The Big Five-0: 50 things to eat in Singapore before you die

Food is one of those amazing things in life. When it’s good, and we do mean really, really good, it has the uncanny ability to silence even the most finicky critics. But with so many venues, and such extraordinarily diverse menus in our little city, finding the very best of them can be tough. Fortunately, we’re out there every day of the week trying. In no particular order, here’s our list of 50 things you simply have to put in your mouth—at least once.

1. Fried Egg White at Restaurant Ten
It’s a simple dish. Just fried egg white, topped with crisp dried scallop strands, lounging in a crunchy potato nest. Barely seasoned, the skilful execution of this dish showcases all its components in their unadorned glory. Their ever-hospitable manager Doris recommends having it with vinegar, but we’re happiest the way it is.
Restaurant Ten, 7 Purvis St., 6333-9901.

2. Tandoor Tandoor at The Green Bar
We aren’t the healthiest eaters, not by a long shot. But the salads here truly are a delight. The Tandoor Tandoor is a mountain of fresh leaves sitting pretty in a large wooden bowl, topped with juicy chunks of tandoori chicken, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, roasted potatoes and honey yogurt dressing.
The Green Bar, #01-16/17 Hitachi Towers, 16 Collyer Quay, 6493-6948.

3. Beef Tongue Quesadilla Set at Spruce Taqueria
Real bang for your buck, the set comes with chips, salsa and a drink (have the refreshing watermelon and lime aqua fresca). You’ll need it for that salsa—specked with bits of red onion, jalapenos and coriander, it’s just tart and spicy enough to make your tongue tingle and leave you wanting more. But the real star, as far as we’re concerned, is the beef tongue quesadilla—with a crisp tortilla shell concealing tender cubes of meat and oozing luscious melted cheese. Dark and handsome never looked, or tasted, this good.
Spruce Taqueria, Phoenix Park, 320 Tanglin Rd., 6836-5528.

4. Crispy Durian Ice Cream at Majestic Restaurant
Battered up, deep fried durian ice cream. Enough said.
Majestic Restaurant, 1/F Majestic Hotel, 31-37 Bukit Pasoh Rd., 6511-4718.

5. Single Cut Filet Mignon at Morton’s The Steakhouse
A medium rare hunk of juicy, aged USDA beef, great with au poivre, five peppercorn cognac cream sauce. The rich, smooth taste of the lightly-spiked sauce truly complements the natural jus of the filet mignon.
Morton’s The Steakhouse, 4/F Mandarin Oriental Singapore, Marina Square, 5 Raffles Av., 6339-3740.

6. Fried Kway Teow at Lau Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow
There’s usually a long line here, and boy do we hate to wait. But our rumbling tummies will gladly attest to the quality of the kway teow here. Full of ham (cockles) and lap cheong (Chinese sausages), with the right amount of chili and dark soy for a sweet and spicy hit.
Lau Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow, #01-12 Old Airport Road Food Centre, 51 Old Airport Rd.

7. Melt and Sizzle Ice Cream at Tom’s Palette
We have fond memories of pouring sachets of pop rocks into our mouths till we got sick, or ran out of pocket money, whichever came first (it was usually the former). This simple yet gratifying brown sugar ice cream is a grown up take on that, with cranberries, blueberries and chocolate chunks studded with pop rocks—the absolute best part is biting into the chocolate chunks and having the fizzy sweets explode in your mouth.
Tom’s Palette, #01-25 Shaw Leisure Gallery, 100 Beach Rd., 6296-5239.

8. Grilled Fugu at Kinki Restaurant + Bar
Potentially lethal, check. Completely scrumptious, double check. Tender and slightly sweet grilled marinated fugu (blowfish) nicely offsets the creamy and spicy sesame togarashi aioli.
Kinki Restaurant + Bar, #02-02 Customs House, 70 Collyer Quay, 6533-3471.

