The Insider’s List 2019 - Singapore
From breezy brunch within a UNESCO listed heritage site to customised shampoos for pet dogs at a trichological practice to a matchless culinary experience that spans three floors and fourteen courses, these are the golden establishments much patronised by Singaporeans in the know.
Exemplary service and top notch cuisine define Restaurant Zen, earning it the highest place on our Singapore Insider's List 2019
For 25 years Opera Gallery Singapore has been bringing the works of modern masters the likes of Dali, Picasso and Chagall into Singapore with a definitive influence on the growth of fine arts in the city state. Over the first F1 night race in Singapore, the gallery installed some of Salvador Dali’s most iconic sculptures in the public space along Orchard Road which created a wave of interests in the surrealist master’s work. Today, many locals still head to the upmarket gallery to appreciate the works of the old masters as well as the trendy contemporary artists the gallery currently represent.
Opera Gallery Singapore 2 Orchard Turn, #02-16 ION Orchard, 238801 https://www.operagallery.com/singapore/
Brunch and Botanicals
The Halia at Botanical Garden is an old name in the local dining scene. Set amidst the verdancy of the UNESCO listed park, this lovely restaurant with a sizeable alfresco space is an entrenched favourite amongst lovers of nature and the local inspired cuisine it serves. A halal certified restaurant now, the drink list features spiritless but zesty concoctions flavoured by spices and botanicals. On sunday afternoons the brunch slots are packed for weeks as this is probably one of the island’s best haunts to while away the weekend.
The Halia 1 Cluny Road, Ginger Garden Singapore Botanic Garden, 259569 http://www.thehalia.com
A trusted name in the purveyance of serious blings, Defred has been the go-to brand for generations of jewellery aficionados in Singapore. Owner Fred Ho has been honing his craft in jewellery design for decades and has access to some of the most desirable gems to surface in the market. Many rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds of great size and value have passed through the velvet trays of this 35 year old establishment into the hands of serious collectors from Singapore and beyond. Signature pieces from this jewellery house tend to make a splash at important galas held in this crazy rich state.
390 Orchard Rd, 01-02, Singapore 238871 http://www.defred.com.sg
Renowned trichologist Leonica Kei is passionate about 2 things in her practice - hair and scents, and her loyal customers swear by her signature treatments that incorporates the latest technology (think infra-red and laser therapies) and her proprietary hair formulas that not only promise to promote hair growth, but can also stimulate the senses with customary essential oils and colourings. So successful are her hair-care products, she has recently launched a series of shampoos and body wash for pet dogs and children that can be customised to suit the needs of each furry client and tiny tot.
Leonica K Trichology 390 Orchard Road #03-08 Palais Renaissance, 238871 http://leonicak.com/
Up and Down
Former Olympian Leslie Kwok has been busy expanding his retail empire since he hung up his speedos for life as an entrepreneur. Boasting a string of spas and hair salon, his latest offering to fitness-mad Singaporeans is BBounce, a workout studio that offers high octane training routines via the trampoline. A partnership with another super fit ex-Olympian Joel Tan, the hybrid circuit training sessions here have been generating serious buzz amongst body conscious Singaporeans always on the look-out for the next fitness trend.
BBounce 176 Orchard Road 06-09 The Centrepoint, 238843 https://www.bbouncestudio.com/
The art of closing a good deal often involves a good meal and in the CBD of Singapore the rat pack often head to Black Swan for its traditionalist take on food - salad is salad and steak is steak, and its old-world milieu derived from the building’s distant past as the headquarter of the Kwangtung Provincial Bank. The heady ambience here may set the tone for serious business talks but some very good yuzu martinis, and bread served with butter doused in beef drippings, may also induce the mood for afterwork loosening.
The Black Swan 19 Cecil St, Singapore 049704 http://www.theblackswan.com.sg/
Good Face Forward
The Remede Spa at the St Regis Singapore is still the city’s top spot for wellness pampering after its inception a decade ago. A while ago it added the sensational services of haute podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez into its menu of luxury treatments and opened the door for beauty-mad Singaporeans to get their nails diamond polished and pearl buffed. Lately, an organic ‘botox’ facial promises to renew elasticity on one’s countenance without the invasive needleworks. We hear appointments have been snapped up for months already.
