The most unmissable dishes of 2013.

Always controversial, and likely to spark heated—but delicious—debate, this year’s diverse mix of 50 things to eat before you die represents (what we think is) the best the Singapore dining scene has to offer right now. There’s offal, old school classics and edgy envelope-pushing fusion cuisine. Working our way through the list (it’s presented here in no particular order by the way) has been a tasty though sometimes mind-boggling and messy experience—but one we’d highly recommend—so get cracking. 

A quick note on how we came up with these recommendations. It's a list of the best things we ate in the last year, simple as that. We weren't paid a single cent to recommend a dish or a venue, nor did we include anyone as a favor or otherwise. We’ve done our best to get in a mix of courses and cuisines. But the results are not scientific. There’s no hawker food (do you really need another recommendation for chicken rice?), nothing that made it into previous years’ lists (you missed the lists we ran in 20102011 and 2012??) and no limited edition plates (you can no longer order) or dishes—however amazing—from restaurants that are now closed. Whether or not you agree with our picks, the selection is definitely a delicious snapshot of what it’s like to eat at restaurants in Singapore now.

If you're a restaurant owner or just a passionate foodie and think we missed a dish to die for from your menu, get in touch at food@asia-city.com.sg—we're already starting work on the next list!

 

 

Beef tripe stew

Soft honeycomb tripe blends effortlessly with their fresh tomato sauce, made deliciously creamy with a good grating of Parmesan cheese.

 

 

$18 from Burlamacco Ristorante

 

 

 

 

Smoked quail eggs

Probably the most flavor we’ve had packed in such a small package, these addictive little eggs boast bright runny yolks and well-rounded smokiness.

 

$6 from Burnt Ends

 

 

 

 

Long Life Noodles

A fragrant dish that’s well-charred with incredible wok hei (breath of the wok) and great crunch from shredded radicchio and carrot. The optional side of rare ribeye ($8 supplement)—perfectly marbled, and nice and rare—is an iron-rich treat. Order it.

 

$18 from Chopsuey Cafe

 

 

 

 

CW Blue Cheese

Of The Market Grill’s justifiably famous burgers, this rich mineral-y beef patty topped with funky blue cheese, sweet caramelized onions and smoky bacon is our fave.

 

$24 from The Market Grill

 

 

 

 

Rice pudding

Creamy, perfumed with vanilla and punctuated with bits of sweet grape, this pudding is a great take on the usually stodgy dessert.

 

$12 from Ola Cocina Del Mar

 

 

 

 

Potato Puree

It’s not new but bears saying again, this mash—equal parts butter and potato—is the best in town.

 

Free with any main dish from Joël Robuchon Restaurant

 

 

 

 

Fried Sushi Rice with Pickled Cucumber and Fried Sakura Ebi

A gloriously complex version of fried rice—it’s both innovative and comforting—providing layers of flavor from tangy pickled cukes and salty ebi.

 

$16 from Ding Dong

 

 

 

 

Mazesoba

This satisfying bowlful of firm-to-the-bite egg noodles is an awesome vegetarian meal, featuring spring onions, bamboo shoots, leeks and a soft cooked egg dressed with brilliantly sweet, sour and salty shoyu sauce. If you must, there’s some great cha siu to gild the lily. But the dish really doesn’t need it.

 

$14 or $16 (with cha siu) from Uma Uma Ramen

 

 

 

 

Mousse Chocolat

The dark chocolate dessert is velvety and bittersweet—a stunning rendition of the classic.

 

$12 from L’Entrecote

 

 

 

 

Banana Bread

Cafes all over the city are peddling their own take on homey banana bread. But the big hulking slice from Revolution Coffee has our vote for its moist squidgy texture and dark caramel flavor.

 

$4.50 from Revolution Coffee

 

 

 

 

Fregola with seafood

Toasty grains and thick tomato-y seafood sauce make this warming pasta dish uncommonly satisfying—we’d go back for this dish on a cold rainy day. 

 

From Sopra Cucina

 

 

 

 

Veal sweetbreads, onion salad & preserved lemon

Thymus glands may not sound the most appealing. But here, they’re done just right: crusty on the outside and creamy within, with some sharp fresh salad to cut the richness.

 

$27 from Bochinche

 

 

 

 

Baked bone marrow

There’s something primal and gratifying about digging fatty marrow from a bone and this rendition is especially good, accentuated with spicy chilli and umami kombu.

 

$18 from The Black Swan

 

 

 

 

Croque monsieur

Thick slices of brioche filled with a double whammy of creamy nutmeg bechamel and savory ham—this is one of our favorite lunches in the city.

