There’s always something to look forward to when it comes to Singapore’s culinary scene, and the new year offers nothing less. As we settle comfortably into 2024, an exciting slate of new restaurants brings fresh vibrancy and diverse offerings to our door, with an array of flavours both novel and familiar waiting to be explored.
For those looking to try something new, Araya introduces us to Chilean cuisine, relatively unexplored in Singapore until now. Here, South American cooking takes centre stage in fresh contemporary forms, created by Michelin-starred chef Francisco Araya and chef Fernanda Guerrero.
Meanwhile, Hevel playfully infuses European flavours with culinary inspiration from all over the world. Created by the team behind Marcy’s and Parliament Bar, the restaurant is helmed by chef-owner Stefan Liau, previously the head chef position at Mandala Club’s gourmet series Mandala Masters.
Closer to home, Asian cooking takes on an adventurous spin at Tribal, where the wood-fired grill awakens the rich and diverse flavours of the region. With a signature smoky char, the restaurant delves into flavours that are at once both unexpected and familiar.
Japanese cuisine, in particular, has always been a steadfast favourite in Singapore, and the openings of Suzuki and Takahashi only serve to cement that. While incredible omakase experiences are aplenty in the city, these new offerings stand out for a multitude of reasons. Beyond its outstanding menu, Suzuki is a marvel in interior design, as the first restaurant to be designed by globally acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma. Meanwhile, Takahashi is cult favourite Ginza restaurant Sushi Takahashi’s first international outpost. Indeed, it’s no surprise that their openings have been met with much anticipation.
Ahead of your next big night out, look to our list of the city’s most exciting new restaurants to dine at.
1 / 5
Stepping through the doors of Hevel’s Keong Saik address is like walking straight into a 1970s New York City speakeasy. Decked out in marble, burl and suede, the well-appointed enclave is enhanced by a plum, burgundy and burnt orange colour palette that oozes sensuality. It’s no surprise that Singapore’s new it-restaurant comes from the team behind Marcy’s and Parliament Bar—each lauded for its ability to conjure an intoxicating ambience through music, mood lighting and interior design.
As for the food, expect an eclectic take on contemporary European dining by Chef Stefan Liau, who has cut his teeth in various Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, with tenures at Spoon by Alain Ducasse in Hong Kong, Terra in Tokyo and Cure in Singapore.
At Hevel, the snacks and small plates punch above their weight. Liau brings playfulness to a crispy chicken liver parfait, laced with slivers of granny smith apple. Elsewhere, a dish of cured mackerel shines thanks to the genius pairing of the smoky fish with a bright, piquant passionfruit sauce. An unexpected favourite lies in a silky egg custard (Liau’s take on chawanmushi), topped with juicy pieces of mussel. Meanwhile, the cocktail pairing menu is a welcome tribute to fortified wines like vermouth, sherry and port, with twists on classics like martinis and negronis—or carefully-curated tasting pours of the wines themselves.
Hevel, 1 Keong Saik Road #01-04, Singapore 089109
2 / 5
Grounded in Asian flavours and ruled by the flame, Tribal elevates the culture of convivial dining through its creative culinary ethos. Led by executive chef Keith Wan, this sleek Asian grill from the Ebb and Flow group is designed like a rustic den; imbuing a Southeast Asian charm with a palette of raw, earthy and neutral tones, as hand-woven rattan macrame and cut-work light fixtures add warm and comforting touches to the restaurant.
Culminating the delicious and the lesser-known from various areas like Chinese, Filipino, Indonesian, Japanese and Thai, the menu seeks to be familiar yet explorational. A simple hearth-fired slab of flatbread sets the tone—soft, pillowy and an instant hit when paired with the house-whipped abura miso butter. Through snacks like Fried Duck Neck, its nose-to-tail approach shines through as you gnaw on duck necks that are fried to perfection and flavoured with a secret house spice blend. Just for this dish, forget the cutlery and the table decorum, as it’s best enjoyed with your hands.
While woodfired cooking remains to be the heart of the food here, it is the deft play on flavours that truly make up an outstanding dish at Tribal. Think a whole octopus tentacle, sous-vide and charred over the hot coals, as it’s then paired with a tangy Thai papaya salad as well as sambal bajak for that hint of heat and sweetness. What would be a simple roast chicken, serves as so much more. Slow-roasted over the fire in a traditional Thai marinate with fish sauce, honey, lemongrass and lime, the poultry is fork-tender and carries a smokey sweetness alongside a side annatto spice for a nutty and peppery finish. Lastly, don’t leave without one of the Sharing Rice Pots; our favourite had to be the Wild Mushrooms: a piquant mix of Nasi Ulam, confit wild mushrooms, garlic oil, pickled mushrooms, and not to forget—crunchy rice bottoms, which happen to be the best bits.
