467 Joo Chiat Road
8511 7322 | immigrants-gastrobar.com
Who Drinks Here: Locals and expats living in Joo Chiat and Katong, but once word gets around people will travel from far for the excellent food.
Best Thing About It: This self-titled gastrobar delivers on its commitment to showcase the island’s diverse and fast-vanishing migrant food culture. Joo Chiat is the Peranakan heartland, so the quirky Art Deco tiles, polished concrete, zinc sheet-lined bar and genuine enamel tableware are a nod to heritage, not kitsch.
Signature Drink(s): Whisky and beer. The drinks menu is oriented towards complementing the mostly spicy food. There’s a small selection of wine, but it may be better to revel in a United Nations of beer including: German La Trappe Wheat Beer, American Stone India Pale Ale (both $12) and Belgian Kwak Trappist Dark Ale ($15), which is worth ordering for the glass alone. To our surprise, we found that the Japanese Taketsuru 21-year-old whisky ($18) went well with all the food; it was made all the more special with ice imported from New Zealand.
Nibbles and Noshes: Chef Damian D’Silva has carved out a big reputation over decades of cooking. Here he concentrates on traditional Chinese, Eurasian, Indian, Malay and Peranakan food, with his own nostalgic twist. He has not turned down the heat on authentic recipes, such as the fiery squid bombs ($14). His black nut fried rice ($20) is a modern play on the traditional chicken buah keluak. The heritage salsa ($8) is refreshing, and we found the Eurasian fish dish singgang ($14) very tasty.
When to go: Open daily from 5pm to midnight.
378 East Coast Road
6348 6861 | madnest.sg
Who Drinks Here: An unpretentiously attired mix of locals and expats from the area. Couples and groups sit on wicker chairs outdoors or at bar tables indoors, and families dine at tables in the back.
Best Thing About It: It’s relaxed and cheerful with wallet-friendly prices (you pay 10 percent for service, but GST is included). Indoors, it’s spacious and bright, with works from up-and-coming artists featured on the polished concrete walls. The service is friendly and attentive.
Signature Drink(s): The long beer list includes Australian Bright Ale and Belgian Leffe Blonde (both $12); new ones arrive each month. There’s a solid wine list, but on a warm evening the Swedish Kapparberg elderflower and lime cider ($12) goes down well. For a sweet finish, indulge in the one of the signature cocktails; the rich Choco Martini ($16) can double as a nightcap.
Nibbles and Noshes: Go light and select from the bar menu: the garlic prawns and truffle fries ($13 each) are good with a drink. Or for a meal, there are lengthy menus of Japanese, North Indian or Asian-Italian fare. The volcano and oishii maki ($16 each) are attention grabbers, while the chicken mirch masala ($14) has a good green-chilli kick.
When to Go: Open until 1am every night and 2am on Saturday nights, it’s one of few places in this neighbourhood for a seriously late night. Good for us locals – no cab required.