence. Aluminum sheeted ceilings and unadorned furniture, New Ubin Seafood looks suspiciously like a fishing jetty.
You won’t want to miss the Soft Boiled Egg Special ($9) that comes with a chunk of foie gras, and requires a 1 hr pre-order. The US Angus Rib-Eye Steak ($12/100 gram) is another special beef item not commonly seen in Zi char restaurants that is worth a try,
Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 11am – 2pm, 5.30pm – 10.30pm | Sat & Sun: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 5.30pm – 10.30pm
If you like the forest and occasional monkeys, you’ll love this place- bask in the lush and laid-back tropical nature of Singapore at VaVa bistro. VaVa bistro serves a pretty western style fare, with hints of European. Honestly food is so-so, like the crispy Confit de canard ($23.80), but has that tropical setting amidst Macritche’s greenery.
A caveat: the mosquitoes residing in the fauna are probably commando trained and can bite through your clothing. I’d request to sit inside, but that kind of defeats the purpose of being one with nature.
Opening hours: Sun – Thur: 5pm – 11pm | Fri – Sat: 5pm – 12am | Weekend brunch: 11am – 3pm
Serving contemporary comfort food right next to the Bukit Timah Saddle Club, Riders Cafe is a popular spot for brunch while admiring the majestic horses. Sometimes the smell of horse essence can be a tad overpowering though. It gets really packed over the weekend nonetheless, where brunch ends at 3pm, so make reservations.
Try the Pacific Benedict ($16) with swimmer crab, poached eggs and Spinach and Shrimp Hollandaise for a more oceanic flavour rather than the usual eggs benedict.
MORE monkeys can be spotted here. Riders Cafe even has a sign that tells you not to feed the monkeys, but hey, I’m an adult and I don’t need to listen to a signboard.
Riders Cafe: 51 Fairways Dr, Singapore 286965 | Tel: 6466 9819 | Website
Opening hours: Tues – Sun: 8.30am – 9pm | Closed Mon
The Coastal Settlement is a gloriously chill and casual restaurant in one of the most ulu corners in East Singapore. From my home in Serangoon, it would take me 2 transfers and about 70 minutes to reach via public transport. Drive there with a car please.
A homey, kampung-like environment, you can dine in ANYTHING comfortable you want here. Flip flops, shorts, anything. But if wearing nothing is the most comfortable for you, you should probably just stay home. Filled with nostalgic and retro items, it feels like a hoarders paradise here.
Even the menu feels quite hoarder-like, with a mix of Singapore dishes like Nasi Lemak ($16), TCS Char Kway Teow ($16), together with western items like Crab Pesto Spaghetti and Fish and Chips ($26). As a Singaporean I wouldn’t pay $16 for char kway teow though, not like a Michelin chef cooked it.
Opening hours: Tues – Sun: 10.30am – 12am | Closed Mon
I’ve eaten loads of Bak Kut Teh and Outram Park Ya Hua has always been one of my favorites. Located in the PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex, it is one of the most inconvenient outlets to go to, but also preferred because there are way more seats.
The Pork Ribs ($7) soup has a strong peppery flavour, while you can get the Spare Ribs ($8) in lean or fatty meat. I’ve found the pork to be tender most of the time with a meaty bite. The braised pork trotters is also sinfully filled with soft collagen and fat which you must try.
Opening hours: Tue to Sun: 7.00am – 4.00am | Closed on mon
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Buckaroo is a Southern US style grill restaurant with a Cowboys and Red Indians theme. The interior is really casual, and adorned with all sorts of old American West props as well as the most cowboy American state: Texas.
Try the popular Buffalo Wings ($17.80 half dozen) with varying levels of spiciness, all the way up to level 7, which is the level of of heaven or hell depending on your tolerance. Wings are a tad expensive, but the other mains have large, hearty portions as well as friendly restaurant staff.
Opening hours: Weds – Mon 4pm – 10.30pm | Closed tues
Deep within Telok Blangah Hill Park, Alkaff Mansion’s main mansion features a grand Italian fine-dining restaurant which can sit up to 180 guests.
Alkaff Mansion seems to be perfectly designed for weddings, featuring a Gazebo, tiled walkways, and a separate terrace. Even the al fresco veranda area looks perfect for a lunch reception after the wedding ceremony.
The beastly 1 kg Bistecca Fiorentina ($180) steak for 2 is recommended, as well as the Porcetto Sardinyan Style ($46), which is a tender, slow-cooked suckling pig that serves 1.
Opening hours: Daily 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10.30pm
Cacio e Pepe translates to ‘Cheese and Pepper’ from Italian, which are two ingredients that typically go well together. Hidden away in the quiet suburban bukit batok area, Cacio e Pepe strives to create a relaxed yet authentic Italian dining experience.
The modest restaurant can sit 50 people and provide group events as needed. The luscious Tagliatelle al Tartufo ($24) is a homemade pasta covered in truffle cream sauce with scallops and prawns that you should try. Chef specials are also often available, presenting new dishes not in the menu.
Opening hours: Tues – Sun: 11.30am – 2.30 pm, 6pm – 10.30pm | closed mon
Situated in the atas, but serene Greenwood neighborhood made accessible only by car, La Braceria features authentic Italian cuisine form the Southern Amalfi coast. There are quite a few parking lots around, but always seem to be parked with expensive cars I can’t afford to even pay attention to.
The restaurant is owned by Chef Fabio Iannone and managed by his younger brother Adriano Iannone and their business partner, Chef Mauro. The al dente Angel Hair Pasta wth Italian Chili sauce ($26) is something to look out for as recommended by the chef.
Opening hours: Daily: 12.30pm – 2.30pm, 6.30pm – 10.30pm
An al fresco western bistro that screens live soccer and serves beer. The western fare is decent and at very reasonable NETT pricing. As per the awning’s message, try the Pasta, Fish and Chips and Baked rice, comforting foods that can’t go wrong.
One Place Western occasionally throws drinking challenges, have beer babes around, and overall has a buddy-bro vibe. A boy’s night out kind of place at the ulu Jalan Kayu.
Opening hours: Daily: 6pm – 2am
Short for Colonial Bar, Colbar used to be an old British army canteen in 1953, surviving all the way to modern times. The structure and many fixtures within Colbar have been preserved well, giving you a blast from the past- assuming you’re old enough to understand what past I’m talking about.
Food wise, there is a huge range of items on the menu that was designed to cater to locals as well as British soldiers last time. The Hor Fun ($8) and Chicken Curry Rice ($11) are good bets to try, with a familiar childhood taste reminding me of my primary school canteen. The hor fun even has wok hei. Prices however seem a bit over-inflated due to the crowds that come in for that taste of nostalgia. Skip the milkshakes though. The service is at best, non-chalent here.
Opening hours: Tues – Sun: 11am -10pm | Closed Mon
It seems quite popular for BBQ and grills to open in the middle of nowhere, and Chuckwagon is our final recommended ulu restaurant. Hidden in the cozy corner of Portsdown road, Chuckwagon is actually just a stone’s throw from Colbar although the themes cannot be more different. They also only open at night.
Serving American-sized portions, this wild west concept restaurant also has a spacey al fresco area. Me, I love my steaks. Try the massive 500g Australian T-Bone ($45.80) steak guaranteed to fill you up. Bar snacks also include the usual suspects: Onion Rings ($10.80), Calamari ($15.80) and Cheesy fries ($8.80).
Opening hours: Weds – Mon: 4pm – 11.30pm | Closed Tues