September 13, 2017Posted by Bethany Larson Bloch
The Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix is just around the corner, and if you’re one of the thousands of people who fly in to our hometown to attend the night race, you’ll surely want to know where to eat, drink and sleep away from the track and Padang. We’ve got you covered.
Found amidst a lush park northeast of Singapore’s central business district, Hotel Fort Canning is where we often daydream about taking a staycation. It’s a luxurious hotel with amenities galore: think a spa, swimming pools filled with mineral water, a state of the art gym with tranquil views, and both indoor and outdoor dining options. The rooms are all modern serenity, with marble bathrooms boasting monsoon rain showers, an in-room entertainment system and even a customized pillow menu.
Looking for hip digs? Then Naumi Hotel is for you. Pops of yellow greet you in the lobby, which has a sleek, mid-century modern vibe, and the 73 rooms range from the intimate “habitat” room to luxe suites inspired by Coco Chanel and Andy Warhol. But there’s much more here than trendy quarters: the rooftop infinity pool is surrounded by white loungers and accented with neon lighting; the three gyms are outfitted with cardio and lifting equipment, iPod docking stations and televisions; and the in-house restaurant, Table by Rang Mahal, will have you savoring contemporary Indian cuisine.
PS. Café’s brunch game is strong. There’s an extensive list of cocktails — including five different Bloody Marys (signature, classic, smoked, herbal or spicy), a rosé and berries sangria and your usual mimosas and bellinis — and the menu’s options range from fluffy pancakes to a superfood salad, and from lasagna to a brunch burger. The restaurant is also truly lovely and has an amazing view of the One Fullerton and Marina Bay areas.
It’s safe to say Lucha Loco is the undisputed neighborhood hangout in Tanjong Pagar, and their location at Customs House on Collyer Quay is much the same. The al fresco seating area filled with picnic tables, strung with exposed bulbs is one of the big draws, but so is the food. It’s all about gourmet tacos here, with flavors such as chorizo con res (chorizo, braised beef brisket, cabbage and chipotle salsa), and camarónes (tiger prawns, jalapeno, strawberry, bacon and fennel sauce). Thirsty? Opt for a tart margarita or be adventurous and try the Mexican Moonwalk, a Cimarron Blanco tequila-based tipple with lime, chipotle syrup and popping candy (yes, popping candy!). The vivacious yet laid-back vibe here is hard to beat – brace yourself for a good time.
For something completely different, there’s OverEasy, an upmarket, American-style diner situated along the Singapore River, with a killer view of Marina Bay Sands. There are comfort classics like Philly cheesesteak sliders, chicken and waffles, both old-fashioned and truffled mac and cheese, cheeseburgers, Reubens and milkshakes. Serious delight, plus they’re open late.
If you’re looking for an unpretentious cheeseburger that’s reliably scrumptious and doesn’t share a price point with steak, make your way to Wolf Burgers at Suntec City’s PasarBella. Here, the patty is thin enough to get a bit crisp on the outside – but stays juicy, so you’ll need a couple napkins – and is dressed with melty American cheese, pickles, tomato and lettuce. Not into beef? There are chicken options here, as well as a Korean-inspired, spicy pork sandwich. Oh, and there are thick milkshakes, too.
The upscale Zafferano is our go-to recommendation for friends who are seeking out fine Italian cuisine. A lavish space located in a downtown skyscraper, you have a breathtaking vantage point of the skyline that’ll have you reaching for your camera – but that isn’t the only reason to come here. The service is impeccable, and though the menu changes seasonally, the pan-seared Hokkaido scallop, the burratina with heirloom tomatoes and basil and the baked red mullet are must-orders if they’re available. If you’re having trouble choosing, there’s always the four-course tasting menu – we suggest you add on the wine pairing, as the vintages here are superb.
Looking for more local flavors? Hit up nearby hawker centers – it’s a necessary experience while you’re here. You’ll find everything from Singapore’s famous chicken rice to delish noodle dishes to fishball soup to prata, at prices that are nearly impossible to beat. There’s the beautifully restored Lau Pa Sat – which looks like something out of a by-gone World’s Fair – at Raffles Quay; Glutton’s Bay is within the race area, right by the Esplanade; and Satay by the Bay is nestled behind Gardens by the Bay, on the waterfront. Enjoy!
Ask us about 2am:dessertbar and we’ll most likely lose focus. We’re talking trailing off mid-sentence and having trouble getting back on track because we’re now thinking about the edible, magically plated work of art that encapsulates basil white chocolate, black pepper, passion fruit and Japanese sea grapes. What we’re saying is chef Janice Wong’s experimental creations are downright spectacular. Since 2am is designed to be a late-night lounge, the lights are low, couches plush and the wine list carefully compiled by an expert sommelier. It is a bit of a trek from the track to Holland Village, but we promise it’s worth the cab fare.
The rooftop bar at Kinki, located within Customs House in the One Fullerton area, is an ideal spot for drinks after the race festivities. The place serves up delish Japanese bar snacks like truffle ebi fries and seaweed nachos, the East-meets-West drinks are divine (try the Spicy Hachimithu, with vodka, honey umeshu, wasabi, lemon and cucumber), and that view? Priceless.
For tipples with a punch of something local, check out Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall, a teeny, no-frills spot nestled in Boat Quay that serves up fancy booze creations that showcase beloved Singaporean ingredients like Milo, chendol and kopi.
Over in Bugis, Haji Lane stalwart Bar Stories is one of the pioneers of the bespoke cocktail trend in this city. There’s no menu — instead, you’ll be asked by a server to choose a spirit and then adjectives that describe the tipple you’d like. It might sound like a gamble, but we’ve never been disappointed here, and have seen the likes of a yuzu Martini with blood orange syrup that’s served in a floating lime rind “bowl,” a rosemary gin and tonic delivered with the herb sprig on fire, and their comparatively simple take on an Old Fashioned, complete with a massive ice ball and artistically curled orange peel.
If it’s craft beer you crave, Smith Street Taps is your best bet, and a unique one, at that. Set up on the top floor of a sprawling hawker center, the stall, co-owned by Daniel Goh and Meng Chao, brings in kegs from international small-batch breweries that aren’t often found in these parts. Think IPAs from California-based Modern Times, imperial stouts from Denmark’s Amager Bryghus and saisons from Buxton Brewery in the UK. Beer lovers, rejoice.