9. Baked Bone Marrow at The Disgruntled Chef
Every bit as good as it sounds. Take a bone, slice it all the way down the middle, bake it in the oven, season with salt and pepper, and then serve hot with sour dough toast and a homemade persillade. The marrow gives easily under the pressure of a teaspoon, and a sprinkle of pink peppercorns lends a sweet and sour dimension to the richness of the dish. The blend of garlic, parsley and olive oil brings an oh-so-pleasant heat that’s hard to resist. We know the restaurant’s concept is supposed to encourage sharing (sorry chef Sia!), but this is something we’re unapologetically selfish about.
The Disgruntled Chef, 26B Dempsey Rd., 6476-5305.

10. Bolly Wooly at Fatboy’s the Burger Bar
A good-sized lamb patty slathered with a slightly sour mango chutney and a homemade curry remoulade, sandwiched between a sweet honey oat bun. You can be sure it’s going to get messy, but at least this one’s worth getting your hands dirty over.
Fatboy’s the Burger Bar, 187 Upper Thomson Rd., 6252-8780.

11. Duck Rice at Boon Tong Kee Kway Chap Braised Duck
Truth be told, there is quite possibly better braised duck on our island. Sure, the meat’s tender, the rice is fragrant, the gravy’s thick and a shower of fried shallots and Chinese parsley make for a good eat. But what we really come here for is the soup—dark, rich and intensely flavored with a bittersweet finish.
Boon Tong Kee Kway Chap Braised Duck, #01-24 Zion Riverside Food Centre, 86 Zion Rd.

12. Classic Tiramisu at Angelo’s
No funky flavors, no twist. Savoiardi (sponge fingers) moistened by Marsala, Tia Maria and brandy, layered with mascarpone cheese and dusted with cocoa powder. In other words, damn good Italian-style tiramisu made by a gregarious Italian chef, Angelo Sanelli. La dolce vita!
Angelo’s, 111-113 Killiney Rd., 6732-5113.

13. Scallop with Tofu at Cherry Garden
A succulent steamed scallop sits atop a square of silken tofu in a subtly spicy black bean sauce. Genius.
Cherry Garden, 5/F Mandarin Oriental Singapore, 5 Raffles Ave., 6885-3538.

14. Mushrooms and Parma Ham Pappardelle at Arbite
Yes, it’s a bit of a trek out, but it’s worth it. This is comfort cooking at its best, with fresh pasta to boot. Chef-owner Marc Wee makes a batch every day, and we appreciate that. Homemade pappardelle that’s perfectly al dente, tossed in an ivory cream with onions, garlic and shallots, the sliced button mushrooms, parma ham and lightest drizzle of truffle oil make for a luscious, earthy dish.
Arbite, 66A Serangoon Garden Way, 6287-0430.

15. Yaki Mochi at Let’s Sweets
We never thought we’d ever be caught dead saying this, but we love vibrating balls. Rice balls that is—slowly-toasted in a pulsating machine till a gorgeous light brown and hiding fillings like red bean and sweet potato.
Let’s Sweets, #02-49 Bugis Junction, 200 Victoria St., 6338-0187.

16. XXL Chicken at Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks
Deep fried, crispy goodness that never fails to hit the spot. Best enjoyed piping hot with too much chili powder.
Shihlin Taiwan Street Snacks, #01-16D Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Rd.

17. Tomato at Le Figue
Quite possible one of the most complex salads we’ve ever had. Chef Kelvin Lee showcases the Japanese Momotaro with so much finesse that we didn’t notice the lack of protein. The de-skinned fruit is sliced and splayed across the plate, adorned with mozzarella pearls, sundried tomatoes and sprinkled with black olive powder. Wait, there’s more. Pickled cucumbers, candied Meyer lemon strips and the sexiest soft-set molasses jelly (all homemade), bring out the natural sweetness of the fresh tomato.
Le Figue, #01-01/02 Camden Medical Centre, 1 Orchard Boulevard, 6887-5383.

