best food 2022 singapore

A 2022 Roundup of My Best restaurants & Bars in Singapore

Not long ago, the sands of time had buried the chaos of 2021 six feet under. As in their nature, the relentless hands of time continue to march on, stoic and unphased. Now they inched, ever slowly, towards the rugged corners of this chapter in history, preparing to turn the page to mark the end of 2022.

This was a year of rebirth. Of conflicts. Of rising worries. And of possibilities. 2022 flew by like a rickety plane at the mercy of a tempestuous storm that was brewing over a scenic mountain range, weathering through with occasional moments of wretched luck and also splendorous beauty. But still, we persist.

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The last digit’s progression to the number “three” is more symbolic than objective. To most, it’s a dividing bookmark tied to this set of experiences. But to others, an efficacious milestone signifying some semblance of a reset. A sign to carry over our hopes and dreams to fight in another year.

As dictated by the social zeitgeist, it also indicates a gruelling deliberation where I curate my best bars and restaurant visits in 2022 — it’s time for my most “Spotify Wrapped” rundown of my most memorable eats of the year and favourite new restaurant openings.

My Best Restaurants in Singapore 2022

Forma

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The first name that accelerated into my mind’s eye when curating this list — Forma is, unequivocally, the most refined new restaurant in Singapore for 2022 and, from what I could tell, the most technically adroit pasta bar in Singapore thus far.

As a joint venture between Cicheti Group and Chef Yum Hwa, the legendary mastermind behind the home dining concept Benfatto 95, this is a restaurant that showcases the art of pasta at its most wondrous.

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Some may argue it’s overpriced and the flavours aren’t exceptionally unique but that angelic bounce when I bit into their Orecchiette or the moment the Tortellini blitzed my palate with a combination of assertive umami and crisp brodo — these are some of the best experiences I’ve had in Singapore, as a self-professed pasta nerd who handmakes his own.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: 128 Tembeling Rd, Singapore 423638
  • Hours: (Fri–Sat) 12pm–2:30pm, (Tues–Sat) 6pm–10:30pm last order

Banh Mi Saigon

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Probably a surprise pick for most familiar with my passion for the intrepid and superfluously embellished but Banh Mi Saigon is perhaps the greatest hidden gem I had come across during my hunt for the best restaurants in 2022.

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Sure, it’s a small takeaway kiosk and there are no dine-in seats or fancy decor but it’s overflowing with heart. The Special Banh Mi is the best example — aromatic spice notes, rich porky umami, and creeping heat all come together in harmony. But more importantly, it’s the coherence of textures that really make it stand out.

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  • Address: 505 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8, #01-2668, Singapore 560505
  • Hours: (Daily) 9am–9pm

La Bottega Enoteca

La Bottega Enoteca had already amassed stupendous amounts of plaudits in its first year of operations and in 2022, it was looking like it was everyone’s de facto restaurant destination for the best pizza in Singapore.

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Given the privilege to have a taste of their dough, I have to agree. The pizzaiolos do a stunning job with both the flawlessly light and exceedingly fluffy “Newpolitan” and the rambunctiously crackling “Supercrunch”, both topped with quality ingredients including homemade salame and nduja.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: 346 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427596
  • Hours: (Wed–Thurs) 5:30pm–10:30pm, (Fri–Sat) 12pm–2pm, 5:30pm–10:30pm (Sun) 11:30pm–4pm, 5:30pm–10:30pm

JU95

One of my favourite meals of 2022 was actually a restaurant I went into without lofty expectations but JU95 manage to dazzle with their irreverent approach to Japanese food, packaged in an edgy modern gastrobar setting.

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Bodacious flavours, sprinkled with a helping of fresh perspectives on Japanese cuisine, make the fusion fare here captivating. For example, the phenomenally saporific and intoxicatingly funky Parfait Ju and the smoky and furikake-enriched Grilled Cauliflower were adventurous enough while not straying too left field.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address:
    41 Boat Quay, Singapore 049830
  • Hours: (Tues–Wed, Sat) 6pm–12am, (Thurs–Fri) 11:30am–11:30pm, 6pm–12am, (Sun) 5pm–10pm

Ippoh Tempura Bar

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This swanky Dempsey outfit completely redefined my view of tempura as merely simple fried casual food, as the batter mesmerisingly crumbled with delicacy and poise that only the most puissant Osaka tempura maestros can pull off.

