Culinary Stars: The Best New Restaurants In Singapore We Ate At In 2023
Anyone paying attention to the dining scene in Singapore would know that 2023 brought a bumper crop of new eateries. To say we were spoiled for choice would be a true understatement.
Among the numerous new concepts, we welcomed a contemporary Burmese restaurant, a lauded burger brand from Hong Kong, a well-known fish restaurant from Australia, and countless other concepts in between. But as any foodie knows, not everything lives up to the hype. For every new restaurant we enjoyed, there are others we felt the complete opposite about.
So, in short order, here’s a handful that we know we’ll keep returning to in the coming year and beyond.
Bacata is Singapore’s first Colombian restaurant — and what a gem it is. Tucked away on the third floor of Frasers Towers in the CBD, Bacata is equal parts fun and refined, with an à la carte and tasting menu of contemporary interpretations of Colombian food. Chef Fernando Arevalo’s fine dining background shows in the elegant renditions of dishes like empanadas, arroz caldoso and chipirones. There is obvious thought and care in every dish, but most importantly, everything is undeniably delicious.
There have been Italian restaurants in Singapore for as long as there’s been pasta, but no other Italian restaurant has made a splash the way Fico has. This ode to Puglia by native chef Mirko Febbrile is set in the perfect location by the sea, in a space so airily gorgeous, it’s practically blinding. It helps that the food is unimpeachable, the service is warm, and the prices mercifully approachable.
Initially named Chedi, Khiri was a hit as soon as it opened in February this year. In a city where prices for tasting menus creep upwards of $268, Khiri’s $158 set dinner of eight courses is a breath of fiery Thai air. Head chef Miller Mai dishes out elegant, knowingly balanced dishes that toe the line between tradition and modernity. Among the highlights is a bowl of salted fish fried rice which is offered to guests for $14 to close out their set menu. Our advice: Get it. The dish is tossed so vigorously in the wok that every grain of rice is smothered in smoky wok hei.
Japanese omakase restaurants abound in Singapore, but their price tags are often out of reach for many. That’s what makes this 10-seat omakase concept a refreshing addition to the dining scene this year. Sure, $198 for a 15-course dinner doesn’t exactly constitute an affordable meal, but the food quality and produce are excellent, the cooking finessed and the space intimate enough to make the experience feel exclusive. Lord knows there are many other restaurants of the same ilk delivering a far inferior experience at a heftier price.
We mourned when Peruvian chef Daniel Chavez closed his longtime restaurant Ola at Marina Bay Financial Centre, so we were thrilled when he opened Tinto earlier this year. In a sundrenched dining room tucked away in Dempsey Hill, Chavez and his wife Tamara serve excellent Spanish classics like a fideua (like paella but with noodles), suckling pig and tapas. The meal is always convivial, with warm service to match.