In Singapore, you are never more than a few steps away from good local food: a plate of chicken rice, laksa (seafood and noodles in coconut milk gravy) or a glass of sugarcane juice can be easily found in one of the many open-air hawker centers and non-air-conditioned coffee shops that dot the city-country. With tasty bites made so accessible, it’s easy to see how eating is often jokingly referred to as the national pastime for Singaporeans.
For travelers staying at certain hotels, this activity is even easier to adopt: you don’t have to leave hotel grounds (and air-conditioning) to get a good dose of Singaporean flavors. The in-house restaurants have it sorted, often with grander, more luxurious versions of the local dishes.
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore
The third-floor space that once housed The Greenhouse is now home to The Colony, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore’s refurbished destination for buffets, afternoon tea and Vintage Champagne Brunch.
Houndstooth- and tartan-printed furniture, old maps and postcards act as odes to the trade and commerce that took place in Singapore’s British-colonial era. Within the expansive dining area are eight live kitchens showcasing Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Western and local dishes, the latter of which includes freshly made Colony laksa (with housemade lobster ball and hand-pulled noodles), Singapore chilli crab and assorted Nyonya kueh (cakes).
Conrad Centennial Singapore
On the lobby level of this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel is Oscar’s, a warmly lit buffet restaurant with a sizeable Asian dish selection. If you’re not one for gorging, Oscar’s signature laksa, Hainanese chicken rice and lard-slicked char kway teow (fried flat rice noodles, prawn, fish cake, Chinese sausage, bean sprouts, sweet sauce and chilli) are available on its à la carte menu under the curated “Singapore Delights” section.
The soup- and gravy-based noodle dishes are freshly cooked and assembled at the eatery’s outdoor Noodle Bar.
The heritage interiors of The Lobby Lounge at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star InterContinental Singapore underwent a facelift in February 2016, as did the menus.
While the esteemed Peranakan (Straits-born Chinese) Afternoon Tea sets have given way to classic English offerings, local dishes take pride of place on the all-day dining menu: hefty portions of Hainanese chicken rice, satay panggang (grilled meat skewers) and seafood Hokkien mee (wok-fried yellow and rice noodles with seafood) will satisfy. Peranakan touches are now reflected in the colorful tiles grounding the lounge’s iconic two-story pillars.
Mandarin Orchard’s Chatterbox restaurant has been transformed a couple of times throughout its 45 years in existence. Its signature dish, the Mandarin chicken rice, however, has remained a standard since the establishment opened in August 1971.
This is an upgraded version of the traditional dish served at a local coffee shop that was popular around the time Chatterbox opened: only four portions are obtained per U.S.-raised broiler chickens, yielding a meatier part of the low-fat breast; full-grain — not the usual broken — jasmine rice is used; and neither monosodium glutamate nor artificial flavorings are added.
The mark of a good chicken rice is its sauces, and Chatterbox has been making its heady chilli and ginger sauces in house for more than 40 years.
The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore
Clifford Pier was built in 1933 as a landing jetty for ships and immigrants coming into Singapore to start a new chapter in their lives. Sampans (flat-bottomed Chinese wooden boats) and rickshaws congregated to welcome the immigrants with food and transport, respectively.
Today, the area’s history and heritage have been immortalized, not just in the preservation of the structure, but also in the food that is served at the Five-Star hotel’s The Clifford Pier restaurant. The expansive 208-seat, chandeliered space is the backdrop to dishes like Heritage Bites (mixed appetizer platter of grilled satay, kuih pie tee, a crispy vegetable tart, and kong bak bao, pork belly sandwiches); bak kut teh (pork rib soup); The Pier prawn or lobster laksa; and banana fritters with coconut ice cream and gula melaka (palm sugar).