From authentic Asian cuisine to cool watering holes and coffee houses, here’s a lowdown on dining spots and watering holes at the refurbished CHIJMES in Singapore
CHIJMES on Victoria Street in Singapore is very old – 175 years in fact – but it sure doesn’t look it, thanks to a massive $50-million facelift that was completed recently. Fresh good looks aside, the historical icon is also upping its awesomeness with a bunch of cool new restaurants, cafes and bars – perfect for unwinding after work and chilling out on the weekends. Here’s our definitive guide to places, both old and new arrivals, to eat and drink at the former convent and school. Dig in!
Sushi chef Taku Ashino, formerly from Marina Bay Sands’ Hide Yamamoto, serves traditional, unornamented sushi with “Shari-shushi” rice that’s cooked in an iron kettle with water from Mount Fuji, and top-notch seafood that speaks for itself. Omakase is the only way to go at this high-end sushi-ya – with lunch starting from $120 and dinner from $220.
Ashino, #01 – 23 CHIJMES, p. 6684 4567. Open Tue-Sun 12pm-2pm & 6pm-11pm; Mon (Sake Bar only) 5pm-11pm. Closed on Mon.
Bebek Tepi Sawah
If you, like us, consider Bali your second home, then you’re probably familiar with this popular Indonesian restaurant chain that’s famous for its crispy deep-fried duck, amongst its solid Balinese dishes. Must-tries include the Ayam Betutu Tepi Sawah, a stuffed spiced chicken, and a grilled mixed seafood plate. Got a big appetite? Meat dishes come with rice, vegetables, and three types of Balinese sambals. There’s also a wide selection of tropical drinks, cocktails, beers and wines to be had.
Bebek Tepi Sawah, #02-01 CHIJMES, p. 6336 1015. Open daily 12pm-10pm.
After years of performing at bars across town, local rock singer, John Molina, now has a watering hole of his own at CHIJMES. And naturally, it’s a buzzy gastro-pub with, of course, regular live music and DJ performances. The all-day dining menu features comforting Western grub such as sliders and beer-battered fish and chips – perfect for lining your stomach before you knock back your favourite booze.
BERLIN, #B1-06 CHIJMES, p. 6333 4036. Open Mon-Thu 4pm-4am; Fri-Sat 4pm-5am. Closed on Sun.
Bobby’s Restaurant & Bar
There’s a reason this rustic American diner is still around after what feels like forever: it serves saucy, fork-tender and consistently fabulous ribs that carnivores can’t get enough of. Its buffalo wings, truffle fries, grilled salmon and Kurobuta pork chop are also hits. Drinks-wise, try its crowd-favourite margaritas, mojitos, and the Singapore sling. Expect a noisier scene during big sporting events, as the restaurant screens games at its breezy alfresco area.
Bobby’s Restaurant & Bar, #B1-07 CHIJMES, p. 6337 5477. Open daily 5pm-2am.
Carnivore Brazilian Churrascaria
If you’re in the mood for rodizio – that endless flow of Brazilian grilled skewered meats that are carved on demand – this long-standing churrasco chain is at the top of our heads. Don’t worry about having an imbalanced meal: the salad and appetiser bar has an array of hot and cold veggie dishes, seafood bites and soups if you need a break from the rotisserie-roasted beef, pork, lamb, and chicken.
Carnivore Brazilian Churrascaria, #01-30 CHIJMES, p. 6334 9332. Open daily 6pm – 11pm.
Get ready for an onslaught of diverse and complex Asian flavours from chef Samia Ahad’s new kitchen at CHIJMES. Previously located at Clarke Quay, the award-winning restaurant calls itself pan-Asian, embracing cuisines from Southeast Asia to the Middle East. Menu highlights include the signature frontier chicken, a fresh rich noodle salad, soft shell crab with salted egg yolk sauce, and a teh tarik ice cream. Vino lovers, make sure you have a go at its collection of small-batch organic and biodynamic wines from around the world.
Coriander Leaf, #02-01 CHIJMES, p. 6837 0142. Open Mon-Thu 6pm-12am; Fri-Sat 6pm-1am. Closed on Sun.
Hailing from the Land of Brilliant Coffee, AKA Australia, this clean and sleek bistro is where to kick back over a smooth iced latte and Aussie fare, such as grilled furikake salmon on potato risotto and sticky date pudding, at its open and airy dining area. Oh, there’s free Wi-Fi here too – in case you want to show that hilarious cat video to your brunch mates or get some work done.
Dimbulah, #01-17 CHIJMES, p. 6336 4700. Open daily 7am-12am.
El Mero Mero
Whoever says Mexican food in Singapore is all tacos, burritos, nachos and margaritas obviously hasn’t stepped foot in El Mero Mero. Meaning ‘the go-to guy’, the restaurant offers modern and, may we say, refined Mexican plates, such as Barbacoa de Lengua, slow-cooked pork carnitas, and 300 NZ Black Angus striploin. We like our order drenched in its salsas and sauces, all of which are made fresh in-house, and accompanied with its great collection of artisanal tequilas, mezcales, Hispanic wines, and flavourful cocktails.
El Mero Mero, #01-20 CHIJMES, p. 6337 1377. Open Mon-Thu 12pm-11pm; Fri 12pm-12am; Sat 12.30pm-12am; Sun 12.30pm-11pm.
