Kampong Glam, a historical neighbourhood also known as the Arab Quarter, is a colourful hodgepodge of Malay and Arab culture. Although Middle Eastern restaurants do reign, there’s a surprising mix of other cuisines from halal Swedish meatballs to sushi. “Kampung” means village in Malay, and “glam” is derived from the gelam trees that used to grow in the area.
Middle Eastern: Café Le Caire. There’s pavement seating and a dining room upstairs. Great for groups and good value but be warned, no alcohol is served. 39 Arab Street, 6292 0979.
French-Australian: Symmetry. There’s an emphasis on quality ingredients; dishes are named after the star ingredient. 9 Jalan Kubor, 6291 9901.
Japanese: SushiAirways. Don’t be surprised to hear “Your booking is confirmed for tonight. Have a pleasant flight!” at this sushi bar themed on a 1930s Douglas DC-3. 20A Baghdad Street, 6291 1151.
Swedish (Halal): Fika. Crêpes, open-faced sandwiches cakes and Swedish meatballs. 257 Beach Road, 6396 9096.
Mexican: Piedra Negra. This cool little Mexican is housed in a couple of converted shophouses on Haji Lane with artsy murals and shelves of trinkets. 241 Beach Road, 6291 1297.
Bar Stories – These guys are serious about their cocktails. There’s no menu – you have to put your trust in the experts to conjure up some deliciously unexpected concoctions. Try not taking a photo of your drink once presented – it’s impossible. 57A Haji Lane, 6298 0838.
Maison Ikkoku – Their semi-alfresco bar on the third level is a perfect spot for a good view of the Kampong Glam area to go with your martini.20 Kandahar Street, 6294 0078.
Blu Jaz Café is known for its brilliant live music – different genres on different floors. It’s always packed, so expect a bit of competition for an outside table. 11 Bali Lane, 6292 3800.
Not enough for you? Little India is within walking distance and heating up with a bunch of new bars and restaurants like Broadcast HQ and local-run fusion spot Morsels (6396 6302). The oldie but goodie for local Indian cuisine is Banana Leaf.
For more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section.