Most sustainable cuppa
It seemed like only yesterday we first stepped into the graffiti-walled space on the ground floor of a 1930s shophouse in Tiong Bahru, where fresh-faced Aussie owner Harry Grover was selling economically sustainable Third Wave coffees (largely economical for the producers, not entirely for the drinkers) made with beans sourced from Sumatra and Ethiopia.
Once his Synesso Syncra-brewed house blend came to settle at a sharp 94ºC, the rest followed. A suite of sandwiches, weekend-only eggs brunch items and, most recently, a dinnertime hot dog menu were launched in fast succession. Even the addition of a sheltered outdoor space at the back barely contains the weekend throng.
But we like that they’re sticklers for quality – their tau sar pau (red bean bun) is one of the fluffiest we’ve had, and the juicy hot dogs (try The Odyssey – a plump lamb and mint sausage, topped with made-in-house red-grape chutney, feta cheese and chopped rocket salad, $12) have a helluva lot of personality. It’s not hard to see why 40 Hands has us eating out of its palms. 78 Yong Siak St (6225 8545, www.40handscoffee.com). MRT: Tiong Bahru. Wed-Thu 8am-10pm; Fri & Sat 8am-11pm; Sun & Tue 8am-6.30pm. Coffees $2.50-$7.50, main courses $8.50-$16. CA
Tied for Readers’ choice: ‘Best Café’
Best Persian feast
Bathing in the light of a $500,000 chandelier hanging from its silver dome are equally precious imports – intricately carved chairs, delicately wrought cutlery and handmade Iranian tiles. Laid out at the table are Middle Eastern delicacies, mostly based on historical records: the Anar Special Couscous Royal comes from the Moroccan Sahara, while the pleasantly chewy Persian Chelow kebab kubide (a minced lamb kebab) hails from Iran’s Zagros Mountains.
The delicate Falodeh shirazi (an Iranian-style noodle served with rosewater and lemon juice) is made using a traditional hand-cranking machine that was researched and replicated specially for Anar. General manager Toufik Youssef is constantly researching and translating hundred-year-old recipes to add to the menu. At the time of writing, that shisha permit was still pending. #01-291 Resorts World, 26 Sentosa Gateway (6884 6989, www.rwsentosa.com). MRT: HarbourFront, then Sentosa Express. Daily noon-3pm, 6-10pm. Main courses $30-$40. CA
Crown of crêpes
When chef Pang Kok Keong of Canelé rolled up his pastry mat and announced plans to launch five new restaurant concepts on his own, we were as worried as the Archduchess of Austria at her proxy marriage; what was to happen to the painstakingly spun creations of Singapore’s golden pastry boy?
The retort came at the unveiling of this sweetly furnished bubble of powder blue, pink and green in Lavender. The good news is that Pang’s famed macarons and strawberry shortcake ($8) still rule at the pre-French Revolution-styled digs, along with decadent new creations like Antoinette – a sleek round milk-chocolate mousse cake enrobed in a dark chocolate and Earl Grey tea crémeux ($9).
Like his former stronghold, this pastry shop-cum-restaurant-cum-tea lounge also serves main courses, but the pièces de résistance have to be the crêpes. Those with a slightly salty sweet tooth will not be disappointed with the Nougatine – a thin but dense wheat crêpe filled with Nutella, topped with salted caramel sauce, crisp caramelised filo pastry and a generous scoop of nougatine ice cream ($16). 30 Penhas Rd (6293 3121, www.antoinette.com.sg). MRT: Lavender. Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri & eve of public holiday 11am-11pm; Sat 10am-11pm; Sun & public holidays 10am-10pm. Main courses $16.50-$38; crêpes $14.50-$20.50. CA
Best modern Middle Eastern
Artichoke Café + Bar
Within the former chapel buildings of Sculpture Square, an upmarket Middle Eastern is in the making, though you’d be hard pressed to immediately identify the cuisine from the Nordic-minimalist space of stainless steel lampshades, potted plants and delicate hand-drawn motifs on the walls.
We love its modern riffs on authentic flavours – the approach is represented best by the eggs shakshouka
– tender, fall-apart chunks of fresh lamb in a lightly tart tomato stew scented with cumin and turmeric, and topped with fresh eggs and a dollop of home-made labneh ($20), and, although no longer on the monthly-changing menu (bring it back!): the heart-stoppingly good Hashbrowns and Pigs (hashbrown discs, onions, country sausage and bacon ladled with smouldering, slightly peppery, Pipsqueak apple cider-laced gravy and melted red cheddar, $20).
The mix of traditional and modern makes sense when you learn that chef-owner Bjorn Shen is a returnee from Australia, a country known for its graceful approach to fusion. Sculpture Square, 161 Middle Rd (6336 6949, www.artichoke.com.sg). MRT: Bras Basah or Bugis. Tue-Thu & Sat 6-10pm; Fri 6pm-midnight; Sat & Sun 11am-4pm. Main courses $20-$65. CA
Most awaited celebrity chef
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
So Hong Kong got him first, but the world’s most Michelin-star-studded chef now has two outposts at Resorts World, and his timing couldn’t have been better. We prefer L’Atelier over the fine-dining Joël Robuchon Restaurant because it’s more interactive – from the 28 bar seats ringing the black-, red- and gold-hued counter, you can watch the grill being fired; the fabled mashed potatoes being hand-whipped (for at least 45 minutes by one person); and the dishes being plated.
Robuchon has entrusted the restaurant to his deputy and head chef Lorenz Hoja, who more than holds his own. The Discovery Menu ($250) is a seven-course set that includes a free-range quail stuffed with foie gras ($51, à la carte), and tender, moist langoustine fritters served with a finely puréed basil pesto that impress for their subtlety and robustness ($37, à la carte). Hotel Michael Level 1, Resorts World, 8 Sentosa Gateway (6577 7888, www.rwsentosa.com). Take a taxi. Daily 5.30-10.30pm. Main courses $41-$95. CA
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