 

$16 from Café & Bar Gavroche

 

 

 

 

Turkish Common Man Breakfast

Poached eggs—with golden runny yolks (from organic New Zealand eggs)—accompany savory feta pastries balanced with a drizzle of honey. There’s also some amazingly smooth hummus alongside. It’s exotic, yet comforting—a top notch morning meal.

 

$25 from Common Man Coffee Roasters

 

 

 

 

Foie gras with yuzu

Their impressive foie gras is marinated with saikyo miso and then pan-seared, so it has a lovely caramelized crust but is still rare within. The accompaniment of raw koh-shin daikon and fresh wasabi cut through the richness.

 

$16.50 from IKYU

 

 

 

 

Singapore-style ramen

Sous vide cha-siu and firm springy noodles tossed in a wanton mee-like dressing, this recipe showcases the best of Japanese and local hawker techniques. It’s easy-on-the-pocket to boot.

 

From $5 from A Noodle Story

 

 

 

 

Bak kwa mac & cheese

Featuring creamy nutmeg sauce and sweet bak kwa set against saline cheese sauce and mild penne pasta, this baked ramekin is a case of fusion done right.

 

$20 from Pidgin Kitchen

 

 

 

 

French toast with rum sabayon

More like indulgent bread pudding than a breakfast dish, this dessert—crafted from buttery brioche that’s made in-house—boasts a custardy interior and a brown brûléed top can’t be beat. The quenelle of vanilla ice-cream served alongside, creates a fantastic hot-cold contrast too.

 

$15 from Fordham & Grand

 

 

 

 

Vodka lime coconut pie

This sweet-sour lime coconut pie, spiked with vodka jelly, is surprisingly sophisticated and light enough to ensure we always have room for seconds.

 

$7.50 from Windowsill Pies

 

 

 

 

Beet risotto

A stunningly beautiful plate featuring vibrant pink rice dotted with nubs of fresh goat cheese, this tasty risotto makes you want to eat your vegetables.

 

$23 from Open Door Policy

 

 

 

 

Buah keluak ice-cream

An eye-opening combination of the Peranakan black nut with dark chocolate and chilli specks (which crackle in the mouth like pop rocks), this salty-sweet dessert’s the stuff of dreams.

 

$14 from Candlenut

 

 

 

 

Thousand layered pigs' ears

Forget all squeamishness. This terrine of chewy pig’s ears, suspended in aspic, is not only gorgeous but also a great chilled starter that really gets the appetite going.

 

$9 from Imperial Treasure Shanghai Cuisine

 

 

 

 

Cookies and cream cheese cake espuma

Get all the flavor of cheesecake without any of the cloying richness: Here, fluffy cream cheese foam is layered with crunchy crumbs for a more-ish treat.

 

$8 from A for Arbite

 

 

 

 

Roast pork collar

This off-cut of free-range pork is braised with stock, port and herbs until fork tender, then roasted and blanketed with mustardy cream sauce. It’s a communal dish, meant for sharing, but is so good you won’t want to.

 

$34 from Cocotte

 

 

 

 

Corned beef hash

The down-home diner classic gets a Peranakan spin, and is spiked with a healthy dose of chilli. It really is spicy, but if you’re anything like us, the sinus-clearing heat only makes it better.

 

$17 from Violet Oon's Kitchen

 

 

 

 

Chocolate cake

An archetypal chocolate cake: rich but not too dense and only mildly sweet.

 

From $4 from Matt’s the Chocolate Shop

 

 

 

 

Tagliatelle bolognaise

Hand cut beef makes its way into the bolognaise recipe here, so the meat has great texture. The intense cooked-down meat sauce is tossed with some toothsome house-made pasta for a dish that’d make an Italian mama proud.

 

$26 from Da Laura

 

 

 

 

Crodos

Croissant dough gets deep fried (a la the cronuts from Dominque Ansel Bakery in NYC). Then, you’ve got two options: cream-filled or chocolate glazed—that’s all you need to know.

 

$4 from Da Paolo Gastronomia

 

 

 

 

Suckling pig

There are few sights more hunger inducing than this crisp-skinned suckling pig cooking on the rotisserie at Shelter in the Woods. It smells great, but the sweet juicy meat is even better than you’d imagine.

 

$35 from Shelter in the Woods

 

 

 

 

Grilled sea bass with anchovy butter and eggplant caviar

A fish dish with bold punchy flavors, this perfectly-cooked sea bass fillet is set atop a bed of silky eggplant and then anointed with some umami anchovy butter to bolster the taste of the sea. Faultlessly executed.

