A joint project by British celeb chef Jason Atherton and famed local hotelier Loh Lik Peng, this casual eatery serves up a selection of simple, if sometimes underwhelming, bites like shaved asparagus, beet and radish salad ($18) as well as grilled bone marrow with London gentleman’s relish ($19). They’ve also just launched a weekend Punch Brunch menu (Saturday-Sunday 11am-4pm).
Right next to Atherton’s casual Western spot is this password-only bar. You can get the secret phrase off their Facebook page or from the eager servers at the restaurant. Armed with it, you’ll be able to enter through a mirrored door to find serious drinks care of Canadian bartender Stefan Ravalli who’s done his time at Pollen Street Social. Tiki fans will dig Piscotheque ($21), with passion fruit, pineapple, mint leaves and BarSol Pisco. The sake-spiked Moshi Moshi Umeboshi ($21) is a nice refreshing drink, too.
Charming Parisian bistro decor, an impressive wine list, and French classics like escargots ($24) rich with butter and garlic as well as Burgundy-style beef simmered in red wine ($37) make a meal here a special treat.
The food here is inspired by the cuisine of Reine Sammut, a one-Michelin-starred chef who helms destination restaurant La Fenière in the hills of Luberon. Expect rustic dishes like rabbit and foie gras terrine with fig chutney and mache salad ($28).
This themed restaurant is a throwback to the ‘80s and ‘90s eras with old-school stools, a memorabilia collection, vintage illustrations by British designer Fran Holden and even working Pacman and Galaga arcade game machines. The grub is decidedly retro as well with British dishes such as corned beef ($12) and steak Diane with chips ($29). If you’re feeling thirsty, there are revamped classic tipples named after movies from the era like the Ferris Bueller ($18), a mixture of five kinds of rum, a dash of absinthe, tropical juices and a maraschino cherry.
By the same folks behind the Retrospective comes this ramen bar and izakaya inspired by a fictional manga character—a prostitute named Mariko—by renowned Japanese illustrator Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Order up classics such as wagyu tonkotsu ramen ($25) and yakitori like chicken heart with salt ($12) and wash it down with a range of warm and cold sakes (from $12/glass, $66/bottle) or Japanese whisky including Nikka Black ($12/glass, $$170/bottle).
Headed by owner-mixologist Joel Fraser, who’s an alum of both award-winning Melbourne bar Der Raum and Tippling Club, this sleek space serves around 20 cocktail concoctions such as Walking Dead ($24), a riff on the Zombie made with spices and a secret blend of 13 different rums and garnished with a candy eyeball. Nibbles like the charcuterie tartine ($18) with pastrami, chorizo and saucisson round out the offerings.
Jason Atherton’s other Chinatown eating establishment, shoebox-sized tapas joint Esquina needs no introduction (and takes no reservations). This corner-spot spills out onto the street and serves up a host of Spanish small plates like beetroot salad with honeycomb burrata ($18) and roast lamb rump with black olive polenta ($27). They’ve also recently introduced a three-course set lunch for $39.
Put away your preconceptions about “fusion” food, for Bistro Soori is a delight. Here you’ll find east meets west dishes like slow roasted pork belly and yuzu gastrique ($18) and karaage prawns with kaffir lime and Russian dressing ($17).
After a trip to Japan (to train and search for inspiration), cult favorite chef Nicolas Joanny is back at his new digs. At lunch, he offers a three- ($42) and five-course sets ($68), and at dinner, a six-course tasting menu ($98), which changes every two weeks. Head here for a convivial atmosphere and expertly crafted seasonal French fare.
More restaurants from the Keong Saik Road and Jiak Chuan Street area:
Oriole Coffee Roasters
Featuring a dedicated roasting facility, a research laboratory for experimenting with new beans and new methods, and a training lab, the place also offers a boutique café on-site. Coffees start at $4.
Even after a decade, it still gets really busy here, especially during lunchtime, thanks to their affordable set lunches ($42 for three courses). Dinners are calmer affairs, and we highly recommend chef and owner Sebastian Ng’s homemade crispy tofu with delish foie gras-mirin sauce ($17).
Tong Ah Coffeeshop
36 Keong Saik Rd., 6223-5083.
This historic kopitiam with a distinctive red and white facade is still a great standby for thin crispy char grilled kaya toast ($1.20) and kopi-o ($1).