An "underground" New York burger chain, Mikkeller Bar at DECK and Japanese-inspired one-bowl meals. 

It's been pretty low-key on the restaurant front, save a few big-deal openings like the famed Mikellar Bar and New York's Burger joint. From unpretentious local cafes to a new casual Japanese eatery at Marina Bay Sands, here are the highlights.

Big Street

Big Street

Occupying a two-and-a-half storey conservation shophouse, Big Street is a family and handicapped-friendly bar and cafe serving Singaporean cuisine and classic cocktails. It's a simple set up with non-descript cafe furniture on the first floor, and a slightly classier bar and lounge on the second floor.

The menu comprises popular local dishes sich as Hainanese chicken rice ($10), Hokkien mee ($16.80), char kway teow ($16.80), fish head curry ($28.80) and satay ($9.80 for six); all supper staples for late night revellers. Try the cafe's signature dish, chili crab wrapped in pratas—besides hearty items, there are also healthier meal options endorsed by the Health Promotion Board. 

Black Tongue Bistro & Bar

Black Tongue Bistro & Bar

Serving comfort cafe fare in the heart of City Hall, Black Tongue Bistro & Bar is a no-frills modern gastropub with a simple menu of local-inspired Western grub, coffee, beers, wine and cocktails. Some highlights include char grilled ox tongue ($15.90), chili crab tartlet ($14.90) and Thai style top shell ($11.90), all tapas items that are meant to share. Mains range from hearty pasta dishes to slightly fancier plates like slow-cooked beef cheek ($21.90) and duck leg confit with an Asian twist ($19.90), and a small selection of burgers from pulled beef ($15.90), yakiniku chicken ($14.90) and chargrilled salmon and turkey bacon ($17.90). There is also a three-course lunch set available from 11am-2pm daily at $9.80 ++.  

Burger Joint

Burger Joint

We wrote about a mysterious—but popular—burger chain from New York opening here last year and now, Burger Joint will be launching its first Southeast Asia branch at Gemmill Lane on May 3. Located alongside cool cats like bottle shop and cafe Gemmills, Mediterranean restaurant Maggie Joan's, and the soon-to-be-open Employee's Only, this "underground" diner-style restaurant retains the irreverant vibe of its New York flagship, with smooth wooden walls covered in graffiti (diners are welcome to leave their mark there), expansive booths with dark leather seats and an open kitchen. And in true New York fashion, don't be surprised if you get the side-eye for not clearing after yourself.

They are quick to set themselves apart from other fancy burger restaurants here—the menu offers a focused and affordable selection of four different types of buns (cheese burger, hamburger, bacon burger and bacon cheese burger) ranging from $13.10 for a hamburger to $15.80 for a bacon cheese burger, all of which are made with a generous portion of freshly-made ground beef patty. There is also a full bar with 18 craft beers on tap from countries like Sweden, UK, US and Japan, and a curated cocktail menu by Proof & Company, featuring Old Fashioned classics that we were told are being still fine-tuned. 

Freehouse

Freehouse

Located on the second floor of a shophouse on Boon Tat Street, this craft beer and cider gastrobar is a laidback space with white-washed walls, simple, haphazardly-arranged wooden furniture and fairy lights. Here, you will find 18 taps of rotating exotic microbrews from around the world, and a list of bottled beers and ciders with Asian-inspired pub grub to pair with the brews. On tap, there are beers from New Zealand, like Mini-Matta Tea Leaf Pale Ale by Yeastie Boys and 8Wired's Semi-Conductor Session IPA. The prices are affordable for now, with 10oz going for $9 and 16oz for $13. Food-wise, the menu has reliable, dude-food items like burgers with fries ($14-16), bacon tempura ($9) and cereal frog legs ($17). 

Mikkeller Bar

Photo credit: Mikellar Bar

Led by the famed “gypsy-brewer” Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, Copenhagen-based brewery Mikellar has taken the beer world by storm over the last decade. In recent years, they’ve opened showcase bars in cities like San Francisco, Bangkok, Seoul and Tokyo, and it’s finally Singapore’s turn to get in on the action. Mikkeller Bar Singapore is located in the cool surrounds of DECK and we can thank the people behind The Drinking Partners and Druggists for bringing it to town. The bar has 20 taps, pouring a mix of Mikkeller’s standards, its experimental creations and beers from the many breweries they collaborate with. There are also three Singapore exclusives—Bugis Brown, Prinsep Pilsner and Waterloo Wit. Prices start at $8 for 200ml and $15 for 400ml.

Ninja Bowl

Ninja Bowl

The Astronauts Group, which owns Chillax Cafe and Babette Restaurant &Bar, opens their third venture along Duxton Road. This time, it's a fuss-free Japanese fusion eatery specializing in single bowl items. Yes, new Japanese that's not ramen! The 46-seater shophouse space is a trendy but typical combination of industrial finishes and minimalist decor. Ninja Bowl serves Japanese-Western dishes for brunch, lunch and dinner like the Buta ($14); cured pork belly, ume-pickled apples, roasted pumpkin, balsamic tomatoes and onsen egg, and Genki ($16); unagi with toppings of roasted pumpkin, Korean mung beansprouts, pickled beets and onsen egg. For an additonal charge of ($2-3) bowls come with an the option to add quinoa, greens, orzo pasta or rice. Other mains include the Tonkotsu Spirit ($16), a combination of poach eggs, smashed avocado, abubri chasu pork belly on melted cheddar toast, and Fancy French ($16), homemade broiche stuffed with fig jam and drizzled with honey umeboshi and hazelnut butter. 

Sen of Japan

Sen of Japan

This ground-level Japanese restaurant and bar at Marina Bay Sands offers fusion, Japanese-inspired cuisine by executive chef Nakano Hironmi, who has worked at Nobu in Las Vegas. The interiors feature floor-to-ceiling windows and simple but stylish blond wood furniture, all set against the Marina Bay cityscape. Sen of Japan prides itself on using the freshest ingredients and the menu's signature dishes include the baked black cod soy ($24.50), which can be topped with foie gras for an additional $8.50; the salmon aburi maki roll ($17.50), with seared salmon and cheese sauce and the Kagoshima wagyu steak ($98 for 150 gms), seared steak done medium rare. The restaurant's bar stocks a wide range of sake for both casual drinkers and sake lovers, spanning from Iwai Junmai Ginjyo to Kubota Manjyu Junmai Daiginjyo.