Editors’ Picks: The Restaurants We’re Booking Once Dine-In Restrictions Are Lifted on June 21
After more than a month of takeaways, delivery menus and home-cooked dishes during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), we are finally moving on to Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) from June 14. The reopening will be done in phases and that is why we can only dine out from June 21, with stricter measures in place and only in groups of two to further curb the spread of the virus.
It is great news that made the Tatler editors daydream (not during work hours, of course) about the restaurants they can't wait to book for a meal as well as the stellar dishes and drinks they will be sharing with family and friends. Here are the restaurants currently on their mind.
It’s been a long month of no dining in; it even felt longer than last year’s circuit breaker. The lifting of restrictions, however, comes at a good time as my husband’s birthday is exactly when restaurants open again. To celebrate we’ve booked Meta because we haven’t been there in ages (and he specifically requested it). The past year has been a stellar one for chef Sun Kim who bagged the American Express One to Watch Award at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 so we’re excited to see what he has up his sleeve! I’m also planning to book Braci as I had fantastic takeaway from there so I imagine the dine-in experience is stellar; Esora and Hashida Singapore because I always need good Japanese having lived in Japan for seven years; and more casual restaurants such as Salted & Hung (it’s their 5th anniversary) and Kotuwa (if I can get a table). You see, my list is long and my appetite insatiable… this is just the tip of the iceberg.
—Kissa Castañeda, editorial director – Homes, Travel & Lists, Tatler Asia
2/10 Wang Dae Bak Pocha
Watching K-dramas during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) has got me craving for Korean barbecue. Once we are allowed to dine out again, the first restaurant I will dine at is Wang Dae Bak Pocha on Amoy Street, which was highly recommended by my Korean friend. What I like about this place is its extensive menu, high-quality meats and extremely reasonable prices. Browsing through the online menu now, I can't help but salivate over the boneless prime ribs with exquisite marbling, spicy marinated pork belly and pear onion marinated chicken that I'll be barbecuing until tender and slightly smoky. Of course, I can't leave without comforting my stomach with the piping hot and fiery kimchi soup, seafood pancake and japchae. And to wash all these dishes down, I will have the Somaek, a cocktail made with beer and soju.
—Dudi Aureus, senior editor, Tatler Dining
Wang Dae Bak Pocha | 93 Amoy Street, S(069913) | 6220 0322
Related: 5 Binge-Worthy Korean Dramas to Watch While Staying Home
3/10 Hai Tien Lo
If there's one dining establishment that I'm looking forward to once the heightened alert restrictions have been relaxed, it's Pan Pacific's Hai Tien Lo. Their weekend dim sum buffet is always excellent and I look forward to the traditional Cantonese fare that they do so well. In particular, I miss their charcoal char siew baos with black truffle, which I will order two baskets of for myself if and when I manage to get a reservation!
—Pakkee Tan, digital & fashion director
Related: 10 of the Best Dim Sum Restaurants in Singapore to Visit Now
4/10 Wine Company
One of my favourite restaurants in Singapore is Wine Company at Dempsey. It isn’t very fancy and I have certainly been to better Italian restaurants but something about the place has always been just so special and homey to me. I love sitting in their big and comfy chairs, enjoying a glass of wine and a cheese board with my friends and family. It is so cosy and there is just always so much life and energy there. When we go there, we love ordering their kimchi fried rice and a bowl of their piping hot pasta and sharing it with everyone present. I’ve had so many good memories there and I can’t wait to go back once the restrictions are lifted.
—Camillia Dass, writer
Wine Company | Block 8, Dempsey Road, S(247696) | 9181 7004
Related: The Dos and Dont's of Collecting Wine, According to Tatler Asia's Resident Wine Expert
5/10 Kko Kko Na Ra
The restaurant is well-known for its delicious Korean fried chicken, but it also boasts a wide variety of other Korean staples that are definitely worth a try. The next time my friends and I visit, we will order our usual cheese dak galbi, or spicy stir-fried chicken with cheese. This dish is served on a shallow cast iron plate alongside rice cakes and cabbage drenched in spicy sauce, and is big enough for two people to share.
Jumeok-bap, a spicy and saucy dish serves as the ideal accompaniment. Its name literally translates to “fist rice” due to the way the food is prepared—the staff will offer you disposable gloves so you can mix the rice, laver flakes, sesame seeds, flying fish roe and diced pickled radish together, and mould into bite-sized balls in the shape of a fist. These tasty little rice balls are also perfect for sharing and for sopping up any extra sauce on your plate. We usually end our meal with a pint of beer or soju cocktail.
—Claire Teo, management trainee
Kko Kko Na Ra | 68 Tanjon Pagar Road, S(088489) | 6224 8186
6/10 Little Island Brewing Co.
