A bustling neighbourhood in the city, Telok Ayer is home to many excellent restaurants, bars and cafes. You can eat just about anything you want there—from Korean BBQ, Japanese izakayas to brunch and burgers; choosing what to eat has never been more challenging.
I know so because I frequent the area way too often for coffee, a night out or just to sit down and relax. The office crowd also hits this street during weekday lunch like a hurricane. I call it the newer and hipper Holland Village with all the bars and cafes that it now houses.
To help you simplify your options and highlight the gourmet delights available around the area, here are 25 tantalising Telok Ayer foods to tickle your taste buds.
1. The Flying Squirrel
Inspired by travel, coffee, art and music, The Flying Squirrel is a humbly-sized, hole-in-the-wall hideout tucked in the corner of Amoy Street.
The menu here offers Japanese-inspired cuisine that ranges from fresh cuts of sashimi and handmade makis to the occasional twist on familiar favourites, such as the Truffle Ebi Fry (S$15) and bowls of chirashi dons.
For a light bar bite to go with their in-house pours and cocktails, don’t forget to try the restaurant’s housemade tacos! To go with your seaweed taco shell, opt for the Tuna & Avocado (S$14). Otherwise, Chicken & Wasabi (S$14) makes for a great filling to complement a traditional wanton shell.
The Flying Squirrel also serves up a variety of lunch menus priced from S$19 to S$60 to suit all budgets. Each set comes with a salad and miso soup. If you are around the area, why not drop by for a hearty meal?
Free the Robot is a cafe that is set to change the CBD’s F&B scene. With its quirky decor and concept, one would be surprised that Free the Robot serves more than just coffee.
Usually a place for studying or quiet afternoons, Free the Robot is bustling with customers eager to get their brunch during weekday lunch hours.
Although the Big Brekky (S$22) is popular amongst regular robots, the menu is filled with other brunch and lunch goodies that you have to try too.
One of the latest additions to their menu is the Beef Rice Bowl With a ½ Avocado (S$20), a hearty bowl containing Japanese white rice cooked till soft and slightly chewy. Additionally, there were bonito flakes, furikake (dry Japanese seasoning), homemade achar, a poached egg, and shredded cucumber slices.
Another must-order is their Blue Swimmer Crab Pasta (S$20). The pasta had a mixture of blue swimmer crab meat and baby scallops accompanied by tomatoes, pine nuts and cooked with chilli crab sauce and white wine. With each twirl of pasta, we could pick up a few pieces of succulent crab meat and scallops which paired with the tangy chilli crab sauce perfectly.
With walls painted vibrantly by the owner himself, Shukuu Izakaya exudes Japanese culture to a whole new level. Founded by three Japanese food enthusiasts, it is a place where you can unwind after work.
Perhaps what is most interesting about this establishment is its artisanal sake collection. They have certified in-house sake sommeliers to personally recommend bottles from their expansive collection that will complement your dishes too, so expect to find around about 60 different types of sake from various renowned breweries in Japan at any point in time.
An interesting appetiser on the menu is the Maguro Yukke (S$12++), Shukuu Izakaya’s inventive take on the beef tartare. The premium sashimi-grade bluefin tuna is sliced and tossed in a Japanese layu (chilli oil) dressing and served with a quail egg. Mix it all up to savour the smooth, fresh chunks of firm tuna flesh with a hint of spiciness that cuts through perfectly.
For an Izakaya classic, the humble Tsukune (S$4.50++) features soft and juicy chicken meatballs that have a surprising bite to it from the chicken cartilage. Another dish we enjoyed was the Sliced Beef’s Tongue (S$14), a soft, chewy slice that was beautifully seasoned to match its heavenly meaty flavour.
4. Wang Dae Bak Korean BBQ Restaurant
To experience a taste of authentic Korean food culture at Telok Ayer, Wang Dae Bak Korean BBQ Restaurant is one of the best places in town to do so. With smoke and the strong smell of barbecue in the air, you know you’re going to need a bib to save your shirt from the mess you are going to make.
Wang Dae Bak has two different menus: one for lunch and another one for dinner. For dinner, the BBQ is a must-try. Go for either Set A or Set B (both $49). Set B is highly recommended because you get a taste of everything, from prime ribs and pork belly to marinated shoulder.
What makes the BBQ experience different at Wang Dae Bak BBQ is also the fact that they have steamed egg on the edges all around the central BBQ pit. The appetisers are all refillable, so your meal here will definitely be a satisfying one!
