Your Tanjong Pagar food guide: 15 best cafes, restaurants and bars
From time-honoured stalwarts to new additions, these are 15 establishments you’ll find plenty of joy in.
Once upon a time, the only people who hung out at Tanjong Pagar were the people who worked there. But wander along the stretch on a Friday evening and you’ll find that it’s become a bona fide (old-fashioned speak for “legit”) foodie destination, especially among Korean and Japanese food lovers. It helps that the establishments in this ‘hood don’t just serve good grub, but a whole gamut of libations that make for a great night out.
Before the sun goes down though, there is still plenty to draw a crowd… and we don’t just mean the OLs. Hip brunch cafes, coffee shops, and time-honoured bistros are fabulous draws for anyone who wants a good feed without making too much of a dent in the wallet.
Here are 15 options in which to eat, drink and make merry (in many of them, you could do all three at once! Insert raising hands emoji here).
Skip the clamour outside the Korean eateries lining the main Tanjong Pagar stretch and head towards Tras Street where this modern Korean gem resides. Anju, which translates to dishes served with alcohol, offers just that – delicious small plate after small plate of elegant eats that wouldn’t be out of place in a fine restaurant.
Just about everything on the menu is fantastic, but if we had to play favourites, we’d recommend the chogyetang, a cold starter of shredded chicken breast, fresh pears, cabbage and pickled dongchimi. The abalone gim pasta, comprising cold angel hair pasta with seaweed and pickled shallots, is also divine. Chase the food with a range of lesser-known Korean spirits like chungmyungju, a refined glutinous rice liquor.
62 Tras St, Singapore 079001. Details here.
2. BAR-ROQUE GRILL
Chef Stephen Istel’s Bar-Roque Grill is testament to the merits of a restaurant that does what it does well and without fuss. This Tanjong Pagar stalwart has been in business since 2013 and continues to serve unabashed, unpretentious French classics that hark to chef-owner Stephane Istel’s native Alsace.
Case in point: his unfailingly more-ish Alsatian Tarte Flambees. Rectangles of bread dough rolled out as fine as a crepe, these pizza-like delights are spread with creme fraiche and topped with ingredients like bacon and onion, parmesan and balsamic, or bacon and snails. Chef Istel has also added a selection of dry-aged beef, aged in his own cabinets, which are grilled over Argentinian charcoal.
165 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Amara Singapore, #01-00, Singapore 088539. Details here.
3. BEARDED BELLA
This Melbourne-style cafe has been a hit since it opened in 2018. Attribute that if you will to its photo-friendly design and great coffee. Well, that, and the food is often exciting – think cafe classics but with delightful twists.
For instance, grilled cheese sammies get an upgrade as grilled Saint-Maure goat’s cheese and prosciutto sandwiches, while hamburgers are made with lightly glazed donuts in place of the traditional bun. Save stomach space for dessert, because the options are always more than satisfying.
8 Craig Rd, Singapore 089668. Details here.
4. BRASSERIE GAVROCHE
Another long-standing restaurant in the area, Brasserie Gavroche is as transportive as they come. Soak up the intoxicating atmosphere of Paris at the antique bar at which Proust, Matisse and Dali once sat (chef-owner Federic Colin sourced it from Paris’s famed Cafe de la Paix).
The menu covers hearty staples such as sole meuniere, and we are partial to the baked fish quenelles floating in a robust lobster bisque and the oeufs en meurette (organic eggs in a bacon and red wine sauce).
66 Tras St, Singapore 079005. Details here.
You know an eatery is going to be good when you only get two food choices. In this case, dan-dan mazesoba and ramen in a hot dashi broth.
The former is Enishi’s speciality, essentially the Japanese version of Chinese dan dan mian that features thick, chewy noodles, sesame sauce, minced pork, smoked duck, onions, mizuna, pickles and a soft-boiled egg. You’ll want to add a lashing of one of the vinegars in the condiments tray (there’s kelp, orange and spicy) to cut through the richness of the ingredients.
If you still have stomach space when you get to the bottom of the bowl, you can ask for a serving of rice to mop up all the leftover sauce with. There are only nine seats in the eatery, which makes just 100 portions a day, so expect to queue for your food at peak hours.
10 Anson Rd, #02-85A International Plaza, Singapore 079903. Details here.
6. FAT PRINCE
It’s easy to go overboard when ordering mezze at this modern Middle Eastern restaurant – there are just so many to choose from, each as alluring as the next. Everything and nothing is basic here. Hummus? Of course they have it… but they are made from artichokes or cashews.
Falafel salads come with kale and bacon, while cured kingfish is anointed with the zing of sumac and dill. Even chilled oysters count as mezze, here spiked with orange, saffron and coriander. The cocktail list is thoughtfully labelled according to the percentage of ABV (alcohol by volume) so you can make better choices about your libations.
48 Peck Seah St, Singapore 079317. Details here.
7. FIRANGI SUPERSTAR
Stepping into Firangi Superstar is like wandering onto a movie set. Every room is a richly imagined, gorgeous ode to India that threatens to steal your attention away from the food.
