Top Nostalgic Food Spots for Your Singapore Staycation
“What you do in Singapore is eat. It's a really food-crazy culture, where all of this great food is available in a kind of hawker-stand environment." - Anthony Bourdain.
Singapore has no shortage of Instagram-worthy attractions, cultural sights and flavourful food options. From street food, swanky international restaurant chains, to heritage dining options, Singapore is a bona fide food paradise. Soul food that brings about nostalgia, in particular, is known to set locals to travel across the country and wait in snaking queues to get their hands on the childhood tastes that they love.
(Singapore’s claim to heritage culinary fame was recently accredited by UNESCO, with hawker culture in Singapore incredibed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural of Humanity on 16 December 2020.)
If delectable comfort food is something you are passionate about, Singapore has plenty of local places to eat to your heart’s content. Let us take you on a gastronomic tour of the top nostalgic food sports in this culinary paradise.
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Spoon into the Heavenly Scent of Chicken Rice
Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice
|Address||342 Balestier Rd, Singapore 329774|
||+65 252 2318
||10am to 9:30pm daily|
Considered one of the national dishes of Singapore, Hainanese Chicken Rice is beloved by most locals. If there is one place serving this dish that evokes the good old memories of yesteryear, it is Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice.
Established in 1953, little has changed since its opening at Balestier. The original outlet still retains the old-fashioned interior characteristic of kopitiams (coffee shops) of the past, except that it now offers air-conditioned comfort. The eatery serves up fragrant and tasty white and roasted chicken served with aromatic, chicken-fat infused rice. These dishes are given an extra kick with freshly made chilli sauce, ginger paste and dark soy sauce.
Besides tasty steamed and roasted chicken rice, the eatery also serves side dishes such as vegetables and soup, as well as a variety of Hainanese-style cze char (wok-cooked) dishes.
Go Old School With Traditional Toast and Coffee
Tong Ah Eating House
|Address||36 Keong Siak Road, Singapore 089143|
||+65 6223 5083
||7am to 10pm (Thursday to Tuesday), 7am to 2pm (Wednesday)|
Regarded as the national breakfast of Singapore, kaya toast is many Singaporeans’ go-to first meal of the day. Also popular for tea — and even supper — kaya toast is often accompanied by soft-boiled eggs served with a hot drink (typically coffee or tea). Many kopitiams serve this dish, but if you want to immerse yourself in sweet nostalgia while enjoying your breakfast, Tong Ah Eating House is the place to go.
Tong Ah’s kaya toast is head and shoulders above the rest, thanks to its homemade kaya, which, spread on top of the toast, is a smattering of crunchy sweetness in your mouth. Fortified by a dollop of savoury butter and washed down with traditional kopi (Singapore-styled coffee) or teh (Singapore-styled tea), it powers you up for the challenges of the day.
Throughout your meal, you can soak in the coconut-and-egg rich aromas of the fragrant kaya and the heritage-rich ambience of the retro-styled eatery.
Get directions to Tong Ah Eating House (1km away from PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering)
Munch on Delicious Fortifying Arab-inspired Murtabak
Zam Zam Restaurant
|Address||697-699 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198675|
||+65 6298 6320
||7 am to 11 pm daily|
Sink your teeth into a burst of umami rich flavours with the popular dish of Murtabak — a Middle-East inspired dish brought to Singapore by Tamil Muslim traders way back in the past. Comprising of stuffed or pan-fried pancakes filled with minced meat and egg, murtabaks are fried to a delectable golden crisp and enjoyed with curry gravy.
To enjoy one of the best murtabak in Singapore, pay a visit to Zam Zam Restaurant — its mutton murtabak is considered legendary by many locals. Established in 1908, Zam Zam is one of the oldest restaurants in the country. The two-storey restaurant still stands at its original spot close to the Arab enclave in Singapore. The ground floor houses a kitchen while its second level provides an air-conditioned dining area.
