The best restaurants in Bugis and Kampong Glam all combine 2 essential factors for creating a perfect place to dine: affordable prices and downright delicious food. The range of cuisines is as diverse as any other area in town, from Korean hotpot restaurants to Thai hawker stalls, German bistros to international set lunches – not forgetting a plentiful supply of quaint cafes specialising in Middle Eastern food for Kampong Glam’s significant Arab population.
While still relatively central in Singapore, restaurants in the Bugis and Kampong Glam area shy away from the prices you’ll inevitably come across in the main tourist zones like Marina Bay, Clarke Quay or the Financial District. Instead, your Singapore Dollar goes a lot further here, whilst the quality of the food is rarely sacrificed.
The place to go for satisfying brunches
While serving up a great lunch, dinner and a fine range of drinks, Symmetry on Jalan Kubor Road is synonymous for one thing only: brunch. As the place only opens at 9am or 10.30am, ‘brunch’ is a loosely used term to describe the food that they specialise in. Think massive all-day breakfasts (using only high-quality ingredients such as maple glazed bacon, smoked salmon and sauté mushroom) plus an excellent range of waffles, croissants, and eggs done any way you want.
The classic white-washed building with contrasting bright green shutters is easy on the eye from the outside, whilst the inside colour scheme is far more complicated, yet just as satisfying. You can get to Symmetry from either Bugis or Lavender MRT Stations.
Location: 9 Jalan Kubor, #01-01, Singapore
Open: Monday from 10.30am to 9pm, Tuesday–Thursday from 10:30am to 11pm, Friday from 10.30am to midnight, Saturday from 9am to midnight, Sunday from 9am to 7pm
Phone: +65 6291 9901
NOX – Dine in the Dark
It’s a unique sensation
NOX – Dine in the Dark is a restaurant that takes unique dining concepts to a whole new level. At NOX, ‘dining in the dark’ doesn’t just mean gloomy lighting or a lack of windows: it means purposely built rooms that totally block out all light. The experience doesn’t stop there. When it comes to eating the food (in pitch black), you are served by waiters who are actually blind or visually impaired themselves – the idea being that they can reassure you and guide you throughout the dining/tasting session.
The concept takes the emphasis away from the presentation of the food, allowing you to truly appreciate the flavours throughout their ever-changing 3-course set menu and cocktail list. NOX – Dine in the Dark is a few minutes’ walk from Bugis MRT Station.
Location: 269 Beach Rd, Singapore 199546, Singapore
Open: Daily from 6pm to 10pm
Phone: +65 6298 0708
Thai and Indonesian delights
Although now boasting several other branches across Singapore, Bumbu’s original location on Kandahar Street in the middle of Kampong Glam remains the best. Quite stunning from both outside and in, Bumbu’s design team seem to have followed the same route as their Thai-Indonesian menu, with royal Siamese teak furnishings mixed in with classic colonial Indonesian artwork and antiques.
Bumbu is a no fusion restaurant though, with both their Thai and Indonesian dishes being kept more or less apart from one another. For Thai, try the chicken and cashew nuts, tom yam soup, green chicken curry or mango salad. For Indonesian, go for the beef rendang or buah keluak chicken. Many dishes here come in at under S$10 – affordable for a lunch or dinner with friends.
Location: 44 Kandahar St, Singapore 198897, Singapore
Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 11am to 3pm and from 6pm to 10pm (closed on Mondays)
Phone: +65 6392 8628
Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Cafe
German flavours in Singapore
For a little slice Germany right in the centre of Singapore, look no further than Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Cafe. Walking distance from both Bugis and Bras Basah MRT Stations, this German cafe-cum-bistro serves up some feel-good German affair with an emphasis firmly on the meat, including juicy sausages, meatloaf, meat platters, and their centrepiece: pork knuckle served with sauerkraut and potato salad.
It’s not just the food the gives a tip-of-the-hat to Bavaria; Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Cafe is decked out with some nice wooden touches giving it that ‘log cabin’ kind of feel, whilst staff are clad in traditional German attire. They also sell imported beer and cigars to take away – so it’s worth a visit even if you’re not dining.
Location: 9 Bras Basah Road, #01-01 Rendezvous Hotel Gallery, Singapore 189559, Singapore
Open: Daily from 11am to 11pm
Phone: +65 6336 8675
Artichoke Café & Bar
Enjoy all-day breakfasts
Artichoke Café & Bar is yet another example of how many self-titled ‘cafes’ in the Bugis and Kampong Glam area are able to serve up food that’s fitting for any fine restaurant in town. This particular joint (commonly known as just ‘Artichoke’) has received numerous titles for having the best lunch around, and its scrumptious brunch menu has been winning over food critiques across Singapore for years.
From simple scrambled eggs with fresh mushrooms or smoked salmon to their huge ‘Self Destruction’ all day breakfast, Artichoke Café gets pretty much everything spot on both for freshness and flavour. Much of the menu is Mediterranean/Middle Eastern inspired with dishes such as their merguez lamb sausage and grilled halloumi cheese on toast also impressing. Prices range from S$8-20 per dish.