18. Assam-style fish at Baits
Take the freshest fish of your choice (we favor Marble Goby) and cook it in a mouthwatering assam (tamarind) gravy with eggplant, pineapple, ladies fingers and tomatoes. Flavored with ginger, garlic, onions, kaffir lime leaves and ginger flowers, there’s also the slightest hint of evaporated milk and fermented beans for an intensely rich flavor that is spicy, sour and fragrant all at once.
Baits, #01-217/222 The Forum, Resorts World Sentosa, 26 Sentosa Gateway, 6686-3565.

19. Stewed Clams at Nuoc
This is the happy result of throwing a bunch of fresh clams into a hot simmering stock of young coconut juice and lemongrass. The subtle sweetness of the broth is a perfect accompaniment to the tender meat, especially when foiled against a squeeze of lime and a dash of spiced pepper salt.
NUOC, #12-01 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Rd., 6884-6808.

20. Chwee Kueh at Tiong Bahru Chwee Kueh
Legendary (so long as you’re not lactose intolerant.) Their chai poh (preserved radish) topping is intoxicatingly fragrant. Only to be eaten with heaping teaspoons of chili sauce.
Tiong Bahru Chwee Kueh, #02-62 Tiong Bahru Food Centre, 30 Seng Poh Rd.

21. Casa Latina Melted Cheese at Casa Latina
You literally can’t go wrong with this. Mexican bearded cheese sizzling in a hot stone pot with green sauce made from garlic, onions and tomatillos (green tomatoes imported from Mexico). Scoop up as much as is humanly possible, slop it on a warm tortilla, then roll it up into a log before cramming all that melted cheese into your mouth. Don’t forget to leave some in the pot to get nice and toasty, much like a Mexican raclette.
Casa Latina, 42 Waterloo St., 6884-6929.

22. Squid Ink Pizza at Skinny Pizza
Calamari, prawns, Spanish onions, tomato salsa and chopped parsley all make a stunning appearance on a jet black squid ink crunchy pizza base. Remember, cheese is your friend. And ours too.
Skinny Pizza, #03-04 Wheelock Place, 501 Orchard Rd., 6235-7823.

23. Peking Duck at One on the Bund
Expect crisp duck skin and tender meat, infused with a delicate aroma from rose-scented wood chips.
One on the Bund, 80 Collyer Quay, Clifford Pier, 6221-0004.

24. Grilled Rice Ball at En Grill and Bar
Not so much a ball as a triangular rice prism, the yaki onigri here is brushed with soy sauce and grilled till a golden brown crust forms. Topped with mentaiko, there are few things we like better with our sake.
En Grill and Bar, #01-60 UE Square, 207 River Valley Rd., 6732-6863.

25. Chendol Snow Ice at Mei Heong Yuen Dessert
We adore this Taiwanese ice dessert. It has an amazingly light and fluffy texture, like snowflakes, but tasty. Think coconut flavored ice, red beans, green noodle-like jelly bits, all drizzled with gula melaka.
Mei Heong Yuen Dessert, 65-67 Temple St., 6221-1156.

26. Ayam Goreng Gurih at Concorde
Chef William Wongso makes a mean fragrant fried chicken with an addictive rempah (spice paste). The only thing that would make us happier would be if he was willing to share the recipe.
4/F Pool, Concorde Hotel Singapore, 100 Orchard Rd., 6733-8855.

27. Steamed Eggplant Roulade at Chinois by Susur Lee
We don’t even really like brinjal, but this dish is a truly wonderful interplay of sweet and salty flavors. Tender eggplant strips, sprinkled with bonito flakes and flash-fried preserved vegetables (mei chai) with a dash of sugar make for a winning combination.
Chinois by Susur Lee, #02-142/143 Hotel Michael, Resorts World Sentosa, 26 Sentosa Gateway, 6884-7888.

