New foodie enclaves to visit for Christmas

With the yuletide season approaching, The Sunday Times rounds up new places to eat and drink

Enjoy Asian dishes (above) at buffet restaurant Food Exchange in Novotel Singapore on Stevens. PHOTO: NOVOTEL SINGAPORE ON STEVENS
Enjoy Asian dishes at buffet restaurant Food Exchange in Novotel Singapore on Stevens (above).

As the year draws to a close, the food and beverage scene revs up the pace - rolling out goodies for Christmas and launching new restaurants in time for festive celebrations.

These have resulted in the emergence of new foodie enclaves.

The hipster and heritage area of Bugis gets a dose of luxury with Andaz Singapore, a hotel by Hyatt which is housed in the new Duo complex. In Paya Lebar, there is the new SingPost Centre just a stone's throw from Paya Lebar MRT station and Paya Lebar Square mall.

In the Central Business District is mixed-used development Marina One, a stunning building with lush greenery reminiscent of paddy fields.

If you want to avoid Orchard Road, dine at the latest hotel cluster in Stevens Road, where the new Mercure Singapore on Stevens and Novotel Singapore on Stevens are located. The nine new restaurants, located in standalone units around the area, are owned and managed by Oxley Holdings.

Also adding buzz to the scene are big-name hotels such as InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay, which features the likes of Wolfgang's Steakhouse Singapore, Japanese restaurant Ishi and its upcoming sister restaurant Plum and Toro, on top of the neighbouring Quayside cluster, which includes Mediterranean restaurant Summerlong, Indian restaurant Dabbawalla and Mexican restaurant and bar SuperLoco.

In the vicinity of the Tanjong Pagar MRT station - already hopping with eateries at Tanjong Pagar Centre and OUE Downtown's Downtown Gallery - another recently launched hotel, Sofitel Singapore City Centre hotel, is home to French-Chinese restaurant Racines, Club Millesime lounge and its lobby bar 1864.

So, whet your appetite with the smorgasbord of food options available, as The Sunday Times rounds up where to eat and drink and what to look forward to.

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The 254-room Novotel Singapore on Stevens is home to buffet restaurant Food Exchange, which features Thai, Indian, European and local cuisine cooked at live cooking stations. PHOTO: NOVOTEL SINGAPORE ON STEVENS

Mercure Singapore on Stevens and Novotel Singapore on Stevens

Where: 28 to 30 Stevens Road

MRT: Stevens/Newton

Get away from the frenzy of Orchard Road and head to the cosy enclave of Mercure Singapore on Stevens and Novotel Singapore on Stevens, and the cluster of nine restaurants owned and managed by property developer Oxley Holdings.

The hotels sit on the site of what was formerly The Pines Country Club, which was acquired by Oxley in 2013 as an investment property.

The 254-room Novotel Singapore on Stevens is home to buffet restaurant Food Exchange, which features Thai, Indian, European and local cuisine cooked at live cooking stations. It also operates L'Aperitif Tapas Bar, which serves tapas and cocktails; and Novotel Infinity Pool Bar, which offers poolside snacks and drinks.

The 518-room Mercure Singapore on Stevens opens on Dec 8, along with gourmet cafe Fudebar, which will serve salads, sandwiches and coffee.

The hotel's Winestone restaurant, which serves Mediterranean food, opens on Dec 15.

Also open in the area is the two-week-old Fisk Seafoodbar & Market, which specialises in Norwegian and coldwater seafood. Its parent company is 30-year-old seafood supplier Snorre Food.

Another brand to look forward to is seafood establishment Long Beach, which is slated to open by Chinese New Year.

The second outlet of Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House by Mr Ricky Ng, managing director of restaurant group Blue Lotus Concepts International, is targeted for a Dec 7 opening.

It will offer the brand's signatures of chilli pomelo la mian soup with crab meat, and chicken skin with chilli yogurt dip, along with new items that put a spin on local favourites.

Think of dishes such as laksa barley risotto and bak kut teh with grilled pork ribs. The new items will be launched concurrently at Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House's first location at Tanjong Pagar Centre.