Location: 161 Middle Rd, Singapore 188978, Singapore
Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 4pm to 9.45pm, (closed on Mondays)
Phone: +65 6336 6949
Golden Mile Complex
Discover a ‘little Thailand’
Whilst Singapore is home to many glamorous Thai restaurants, there’s no better – or cheaper – place to taste the real thing than at the Golden Mile Complex, as long as you aren’t put off by the slightly worn-out surroundings. Often dubbed as ‘Little Thailand’, this collection of restaurants, grocery stores, bars, and Thai discos welcomes Singapore’s ever-expanding Thai community with open arms, as well as a splattering of locals, expats and tourists wanting to get in on the fun.
For the best tom yum goong, pad Thai, papaya salad or thick massaman curry around, head to Nana Thai or Dindin Leluk Thai Restaurant (both within the main Golden Mile Complex) or try the Golden Mile Food Centre located on the other side of the road.
Location: 5001 Beach Rd, Singapore 199588, Singapore
Open: Daily from midday to midnight
Man Fu Yuan at Intercontinental Hotel
Enjoy 5-star Cantonese cuisine
Man Fu Yuan inside the Intercontinental Hotel is a long-running Cantonese restaurant, ranked amongst the best of its type in Singapore. A stop here wouldn’t be complete without sampling their dim sum, while their stir-fried scallops and ever so light lobster noodles hit the spot perfectly.
The surroundings are bright and fresh and considering you’re dining in a 5-star hotel restaurant, the prices at Man Fu Yuan aren’t too bad either. Check out the chef’s signature dishes such as the deep-fried lobster with egg floss, asparagus, and Asian cream sauce, or crab bisque with pumpkin and braised premium bird’s nest.
Location: InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Rd, Singapore 188966, Singapore
Open: Monday–Friday from midday to 3pm and from 6.30pm to 10.30pm, Saturday–Sunday from 11.30am to 3pm and from 6.30pm to 10.30pm
Phone: +65 6825 1008
Alaturka Mediterranean & Turkish Restaurant
Indulge in Turkish cuisine
Flying the flag for Turkey in what is Singapore’s main Arab enclave is Alaturka Restaurant, a compact little eatery tucked away down Bussorah Street. If you’re into your Turkish food, the size of the menu at Alaturka means that they’ll probably have what you’re looking for. Unlike some restaurants that boast thick menus, quality is definitely not sacrificed.
Most of the delicious appetisers here are vegetarian-friendly, with their falafel and flatbreads particularly outshining some of the meat options on the menu. As for mains, try their marinated lamb chops, succulent eggplant casserole or go for their selection of kebabs and you won’t leave disappointed.
Location: 15 Bussorah St, Singapore 199436, Singapore
Open: Daily from midday to 11pm
Phone: +65 6294 0304
Liang Seah Street – hotpot restaurants
Cook up your own feast
Liang Seah Street is a quaint old Chinese road that has so many great ‘hotpot’ restaurants. At a hotpot restaurant, you usually pay a set price for a buffet which includes a range of fresh ingredients such as vegetables, meat, fish, seafood, eggs, etc. (although some will charge per dish). You’re then presented with a big bowl of boiling water to toss in your raw food to cook yourself.
You can also get pre-cooked noodles and rice as well as a range of Korean and Chinese sources to spice up your meal. The best of the bunch on Liang Seah Street includes Xian De Lai Shanghai, Tanyoto, and Ting Yuan Hotpot. Most charge S$20-40 for a set lunch or buffet.
Location: Liang Seah St, Singapore 189022, Singapore
Open: Most restaurants open daily from midday to 10pm
Ginger @ PARKROYAL on Beach Road
Premium buffets with live cooking
The buffet at Park Royal’s impressive Ginger presents a quality selection of premium seafood, which comes both cold and raw or cooked and warm. Several live cooking stations dot the restaurants, with diners able to pick out their fish, crab, lobster or any other type of crustation that takes their fancy.
You can choose how you want your catch to be cooked and which sauces you want. Don’t forget to look out for Ginger’s featured themed buffets, which in the past have included crab festivals as well as massive meat carveries.
Location: Park Royal Hotel, 7500 Beach Rd, The Plaza, Singapore 199591, Singapore
Open: Daily from 6am to 10.30am, from midday to 2.30pm and from 6pm to 10pm
Phone: +65 6505 5710
Working Title Burger Bar
Burgers for your budget
Many cheap bars in Singapore are located in backpacker hostels, and Working Title in the Arab quarter is one of the coolest of the bunch. Big with local hipsters, fashion-conscious expats, and the budget backpackers staying in one of the rooms upstairs, this artsy cafe/bar specializes in two things: ales and coffee. Bottles of often difficult-to-find ales and ciders go for as little as S$7 and they have an ever-changing selection coming straight from a micro-brewery.
The food menu, just like the seating options, is sparse but interesting. You can get homemade pies, custom made sandwiches and a generous slice of their ultra-cheesy pizza all for around S$5. You can find Working Title on the middle of Kampong Glam’s busting Arab Street.
Location: 783 North Bridge Road Singapore 198751, Singapore
Open: Sunday–Thursday from midday to 10pm, Friday–Saturday from midday to 11pm
Phone: +65 8768 0463