Chinatown Singapore has an excellent variety of restaurants, ranging from outdoor diners where you can sample some of the city’s best street food to places that frequently make lists of the world’s very best restaurants. Whether you’re looking to spend a couple of dollars or a few hundred, there’s something for every price point.
Chinatown Singapore also offers a wonderful atmosphere. The pace here is slightly slower than the rest of the city and the charming shophouses are home to some of the best restaurants in the city. Popular with visitors and locals, the area is always busy around dinner time. Dining in Singapore’s Chinatown can be an adventure on its own.
Maxwell Hawker Centre
One of the oldest hawker centres in Singapore, Maxwell Road Food Centre stands at the corner of South Bridge Road and Maxwell Road. Picking a dish here can be difficult; there are over 100 stalls and everything looks so tempting, so turn up hungry!
The locals flock here for some of the best hawker food in town, such as chicken rice, tapioca pastries, meat fritters and pork porridge. Gordon Ramsey raves about Tian Tian Chicken Rice, which is said to be one of the best versions of this Hainanese favourite in the city. Lunchtime can be intimidating with long queues for food, so arrive outside peak hours if you can.
Location: 1 Kadayanallur St, Chinatown, Singapore
Open: Daily from 8am to 10pm
Australian barbeque joint Burnt Ends is an unusual concept in Singapore. For this reason, alongside their delicious food, Burnt Ends packs in the crowds almost every night. At the centre of this restaurant is a large double-door oven that burns apple and almond wood, adding a smoky flavour.
If you’re coming in a group with less than 6 people you can sit on the long counter, a front-seat view of the action. There’s everything from pulled-pork burgers to a whole char-grilled redfish, and even a smoked ice-cream for dessert. They don’t encourage bookings so you might have to wait, but if you’re a meat lover then it’s really worth it.
Location: 20 Teck Lim Road, Singapore 088391, Singapore
Open: Tuesdays–Saturdays from 6pm to midnight, Friday–Saturday from midday to 2pm
Phone: +65 6224 3933
If you fancy steak and fries the Parisian way then L’Entrecôte is a great choice. Located in a small shop house, the thin restaurant has a bistro feel to it with grey polished floors and a line of tables and chairs along one side.
The steak and fries come with a traditional walnut salad, but the rest of the menu is also full of time-honoured French dishes including foie gras, snails and a fabulous dark chocolate mousse to finish the meal. You can make reservations by calling the restaurant directly, sending them an email, or through third party reservations platforms.
Location: 36 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089614, Singapore
Open: Sunday–Friday from midday to 3pm and from 6pm to 10.30pm, Saturday from 5.30pm to 11pm
Phone: +65 6690 7561
Chinatown Food Street or Smith Street
Closed to traffic at dusk, Smith Street takes on a gregarious personality to the delight of visitors. Traditional Chinese lanterns the streets, and the busy area has a genuine buzz to it thanks to the crowds who come for supper, sitting on the small plastic stools that line the road.
Navigate your way through more than a dozen stalls under iridescent neon lights and take your pick of popular street favourites. There’s plenty to pick from fresh seafood, wok-fried noodles, crispy duck and steamed dim sum. Not only is the food extremely tasty but the prices are extremely affordable (starting at S$3 a dish), so you can try a bit of everything.
Location: 335 Smith Street, Chinatown, Singapore
Open: Daily from 11am to 11pm
Ya Kun Kaya Toast
Kaya Toast cafés are a mainstay of the Singapore local dining scene and serve one of the most popular breakfasts in this thriving city-state. A typical serving consists of thick toast with kaya jam (a mix of sugar, coconut milk and butter) liberally applied, with some soft-boiled eggs on the side, which you are expected to crack into a bowl and then dunk the toast into.
Ya Kun Kaya Toast is a popular franchise in Singapore, but at this China Street branch, you’ll most likely be surrounded by old aunties and uncles getting their morning fix of kaya toast and strong tea or coffee.
Location: 18 China St, #01-01, Singapore 049560, Singapore
Open: Monday–Friday from 7.30am to 7pm, Saturday from 7.30am to 4.30pm, Sunday from 8.30am to 3pm
Phone: +65 6438 3638
Yixing Xuan Teahouse
Yixing Xuan Teahouse sits behind one of the picturesque old-fashioned shop-house fronts in the heart of Chinatown, offering some of the finest Chinese tea and appreciation classes to those who want a taste of days gone by. Staff members are welcoming and will give you a much deeper understanding of the history and culture of tea drinking and its ceremonies.
The small restaurant alongside the tea room makes great dim sum and a decent variety of Chinese dishes including the extraordinary tealeaf chicken – a great way of turning their highlight. Be sure to try their house tea, ‘Beauty of the East’ which is fresh and light. You can also admire pictures of Queen Elizabeth whilst you dine. She made a stop here in 1991 on her state visit.
