As we near the end of the year, we do our yearly retrospective on The Best Food in Singapore 2020. As usual, the restaurants aren’t always new but they are the ones that we tried this year and impressed us.
2020 is both a good and bad year for F&B. Many restaurants shut down due to the pandemic, people lost their jobs, few new restaurants open, but this created a whole new F&B industry of home cook businesses.
Over the course of 6 months, I tried about 20 home cook businesses and found most lacking. I did a poll on my instagram and 70% of people agreed with me; they are dissatisfied with home cooks. Home businesses often price themselves higher than hawkers or even restaurants. And the standard is often not on par yet. Therefore, home businesses are excluded on this list.
On an individual level, having more free time from working from home (orrhhh you guys didn’t work, right, I see so many of you lounging in the afternoon at cafes), more people learn to bake at home. Sourdough bread and banana bread are especially popular. This is probably a good thing.
On this list, unlike other years’, Asian food seems to be emerging tops. It may be because of the pandemic that Western chefs cannot come to Singapore or that, China’s interaction with the rest of the world has elevated their standards, ensuring that Chinese food now uses good quality ingredients.
In alphabetic order, these are the best food in Singapore for 2020:
195 Pearl Hill Cafe at Chinatown serves Hainanese pork satay (10pc, $9) and Italian staples; weird combination but they are excellent. The satay comes with a dollop of tangy homemade pineapple purée in their peanut sauce. Other recommended dish: any pastas and especially their pesto pasta; and bo bo chow chow ($5.90).
Black Marble by Otto at Raffles Holland V Mall is helmed by Swiss-born veteran Chef Otto Weibel, accompanied with Head Chef Jay Siaw. The restaurant focuses on steaks and grills, using fresh, natural produce from farmers. Recommended dishes: Lobster & Scallop Saffron Risotto ($34); 45-Day Dry-Aged Angus Bone-in Ribeye ($78, 600g); and Grain-fed Lamb Rack ($38).
Caffe Cicheti at South Beach Tower offers Italian coastal cuisine that focuses on seafood but more importantly, it means that fresh ingredients are prepared and cooked in simplicity in order to retain their natural flavours and goodness. Recommended dishes: Polpo; Gnocchi ($23); Iberico Pork ($29.50); and Cioppino ($26).
Chuan Hung at Telok Ayer serves a rare handmade Sichuan Mian Yang rice noodles that have a history of 1700 years. Mian Yang noodles is made from just two ingredients, rice flour and water. The rice flour is harvested from the artisan noodle makers’ own rice field in Mianyang and ground on-site. For water, they use mountain spring water. The dried noodles are shipped from Sichuan to Singapore once every three weeks.
Recommended dishes: Fried Crispy Pig Intestines ($5.50); Home Specialty Mashed Pea Noodles ($12.50); Braised Beef Noodles in Red Mala Broth ($13.50); and King Prawns with Vine Peppers ($15.50).
GO Noodle House at 313@Somerset is a famous Malaysian chain that has already sold more than one million bowls of soup noodles worldwide since 2014. Recommended dishes: Signature Bursting Meatball (Pork) in Superior Broth with Mi Xian ($10.90) and Hakka Sauce Homemade Noodles with Century Egg ($9.90).
Seafood restaurant Long Beach’s newest outlet at Robertson Quay provides a sampling menu, which serves small portions of their signature dishes so that solo diners and couples could try more. They also provide deshelling services for crabs if you are like me and lazy to pluck meat. Recommended dishes: Scottish Oysters (6pc small or 4pc large, $28); Live Prawns in Kupang Style (3pc/$14); Black Pepper Dungeness Crab (market price); and Lala King with Flat Rice Noodles.
Malaysian Hup Kee Fishball Noodle 合记鱼丸 at Ang Mo Kio Ave 4 served Malaysian-styled black noodles ($4/$5). The brother-hawkers hand make their fish paste (for fishballs, fishcakes, and tau pok) daily. Their fishballs are made of purely yellowtail fish meat, salt, and pepper with no fillers; no flour, no other fish. Equally fantastic is their belacan chilli paste.
I usually despise and eschew chain restaurants but the food at SBCD Korean Tofu House (at Tanjong Pagar Centre and Millenia Walk) is mindblowing. Recommended: oyster soon-tofu soup; assorted soup (beef, clam, crab, shrimp, squid); and L.A. Galbi. Sets start from $24.90 and a la carte from $19.90.
Solo Ristorante at Amoy Street saw a new chef in the month of March, Simone Fraternali, who introduces guests to his signature dishes inspired by the northern region of Italy, in particular the areas surrounding his hometown of Gradara which is located near the sea. Recommended: Melanzana Alla Parmigiana ($18); Uni Tagliolini ($45); Pork Ragu Pappardelle ($30); and Housemade Gnocchi ($30).
Tang Lung Restaurant at Robertson Quay serves Chinese cuisine from different regions, ranging from innovative dim sum to savoury crab dishes. Recommended dishes: Pineapple Char Siew Tart ($6.90/3 pc); Braised Sea Cucumber with Mushroom in Chinese Herbs ($68 per portion); and Steamed Flower Crab in Shaoxing Wine (seasonal price).
To recap, in alphabetical order, these are the best food in Singapore 2020:
1. 195 Pearl Hill Cafe (Hawker and Italian, Chinatown)
2. Black Marble (Steaks and Grills, Holland Village)
3. Caffe Cicheti (Italian, Esplanade/City Hall)
4. Chuan Hung (Chinese Sichuan, Telok Ayer)
5. GO Noodle House (Malaysian Hawker-ish, 313@Somerset)
6. Long Beach (Singaporean Seafood, Robertson Quay)
7. Malaysian Hup Kee Fishball Noodle (Hawker, AMK)
8. SBCD Korean Tofu House (Tofu Soup, Millenia Walk and Tanjong Pagar)
9. Solo Ristorante (Italian, Amoy Street)
10. Tang Lung Restaurant (Chinese Seafood and Dim Sum, Robertson Quay)