On the new location, Mr Ng, 45, says: "There are not many eateries in the Stevens Road area. The closest are probably at Balmoral Plaza or in the Bukit Timah area.

"It is a prime district, but not overcrowded like Orchard Road."

Another early bird which has opened at Marina One is three-week-old Nude Grill & Nude Chill, sister restaurant to Nude Seafood at the neighbouring Marina Bay Financial Centre. PHOTO: NUDE GRILL & NUDE CHILL

Marina One

Where: 5 to 7 Straits View

MRT: Downtown/Marina Bay

Marina One, a new mixed development, is shaping up to be the crown jewel of the Central Business District.

It is developed by M+S - a joint venture between Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional and Singapore's Temasek Holdings - and includes two residential towers and two office towers with a retail podium called The Heart. M+S is also the developer behind Duo in Bugis.

Marina One is designed by German studio Ingenhoven Architects, while its lush greenery and landscaping are done by London-based studio Gustafson Porter + Bowman and landscape consultant ICN Design International.

Two restaurants take up special glass capsules on the fourth floor of Marina One.

One of them is Wakanui Grill Dining from Tokyo, which relaunched two weeks ago. Its franchise is brought in by food and beverage company 1855 F&B. The restaurant was formerly located in Boat Quay.

Here, the meat-centric restaurant focuses on its dry-aged Ocean Beef and spring lamb from New Zealand - all charcoal-grilled - as well as Ito wagyu from Kagoshima. The menu also features New Zealand seafood, such as Ora King salmon, and New Zealand-sourced sashimi-quality fish and green lip mussels.

Besides Wakanui, 1855 F&B has another project in the works on the first floor of Marina One called The Spot.

Diners can pick wine from 1855 The Bottle Shop and take it to The Spot's neighbouring dining hall to pair with food by executive chef Lee Boon Seng, formerly from Resorts World Sentosa's one-Michelin-starred restaurant Osia Steak and Seafood Grill.

Taking up the other glass capsule is acclaimed contemporary Chinese restaurant Majestic, formerly located in Bukit Pasoh Road. It is slated to open by the middle of next month and will still be helmed by chef Yong Bing Ngen, who will reprise his signature dishes as well as introduce new ones.

Another early bird which has opened at Marina One is three-week-old Nude Grill & Nude Chill, sister restaurant to Nude Seafood at the neighbouring Marina Bay Financial Centre.

Mr Hong Junchen, 32, co-founder of Nude, says many diners have requested a "meat version of Nude Seafood" and a "Nude watering hole", hence the proximity of both outlets.

He adds: "It is a challenging location for a restaurant. Fundamentally, it's not natural for diners to stay in their offices for dinner or to go to somebody else's office for dinner. We understand this and work especially hard to make great food, provide warm hospitality and good value to draw a destination dinner crowd."

So far, other food outlets that have opened include Starbucks, Ya Kun Kaya Toast and Cookhouse by Koufu foodcourt.

Adding to the lifestyle space is the 26,000 sq ft Virgin Active fitness club, as well as Cold Storage supermarket.

Ceviche Clasico ($25) from Tono.

Andaz Singapore and Duo

Where: 5 and 7 Fraser Street

MRT: Bugis

The Bugis area is never short of food, whether it is hipster cafes in Haji Lane, hotpot restaurants in Tan Quee Lan Street or local delights and mid-range restaurants in the shopping centres.

But for something fancy, you can head to the Andaz Singapore, a luxury hotel by Hyatt located in the new Duo complex.

The stylish hotel, designed by Hong Kong-based architect and interior designer Andre Fu, features all-day-dining venue Alley on 25 - a cluster of seven shophouse-inspired concepts which houses a bar, a lounge and five restaurants. So, do not expect your typical hotel buffet restaurant.

The restaurants are themed according to the cooking style. For example, at Auntie's Wok and Steam, chefs prepare Sichuan-inspired food using the wok and steamer. Highlights include double-boiled beef short rib noodles ($18), mapo tofu with Alaskan king crab meat ($30) and steamed eggplant with tofu and Sichuan dressing ($14).