Happily, the dishes are as pleasing as the decor. Classics like pork vindaloo is served on a kulcha (flatbread) and anointed with truffle honey. Chicken and waffles are reimagined as prata and Madras fried chicken with makhani sauce and jaggery syrup. Cocktails also come with a bit of spice. There’s an Elderflower Caesar Ritz hit with habanero and a Chai Masala Milk Punch that, well, just makes chai better.
20 Craig Rd, #01-03, Singapore 089692. Details here.
8. GINZA TENDON ITSUKI
Fried food and shortgrain rice? Sign us up, please! This tempura speciality restaurant by the folks behind Ramen Keisuke – who incidentally, have turned Tanjong Pagar into a little kingdom of its own – serves a compact menu of various tempura rice bowls (or “tendon”) at pocket-friendly prices.
The tempura batter here is typically light and crisp, with whatever it cloaks still succulent within. Our favourite: The seafood tendon with an extra drizzle of sweet-savoury sauce.
101 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Singapore 088522. Details here.
9. KKO KKO NARA
Tanjong Pagar is Singapore’s unofficial Little Korea (at least when it comes to restaurants) and the longest queues are often found snaking out Kko Kko Nara’s door. What’s not to love, after all, about Korean fried chicken in all its crispy glory?
At this popular joint, the fried chicken comes lacquered with various glazes: Sweet and spicy, hot and spicy, garlic, or yuka (what we know as yuzu) and scallion. While you’re at it, dig into an army stew or munch on chewy cheese tteokbokki. We know from experience that no one leaves here feeling thin.
68 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Singapore 088489. Details here.
You might be in the heart of the city, but when you’re knocking back a cocktail at this rooftop bar, you could well be on the Mediterranean… if you imagine it hard enough.
With a view of the enclave spread out before you, sip on cocktails that hark to the Mediterranean and Levantine region (hence its name). Think libations like the Ill Rhubarb Sour spiked with M&H Elements, an Israeli single malt whisky produced in Tel Aviv, along with pickled rhubarb, hibiscus cordial and lemon juice. To line your bellies is a range of mezze that includes smoked duck and truffle samosas, French fries with ras-el-hanout spice and kale borek with honey and sesame.
32 Tras St, Level 4, Singapore 078972. Details here.
11. NIGHT HAWK
If the name brings to mind Edward Hopper’s Modernist painting of a New York diner, then give yourself a pat on the back, you aesthete. Inside, the inspiration from its namesake is evident, what with its retro metropolitan vibe and sunken booths.
If you ask us, bar food should always be as simple and straightforward as it is at this stylish bar: Buffalo hot wings (S$16), chilli dogs (S$16), fries loaded with chilli beef, cheese and bacon bits (S$15), each one incredibly well-made. The cocktails are their own draw. For starters, check out (what else?) Nighthawks (S$25), a concoction of cold rum, vodka and amaro-infused coffee layered with coconut gula Melaka foam.
43 Tanjong Pagar Rd, #01-02, Singapore 088464. Details here.
12. OTTO RISTORANTE
Opened in 2008, Otto Ristorante remains a beacon of fine Italian cuisine and immaculate service in Tanjong Pagar. Its unwavering consistency accounts for the fact that it remains among the most popular dining destinations for business meals.
The spaghetti with sea urchin and Sardinian grey mullet bottarga is dependably delicious, as is the crispy suckling pig glazed with acacia honey and balsamic vinegar. Come for these classics and stay for the warm hospitality.
32 Maxwell Rd, #01-02/03 Maxwell Chambers, Singapore 069115. Details here.
13. PAPI’S TACOS
Who’s Papi? That’ll be Mexican chef Mauricio Espinoza, who dishes out authentic Mexican dishes based on recipes from his hometown of Papalotla at this taqueria.
Chase your frozen magaritas with the likes of carnitas tacos and chorizo quesadillas. The menu offers everything from antojitos or snacks (we can never resist a good elotes or grilled corn with spiced cotijo cheese), burritos and burrito bowls, tacos, fajitas, and desserts (fried ice cream, anyone?).
33 Tanjong Pagar Rd, #01-01, Singapore 088456. Details here.
14. TORASHO RAMEN AND CHARCOAL BAR
It’s always buzzy at this sprawling eatery helmed by chef Sho Naganuma who serves up satisfying bowls of tsukemen. The thick, pleasantly chewy noodles are designed for dipping in their accompanying sauces.
Besides the rich tonkotsu tsukemen, there’s also an uni and ikura one with a heady, briny gravy and the popular truffle wagyu dry ramen with a mix of lean and fatty tendon cuts. As its name implies, there’s also a charcoal grill section that turns out a whole gamut of delights from donabe rice dishes to luscious grilled Japanese sweet potatoes.
32 Tras St, Singapore 078972. Details here.
15. WHOLE EARTH
Rare is the vegetarian Peranakan restaurant no matter where in the Straits you may be. The fact that this one has even earned itself a Michelin Bib Gourmand honour has made it especially noteworthy.
The Nyonya curry with shitake and potatoes is a perennial hit, as is the buah keluak. Several Thai and Chinese dishes make it into the mix here too, including a tasty Omnimeat larb and a crispy mango tamarind tofu roll.
76 Peck Seah St, Singapore 079331. Details here.