28. Tau Huay at Rochor Beancurd
We hit them up every so often for silky smooth soya bean curd that glides oh-so-easily down our throats. Enjoy hot or cold with a little sugar syrup, please. The sweetness really enhances the nutty, beany flavor of the tau huay.
Rochor Beancurd, 2 Short St., 6334-1138.

29. Paella Especial Don Quijote at Don Quijote
Fresh clams, mussels, tiger prawns and squid swim in saffron-scented rice. They even throw in chicken for good measure. Make sure you give it a generous squeeze of lemon juice for added zing.
Don Quijote, #01-02 Blk. 7 Dempsey Rd., 6476-2811.

30. Pork Lard at Ka Soh
We’ve had meals aplenty here since we were but wee young things. Since then, the one highlight has always been, and will continue to be, their pork lard—crispy, fragrant and obscenely decadent. Let’s just say we’ve had a fight or two about who gets the last piece. Oh, and the fish head noodles and prawn paste chicken are good too.
Ka Soh, 96 Amoy St., 6224-9920.

31. Deep Fried Sea Bass at Soht and Baay
Light and crisp, if only all fish was this well done. Be sure to pile on the sour and spicy green mango salad.
Soht and Baay, #04-11/05‑01 ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, 6509‑6058.

32. Angel Hair Pasta at Gunther’s Modern French Cuisine
Chef Gunther Hubrechsen’s cold angel hair pasta with Oscietra caviar is simply exquisite.
Gunther’s Modern French Cuisine, #01-03, 36 Purvis St., 6338-8955.

33. Cheese Prata at Spize
It used to be Casuarina’s cheese prata at Killiney Road, not the original branch, which was so good it’d (almost) bring tears to our eyes. Unfortunately, they’ve closed shop. So in comes Spize to claim the title. What else would you want to eat when drunk at three in the morn? Best with sugar, their tangy, spicy curry and a monstrous Milo dinosaur.
Spize, 409 River Valley Rd., 6445-3211.

34. Chocolate Truffles at Truffs
Only true connoisseurs need apply. They deal only in dark chocolate truffles, 55 percent Équateur, 66 percent Antilles or 70 percent Honduras. All cocoa-dusted gems are handmade, with ingredients imported from France. We wouldn’t say no to a box, or three.
Truffs, 179A Telok Ayer St., 9088-2736.

35. Veal Ravioli at Senso Ristorante & Bar
Homemade ravioli stuffed with veal accompanied by a copious amount of black Tuscan summer truffle shavings. Need we say more?
Senso Ristorante & Bar, 21 Club St., 6224-3534.

36. Kong Bao Tian Ji at Shi Cheng Sa Bao Huo Tian Ji
The creamiest Cantonese-style congee, with a consistency so thick you would be forgiven for mistaking it for glue. Already stunning on its own, with strands of ginger and garnished with spring onions. But with tender frog legs and whole dry chilies in a sweet and spicy kong bao sauce—perfection.
Shi Cheng Sa Bao Huo Tian Ji, Lorong 9, 235 Geylang Rd., 8136-9858.

37. TAO.Aka Chashu Ramen at IPPUDO TAO
The intoxicating smell of aromatic garlic oil hits you first, then the rich tonkotsu broth, blended with spicy miso paste and fish stock. Thin and chewy noodles and juicy pork belly never fails to make us happy campers.
IPPUDO TAO, #01-55 UE Square, 207 River Valley Rd., 6887-5315.

38. Chilean Sea Bass at Restaurant Ember
Chef Sebastian Ng really has a way with seafood. Case in point, his oven roasted Chilean sea bass with mentaiko crust, bottarga hollandaise and hazelnut vinaigrette.
Restaurant Ember, G/F Hotel 1929, 50 Keong Saik Rd., 6347-1928.

39. Lemon Tart at Taste Matters
Husband and wife duo, Richard and Janelle Ang, are a riot. We could almost forget why we come here in the first place. But make no mistake, our mission is clear. Their lemon tart is to die for. We could eat the entire thing. No really, we could.
Taste Matters, #02-19 Cluny Court, 501 Bukit Timah Rd., 6297-9713.