Remède Spa 29 Tanglin Rd, Singapore 247911 https://www.remedespasingapore.com/
The evolution of the hospitality industry in Singapore has come to a full swing, and when once locals would go to hotels to order room service and while away a weekend, today the trend is to play house in a full service apartment replete with the convenience of kitchenettes and washing machines. Where better to do that than at Oakwood Premier’s recently launched downtown flagship that’s upped the ante with arresting sea views (even from the shower) sumptuous amenities and grand service? No where else in Singapore can one find better pancakes with fried chicked mid-joints that one can savour with inspiring views and cherished privacy.
Oakwood Premier OUE Singapore 6 Shenton Way, OUE Downtown 1, Singapore 068809 www.oakwoodasia.com
The Social Network
Singapore is an island of clearly demarcated clans and tribes. The old-money set will have their habits satiated at The Tanglin Club while the trendy new upstarts are now congregating at Straits Clan, an entertainment, wellness and dining private member’s club spanning 4 levels in a heritage building along the historic Bukit Pasoh stretch, which interestingly also houses a string of old world clans still subsisting in a new era. Boasting gyms, restaurants, bars and even an events room where burlesque acts were routinely staged in Singapore’s early days, Straits Clan is currently the club to be in and be seen in.
Straits Clan 31 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore 089845 https://straitsclan.com/
Dim Sum Delight
Singapore is the bastion of Cantonese cuisine in this part of Asia and there are many restaurants that open to packed crowds everyday. One of the best is undoubtedly Wanhao, an old establishment that’s been given a new lease of life by the uncommon inventiveness of its young chef Bryan Wong. Old techniques are employed to retain flavours, while new forms continually emerge from menus detailing some of the best soups, staples and favourites that form the foundation of a bona fide Cantonese restaurant. Clearly having established a fanbase from local connoisseurs of dim sums and all things Cantonese, Wan Hao is packed daily.
Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant 320 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238865 http://www.singaporemarriott.com/restaurant/wan-hao-chinese-restaurant/
Singaporeans are always satiating their sweet tooth with all kinds of desserts but pastries and cakes take a place of importance in our heart. No serious patisserie that has set up shop on these shores ever escape the attention of cake lovers and Pantler, a diminutive outlet helmed by Tomoharu Morita, who was the ex-pastry chef of Joel Robouchon, has been so popular that its tables are constantly full until the late afternoon or when the cakes are sold out. The chief allure here are of course cakes, and we especially heart the strawberry shortcake laden with Japanese strawberries and the blackforest cake with cherries soused in spirit.
Pantler 198 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068637 http://www.pantler.com.sg/
Tipples and Chow
The end of a day is always a cause for celebration and savouring tipples at trendy watering holes is a grand tradition amongst the hip circles in Singapore. Origin Bar was launched last year and had collected unto its parlour a good mix of business executives and cocktail aficionados game for edgy concoctions. The signature cocktails are inspired by the 5 key districts of Singapore, and depart from old-fashioned tipples with their bold and arousing flavours. Complemented by tasty bar grubs like beef sliders and bacon popcorn, the tables here are laden with comforting indulgences to gorge and imbibe.
Origin Bar 22 Orange Grove Rd, 258350 http://www.shangri-la.com/singapore/shangrila/dining/bars-lounges/origin-bar/
The Top Culinary Draw
Restaurant Zen, the only outpost of the Swedish gourmet institution Restaurant Frantzen, ignites a passion for gourmet odysseys that span 3 levels and fourteen courses. Premium ingredients are sourced from near and far and are incorporated into delectable fares prepared through Swedish and Japanese methods. The service here is superbly rendered by some of the best looking chefs, servers and managers the country has seen. Entry would exact a months-long wait and a hefty bill, but it will be very worth it.
Restaurant Zen 41 Bukit Pasoh Road www.restaurantzen.com