It’s been a tumultuous year of big-deal openings and quiet closures, many of which sent you searching for more info on the SG website. Here are the most searched-for restaurants in 2015, from the hot and happening to the so-last-year.
18. Bread Street Kitchen
What we said: (In)famous celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay brings his bustling London restaurant to Singapore located in no other place but Marina Bay Sands. The casual and industrial bistro with airy floor-to-ceiling windows, long wooden tables, cast iron manholes and a textured metal bar is pretty edgy for a celeb chef joint. It also has an offbeat playlist of grungy warehouse house music and softer electro tunes.
17. Maggie Joan’s
What we said: The father-and-son team behind Moosehead expands their Mediterranean reach with this hidden restaurant. The decor may not be mindblowingly creative, with its exposed brickwork and worn-in wooden banquettes, but the modern Mediterranean food by Chef Oliver Hyde, formerly of Pollen, seems interesting enough to warrant a visit.
16. Sushi Jin
What we said: Hot on the heels of La Taperia’s opening, the Les Amis folks opens a mid-range sushi joint, complete with proper counters and sushi presentation, in the up-and-coming Farrer Park neighborhood. It’s not uppity like those $500-per-head places but it definitely has a sense of refinement.
15. The Blue Ginger
What we said: The shophouse is simply decorated with old world Singaporean furniture, but is not overly frilly as some traditional restaurants tend to be. All the favorites are still on the menu and are obviously what customers here have come to expect.
14. Neh Neh Pop
What we said: Artichoke’s Bjorn Shen has been hard at work with his new ice cream and popsicle stand. Located in a space right beside Artichoke restaurant, Neh Neh Pop does unusual, double-coated ice cream creations like mango sticky rice, made with coconut rice pudding ice cream.
13. The White Rabbit
What we said: It´s the latest “in” place in the hip Dempsey vicinity, but has received mixed reviews since its opening. We were apprehensive about going, but fortunately The White Rabbit passed the test. In fact, so hot was the restaurant that our attempt to reserve a table was initially unsuccessful, but we were advised to go down anyway to try our luck.
What we said: The short stretch of Boon Tat known for being the home of Italian restaurant No Menu and casual cafes gets a gastronomic upgrade in the form of this produce-driven restaurant. Although we hate the term bistronomy (bistro and gastronomy merged), it is what it is. The space has got counter seats with a frontal view of the kitchen, while normal tables line sides of the narrow space
11. Tamarind Hill
What we said: This Thai establishment opened a month and a half ago at Labrador Park care of the Samadhi Retreats group, which also runs Eco Gourmet Café just down the road. There are sophisticated contemporary Thai plates thanks to Thai-Canadian chef Thiti Thammanatr who has cooked for newsmakers like Bill Clinton and Chow Yun Fat.
10. Neon Pigeon
What we said: This much-awaited modern izakaya takes up residence in Chinatown co-working space The Working Capitol, serving Japanese small plates with an edgier twist.It’s all about sharing here, although you can get larger plates, too. Snacks like the chilled cucumber ($8) with crushed chili peanuts and goma are refreshingly addictive, though the plainer tuna crudo ($16) with pickled apple and a miso dip doesn’t pack as much punch.
9. Chicken Up (Tampines)
What we said: The third outlet of this popular Korean fried chicken (not the same type of KFC) has both an indoor and alfresco space that’s now open for lunch, as well. Expect their signature marinated double-fried chicken with six different flavors like Spicy-Up, a sweet and tangy Yangnyum and a garlic-soya based blend.
What we said: A popular London burger and cocktail joint opens its doors in the hip Duxton Road, taking over the space formerly occupied by Life is Beautiful. They serve great, messy drunk food, with most burgers under $20. Get the buffalo chicken cheeseburger ($19) stuffed with a deep-fried chicken fillet, cheese and red onions, or our fave, the Dead Hippie ($22), their take on a Big Mac.
7. The Daily Cut
What we said: This salad joint located in the heart of the CBD prides itself on being “the carnivore’s answer to salads”—it serves up protein-rich fare catered towards gym bunnies and health nuts. Custom-made salads are the order of the day here—you first choose a base protein (options include salmon, chicken thigh, sirloin steak, turkey breast and tofu) before selecting complex carbs (think sweet potato, brown rice and more).
6. Open Farm Community
What we said: The Spa Esprit Group teams up with Chef Ryan Clift for a casual, local produce-driven restaurant with its own urban farm run by the guys of Edible Gardens. The expansive 5,000 sq.m. space is lush and airy with plenty of garden space dedicated to the produce. The main dining room is surprisingly small, which makes the space cozy, if a little raucous.
5. La Ventana
What we said: Michelin-starred Spanish chef Carles Gaig has quietly opened a Spanish tapas restaurant serving traditional Catalan dishes. The airy and white heritage building sees Gaig’s son-in-law in the kitchen and his daughter on the floor.
4. Nakhon Kitchen (Holland Village)
What we said: This no-frills Thai restaurant has earned a reputation for serving up authentic Thai food. Its sister outlets are always packed during meal times and it’s no different here, so go early to avoid queues.
3. The Refinery
What we said: A three-in-one concept by The General Company (the same folks behind Tyrwhitt General Company) and Architology, this three-story space houses a yakitori joint on the first floor, a bespoke cocktail bar helmed by ex-Ah Sam bartender Eugene Chua and a craft workshop on the third.
2. Meat Smith
What we said: An American smokehouse by the Unlisted Collection restaurant group, this cozy brick-and-concrete place on the party bit of Telok Ayer Street specializes in meats smoked on premises, bourbon and picklebacks (that is, shots of whisky chased by shots of pickle brine).
1. 1 Market by Chef Wan
What we said: We’re a nation that’s big on celebrity chefs and most folks would happily dine at any eatery helmed by a big name. In the case of Malaysian TV star Chef Wan, this devotion is hardly justified. His halal buffet restaurant 1 Market by Chef Wan has attracted flocks of adoring fans from Singapore and around the region since its opening—so much so that we only managed to get dinner reservations on our third attempt.