The Best Restaurants in Singapore 2020
We’ve been publishing our annual guide to Singapore’s best restaurants since 1986. And we remain in awe of the breadth of exceptional establishments, spanning all cuisines, we continue to enjoy. With the help of our expert panellists, we have once again managed to eat our way through this year’s contenders with similar gusto, carefully assessing each entrant based on four specific criteria: food, wine, setting and service.
We’re proud to say that this year 215 restaurants made the cut. There were many standouts, of course, including some of the hottest openings in the past two years. Aside from their high scores, this unique pool of establishments—our pick of Singapore’s Top 20 Restaurants—has surpassed our expectations in providing diners with uniquely memorable experiences that go above and beyond the set criteria.
Introduced last year, our aim with the Top 20 is to recognise the crème de la crème—exceptional restaurants that help raise the bar when it comes to delivering stellar fare and top-notch service. Again, we couldn’t have done this without our trusted team of tastemakers and expert palates, who have taken the extra step of nominating and then voting for the most deserving. With no final scores to influence their decision, their appraisals are also based on repeat visits.
(Related: The Best Restaurants In Singapore 2019)
1/20 Burnt Ends
We’re not surprised that the steakhouse remains wildly popular with locals and tourists alike, even earning a Michelin star in the guide’s 2018 and 2019 editions. Working the custom-made grills are chefs Dave Pynt and Jake Kellie, who never fail to dish out skillfully-cooked steaks such as beef tenderloin and Blackmore’s cube roll, balanced with modern Australian creations.
Chef Malcolm Lee continues to fly the Peranakan flag with his Michelin-starred establishment. He’s quick to emphasise that his cuisine isn’t modern, but, as he tells T.Dining, “It’s just Peranakan food brought into the now. It’s how we eat today.” Nevertheless, his creations are firmly rooted in the cuisine’s traditional essence and the best way to savour this is through his “ah-ma-kase” tasting menu.
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2019 is definitely chef Rishi Naleendra’s year. After revamping Cheek by Jowl to a more casual restaurant, simply dubbed Cheek, he opened the much-lauded Cloudstreet a few months after. Building on a modern European foundation, the cuisine here bravely explores the chef’s Sri Lankan roots, to the delight of his fans and first-time visitors.
(Related: What To Expect At Rishi Naleendra's New Restaurant, Cloudstreet)
4/20 Corner House
How does chef-patron Jason Tan remain on top of his game after helming the restaurant for five years? He regularly improves on his “gastro botanica” cuisine by evolving his signature recipes. Take, for instance, his My Favourite Vegetable creation, which diners says taste better today than it did two years ago. Working with it every day, he has made adjustments to how it’s prepared. He cooks the onion confit now in a smaller pot (for better texture) and brightened the flavours of the onion tea with lemon zest.
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Chef-owner Shigeru Koizumi blazes his own path with Esora, as he skillfully crafts menus built on Japan’s micro seasons; these are paired with well-curated tea offerings. While there’s no sushi on the menu, you’ll be treated to an array of tantalising dishes that hark back to his childhood in Japan—but given a modern reworking.
(Related: The Best Restaurants In Tokyo Serving Up Fine Japanese Ingredients In A Modern Way)
Restaurants in Singapore may come and go, but the French stalwart by chef-owner Gunther Hubrechsen is here to stay. He never ceases to attract loyal and new customers with his classic French cooking that lets the sublime ingredients shine through. Always a must-try is his signature cold angel hair pasta, made extra indulgent with a dollop of oscietra caviar.
7/20 Jaan by Kirk Westaway
In 2018, executive chef Kirk Westaway made the bold move of shifting Jaan’s culinary focus from French to British. With the “Reinventing British” menu, he has crafted delightful dishes that not only take cues from his childhood but also champion British ingredients. The English Garden is a perfect example; it’s a beautiful assemblage of 30 seasonal herbs and vegetables artfully presented on a plate.
(Related: Jaan Affirms New Direction With Name Change)
8/20 La Dame de Pic, Raffles Singapore
Gourmands rejoiced when revered French chef Anne-Sophie Pic finally opened her first restaurant in Singapore (and Asia) at the refurbished Raffles Hotel Singapore. The restaurant, helmed by Pic’s protégé for eight years, Kevin Gatin, serves her signature French cuisine modernised with Asian touches. While the menu changes according to seasons, signatures such as the Berlingots (parcels of pasta filled with cheese Fondue and given a local touch with the use of herb of grace or chou cao) remain.