At The Green Oven, food is cooked in the special green Beech Oven. The menu features braised lamb shank ($35), spring chicken (from $25) and lobster mac and cheese ($35).

For dessert, head to the Icehaus for its signature dessert of pandan chiffon cake (from $4.50), which comes with flavoured mousse and a picture-perfect glaze. Flavours include black sesame, yam and rose. The cakes are also sold at Pandan, the hotel's cake boutique on the second level.

Mr Olivier Lenoir, 44, general manager of Andaz Singapore, says: "Inspired by the focus and authenticity of hawker stalls, where generations of vendors specialise in cooking one dish and cooking it consistently well, Andaz Singapore decided to focus on specific food preparation methods to create a dining destination.

"You won't find any nasi briyani or laksa within our walls, as we believe in being an extension of our neighbourhood - instead of fighting with the veterans who have been doing what they do for so long."

The hotel has a rooftop bar called Mr Stork and a steakhouse called 665°F (named after the temperature of its wood-fired oven), which opens on Dec 8.

The Duo complex has no shortage of food either. Restaurants that have opened so far include the second outlet of the popular Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant, Peruvian cevicheria Tono, poke outlet A Poke Theory, pizzeria Pizza Express and Joe & Dough cafe.

Joe & Dough's one-month-old outlet at Duo has introduced new all-day breakfast items as well as cakes.

Its managing director Damien Koh, 36, adds that the brand will open new outlets at Northpoint City in Yishun by the end of next month and at Marina One in the first quarter of next year.

On being the first to open at Duo, Tono's chef-owner Daniel Chavez, 37, says: "We consciously decided to open Tono when the building wasn't fully occupied so that we could improve the operations as more tenants moved in.

"Now, new restaurants are opening and this is great for all of us."

The Bao Ka Liao ($32.90 for two) at mini foodcourt-style concept Hawkerman is a platter of seven items.

SingPost Centre

Where: 10 Eunos Road 8

MRT: Paya Lebar

The mall scene is heating up in Paya Lebar, with the addition of SingPost Centre - a stone's throw from Paya Lebar Square.

Mixed development Paya Lebar Quarter by developer Lendlease is under construction and its office and retail components are slated to open by the second half of next year.

Die-hard fans of Gong Cha will be pleased to know that the bubble tea brand returns to Singapore at SingPost Centre on Friday.

SingPost Centre - owned by Singapore Post and managed by CapitaLand - also features a bevy of food options, some of which are new to market.

These include Taiwanese hotpot chain Upot, beef noodle restaurant Nuodle from Lanzhou, China, and bubble tea brand Heetea from Guangzhou, China.

Other established brands are opening new concepts.

For example, Singapore's Tenderfresh Group - better known for its fried and roast chicken - has opened Hawkerman, a mini foodcourt-style concept which houses Tenderfresh, Warong Kim's (by Kim's Place Seafood in Joo Chiat) and Ah Boy Popiah (by Good Chance Popiah in Silat Avenue).

Highlights include the Bao Ka Liao ($32.90 for two), a platter of seven items from the three brands, including Tenderfresh signature fried half spring chicken, Warong Kim's Hokkien mee and Ah Boy's Hokkien popiah, as well as XO carrot cake.

Warong Kim's also serves a Lolex Hokkien Mee ($44.90 for two), with lobster, prawns, clam and squid.

On opening Hawkerman, chief business development officer Kelvin Chua, 35, says: "Tenderfresh Classic has been working well over the last four years, but looking ahead to the next five years, we know that we need to reinvent ourselves.

"The signature fried and roasted chicken are still popular, but by leveraging other popular brands such as Ah Boy Popiah, we can successfully tap a new market segment."

Adding to the list of food options is the second outlet of quick-service vegetarian restaurant Grove by Elemen, the first Swee Heng Bakery Cafe concept and Kaffe & Toast/ Thai Noodle Bar.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 26, 2017, with the headline New foodie enclaves to visit for Christmas . Subscribe