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Paying its deepest respect to seasonality, as tradition dictates, Ippoh deftly traps fresh produce like the mind-blowingly soft Tilefish and impossibly sweet Prawns in batter while not obfuscating their intrinsic virtues. Of course, who can forget the Sea Urchin Tempura, Chef Katsuhiko’s spellbindingly umami magnum opus?

Make your reservations for Ippoh Tempura Bar here.

  • Address: 17B Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249676
  • Hours: (Sun–Thurs) 12pm–3pm, 6pm–10pm, (Fri–Sat) 12pm–3pm, 6pm–11pm

Wala Pizza

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A completely different kinda jam from La Bottega Enoteca, Wala Pizza is a couple-run bastion of whimsical pizza ingenuity. This home dining might not be a full-fledged retail restaurant but the flavours here are some of the best you’ll find in Singapore.

The dough is a stunning work of art hiding a complex lattice of air pockets, punctuated with salaciously charred leopard spots all throughout its brim. It’s that delicately chewy dough which provides the most immaculate canvas for flavours such as the titillatingly deep and spice-forward Paella-Style Squid Ink Scallops and the superbly hedonistic Truffle Carbonara to shine.

New slots are only released on the 20th of every month at 12pm. Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: Their home is somewhere between the Yew Tee and Choa Chu Kang MRT stations
  • Hours: On Booking Basis Only

Raw Kitchen Bar

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Channelling the best vibes of Bali is Raw Kitchen Bar, an al fresco dining sanctuary resting in an idyllic little nook in Lavender, normally shaded by lush foliage and also gorgeous glints of golden hour sun during the evening.

raw kitchen bar black mamba fried rice

Raw Kitchen Bar isn’t a gastronomical revelation for the most part but it was one of my most memorable 2022 restaurant experiences, by virtue of its magnificent ambience and consistency in churning out audacious and novel flavours in dishes such as the smokiest Black Mamba squid ink fried rice which stole my heart.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: 66 Kampong Bugis, #01-01, Singapore 338987
  • Hours: (Thurs–Fri) 5:30pm–10:30pm, (Sat–Sun) 11:30am–10:30pm

Cenzo

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As a long-time admirer of Chef Drew Nocente and his iconic Salted & Hung restaurant, news of its closure was shattering. Maybe in a bittersweet twist of fate, it’s the closure of Salted & Hung that allowed for his foray into a more modern and accessible Italian concept that probably leads the pack for casual Italian restaurants in Singapore.

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Flavours aren’t as unabashedly gratuitous as they were in Salted & Hung and Chef Drew shows a more restrained finesse in his repertoire, best exemplified by the Raw Blue Prawns, gently sweet and remarkably plump and endowed with a splash of piquancy and aromatic wakame umami. Sure, it’s less wacky but those Asian inflexions we love from Chef Drew are still ever-present — just more subdued.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address:81 Club St, Singapore 069449
  • Hours: (Mon–Fri) 12pm–2:30pm, 5:30pm–10:30pm, (Sat) 5:30pm–10:30pm

My Best Bars in Singapore 2022

The Bar Kakure

A one-man show featuring Chii-San, an esteemed veteran within the bar scene, where the finest details and most precise decorum of Japanese-style bartending are observed. Kakure is simply my most unexpected bar gem of 2022 — the pristine ethos of Japanese bartending just didn’t mesh with my love for adventure.

Classic mixology is a game of ratios and balance, where the slightest aberration in dilution or pour could skew the profile but Chii-San shows finesse and masterful command over his craft, stirring up one of the most spectacularly balmy but sublimely balanced Martini I’ve had thus far.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: 29 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228224
  • Hours: (Mon–Sat) 6pm–1am

Last Word

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One of the regular haunts of my early 2022, Last Word is Nutmeg & Clove’s more sophisticated sibling that also dabbles in the fine art of Japanese-style bartending. The speakeasy getup is refined and elegant but also stripped-down and minimalistic — they let the drinks do the talking.

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The Bloody Mary in particular is a rousing orator. Adapted from Tokyo Bar High Five’s unique recipe, the fresh tomatoes are smothered into liquid ala minute, before lime and Last Word’s horseradish-infused Vodka are thrown into the mix. The result is a lightly rich, subtly spicy, and impressively refreshing tipple that you wouldn’t believe is related to the Bloody Mary.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: 8 Purvis Street, #02-01, Singapore 188587
  • Hours: (Tue–Sat) 5pm–10:30pm

Manhattan New Menu

As an institution of the Singapore bar scene, it’s always an enthralling discovery journey whenever Manhattan rolls out a new menu. Maybe not as breathtaking as the previous edition which birthed their signature 3000, but new head bartender Kelvin Saki’s “New York Personified Vol. 2” still has plenty to wax lyrical about.