The thing I miss most about dining out is enjoying a cold brew with my food, and for that, I look forward to returning to Little Island Brewing Co. (LIBC). It is a watering hole well-suited “for seriously crafty people” (like myself), serving up a collection of locally brewed craft beers. Pre-Covid 19 safety restrictions, my favourite part of visiting LIBC was pouring my own beers from the self-service taps lining the interior, allowing me to sample to my heart’s content before committing to a single brew. Whenever I visit LIBC, I rarely deviate from the burger and beer combination, particularly my pairing of the Maple Pulled Pork Burger and The Old Black Magic dry Irish stout. It is truly a decadent treat as I enjoy sips of the rich and creamy stout between bites of the savoury and juicy pork shoulder burger.
—Jeremiah Khoo, management trainee
Little Island Brewing Co. | 6 Changi Village Road, 01-01/02, S(509907) | 6543 9100
Related: Here's Why The Craft Beer Industry is Growing in Singapore
With the end of Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) dine-in restrictions, I can finally plan an ideal night out that consists of three elements: good food, drinks and company—whether it’s with my family or close friends. My go-to meal is always delicious sushi and sashimi, and I love everything that Keyaki at Pan Pacific Hotel offers. From the minute you walk through the sliding door, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Kyoto, Japan thanks to its calm and serene ambience, minimalist décor, and a Japanese garden complete with a stream that leads to a beautiful koi pond. A meal here most definitely starts with sake and a variety of fresh sashimi slices, served in generous portions. These are followed by a selection of maki rolls and I never miss out on the prawn tempura roll, with a little extra kick of chilli padi.
That said, the food and service here make me miss Japan even more. But we are lucky that we have a slice of it in Singapore as we continue to hunker down. For me, it's already a win-win.
—Sheena Golani, sales and marketing intern
8/10 Pasta Bar
For some reason, pastas have never quite made it into my list of takeout classics. After being shepherded across the island, I typically find my noodles overcooked and mushy due to the trapped heat. That is why when the restrictions are lifted, one of the first restaurants that I will head to is Pasta Bar. Located in the midst of the vibrant Keong Saik neighbourhood, Pasta Bar serves up delicious fresh pasta that’s handmade daily. The intimate setting emanates a cosy and relaxed vibe, and the bar counter is my favourite spot to catch all the action in the open kitchen.
I typically opt for the truffle fettuccini or the crab pappardelle; both are incredibly flavourful and rich dishes served with al dente pasta. For dessert, the Sicilian cannoli is my usual pick. The traditional Italian dessert filled with sweet and creamy ricotta makes the perfect finale to the savoury meal. Oh, and don’t forget the wine! Lots and lots of wine is the best way to complement your meal.
—Cheryl Lai-Lim, digital writer, Tatler Homes
Pasta Bar | 55 Keong Saik Road, #01-05, S(089158) | 6222 0627
9/10 Blue Label Pizza & Wine
I had heard nothing but pleasant things about Blue Label Pizza and finally got to try it with my girlfriends in March this year. And after all that hype, I was relieved to find that I wasn’t let down. Consider it a cheap thrill but even the restaurant's basement location on Ann Siang Road earned points for me. I love hidden gems in unassuming spots! At the restaurant, we ordered a side of wings and two types of pizzas—including The White Label, a beautiful pie topped with béchamel, boursin, goat cheese, garlic, leeks and fried rosemary. It’s completely meatless and is a must-try for anyone who loves their cream and cheese. It’s unfortunate that Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) happened before I could go back for more slices. When I make my next reservation, I’ll be sure to try the chocolate chip cookie on the dessert menu too. The other item on the dessert menu, Grandma’s Carrot Cake, is also an excellent choice—it’s a huge slice so be sure to order one to share (or not).
—Andrea Saadan, assistant digital editor
Blue Label Pizza & Wine | 28 Ann Siang Road Basement 1 Singapore 069708 | 9821 9362
10/10 Akira Back
The lifting of dine-in restrictions couldn’t have come at a better time, as my best friends and I are celebrating our birthdays soon. Akira Back is definitely number one on our list of places to book, so we can enjoy its menu of sublime modern Japanese dishes. It’s impossible for me to go there without having the AB Tuna Pizza, comprising fresh tuna slices layered on a crispy crust together with umami aioli, micro shiso and truffle oil. Another one of my favourites is the spicy tuna taco, which provides a spicy kick on the palate with its perfect combination of shrimp tempura, spicy tuna, salmon belly aburi and chipotle mayo. Of course, a meal here won’t be complete without sake to complement the burst of delicious flavours.
The long wait until we can eat out has got me craving for amazing hotpot, too, and one of my regular places is Haidilao. Apart from the amazing service, I can’t get enough of the fresh meats and veggies cooked in the local laksa soup base, as well as the winter melon drink to wash the food down.
—Isha Ebrahim, management trainee