In a city so focused on the next celebrity chef and hot new opening, we can’t forget about the cheap and easy gems that makes our food scene so great. Here are where Singapore’s hottest chefs go to dine, whether it’s a hawker stall or a xiao long bao joint.
owner of Violet Oon’s Kitchen
The place: Shunfu Food Centre’s humble Vegetarian Food Stall (#01-07, Blk. 320 Shunfu Rd., 9642-6646).
The order: Fried beehoon (from $2).
The rave: “I’ll top it with various mock meats and fried cabbage, but I always ask for both the sambal chili sauce, as well as the green sliced pickled chili.”
chef at Dolce Vita
The place: Keisuke Gyoza King (#01-15 Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link, 6804-6674, www.keisuke.sg), the ramen empire’s gyoza-centric fifth branch.
The order: Gyoza Set ($13.90). It comes with dumplings, side dishes, rice and soup.
The rave: “It’s a good spot to have dinner because it’s efficient, convenient and tasty. And the portions are quite generous.”
Leong Khai Git
chef-owner at Dibs
The place: Indian restaurant Samy’s Curry, which recently moved to shinier digs, though the menu and quality remain the same.
The order: Briyani rice ($3.60) with dry masal chicken curry ($5), mutton mysore ($4.50) and fish head curry ($20).
The rave: “Like doesn’t really quite cut it. I love how it’s so spicy and so rich. The spice combination and strength is to die for, and the vegatables and dahl that comes with it, are simply amazing.”
chef at Sorrel
The place: Song Kee Fishball Noodle (532 Upper Serangoon Rd.). While the place is dingy with bright orange walls and cement floors, everything is handmade.
The order: Fishball noodles ($4).
The rave: “They sell until 1 or 2am, which is important for a chef during dinner service. It’s my favorite place to go after work as they do everything by hand, like the fish balls, noodles and fish cakes.”
chef at Bedrock Bar & Grill
The place: Unpretentious chain Pu Tien Restaurant that’s famous for its regional Chinese fare.
The order: Drunken cockles ($8.90).
The rave: “I love this restaurant because of its affordability and quality home-cooked fare. One dish that I always order is the drunken cockles because I love how the flavor of the garlic and chili marries the freshness of the cockles.”
chef at Portico
The place: The Magic of Chongqing Hot Pot, which is decked out in wooden screens and lanterns, serves steamboat buffets of fish paste, pork balls, pig fillet and baby bok choy.
The order: Steamboat buffet, obviously.
The rave: “It is only $20 per head for the buffet and the food is value-for-money. The no-frills place presents itself as a comfort food destination, especially on a cold rainy day.”
chef-owner at Corner House
The place: JB Ah Meng (2 Lorong 23 Geylang, 6741-2418), a late-night coffee shop in Geylang with breezy outdoor tables.
The order: White pepper crab ($24), seafood hor fun with egg gravy ($5.50) and stif-fried la la Filipino clams ($16).
The rave: “Not only is the food very tasty, the prices are really affordable. This tze char place is also open until late in the night, which is great for a chef, as we have long working hours and can still make it there for supper.”
chef-owner at Rhubarb le Restaurant
The place: Small stall-turned-major restaurant, G7 Sinma Live Seafood Restaurant (Lorong 3 161 Geylang Rd., 6743-2201) serves over 150 dishes, mostly seafood, among the garish red lights.
The order: Clay pot frog porridge ($22).
The rave: “The frog porridge with spring onion and dried chili is simply amazing. The sauce and tender bull frogs go well together and the porridge is noteworthy as it’s thick and rich, but still light. They always have deals on the frogs like buy three get two.”
chef at Bincho
The place: Chicken House (225A Upper Thomson Rd., 6456-0698). The no-frills coffee shop specializes in kampong chicken rice, so while it may not be fat and juicy, it’s still fresh and moist. You can also get sides of chicken liver and deep-fried tofu.
The order: Chicken rice ($8/portion for two).
The rave: “I always order this dish when I’m here. There are plenty of chicken rice places but this one is great as the quality of the chicken is amazing and because it tastes so good, you don’t need to dip it in any chili or soy sauce. The rice is also very fragrant.”
chef at The White Rabbit
The place: Soon Kee Hokkien Fried Noodles (#01-322, Li Soon Eating House, Blk. 155 Bukit Batok St. 11).
The order: Hokkien mee ($3).
The rave: “The cooking style here is amazing because the broth is sepped into the noodles. It’s actually inspired me to adopt a similar approach when creating some of The White Rabbit’s menu items like the Alaskan King Crab Tagliatelle.”
chef at Prego
The place: Din Tai Fung, famous for its affordable soup dumplings and la mian noodle dishes.
The order: Xiao long bao ($7.50/six pieces).
The rave: “I love how the restaurant has maintained consistency in its dining concept at all its outlets. What I enjoy most of all is the exceptional variety of dishes on its menu.”
chef at Les Amis
The place: Two decade-old Sin Hoi Sai Seafood Restaurant (#01-59 Blk. 55 Tiong Bahru Rd., 6223-0810, www.sinhoisai.com). It’s a fuss-free eating house with fresh, live seafood tanks.
The order: The black pepper crab ($60/kg).
The rave: “You can find me here at least twice a week. The crabs here are affordable and never leave me disappointed.”