Location: 78 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Singapore 088499, Singapore
Open: Monday–Saturday from 10am to 8pm, Sundays from 10am to 7pm
Phone: +65 6224 6961
Jing Hua Xiao Chi
An unpretentious eatery, Jing Hua Xiao Chi is the place to go to for noodles and dumplings at down-to-earth prices.
A short menu but oozing with delicious dishes of which the highlights are xiao long bao (steam dumplings with soup), gyoza, and red bean paste pancake. Dumplings are made from scratch and service can be surly but efficient.
Location: 21 Neil Rd, Singapore 088814, Singapore
Open: Daily from 11.30am to 3pm and from 5.30 to 9.30pm
Phone: +65 6221 3060
For all-day dining in the heart of Chinatown, Yum Cha is the place to go. On the second level of an old shophouse, Yum Cha, which means ‘drink tea’, is the quintessential experience for a Chinatown dining experience.
Besides the fried beef noodles, champagne pork ribs, spicy lamb rack and other specials, it is known for its dim sum dishes which are also offered in a daily high tea buffet.
Location: 20 Trengganu Street Off, Temple St, #02-01, Singapore 058479, Singapore
Open: Monday–Friday from 10.30am to 10.30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 10.30pm
Phone: +65 6372 1717
Tiong Bahru Market
Tiong Bahru Market is famous for being one of the best hawker centres in Singapore for breakfast and brunch. Some of the stalls here open as early as 7am and close quite early too, meaning it’s the ideal spot for your first meal of the day.
That said, you might want to wait until lunch time to indulge in the best of what Tiong Bahru has to offer as it’s mostly meat based. Go for the roasted duck, pork ribs with noodles, boiled pork leg or stick with a simple Hainanese chicken over rice and you can’t go wrong. Prices are cheap too, with basic noodle and rice dishes starting from S$S3.00.
Location: 30 Seng Poh Rd, Singapore 168898, Singapore
Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 7am to 8pm (closed on Mondays)
The rebirth of Duxton Hill has created a new foodie street in Chinatown. New restaurants have opened in quaint shop houses and cool bars keep springing up in a neighbourhood whose reputation used to be far from squeaky clean. It’s now a real pleasure to walk around Duxton Hill, down tree-lined lanes where you will also find independent boutiques and quirky cafes.
Despite being so popular, it really has a village feel to it and makes a great place for a night out. Head up the hill to the end of the road, this area is cobbled and car-free. The restaurants here include an Italian trattoria, seafood specialist and French steakhouse, and have outdoor seating.
Location: Duxton Hill, Singapore 089598, Singapore
Tippling Club is an attractive restaurant and cocktail bar that draws you into a wondrous world with a traditional exterior which takes over three shophouses and a quirky design inside. There’s plenty of comfortable bistro style seating around the open kitchen and the friendly face behind the bar is one of the city’s top mixologists who creates out of this world cocktails.
The food is innovative, and to get the best of the chef’s creations try the tasting menu, which includes razor clams with purple garlic, venison and an interpretative dessert based on Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Without pairing the menu is about S$160.
Location: 38 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088461, Singapore
Open: Monday–Friday from midday to midnight, Saturday from 6pm to midnight
Phone: +65 6475 2217
Latteria Mozzarella Bar
Latteria boasts 11 varieties of Italy’s favourite soft cheese incorporated into this delightfully Mediterranean menu with not a pizza in sight. With space to dine both inside and out this sunshine yellow restaurant is a real taste of Tuscany in the middle of Chinatown.
The menu includes southern style dishes, including the homemade gnocchi with fresh pesto and poached calamari salad, but the highlights are definitely the dishes that incorporate the restaurant’s namesake, where you can really appreciate the subtle flavours of creamy mozzarella.
Location: 40 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089618, Singapore
Open: Sunday–Friday from midday to 2.30pm and from 6pm to 10.30pm, Saturdays from 6pm to 10.30pm
Phone: +65 6866 1988
The Coconut Club
This colonial shophouse serves some of the best nasi lemak in Singapore. This spicy Malay chicken dish is served with coconut rice, anchovies and peanuts and is often topped with a fried egg. It’s the only main dish on the menu (and, at about S$13, it’s not exactly cheap), but Coconut Club also serves tea and coffee.
The interior is bright and modern – perhaps not what you would expect from a ‘local’ restaurant in Singapore, but it has proven a big hit with locals, expats and inquisitive travellers.
Location: 6 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069787, Singapore
Open: Monday–Saturday from 11am to 3pm and from 6pm to 9.30pm, Sundays from 11am to 3pm
Phone: +65 6635 2999