5. Burger Bar New York
Established in Singapore in 2016, Burger Bar New York aims to bring the New York burger scene to Singapore with their old-school American burgers and beers. With a large selection of unique craft beers ranging from the Shiga Kogen to the BBN that you can’t get anywhere else in Singapore, this is one place in Telok Ayer you have to hit up.
The burgers here aren’t sexy, but simplicity is where it’s at. The Cheeseburger ($17.80) comes served in a medium-rare patty slabbed with melted white cheddar cheese, lettuce, dill pickle, dijon mustard, tomato sauce and some fresh onions. Unlike other burger outlets in Singapore, the patties are made from Nebraskan meat.
Burger Bar New York takes its patties very seriously. The restaurant sources their meat, grind and even pound the patty in-house to ensure its quality and freshness! Entirely made in-house, you will want to bite into your burger again and again.
6. Moosehead Kitchen – Bar
Owned by father-and-son team Glen and Daniel Ballis, Moosehead Kitchen – Bar is very much a living project—a community for food, music and art.
Besides drawing inspiration from travel and the street, the eatery also frequently collaborates with local hawkers and graffiti artists for events held within their space. Here, ingredients might be simple, yet the presentation of their food is filled with sophistication.
The Pork Jowl (S$26) is a crowd favourite that should not be missed. Get ready to sink your teeth into a piece of perfectly grilled pork that melts in your mouth as you savour the natural flavours of the protein. For additional texture, the dish is also topped with pork crackling as well as sweet pickled raisins.
If you still have space for dessert, don’t forget to finish your meal with their Pistachio Cake (S$8). Filled with the nutty goodness of freshly toasted pistachios, this rich and decadent cake is topped with a light and refreshing yuzu creme as well as a drizzle of honey. Now, this is what I call a sweet ending.
Alati, or salt from the ancient Greek word, serves the freshest produce wild-caught by the hands of the fishermen at the Aegean Sea. Donned in blue and white, you will feel like you’ve been shipped to Santorini the moment you step into the premises.
So what should you eat at Alati? Well, if you want something light, the Horiatiki (S$24) is something you should order. With fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and olives showered in extra virgin olive oil and peppers of feta, this Greek salad is healthy and delicious at the same time.
Are you a fan of fish? Then don’t miss out on the Salt-baked Milokopi from the Aegean Sea (S$13/100g, additional S$10 for salt bake). Milokopi, or otherwise known as bearded umbrine, is baked in a crust of salt to retain the moisture in the flesh and dry out the skin to ensure that the meat remains juicy and sweet.
If you’re looking for a light, delicious and healthy meal, Alati should be near the top of your list. The food here might be prepared and cooked in healthier options, but they are certainly not lacking in the flavour department!
8. Dapper Coffee
A little cosy spot hidden atop the stretch of shophouses on Amoy Street, Dapper Coffee is a cafe in Telok Ayer that you have to check out. Unique and quirky, the menu’s experimental take on classic coffees is fascinating, but its brunch meals are pretty dope too.
The Earl Grey Yuan-Yang (S$8) is highly recommended, especially for those with a bitter taste preference. Instagram-worthy and served icy cold, the Earl Grey Yuan-Yang is your go-to for a mid-afternoon chill drink. Otherwise, the Gold Brew (S$10) is also a must-order, especially if you believe in unicorns. I mean, what other coffee has golden glitters swirls?
If you need a little sweet snack to balance the coffee, Dapper Coffee also has amazing cakes on offer. The Gula-Melaka Walnut Oat Cake and Salted Egg Black Sesame Cake (S$9 per slice) are both one of a kind. What’s even better—they taste amazing.
Started a few years ago by Aussie Ben Lee, Sarnies is a popular little café. Known best for their coffees, Sarnies also serves up some mean sandwiches. Nonetheless, they are so much more than that. From massive salads to classic pasta, you’re guaranteed to have a good time dining in this cosy eatery.
For a healthy lunch option, go for the Roast Chicken Sandwich(S$14.50). Complementing the slices of tender roast chicken are tomato slices, mesclun, a schmear of guacamole and some home-cured bacon for good measure.
Don’t forget to wash your meal down with a good cup of freshly roasted coffee! Latte (S$5), Flat White (S$5) and Cappuccino (S$5) aside, the cafe also offers a refreshing glass of Iced Coconut Long Black (S$6.50). This has been my personal favourite, and I highly recommend it to all my fellow caffeine lovers out there!
10. Park Bench Deli
From cheesesteak to cured meat and grilled cheese to peanut butter & jelly, Park Bench Deli has been changing the definition of sandwiches in Singapore. At Park Bench Deli, sandwiches aren’t ordinary. Yes, they have the classics, but that aside, the cafe is also known for its innovative creations.