Giardino Pizza Bar & Grill
Sure, the old Pizzeria Giardino has relocated within CHIJMES and re-opened with a new name, but the food hasn’t changed: think rustic Italian dishes like handcrafted wood-fired pizzas alongside hearty mains such as beef T-bone steak, pork snail sausage and saffron risotto. Did we also mention that wines, spirits, beers and martinis are $8 all day, everyday?
Giardino Pizza Bar & Grill, #01-32 CHIJMES, p. 6334 2515. Open daily, 5pm-11pm.
Japanese BBQ, anyone? Choose from two set menus, each with 12 courses, including three different cuts of wagyu beef, and a salad and dessert of your selection. It doesn’t come cheap (prices start from $179 for two), but for good quality meat, it’s worth every penny.
Gyu Kaku, #01-01/02 CHIJMES, p. 6333 4001. Open daily 12pm-2.30pm & 5.30pm-11pm.
More than just a place to sip bona fide whisky, this Scottish establishment serves traditional food from the European country including gnocchi and portobello, Scottish salmon gravalax, and Scottish ale beef ribs. Naturally, there’s an impressive array of whiskies – over 100 labels in fact – and whisky-laced cocktails to be had while you watch the live music performances.
Highlander, #B1-05 CHIJMES, p. 6336 1239. Open Sun-Tue 5pm-5am; Wed-Sat 5pm-6am.
Known as The Ultimate Ramen Champion in 2012 and 2013 during its days at Bugis+, this Japanese eatery specialises in Hakata ramen, which features springy thin noodles and a creamy, flavourful pork-bone broth that’s simmered over 12 hours. If you dig a face-melting, sweat-inducing, belly-burning slurp sesh, go for the spicy tonkotsu ramen.
Ikkousha Ramen, #01-07 CHIJMES, p. 63388460. Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-10pm; Sun & public holidays 11.30am-9pm.
Lei Garden Restaurant
One of the best Cantonese restaurants in Singapore, this veteran restaurant serves some seriously good and sophisticated Cantonese seafood dishes, nourishing double-boiled soups and to-die-for barbecued meats. But, the real draw here is its dim sum, which packs in the crowd especially on weekends.
Lei Garden Restaurant, #01-24 CHIJMES, p. 6339 3822. Open daily 11am-3pm & 6pm-11pm.
Japan’s shabu-shabu specialist, that has a whopping 196 outlets in its hometown alone, offers a delightful, all-you-can-eat selection of quality, thinly sliced meats and box-fresh vegetables from $33.90 onwards. How’s that for value?
On-Yasai, #01-03/04 CHIJMES, p. 6336 4002. Open daily 12pm-11pm.
Oyster Bar & Wine Dining Wharf
Slurp freshly shucked oysters from all over the world to start, then proceed to devour varieties of lip-smacking seafood dishes like pacific dory fish and chips and grilled scallop and asparagus with garlic butter at this convivial spot.
Oyster Bar & Wine Dining Wharf, #01-19 CHIJMES, Tel. 6332 6789. Open Mon-Thu, Sun & public holidays 12pm-11pm; Fri-Sat & eve of public holidays 12pm-1am.
Paprika & Cumin
This eco-friendly bistro handpicks the freshest ingredients from their little backyard garden and throws them into wholesome, Mediterranean-inspired creations such as chicken kebabs and Tournedos Rossini (a French steak dish). There’s also a range of fine wines (238 labels in all) to choose from.
Paprika & Cumin, #01-15/16 CHIJMES, p. 6883 2294. Open daily 11am-3am.
Boasting one of the largest and most inviting alfresco areas in CHIJMES, the casual chic restaurant will whet your appetite with signatures like the eggs benedict, wagyu burger and the must-try sticky date toffee pudding – arguably one of the best in town. After a hearty meal, move over to the bar for happy hour.
Privé, #01-33 CHIJMES, p. 6776 0777. Open Mon-Thu 11am-12am; Friday 11am-2am; Sat 10am-2am; Sunday 10am-12am.
Give your health and beauty a boost with specialty homemade tofu and fresh yuba (bean curd skin), and ‘Bishoku-nabe’ (special hot pot) containing collagen and hyaluronic acid jelly that are oh-so-good for your skin.
Shirokiya, #01-05/06 CHIJMES, p. 6337 5188. Open Sun-Thu & public holidays: 10am- 11pm; Fri-Sat & eve of public holidays 10am-1am
By day, it’s a mellow lunch spot for sushi. But when night falls, the restaurant gives off a boisterous ambience with chefs showing off their fancy cooking routines to guests as they prepare seafood and prime cuts on the iron griddle.
Tatsu, #01-08 CHIJMES, p. 6332 5868. Open Mon-Sun 12pm-2.30pm & 6.30pm-10.30pm.
TONZAEMON by Ma Maison
Given the success of its sister outlet, Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, we’re pretty certain its deep-fried rosu and hire pork cutlets available at Tonzaemon can turn a bad day around – if you’re craving for sinful, oily grub, that is. There’s also an interesting medley of Sake, Shochu and wines to go along.
Tonzaemon by Ma Maison, #01-09, p. 6338 5907. Open Mon-Sun 11.30am-2.30pm & 5.30pm-10pm.