Graze on Authentic Indian Vegetarian Cuisine
Ananda Bhavan Restaurant
|Address||95 Syed Alwi Rd, Singapore 207671|
||+65 6398 0837
||7am to 10:30pm daily|
Vegetarians rejoice! With sizable Hindu and Buddhist communities in Singapore, there are myriad animal-friendly eating places to consider.
Wish to tantalize your taste-buds with planet-friendly Indian food? Ananda Bhavan Restaurant is the place to try. Opened in 1924, the restaurant is the oldest Indian vegetarian eatery in Singapore offering South Indian cuisine.
While naans (oven-baked flatbreads) or dosas/ thosais (thin rice and lentil pancakes) may be dishes you are familiar with, try the Pav Bhaji instead. This standout dish is exclusive to Ananda Bhavan. Bursting with flavours from its unique blend of spices, Pav Bhaji is served with pillowy toasted buns that add a spot of spongy sweetness to a heavily flavoured dish. Another must-try here is the Vegetarian Biryani Set, which comes with a platter of mini curries, crunchy poppadoms and dahls.
Relish in Robust Russian Fare
|Address||545 Orchard Road, #06-19 Far East Shopping Centre, 238882|
||+65 6732 6401
||12pm to 2pm (lunch from Tuesday to Sunday), 6pm to 9pm (dinner from Tuesday to Sunday), Closed on Monday|
Most Singaporeans above 40 would have heard of the Shashlik Restaurant — a beloved culinary icon favoured by old-school diners. Opened in 1986, Shashlik serves up Russian cuisine with a Hainanese twist. The restaurant brings back oodles of old-world glamour — well-coiffured waiters don uniforms with smart red vests and bow ties while tables are dressed in the restaurant’s signature yellow cloth.
If you plan to visit, try signature dishes like the Borsch Soup (a symphony of savoury, sweet and sour tastes), the legendary Oxtail Stew (with meat that melts in your mouth), or the Hainanese Pork Chop (crunchy and toasty). And if your tummy has some room left, go for the Baked Alaska — a sinfully-rich concoction of ice cream and cake topped with flame-browned meringue. While you dine, regale yourself with the restaurant’s history by gazing at the pictures on its walls.
Tuck into Your Favourite Dim Sum in a Heritage Setting
Red Star Restaurant
|Address||4 Chin Swee Road, Singapore 160054|
||+65 6532 5266
||8am to 3:30pm, 6pm to 10pm daily|
If bite-sized dim sim is up your alley, head to the Red Star Restaurant at Chin Swee and be magically transported back to Hong Kong of yesteryear. Opened in the 60s, this is the dim sum restaurant to visit if you prefer the olden days when dim sum was served from a trolley.
Red Star’s decor remained true to its heritage-rich past — vibrant red cushioned steel chairs surround gold-table-cloth covered tables. The restaurant’s cuisine has also stayed unchanged and authentic throughout the decades. Bring your parents and grandparents here to trigger floods of sweet memories of bygone days.
Get directions to Red Star Restaurant (650m away from PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering)
Enjoy Traditional Hokkien Cuisine In a Fancy Location
Beng Thin Hoon Kee Restaurant
|Address||65 Chulia St, #05-02, OCBC Centre, Singapore 049513|
||+65 6533 7708
||11:30am to 3pm (lunch), 6pm to 10pm (dinner) daily|
Hokkien (Fujian in Mandarin) cuisine is fairly common in Singapore as Hokkiens form the largest Chinese dialect group in the country (40% of the Chinese population). For familiar Hokkien dishes that will draw nostalgia in spades, visit the Beng Thin Hoon Kee Restaurant.
Opened in 1949 (in a shophouse along what was known as Hokkien Street), the restaurant serves refined Hokkien cuisine with an ambience that matches its food. Formerly a popular gathering place for Hokkien families, friends or Towkays (Chinese bosses), Beng Thin Hoon Kee has cultivated a fanbase of Hokkien food lovers through the ages. Some of the signature dishes here include the oyster omelette, Hokkien noodles and the savoury kong ba pau (braised pork buns).