The two sandwiches you have to try are the Cubano (S$16) and the Kra Pow Sandwich (S$16). The Cubano consisted of seared pulled pork and ham accompanied by melted cheese, oozing mustard and pickles. If you love mustard, this sandwich would be perfect for you.
If not, for something more local, opt for the Kra Pow Sandwich. Generously filled with wok-fried Kra Pow pork with hot basil, garlic, Thai fried egg salad and long beans, this is a one-of-a-kind Thai delight that will surely leave you wanting more.
For a taste of Argentina on our sunny island, boCHINche is where you should be. Here to dispel the notion that Argentinian cuisine is just about meat, boCHINche does just about anything out of the ordinary.
Nothing warms the tummy any better than the satisfaction of a glorious cheese pull. Best enjoyed the minute it’s out the oven, the Provoleta con Sobrasada & roasted hazelnut (S$19) is a smoky contender with a sultry layer of paprika-spiced Italian sausage and drizzles of chorizo oil.
Served beautifully caramelised and overflowing right up to the corners, this starter will get your appetite up and running especially when dipped with the restaurant’s freshly baked basket of bread.
Heading to boCHINche for brunch? Then let the Orange Water Pancake (S$24) blow your mind with its citrusy hint. Liberally glazed with homemade lemon ricotta and gooey drizzles of honey, these beautifully prepared pancakes are topped with crunches of poached fruit and nuts for an added texture that will leave you smiling from ear to ear.
12. Wangdaebak POCHA
POCHA means “Korean Street Food Wagon” in Korean, a term used back in the 70s and 80s that described a place where people got together by the street-side to eat and drink.
Wangdaebak POCHA is the first street-styled Korean dining and drinking experience. Set in the past, the restaurant encourages you to sit back, relax, and remember the good ol’ times over authentic street food and Korean cocktails.
So what should you order while having mugs of icy cold beer? Sweet & Spicy Fried Boneless Chicken (S$21), of course! Crispy all over and smeared with our favourite gochujang sauce, this is the kind of fried chicken KFC would have to beat to get to the top!
Looking for a side dish to go with your BBQ meal? Then why not enjoy the best of both worlds with the Half Half Pancake (S$25). Prepared using kimchi and seafood pancake batter, this dish will delight both the spicy and non-spicy eaters on the dining table.
Helmed by Chef Teddy Chung, fȳr is a modern grill restaurant that serves up moreish food in a warm, relaxed atmosphere situated in the foodie enclave of Boon Tat Street. Marrying traditional French cooking techniques with modern Asia influences, the signature fȳr experience is cooked with fire in all forms—grilling, barbequing, roasting, searing and smoking.
Set menu at fȳr is priced at an affordable S$26++ for a two-course meal and S$30++ for a three-course meal. Otherwise, the Chicken Roulade (S$24) and Pan-seared Barramundi (S$24) from their a la carte menu both make for a dish complete with proteins and greens for a wholesome meal in the restaurant’s cosy environment.
14. Bitters & Love
Located Telok Ayer Street, Bitters & Love is a speciality cocktail bar run by a team filled with passion, love and personality for what they do. Serving up bar snacks and unique cocktails, this has got to be one of the busiest places at night around the area.
The Kaya Toast Cocktail ($25) is one of the rarest cocktails in Singapore and definitely something you should try once in your life, especially if you’re from Singapore or Malaysia.
Served with a kaya toast and kept chill in a kaya jar, this high-class kaya-infused cocktail will get you sipping jar after jar unknowingly throughout your entire meal. The earl grey taste might be a tad bit subtle, but overall, the cocktail was sweet, fragrant and familiarly satisfying.
Amoy Street might be an area well known for cafes and upscale eateries, but WANTON Seng’s Noodle Bar fits right in with its bold, modern take on the humble wonton mee.
Breathing new life into the original Seng’s Wanton Noodles found at Dunman Food Centre, WANTON Seng’s Noodle Bar prides itself on its Char Siu Noodle (S$8), a bowl that features slow-cooked pork belly in place of the standard hawker char siew. Beautifully glazed with a charred exterior, every bite of the pork belly exudes a unique smokiness that is more than just addictive.
Dishes at WANTON Seng’s Noodle Bar comes with free-flow broth and pork lard. For that added texture, be generous on yourself when it comes to these little nuggets of pork fats. I’m pretty sure they will add a lot more flavour and character to your noodles!
If you think Sichuan food is loud, boisterous and limited to the infamous flavour—mala, Birds Of A Feather will change your mind.