 

$24 from Moosehead

 

 

 

 

Apple Pie

A recipe passed down from chef Stephane Istel’s mum, this homey pie features some scrumptious caramelized apples, well-scored so that the edges crisp up in the oven.

 

$12 from Bar-Roque Grill

 

 

 

 

Grouper with home-made vegetable noodles

A nourishing meal of handmade noodles in flavors like carrot, red cabbage, egg white and spinach are topped with fresh-as-can-be sliced fish. Who says health food can’t taste good?

 

$11.80 from Cuisine Master Hotpot

 

 

 

 

Tomato chorizo salad

Originally a special for the La Tomatina festival, this dish is so good it’s become part of the standard menu. There’s both fresh and cooked chorizo, plus sweet tomatoes perked up with sherry vinegar—it’s more than the sum of its parts.

 

From My Little Spanish Place

 

 

 

 

Orange croissant

A single orangette (candied orange peel) is folded elegantly into Tiong Bahru Bakery’s exemplary croissant. Enough said.

 

$3.20 from Tiong Bahru Bakery

 

 

 

 

Kamatama udon

Dressed simply with a raw egg and soy, the chewy udon at this noodle specialist really shines.

 

$5.80 from Tamoya

 

 

 

 

Squid ink risotto and salted egg sauce

Tender, well-charred grilled octopus is the perfect match for a heaping mound of briny squid ink risotto that is lavished with savory salted egg sauce.

 

$25 from Morsels

 

 

 

 

Pork belly roll

A deceptively simple but mind blowing snack of thin sliced meat wrapped around a generous slice of fresh young ginger (to cut the fat). Bar food at its best.

 

$6 from Izy

 

 

 

 

Specialty peking duck

The mahogany-colored duck is stellar on its own. But unusual condiments like blueberry sauce and lemon pop-rocks make the old classic fresh and exciting.

 

$88 from TungLok XiHe

 

 

 

 

Kiam He Pizza

Topped with capers, olives and Chinese salted fish, this pie might sound pretty “out-there” but is actually a well-thought out spin on a classic Sicilian combination, with Chinese salted fish replacing the usual anchovies. Genius.

 

$14 from TWO FACE Pizza & Taproom

 

 

 

 

Shiromi truffle

Mild deep-water white-fish sashimi is fanned out in a perfect circle, then made aromatic with generous shavings of black truffle.

 

$58 from Tamashii Robataya

 

 

 

 

Nigiri Sushi

Just the way sushi should be: yielding rice and silky fish, expertly hand moulded by chef Kenjiro Hashida. 

 

From $80 from Hashida Sushi

 

 

 

 

Mexican Street Corn

Rolled in mayo, chilli and cheese, this is what all corn on the cob wishes it could be.

 

$8 from Lucha Loco

 

 

 

 

Monet

Light Champagne cake is topped with puckery redcurrants and sweet citrus marmalade for an uncommonly well-balanced confection that really grows on you.

 

From $9.80 from Audacious Cakery

 

 

 

 

Cheese trolley

No one does an old school cheese trolley quite like French stalwart Saint Pierre. We love their ample selection of cheese, featuring everything from mild Tomme de Savoie to pungent Epoisses.

 

From $15 from Saint Pierre

 

 

 

 

Mille crepes

Prissy as it is, NYC import Lady M’s specialty cake—featuring 20 layers of lacy crepes sandwiching lush cream—is undeniably luscious.

 

From $7 from Lady M

 

 

 

 

Soft-shell crab with yellow curry

Sweet egg curry finds its way into every nook and cranny of the crustacean in this addictive dish. It’s greasy in the best possible way and you’ll want plenty of rice to soak up the sauce.

 

$18.90 from Nara Thai Cuisine

 

 

 

 

Mango Curry

This unique sweet-savory curry inspires fanatical fervor among those who taste it. Many a diner has inveigled their way into the restaurant’s kitchen, just to learn the recipe.

 

$22 from Tandoor

 

 

 

 

Encornet

This clean tasting plate of Brittany squid, smooth black rice crémeux and briny mussel vinaigrette offers a great mix of textures. It is fine dining fare at its best: complex and precise, but not overly played with.

 

$30 from OCF

 

 

 

 

Carnitas burrito

Usually just a cheap filler, the flavorful rice here (reminiscent of chicken rice) makes this East-meets-West burrito absolutely killer. (Especially after bar hopping on Club Street.) Of course, the gorgeously marbled and crispy-edged pork doesn’t hurt either.

 

$12 from Pistola