40. Steamed Chicken Rice at Kampong Chicken Eating House
Supposedly less fatty than regular chicken, but we really don’t care about all that. What we do care about is tender, firm flesh and fluffy, aromatic rice.
Kampong Chicken Eating House, 247 Outram Rd., 6221-2522.

41. Nasi Lemak at Adam’s Nasi Lemak
The fact that the line is ridiculously long and they sell out by lunch time is a testament to how good the nasi lemak here is. There are rumors that the Sultan of Brunei orders hundreds of packets from them. We wouldn’t be surprised if it was true, not in the slightest.
Adam’s Nasi Lemak, #01-01 Adam Road Food Centre, 2 Adam Rd.

42. Curry Fries at EwF
Shoestring fries smothered in a slightly spicy curry powder mix. Much like bbq curry Twisties, only better.
EwF, #01-24/25 Orchard Central, 277 Orchard Rd., 6634-8358.

43. Beef Kway Teow at Lor 9 Geylang Famous Beef Kway Teow
Kway teow lazing in a thickened gravy flecked with black bean bits and red chili. Eat with green chili, and loads of it.
Lorong 9 Geylang Famous Beef Kway Teow, Lorong 9, 237 Geylang Rd.

44. Eggplant Parmigiana at Procacci
A caramelized top just barely conceals luscious melted cheese draped lazily over the thinnest slices of aubergine and a perfectly-tart smooth tomato sauce.
Procacci, #01-04 Customs House, 70 Collyer Quay, 6532-9939.

45. Lotus Paste Bao at Tanjong Rhu Pau and Confectionery
A nostalgic snack that’s still as good as we remember. When
we were kids, we’d have a pillowy bao with a hot mug of Milo. Now that we’re all grown up, a strong cuppa joe makes for the ideal partner.
Tajong Rhu Pau and Confectionery, 389 Guillemard Rd., 6842-2112.

46. Yaki Char Siu at Marutama Ra-men
The meat is just incredible. Done just right and oozing luscious pork fat without being cloying, the chili flakes help to balance it. Ramen here is good as well.
Marutama Ra-men, #02-01 Liang Court, 177 River Valley Rd., 6837-2480.

47. Chong Qing Chicken at Peach Garden Sichuan @ Miramar
The ratio of chilies to diced chicken pieces is three to one. And no, we’re not even exaggerating. It’s oh-so-good, but you also risk starting a forest fire in your mouth.
Peach Garden Sichuan @ Miramar, 3/F Hotel Miramar, 401 Havelock Rd., 6736-3833.

48. Araguani H20 at 2am: Dessert Bar
Pâtissier Janice Wong crafts this divine composition of a frozen 72 percent Valrhona chocolate mousse block, Evian water, salted caramel and a feuilletine base.
2am: Dessert Bar, 21A Lorong Liput Holland Village, 6291-9727.

49. Bone Marrow Jam at Krish
Absolutely sinful. And effing brilliant. Trust chef-sommelier Matthew Baker to take an already decadent ingredient like veal bone marrow and elevate it to a whole new level of pure indulgence. (Chef Baker: “The bone marrow is cooked, then chilled, then removed from the bone and deep fried in tempura batter. It can’t get any worse than that.”) We reckon it can’t get any better.
Krish, 9 Rochester Park, 6779-4644.

50. Black Palm Island Salt Macaron at Jewels Artisan Chocolate
Chocolatier Then Chui Foong has apprenticed with world-renowned pâtissier Pierre Herme, so it’s really no surprise that her macarons are a delight. Her unique black palm island salt gem has a salted egg yolk and almond cream filling that complements delicate, slightly chewy shells. Parfait.
Jewels Artisan Chocolate, #02-31/32 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Rd., 6509-8998.