Braving The Burbs

3 minute read
Joan Koh | Singapore

You might have thought that a downtown location was as essential to the success of a fashionable restaurant as, say, a celebrity clientele or a daring menu. But that’s not true in the case of Singapore’s new breed of modish eateries. A few of the city’s fashion-forward restaurateurs have forsaken Orchard Road’s madding crowds in favor of verdant retreats where cool cuisine comes with a side order of peace and quiet. Maybe it’s due to a reluctance to pay city-center rents. Or perhaps it’s because of the realization that, in compact Singapore, nowhere is that far from anywhere else. Whatever the reason, if you want to experience some of the Lion City’s hippest new restaurants, it’s time to head into the woods.

The former site of an army barracks on leafy Harding Road is home to the PS Caf, tel: (65) 6479 3343. This elegant restaurant of glass and timber serves what co-owner Philip Chin calls “casual gourmet” dishes, the best of which may be the superbly executed, fall-off-the-bone duck rendang. For years, Chin and his partners aspired to establish a suburban offshoot of their trendy downtown venue, Project Shop Caf: with its retro furniture and jazzy ambience, PS represents the ample fulfillment of that dream.

The views are even more lush at Beppe De Vito’s Il Lido Italian restaurant, tel: (65) 6866 1977, on Sentosa island. Indeed, the good-humored owner claims that Il Lido’s hilltop setting ranks among “the most beautiful sites in Asia.” While that may be a tad hyperbolic, the cooking of chef Michele Pavanello will certainly have you fumbling for superlatives. Dishes like sea urchin spaghetti, or Stracchino cheese and Parma ham with sauted mushrooms on a rosemary crisp lure a glamorous crowd, as do the sea views and a chic dining room with furnishings by the likes of Arne Jacobsen and Antonio Citterio.

But ultimately it is Rochester Park in one-north districtthe city’s newly minted tech and biomedical-science hubthat is Singapore’s hottest dining address today. The colonial-era homes of British military officers have been transformed into retail outlets and restaurants. Try Graze, tel: (65) 6775 9000, the bistro established by Yenn Wong, owner of Hong Kong’s JIA boutique hotel. And don’t miss Min Jiang, tel: (65) 6774 0122, a sibling of the Sichuan restaurant of the same name at the Goodwood Park Hotel. The Ernesto Bedmar-designed interior is uncompromisingly modern, and the cuisine decidedly innovative. Whoever thought that the suburbs would be the setting for such stylish whimsies as lobster medallion crusted in salted egg yolk, or Peking duck dipped in sugar?

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