Tribal, 83 Neil Rd, #01-07, Singapore 089813
3 / 5
A meal at Araya takes diners on a journey through the vibrant flavours of Chilean cuisine, relatively unexplored in the Singapore culinary scene until now. Step through the restaurant’s copper-accented door, and you’ll find yourself in a gorgeous space accented with dramatic ombre walls and a statement rose quartz counter that allows guests full view of the chefs at work.
Here, South American flavours take centre stage in fresh contemporary forms, created by Michelin-starred chef Francisco Araya and chef Fernanda Guerrero. Take the Causa for example, traditionally a homey potato casserole. At Araya, the dish is elevated through the addition of lightly smoked chutoro, N25 oscietra caviar and a crisp potato nest, doubling as the restaurant’s take on potatoes and caviar.
In particular, the restaurant shines in its seafood-forward offerings, such as a delightful scallop ceviche marinated in shio koji to infuse the dish with a dose of umami. In a creative twist, the accompanying leche de tigre is served in a sorbet form, infused with ginger and topped with cava foam, green apple, ginger jelly and sliced chillies for a refreshing punch. The moqueca, a traditional fish stew, is also a standout. Kinki is gently poached to retain its natural sweetness and silky texture, and served with a savoury sauce made with the bones of the fish and coconut milk. The Japanese influences in the dishes, Francisco shares, are a testament to the importance of fusion in food in South America—cultivated over centuries as techniques and ingredients were introduced by different groups of people who settled there. Throughout the meal, it is these pieces of insight shared from across the counter, ranging from information about Chilean culture to the backstories of specific dishes, that make a meal at Araya so much more special.
Araya, Mondrian Singapore Duxton, 83 Neil Road, #01-08, Singapore 089813
4 / 5
Joining the cluster of hip dining concepts at the Mondrian Singapore Duxton is Suzuki, a luxurious sushi bar that whisks you off to Japan, even if just for a few hours. Before the meal begins, the restaurant already makes a profound impression owing to its stunning architecture—the work of legendary Tokyo-based architect Kengo Kuma, marking his debut restaurant project in Singapore.
Entering through a stone-lined passage, guests are greeted by a majestic piece of historic Gifu stone that serves as the reception desk. Then, they find themselves in a small nakaniwa, or internal courtyard garden, filled with ancient rocks and pebbles and serene water features. The tranquil ambience carries on to the dining area—an airy open kitchen flanked by a long counter bench cut from a single plank of fragrant, 150-year-old hinoki. A floating platform of bamboo hangs overhead, next to a faux skylight which cleverly creates the illusion of an outdoor courtyard.
In short, the restaurant is paradisiacal in every sense of the word—serving as a fitting backdrop to the culinary magic that chef-owner Suzuki Yuichiro serves up course after course. With great emphasis on seasonality and the highest quality of produce, Yuichiro unveils a classic sushi and sashimi menu, enhanced with refined plating, convivial conversation and impeccable service. Even within the ever-growing landscape of incredible omakase experiences in Singapore, Suzuki effortlessly stands out.
Suzuki Mondrian, 83 Neil Rd, Mondrian Singapore Duxton, #01-09 Singapore 089813
5 / 5
At the centre of Takahashi lies a Japanese sand garden, dotted with stones and bamboo, and drenched in generous sun from the skylight above. The sense of zen it creates is felt through the space, evident from the moment one steps into the restaurant. A path of paved stones takes you to an intimate 12-seat counter, where you’re greeted by seasonal poetry cards and a tabletop replica of the sand garden to help you relax.
Helmed by chef Rinto Sasagawa, the restaurant is the Ginza cult favourite Sushi Takahashi’s first international outpost. A culinary journey here begins with the signature Karesansui Zen Garden Platter, which offers a first hint of the artistry that Takahashi is so known for. Ikura is bathed in aged ichiban dashi, yuzu and a medley of sauces to bring about a zesty burst of umami, while ankimo is marinated and aged for two weeks for exceptional flavour. The unassuming Scallop Chawanmushi, too, is a highlight, with notes of black pepper to complement the velvety texture and generous portions of Hokkaido scallop. Indeed, it’s easy to understand from the opening courses alone what has earned Takahashi their huge following in Japan.
Expertly crafted sushi creations follow, showcasing exquisite seasonal produce such as Botan shrimp served with Osetra caviar, as well as Spanish mackerel smoked with sakura wood then served with ginger paste. A hand roll of abalone katsu and uni drips with decadent indulgence, while an unassuming bowl of bonito soup with asari clam yields rich and immensely comforting flavours. To close the meal, Sasagawa whisks an aromatic Shizuoka matcha in a technique learnt from his grandmother, who is a tea master. A muscat grape mochi is served by its side, making for a delightful medley of sweet and floral flavours that is memorably satisfying.
Takahashi Singapore, 4 Mohammed Sultan Road, Singapore 238955