Explore beyond the traditional beloved Sichuan flavour profiles with the restaurant’s first tasting menu—Golden Sun Bird Menu, Redefining Sichuan (S$89, +S$60 with a wine pairing), a selection of dishes that promises a culinary awakening throughout your entire meal.
Here, your meal will start with It Begins With, two crusty slices of homemade pickled vegetable focaccia that takes on a rightfully Asian slant with its tangy and bright notes.
Thereafter, let your mind run wild with the ‘Yu Xiang’ Carabinero Prawn. Riding on a delightfully chewy polenta cake is a striking vermillion curl of Carabinero prawn and a swirl of ‘Yu Xiang’ sauce that is filled with as much flavour as there is with culture.
115 Amoy Street, #01-01, Singapore 069935
+65 9755 7115
Mon & Wed: 10.30am – 3pm & 5pm – 11pm
Tue: 10.30am – 3pm
Thu: 10.30am – 3pm & 5pm – 12am
Fri: 10.30am – 3pm & 4pm – 12am
Sat: 9am – 12am
Sun: 10.30am – 12am
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Porkypine presents itself as a hole-in-the-wall joint with a singular focus on the famed Cubano—a sandwich loaded with generous shavings of mojo pork or ham, basted with a liberal amount of mustard and mayo.
The signature here is none other than the Cubano (S$18). Stacked neatly in the double-fermented Cuban buns are slices of mojo pork that has been lovingly slow-cooked for 24 hours resulting in a soft and tender protein that pairs perfectly with butter pickles, Emmental cheese and mustard.
From the toasted edges, the melty cheese, to the thick-cut shavings of pork and pickles, each element shines in its own right but waltzes together all at once. As you finish your Cubano, you will only have that one thing in mind as you lick your fingers clean; it is a darn good sandwich.
Built to bring the taste of authentic Xinjiang—the largest Muslim province in China— cuisine to diners in Singapore, Restaurant Aisyah is a modern Muslim Chinese eatery situated adjacent to Thian Hock Keng Temple.
While waiting for your mains to arrive, the Meat Dumplings in Spicy Sauce (S$12.80) makes for an excellent appetiser to kick start your meal over idle chatters. Freshly made daily, these dumplings are not only generously filled, they are also drenched in a fiery chilli oil that is numbingly spicy yet amazingly fragrant.
Restaurant Aisyah’s pièce de résistance has to be their Braised Mutton Noodles (S$10.80/S$13.80). Here, the broth carries a woody earthiness that is heaven-sent to those who love a healthy dose of subtle pungency. Crowning the top of the springy noodles are chunks of mutton chops that peels off the bone with ease. A lovingly tender bite that will surely leave you wanting more.
19. Royz et Vous
As an 80s baby, I love my dose of classic 80s/ 90s pop and rock anthems, and a place that has a stellar playlist on loop is Royz et Vous.
What better dish is there to feast on while bobbing your head to ‘YMCA’ than a majestic slab of Beef Short Ribs (S$42.90)? Slathered with thick brown gravy, the ribs might look tough on the outside, but they are, in fact, amazingly juicy and tender. Overall, it is truly a dish that is a harmonious mixture of sweet, smoky, sour, and spicy.
The Kampung Buffalo Wings (S$16.90) and Fried Mushrooms (S$13.90) make for great bar bites for those of you who prefer a light snack to go with a glass of icy cold beer. Whilst the Fried Mushrooms are nothing much to sing praises about, the Kampung Buffalo Wings blew our minds with its spectacular Asian flavour reminiscent of traditional ayam masak merah gravy. Yummy, I would say.
20. Chuan Hung
Bedecked in bamboo and wooden accents, Chuan Hung is a cosy restaurant that will satisfy your curiosity about Mian Yang rice noodles and feed your need for a piping hot bowl of warmth.
The highlight of Chuan Hung is their noodles, and a bowl that got us slurping in an instant was their King Prawns With Vine Pepper (S$15.50). The only dish made with the chicken-based broth, the peppery soup was robust and numbingly shiok. What we enjoyed about these special noodles was that they remained semi-firm and not soggy even after it was left swimming in the broth for a good 15 minutes.
During your visit to Chuan Hung, don’t forget to try their Chicken Innards (S$3.50) and Fried Crispy Pig Intestines (S$5.50). Surprisingly, both dishes were neither gamey nor pungent, making them enjoyable side dishes that complement most of the noodles on the eatery’s menu.
21. 51 Soho
For a dining spot fitted with high-speed WIFI that will enable you to grab a bite while juggling the demands of your job, 51 Soho is the place to visit.
While the restaurant’s indoor area is more suited for intimate dinners to spend time over a quality meal, the alfresco dining area allows for natural light, soft breeze and a laid-back venue to grub and network.