(Related: La Dame De Pic Makes Its Asian Debut At The Raffles Singapore)
Credit is due to banker-turned-chef Han Liguang, who has elevated Singaporean cuisine to the world stage with his own brand of Mod-Sin fare, made with local produce where possible. He dishes out comfort food we grew up eating, such as ang moh chicken rice, presented as strips of braised chicken inside pillowy rice flour dumplings.
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The restaurant may have a bigger and better premise, but chef Sun Kim continues to dish out modern French fare, jazzed up with Asian accents, particularly Korean, to showcase his rich heritage. Savour his inspired creations with his five- or seven-course tasting menu that gets updated according to seasons.
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11/20 National Kitchen by Violet Oon
Peranakan fare is well and alive in our diverse culinary landscape, thanks in part to Peranakan doyenne, Violet Oon. She continues to champion this beloved cuisine through her empire of restaurants, which serves the likes of dry laksa or buah keluak ayam.
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Chef-owner Ivan Brehm proves that all cuisines are intertwined with his “crossroads cooking”. And diners are gladly taking note thanks to his imaginative creations that tap into his Brazilian roots, but modernised to reflect the beautiful Southeast Asian flavours.
(Related: A Drink With... Ivan Brehm, Chef-Owner Of Nouri)
Since the restaurant opened in 2015, it has never lost its shine or motivation, thanks to chef-owner Julien Royer and his equally talented team. While Julien admits that the DNA of the cuisine is still French, he has slowly incorporated Southeast Asian flavours to keep things fresh and exciting. Such is his signature of foie gras “comme un pho”, featuring Japanese abalone and foie gras in a delicate broth flavoured with fresh aromatics like nasturtium and kinome leaves.
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Food lovers took notice when Colombian chef Fernando Arévalo opened the highly-acclaimed Preludio in late 2018. Here, he serves his original “author’s cuisine” that breaks free from boundaries and allows him and his team the “complete freedom to mix flavours, colours and textures”. The first chapter is Monochrome, where dishes like the White Opal are presented in black and white, without sacrificing the taste.
(Related: 5 Reasons To Visit Preludio)
15/20 Rang Mahal
There’s no need to travel to India to have delicious Indian food when you can just head to this restaurant, helmed by corporate executive chef Milind Sovani. His extensive menu is an amalgamation of specialities from the northern, southern and coastal regions of his native country, which continues to win fans over.
16/20 Restaurant Jag
We now have a slice of the French alps in Singapore, thanks to Savoie native Jeremy Gillon and business partner, Anant Tyagi. While his menu is rooted in classic French cooking, he breathes new life into it by focusing instead on the 40 indigenous herbs native to the alps. Herbs like thym citron, acchileé and verveine are ground, dried or used as flavouring and garnishes for his omakase-driven menu.
17/20 Summer Pavilion
Our Top 20 list won’t be complete without a Chinese restaurant, and this is best represented by this stalwart. Traditional Cantonese fare rules the roost, with dependable offerings such as exquisite dim sum, soups and roast meats paired with an equally fine selection of teas or wines.
(Related: 5 Of The Best Chinese Restaurants In Singapore Get A Menu Revamp)
The restaurant is an extension of Dutch chef Richard Van Oostenbrugge’s cutting-edge restaurant, 212, in Amsterdam. He has pioneered the fine-casual dining experience where diners can enjoy high-quality modern European fare without the stereotypical rules of fine dining. He further explains to T.Dining, “What we strive to do is serve our guests a world-class meal, and let them have a good time while eating it.”
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19/20 Vianney Massot Restaurant
After working with the great Joël Robuchon for almost a decade, we’re glad to know that Vianney Massot is creating a buzz for himself with the opening of his eponymous restaurant (formerly Bacchanalia). His latest venture still focuses on classic French cuisine, with dishes such as Le Chou-Fleur, a cauliflower masterfully cooked with such great technique and precision, and using the finest seasonal produce.
Since it took over the three-storey shophouse formerly occupied by Restaurant André, chef Tristin Farmer and his team have continuously wowed locals and tourists alike with their Nordic fare laced with European accents. The meal here is presented as a ‘moving experience’ that starts with snacks and welcome drink on the first floor and the dinner proper on the second floor. It culminates with petit fours on the third level, where lingering after a filling meal is encouraged.
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