For close to two months now, dining establishments in Singapore have gone dark. In the wild wake of strict regulations to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, many restaurants and other small-scale eateries have turned their businesses upside down to make ends meet. There are some who have shuttered their doors, but then there are others who are determined to weather the rain.
There’s a lot to be missed in times of crisis. Whether it be the incessant chatter at the now-quiet food courts, the regular greetings you get in between happily bustling cafes, or the smiles you receive as bartenders serve up cocktails in fancy coup glasses behind bar counters, there’s always something for every occasion in local eateries.
And so it makes sense that media outlets, like us, should fill in this gaping hole between customers and dining establishments today. To reconcile customers with heartfelt dishes that have become blankets of comfort may be a bold statement to make, but it is in this same supportive spirit that has encouraged us to curate an expanding list of local eateries, which we will update weekly, to support throughout this time.
Read on to find out some of the best restaurants and cafes, who are keeping their kitchens open and grills hot, throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Serving up some of the best and authentic Italian dishes along Hong Kong Street, Michelin starred restaurateur-chef Beppe De Vito’s chic Italia eatery and bar AMÒ has recently added new additions to their delivery menu. The all-new “ITALIAMÒ” pasta and pizza kits (from $17.55) now allow you to create some of the restaurant’s signature dishes, such as the “Truffle Cream Pizza” ($29.95) or “Hearty Beef Bolognese Pasta” ($17.55), in the comfort of your home. But supposed if you are not up for a kitchen challenge, you could opt to get the artisanal classics, like the “Tagliolini with Spicy Young Cuttle Fish and Squid Ink” ($31.05) or “Mushrooms, Truffle, Mascarpone and Tuscan Pecorino Pizza” ($37.45), off the menu instead.
2. Blue Jasmine
The casual and chic Thai restaurant has long pledged itself to deliver authentic Thai cuisine, and truth be told, it rarely disappoints. Drawing influences from Thailand’s robust street food culture, offerings at Blue Jasmine is always brimming with flavours. You can still expect the same earthy fragrances and herbal accents from its the brand new, all-day Bento Boxes — comprising the traditional classics, such as “Pad Thai Set” and “Tom Yum Fried Rice Set“, to indulgent dishes, such as “Lemongrass Fish Set” (from $13). Each bento set comes with its own assortment of sides and Mango Sticky Rice. Otherwise, the above “Stir-fried Glass Noodles” ($16) could be a palatable alternative.
3. Culina at COMO Demsey
Restaurants in and about Dempsey Hill are often noteworthy in ranks in the culinary scene here. But what truly sets it apart, beyond its homely and heartwarming dishes, is the use of the freshest produce, some of which are specially procured and airflown. With Culina at COMO Dempsey‘s, you can savour the best of French rotisserie, including “Mamoa Lamb Rack” (from $42) and “Lacto Rotisserie Chicken” (from $30), as well as tantalising appetisers, like the “Crab Cakes” ($26).
4. LeVeL 33
With the circuit breakers in place, we are no longer able to relish in urban penthouse dining anymore. But it still isn’t enough to stop the world’s highest urban microbrewery, LeVel33, from providing exquisite dining experiences to the masses. The restaurant’s “Brewery Burger” (from $22), with its beer malt brioche buns, and the “Hainanese Chicken Burger” (from $21) are easily crowd favourites. But should you crave for something substantial, the “Specially Curated Charcuterie Board” (from $28) is a fanciful concoction of everything you’d ever dream of — think truffle brie, Ossay Irtay, Tete de Moine, black forest ham, Proscuitto de Parma, housemade IPA housemade jelly and quince paste.
5. Red Eye Smokehouse
In the pre-coronavirus era, Red Eye Smokehouse used to be the perfect place for an evening hang, where families and friends would gather and feast on platters of smoked meats and sinful sides. While you can no longer feast with friends, you can still enjoy the southern barbeque flavours, such as “Duroc Pork Ribs” (from $30) or the “Smoked Angus Beef Short Rib” (from $55), in the comfort of your homes with your family. The smokehouse also offers a myriad of interesting sides, and my favourites are the “Mashed Potatoes with Stout Gravy & Bone Marrow Butter” (from $5) and “Corn Bread with Honey Butter” (from $5).
6.TONKATSU by Ma Maison (NEW)
A popular dish in domestic restaurants and households in Japan today, Tonkatsu, otherwise known as breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet, is a dish that has roots that go way back to the early 20th century. Crisp and golden brown on the outside and yet thick and juicy on the inside, the dish is often accompanied with fresh sliced lettuce and a hearty dollop of gravy. While we can no longer travel to Japan and saving the dish in its homegrown, I’ve found TONKATSU by Ma Maison to be a trusty and reliable chain of eateries offering some of the juiciest slabs of fried pork around in town. The creme de la creme lies with the black pork offering, otherwise known as “Kurobuta Rosu Katsu 150g” (from $32.30), but the eatery’s “Miso Rosu Katsu Set” (from $24.30) — which comes with deep-fried pork loin with miso dressing and miso soup — may well be a more wholesome meal together.
7. Whitegrass (NEW)
Helmed by chef Takuya Yamashita, who had stints at one-Michelin-starred Ciel et Sol, the menu at Whitegrass boasts of French fare, but with a contemporary Japanese twist. 2020 marks chef Yamashita’s first anniversary at running the forty-seater restaurant, which was first established as an Australian fine-dining restaurant in 2016 and ran by Australian chef and owner Sam Aisbett till 2018. The coronavirus pandemic crisis may well be the restaurant biggest challenge of late, and still one should expect to see French dishes presented with Japanese restraint. Of which, the “Chicken Katsu with Sauce Gribiche and Tomato Rice” (from $22) and “Braised Beef Hamburg with Mushroom Sauce with Gratin Macaroni” (from $22) are some of the restaurant’s fusion favourites. Meanwhile, the dessert menu’s “Black Sesame Panna Cotta” (from $6) seems to promise a creamy and nutty indulgence.
8. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse Singapore
Nothing could go wrong with meats from the famed NYC steak restaurant. Not to be confused with the other acclaimed chef Wolfgang Puck, Wolfgang Steakhouse was established in 2004 in New York City by none other than Wolfgang Zwiener. Known for its world-renowned steaks as well as its impeccable service staff, you shouldn’t be surprised that this is in the list at all. The restaurant’s “Porterhouse Steak” (from $206), which feeds two or more people and comes in a sizzling and decadent slab of sirloin and fillet mignon cuts, along with the “New York Style Cheesecake” ($18) are to die for.
9. 28 HongKong Street (NEW)
Tucked away in an unassuming shophouse of the ’60s, 28 HongKong Street is a gem of its own. In the pre-pandemic era, the contemporary bar boasts an impressionable catalogue of yummy bar bites and jolly tipples set in a cosy, dimly-lit, industrial-looking space that is nothing short of a jovial ambience. And while local regulations have banned bars or other entertainment outlets from opening during the Circuit Breaker period, the team behind 28 HongKong Street is determined to break the COVID-19 monotony with a unique House Party Experience (from $88/person or $158/couple, with a minimum of 4 people) that brings you and your friends to relive the late-night, bar-hopping experiences of yesteryears. Each guest is entitled to pick three cocktails (of 100ml) from the menu — which runs the gamut from herbal-ish and smooth concoction “Lazy Bear” to rich and comforting Rum and chocolate combo in “The Fess” — as well as a selection of bar bites, including the signature “Truffle Mac N’ Cheese Balls“. More importantly, a curated Spotify playlist with 28’s favourite jams and hospitable hosts will come together to put forth a great party experience for you and your friends.
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1. Café Coco
Even though Café Coco has temporarily ceased kitchen operations (which we gingerly hope would reopen soon), its cafe counter is still bustling with activities. But unexpectedly and of course, with much admiration, the team behind Café Coco has decided to donate 100% of its proceeds from their sales of the bottled brew — Creamy White Latte, Smooth Black Americano, Cherry Blossom Latte (from $7) — to the Singapore Red Cross to support the vulnerable elderly here. But if coffee ain’t your thing, you could perhaps consider devouring the cafe’s tantalising alcoholic latte, Popcorn Quarantini ($15), too.
2. Curious Palette
Helmed by the same folks from Wakey Wakey and Strangers’ Reunion, brunch offerings and coffee from Curious Palette at Prinsep Street have long known to attract a returning crowd. Many would have heard or tried of the cafe’s signature amber bottled coffees that boast rich flavours with a surprisingly smooth consistency, such as “Sea Salt Chocolate” and “White Magic” ($38 for 6 bottles). But the complements to the cafe’s cup of Joe are from the Brunch menu, including the “Prawn, Mentaiko Belacan Pasta” ($21.90) and “Buttermilk Waffles” ($11.50).
There is beauty in subtlety and Lucid, or A Lucid Space, is just about all that. Having only opened its doors earlier this year, the brand-new, minimalist cafe is set facing with its biggest ordeal yet. While we are no longer able to dine in at the cafe’s cosy space that is bedecked in Instagram-friendly, monochromatic furniture, we can still support its potent concoction of perk-me ups. If anything, the brand’s resident bakers from Thoughts.Bake‘s sweet and creamy “Dulcey Tart” ($10), comprising chocolate ganache on a crunchy praline base, and “The Other Black Coffee” (from $5), which is a seasonal cuppa, seems to coalesce to form a sinful combo.
4. PS. Cafe (NEW)
Having satisfied the tastebuds of generations of Singaporeans for close to two decades, it is safe to proclaim PS. Gourmet group’s PS. Cafe is a true-blue cafe pioneer on the sunny island. In light of the recent coronavirus pandemic and the island-wide Circuit Breaker measures, the cafe (or a restaurant, as some would call it) had earlier launched a brand new initiative that allows regulars and aspiring fans to reconcile or get acquainted with its delectable bites. Dubbed “POPS UP“, menu from the dynamic initiative features cafe classics, including the Hawaiian-inspired hamburger “Waikiki Burger” (from $16.50) and “Beef and Cheese Burger” (from $15.40), set at affordable price points. Fans would be glad to know that the signature “No. 41” (from $17.60), which consists of juicy beef patty, sauteed mushrooms, onions, spinach, cheese and a healthy dousing of herb aioli and barbeque sauce, is also available on the menu. And finally, to not order the brand’s iconic “1/2 Truffle Fries” (from $9.50) would be a sin altogether.
5. Riders Cafe
Tucked away in a corner of Bukit Timah lies the quaint Riders Cafe which sits right beside Bukit Timah Saddle Club. Since its establishment in 2007, the non-air conditioned space has served up plates of hearty brunch offerings and more to the masses, often with an accompanying view of sauntering horses in the midst. The “Roast Prok Knuckle and Bratwursts” ($45), which serves two to three pax, is a promising seasonal special, while “The ‘Full-On’ Usual” (from $20) and “Brioche French Toast“($14) are perhaps great compliments to match with the cafe’s coffee (from $4.50).