Navigate your way along the narrow five-foot ways of the historic streets of Boon Tat, Keong Saik and Bukit Pasoh and you will stumble upon old clan associations, small ad agencies, and the odd heritage restaurant. Lately, the growing number of hip new eateries that have set up shop has injected a new lease of life into the area.
One of them is Sum Yi Tai (25 Boon Tat Street, tel: 6221 3665), a new hotspot that CBD executives head to for tasty Cantonese bites, unique cocktails and a dose of 1980s Cantopop. Meaning third mistress, Sum Yi Tai houses a Chinese tapas bar, a second floor dining area, and a private rooftop bar, flanked by glimmering skyscrapers.
Highlights in the menu include luncheon meat chips, wok-fried carrot cake, maple honey-glazed pork belly char siew, crunchy salmon skin coated with salted egg yolk, and deep-fried squid flecked with garlic, chilli and spring onion. These addictive bites pair well with refreshing concoctions such as chrysanthemum mojito, made of dark rum infused with the fragrant flowers.
As with most Cantonese eateries, the kitchen brigade here is skilful with meats like crispy roast pork, roast duck, and slow-cooked and roasted five-spiced quail. Getting a tick of approval from many foodies is the suckling pig, available on Fridays. After your meal, continue your night-out at the rooftop bar. To have access, make a reservation via firstname.lastname@example.org
Like Sum Yi Tai, Boca (6 Bukit Pasoh Road, tel: 6221 0132) makes the most of its shophouse setting, filling up three levels with different concepts. On the ground level is a long counter bar where patrons can enjoy small plates of nibbles and watch the two young chefs from Portugal in action. Just above is the main dining space with plush booth seats, and on the third level is a wine cellar housing excellent labels from Portugal.
As the only authentic Portuguese restaurant in town, the speciality here is the bacalhau or dried, salted cod. Start with golden fritters composed of bacalhau, potatoes, onions and coriander, paired with tartare sauce, then move on to the main course of Braz codfish mixed with caramelised onions and pan-fried shredded potatoes.
Aside from fish, the refreshing octopus salad topped with capsicum and coriander is noteworthy, as is the heartier shrimp porridge made of aged bread, intensely flavoured prawn stock, spices and shrimps. Finally, revel in the Portuguese tarts—a celebration of flaky pastry and luscious custard. Do place an order earlier as Boca only makes 20 of these gems a day.
Over at Keong Saik is Neon Pigeon (1 Keong Saik Street, 01-03, tel: 6222 3623), a modern izakaya run by a group of like-minded friends who bring together a range of expertise in F&B and design. This place is essentially a small plates restaurant and bar whose “ordering guide” recommends six to eight small plates for two persons.
To begin, spread chicken liver mousse on toast, paired with yuzu marmalade, followed by miso black cod with tofu cubes in a soothing soup. Mains-wise, try smoked baby back ribs with sake barbecue sauce, or rice with miso roasted pumpkin, sugar snap peas and egg yolk, which is comfort in a bowl. As it closes at midnight, this is a good spot for light night bites and tipples.
Located at the fringe of Outram Road and Tiong Bahru is Wangz Hotel’s rooftop restaurant Rabbit Stash (231 Outram Road, Level R, tel: 6595 1380), an ideal spot for meals with friends or business associates.
Singaporean chef Matthew Mok uses French techniques with a touch of Asian flavours for his degustation menus, which are changed quarterly. The chef might weave elements of his Peranakan heritage into fish curry with okra and aubergine, or prepare “exotic” ingredients like seared kangaroo meat, with butternut squash puree and chocolate sauce.