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With heavy influences from Malay, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian and British cuisines, the restaurant scene in Singapore is far from dull and fusion food is the order of the day. Street vendors are common in this bustling city for a tasty meal on the go, and most specialise in one dish with favourites including fish head curry or (yellow egg noodles stir fried with ghee, tomato sauce, chilli, egg, vegetables and various meats or seafood). Seafood such as prawns, oysters, crabs and lobsters are also popular dishes on most Singapore menus and traditional dishes such as (soup), (spring rolls), and (barbecued meat skewers) are worth trying. Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy the sugary desserts like (steamed cakes), (coconut milk soup), and ice (shaved ice with sweet red beans).
Hawker centres are the cheapest places to eat, and come with their own unique atmosphere, which is somewhere between a market and a food court. Prices are low and the food is very good, so it's a great way to try a lot of dishes. Find a table first, and many stalls will deliver your food to you. Popular hawker centres include Newton Circus, Glutton's Bay, and Lau Pa Sat, as well as several options in Chinatown.
Singapore has its share of international fast food chains, but local takeaway options worth trying include Bengawan Solo's Chinese pastries, Old Chang Lee's deep-fried curry puffs, and the traditional Singaporean breakfast at Ya Kun Kaya Toast.
Singapore's more upmarket restaurants have a lot to offer as well, with plenty of variety. A special focus is on Chinese cuisine and seafood, however. Head to the Orchard Road area and the historic district for eateries of every nationality, or for a trendy night out a trip to Boat Quay or Clarke Quay along the riverfront is a must.
Restaurants will often display the prices with plus signs ($19.99++) indicating that service charges and sales tax are not included and will be added to the bill. Tipping is not practiced in Singapore, and is officially discouraged by the government.
International / 1 Beach Road (Historic District)
The 'Grand Dame' of Singapore restaurants is an experience in elegant sophistication, fine dining and colonial charm. Impeccably dressed waiters with a daunting display of culinary knowledge, attentive yet discreet service, and courteous efficiency are backed by the majestic décor and spotless tableware. The food is similarly outstanding, and dishes like the signature smoked Atlantic salmon, the roasted rack of suckling pig, and various exquisite desserts are stylishly presented. Raffles has one of the best cellars in the country and the cellar master can select a wine to complement each course. Lunch Monday to Friday and dinner Monday to Saturday. The dress code is 'smart elegant' and booking is essential.
Song of India
Indian / 33 Scotts Road
One of Singapore's best restaurants and the ideal place for Indian cuisine, Song of India transports diners to old-world colonial elegance in several ornately decorated dining rooms and a lovely garden area. Both a la carte dishes and set menus are highly praised by the Singapore dining world. A great way to experience Indian cuisine is the Journey Through India set menu option which includes six courses from different regions in India. Reservations are recommended.
Italian / Sentosa Gold Club, 27 Bukit Manis Road
One of the best patio dining venues in Singapore, Il Lido gives offers seaside views from a chic modern interior and deck. It is also one of the best and most innovative Italian restaurants in Singapore with such dishes as champagne risotto with tiger prawns and asparagus. A classy lounge and bar also make a great getaway from the city. Reservations for dining are recommended.
International / 4 Rochester Park Singapore 139215
This chic yet casual venue makes diners feel like they are attending the coolest dinner party in town. With both an outdoor patio in lush gardens and indoor tables with the décor of a friend's dining room, Graze serves Australian-style barbecue dishes of big steaks and seafood platters. The outdoor lounge is a popular meeting point for drinks.
International / The Regent, Level 3, 1 Cuscaden rd.
The appeal of Iggy's is the warm ambiance of a very small venue, comfortable as a friends living room, but with much better food! The internationally inspired meals are set according to seasonal ingredients so it important to check what they are serving for the night ahead of making reservations. Vegetarian replacement meals can be made if they are notified in advance. Reservations are essential.
French / 48 Bukit Pasoh Road
This popular French restaurant, located in a restored shophouse, is well-known to both locals and tourists for its chic ambience, polished service, and memorable food. The waiters are ready to assist you in navigating the extensive winelist, as well as the selection of absinthes on offer! One of the pricier restaurants in town, it's a great place to celebrate a special occasion. Absinthe is open for lunch Monday to Friday, and dinner Monday to Saturday. Valet parking is available.
Chinese / Sheraton Towers, 39 Scotts Road
The understated décor of Li Bai is sleek and modern with a strong Chinese influence, with contemporary furnishings in red and black lacquer, jade table settings, and silver and ivory chopsticks. Large vases of elegant pussy willows add subtle opulence to the ambience. The Cantonese fare is traditional with a modern and innovative touch of class that includes creations such as the aromatic farm chicken smoked in jasmine tea leaves. The fresh seafood should not be missed; baked fillet of cod with honey, shark's fin sautéed with crabmeat, and Canadian cod sautéed with ginger and garlic, accompanied by the fabulous crab fried rice, are delicious. Reservations required. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
Asian / Empress Place Building
Authentic Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese dishes combine with hints of France from the Indochinese days of colonialism to create an exceptional Asian experience. Buddhist figurines, flower-shaped crystal chandeliers, and Ming Dynasty style chairs with plush silk cushions of oriental designs add to the exotic atmosphere, which is complemented by stunning views over the Singapore River. House specialities include beef stew ragout, and pepper beef in sweet and sour sauce, but there are other traditional favourites such as Cambodian Tiger Prawns, Roast Duck in green curry, and the Trio Seafood with Khmer Tamarind Sauce. For starters there are spring rolls, or prawns grilled on sugarcane, while lemongrass Crème brulée washed down by the not-to-be-missed Vietnamese coffee is the perfect end to the dining experience. Reservations required. Open daily for lunch and dinner.