Get directions to Beng Thin Hoon Kee Restaurant (350m away from PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering)
Feast on Singapore’s Famed Malay Cuisine
Warong Nasi Pariaman
|Address||738 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 198706|
||+65 6292 2374
||Monday: 10:00am to 6:00pm (Tuesday to Sunday)|
Settle for nothing less than Warong Nasi Pariaman if you are in the mood for spicy and lemak (coconut-rich) Malay cuisine. The longest-surviving nasi padang stall in Singapore, Warong Nasi Pariaman has been in business since 1948 and is the go-to place for the many Muslims who visit nearby Sultan Mosque for prayers.
As a family-run restaurant, food is prepared with plenty of love and affection here. According to fans of the stall, food preparation starts as early as 4am. Signatures here include the tender beef rendang (a sweet and savoury beef dish), ayam bakar (barbecued chicken served in coconut milk gravy), and the spicy sambal goreng (tofu and long beans).
Sink Your Teeth into Western Cuisine with a Nautical Theme
|Address||1 Scotts Rd, #03 - 16 / 17 / 18, Singapore 228208|
||+65 6235 2235
||11am to 3pm, 5:30pm to 10pm daily|
European cuisine is deeply anchored on Singapore’s shores — the country was a British colony prior to gaining independence in 1965. Serving finely cooked fusion European-Asian dishes since 1977, The Ship restaurant has pleased the palates of generations of Singaporeans at its location at Shaw Centre. The nautical-themed restaurant offers not just delectable western dishes, but a sprinkling of eastern fare.
Like Shashlik, those over 40 would be familiar with the restaurant and its unique sea-faring theme. Most of The Ship’s patrons would have dined here since they were young, brought by their parents. Popular dishes at The Ship include the Ship Steak and Chicken Maryland.
Interestingly, the other wildly popular dish here is not western, but Singaporean — its Sliced Fish Noodles was listed on CNN as one of "40 Singapore foods we can't live without''. Another hot favourite here is the Hainanese Pork Chop, an east-meets-west dish that will leave you wanting more.
Celebrate Chinese New Year the Traditional Cantonese Way
With Chinese New Year just around the corner, it is timely to consider how you can celebrate this nostalgia-rich festival. While there are numerous restaurants offering Lo Hei dinners featuring the auspicious Yu Sheng (raw fish), few have scaled the culinary heights like Pan Pacific Singapore’s very own Hai Tien Lo.
Offering traditional Cantonese dining with a contemporary twist, multiple-award-winning Hai Tien Lo focuses on classic dishes using age-old recipes. To cater to diners both new and old, the fine-dining restaurant also unveils a seasonal ‘new Cantonese’ menu curated by its chefs.
Read what Executive Chef Ben Zeng has to say in the Michelin Guide:
“Hai Tien Lo has a rich history — many regulars have dined here since the restaurant was on the 38th storey of the Pan Pacific Singapore. However, it has also constantly progressed with the times by injecting contemporary touches into traditional Cantonese cuisine.” - Executive Chef Ben Zeng
If you wish to celebrate the Chinese New Year in grand fashion with your loved ones, consider booking a table. Enjoy classic Cantonese specialities given an extravagant twist, with dishes like Sliced Barbecued Beijing Duck with Pan-fried Foie Gras, Pan-fried Wagyu Beef Fillet with Chilled Salad in Sesame Sauce, and more.
You can also usher in a prosperous new year with Hai Tien Lo’s exquisitely crafted Yu Sheng platters and treasure pots (pen cai) — savour the fine and delicate flavours of lobster, scallops, black caviar, eight head whole abalone, dried fish maw, and more.
Recover and Relax in Luxurious Comfort
Looking for a premium staycation spot while you go heritage food hunting?
Located close to the culinary hotspots in Singapore, our hotels and serviced apartments are well-appointed with amenities that cater to every creature comfort. And if you are too tired to venture out on a nostalgic gourmet adventure, consider ordering in or exploring our portfolio of new and award-winning restaurants and bars.