This round of refreshing sees names like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Andy Warhol join the board, with the former vividly represented by The Notorious RBG, a merciless tempest of three whiskeys, bitters, and black cardamom that personified the judicial icon’s astute hawkishness.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: 1 Cuscaden Rd, Level 2 Regent Singapore, Singapore 249715
  • Hours: (Wed–Sat) 5pm–1am, (Sun) 12pm–3pm

Smoke & Mirrors New Menu

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It’s an open secret that Smoke & Mirrors is my most frequented bar but bias doesn’t cloud my judgment of the team’s mixological proficiencies on the recent “Real Art of Drinking Vol. II” refresh, which has hits and misses but hits some incredible highs.

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This volume contains my all-time favourite here, the Wok’s the Smell which combines sambal and lupcheong smoke into one piquant tipple that carries a complex spice depth and a uniquely Singaporean wok hei aroma. Not to mention the Cha Cha Duet‘s juxtaposition of two matcha-driven expressions in stark mutual contrast.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: 1 St. Andrew’s Road, #06-01 National Gallery, Singapore 178957
  • Hours: (Wed–Fri) 6pm–1am, (Sat, Mon–Tues) 6pm–12am, (Sun) 5pm–12am

My Best Coffeehouses in Singapore 2022

Rookie’s CoffeeShop

Who knew a rookie coffee shop owner could culture such a devout cult following so quickly? Rookie’s Coffee, opened by former Singapore Aeropress Champion Junior Lim early in 2022, is a spectacularly quirky cafe in its own right.

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Not only is it one of the rare speciality coffeehouses in Singapore that eschews the ever-popular filter pours for Aeropress, but Junior has also found a niche of his own concocting a bewitchingly delightful Bandung Espresso.

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  • Address: 124 Bukit Merah Lane 1, #01-144, Singapore 150124
  • Hours: (Tues–Fri) 10am–5pm, (Sat–Sun) 10am–6pm

KYŌ Kohee

Hole-in-the-wall coffee takeaway kiosks are a prominent feature in every city’s CBD but KYO Kohee may have clinched the spot as my favourite cafe in Singapore’s CBD.

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The tiny space, dressed in swathes of clean whites and Japanese-inspired accents, brews a plush Hokkaido Milk Iced KYŌ Coffee and an immaculately balanced Iced Okumidori Matcha Latte — some of the most exemplary demonstrations of matcha without being cloying.

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  • Address: 144 Robinson Road, #01-01, Singapore 068908
  • Hours: (Mon–Fri) 8pm–5pm, (Sat) 8pm–1pm

My Favourite Vibes For Singapore 2022

Claudine

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Claudine is easily my vote for the most gorgeous restaurant in Singapore, perhaps of all time. Taking over the hollowed-out remains of the iconic White Rabbit, Julien Royer and team managed to transform it into a chic and dreamy chapel setting where you can revel in the most homely and rustic of French flavours.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: 39C Harding Rd, Singapore 249541
  • Hours: (Tue–Sat) 11.45am–2pm, 6pm–9.30pm, (Sun) 11:30am–3.30pm

JUICE Wine Bar

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Going against the luxury of Singapore’s new hit restaurants in 2022, JUICE is a one-of-a-kind intimate vibe that’s impossible to find elsewhere in Singapore. It’s like a wine-fuelled house party in the lounging of a mid-twenties creative who frequently gets lost in the wistful croonings of Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” while pensively sipping from a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Make your reservations here.

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  • Address: 86b Circular Rd, Singapore 049438
  • Hours: (Mon–Sat) 6pm Onwards

Waga Waga Den

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Waga Waga Den is a sight for sore eyes in Singapore’s cafe scene, where 2022 seemed to be nothing but banal permutations of “Japandi Minimalism”. Opened by Black Carvery Group, this Japanese-centric coffee sanctuary is bold and tasteful, furnished with futuristic light arrays and svelte metal structures, all encased within a stately glass obelisk. Agonisingly sleek.

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  • Address: 38 Beach Rd, #01-14 South Beach Tower, Singapore 189767
  • Hours: (Tues–Fri) 8:30pm–-3:30pm, (Sat–Sun) 9:30pm–4:30pm

 

 

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