It’s tough to put a label on the kind of cuisine served here at 51 Soho as their menu caters to all hours of the day, but one thing we are sure about is that the dishes here are certainly steeped in Asian influences.
One dish that we particularly enjoyed was the Soho Burger (S$28), a scrumptious stack that was also a powerhouse of textures. Loaded with house-made pulled beef, kimchi slaw and shoestring fries seasoned with salt and chives, this is one burger that you wouldn’t be able to put down once you’ve had a taste.
Cocktail lovers should also give their Prosperity Cup (S$11) a shot. The drink is made with Chinese rice wine, rockmelon, and chocolate, but what really amused us was the edible CNY100 (made of rice paper) that was served together with it. The drink itself might not have much of an impactful flavour, but it was the novelty that tickled our fancy. After all, dining is about having fun, don’t you agree?
Open by the people behind Lola’s Cafe, Dumpling Darlings is an inconspicuous restaurant at Amoy Street that stood out with its dark minimalistic exterior and simple logo. Besides being known for their variety of noodles and dumplings with unique flavours, Dumpling Darlings has also been garnering attraction for their creative cocktail mixes.
To make the most out of your penny, opt for their Lunch Set. Priced only at S$16, Dumpling Darlings Lunch Set comes with a bowl of noodles, a set of four dumplings and an iced beverage of your choice.
If you are a fan of all things spicy, why not challenge yourself to their Sichuan Pork Noodles and pair it with its corresponding Spicy Sichuan Dumplings? Otherwise, their Miso Mushroom Noodles and the Fried Pierogi also makes for a great combination for those of you who enjoy a mixture of earthy umaminess and smoky sweetness.
Located just a stone’s throw away from Telok Ayer MRT is Miss G’s Grill & Bar, a mouth-watering bar grub serving an array of Japanese-inspired comfort food.
Usual bar bites like fries and wings aside, the eatery’s California Maki Dip With Wanton Skin (S$12) also makes for an excellent complement to go with their extensive selection of alcoholic beverages.
The dip is a mix of crabmeat, cucumber, avocado and mayonnaise, garnished with some spring onions and a generous portion of tobiko. Paired with the crisp, deep-fried wanton skins, it was a simple yet highly-addictive dish that you unknowingly will wipe clean even before you realise.
For a wholesome dish that will surely satisfy, go for their Iberico Charsiew on Rice with Onsen Egg and Chilled Kang Kong (S$18.90). The thick, melt-in-your-mouth slices of Iberico char siew were juicy and flavourful. With uneven charred bits on its surface, every bite will leave a robust smoky aroma lingering on your taste buds!
24. Kafe Samsa
Many of you might have heard of The Nomads, but did you know that hidden within the restaurant itself is a cafe area called Kafe Samsa?
While The Nomads offers Central Asian cuisine reimagined with ingenious and modern little twists, Kafe Samsa’s menu is honest and simple. On its one-page menu are various savoury and sweet samsas alongside a range of house-made jars of butter and jams.
Amongst the samsas we had, the Chicken Samsa (S$7) was the most succulent yet delicate tasting. Wrapped within flaky and buttery puff pastry was a mountain of minced chicken bursting with juicy sweet flavours of caramelised onions.
Whilst the Chicken and Beef Samsas are safe choices, food adventurers should try their Lamb Samsa (S$8). Kafe Samsa’s Lamb Samsa pays homage to the traditional spices used in the Central Asia region with its signature house-blend of aromatics. Balancing the meat’s natural gaminess were the intense herbaceous flavours of cumin and pepper—hearty and very authentic.
25. Genius Central
Sceptical about healthy food and think that they are limited to salads and grain bowls? Then let Genius Central change your perception.
Handsomely furnished with its chic bronze exterior and warm lighting, the restaurant is a 150-seater establishment akin to a cavernous department store. From vegan to gluten-free options, Genius Central’s menu will surely have a dish to accommodate and suit the liking of everyone around your dining table.
A great sharing option would be their Pumpkin Ricotta Pizza (S$20). This vegan pie won our heart over with ease, as the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash and caramelised onions contrasted perfectly with the saltiness of the cheese. It’s a medley of flavours that will make you drool for now even as you think back to it—a sign of pizza done the right way.
Elsewhere, there is the Khichdi (S$16), a one-pot rice and lentil dish cooked with dal to a thick, mushy texture. Plentifully seasoned, each spoonful is warm, comforting, and equally luscious. This is undoubtedly an incredibly hearty and scrumptious dish that will leave your tummy full and your heart even fuller.
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