From family-run businesses to stalwart residents of storied buildings, these heritage restaurants in Singapore are bastions of history.
Singapore has no shortage of restaurants with new establishments popping up every month. Just take a look at our list of best new restaurants and you’ll see what we’re talking about. With that said, have you been to long-standing institutions that stand the test of time? Sticking to secret family recipes and steeped in rich history, these heritage restaurants in Singapore are still going strong in our fickle dining scene for good reason. Strap in for a blast from the past.
Best heritage restaurants in Singapore
1. Singapore Zam Zam
This one’s been around for more than a century – since 1908, to be exact. The Kampong Glam institution has devotees coming from all corners of the island for a taste of its signature dish: the greasy but oh-so-good murtabak. Be it mutton, chicken, or even deer murtabak (yes, really), Singapore Zam Zam does it best. But it’s no one-trick pony. The mee goreng, biryani and prata are equally satisfying.
Singapore Zam Zam, 697 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198675
This hidden gem is older than Singapore! Previously a canteen for the British army back in 1953, Colbar is situated along Whitchurch Road. Serving a wide selection of craft beers and comforting Hainanese-Western grub, its selling point is the charming atmosphere. From a vintage weighing machine to historic photos of Colbar Football Club, the watering hole delivers a slice of old Singapore. Must-try dishes include sirloin steak and pork chop.
Colbar, 9A Whitchurch Road, Singapore 138839
3. Roland Restaurant
Roland Restaurant is synonymous with chilli crab. It’s said that the iconic dish was invented by the owner’s mum, Cher Yam Tian, in the 1950s. What started out as a simple seafood stall along the Kallang River with just a couple of kerosene lamps, wooden tables and stools, is now a household name with a 1,100-seater space. Pair the star dish with crowd faves like fried baby squid, sambal mussels and Teochew-style steamed fish.
Roland Restaurant, #06-750, 89 Marine Parade Central, Singapore 440089
4. Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant
Guan Hoe Soon is one of the oldest Peranakan restaurants in Singapore. Serving authentic Nyonya food in the Joo Chiat enclave since 1953, its stellar dishes are prepared using age-old recipes passed down from generations. Top picks include ayam buah keluak, sayur lodeh and udang asam pedas.
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant, 38/40 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427764
5. Muthu’s Curry
This 50-something-year-old Indian restaurant needs no introduction. As the moniker suggests, it’s blasphemous to miss out on the fiery fish head curry when you’re here. Pair it with other tasty bites like crab masala, mysore mutton and chicken tikka masala for a hearty Indian meal. If you can’t handle the heat, Muthu’s Curry serves a range of tamer, flavour-packed Indian fare, from North to South Indian, with plenty of vegetarian dishes.
Muthu’s Curry, multiple locations including Race Course Road and Suntec City
6. Ananda Bhavan
Ananda Bhavan is a no-frills vegetarian Indian restaurant in Singapore that’s been around since 1924. If you’re looking to fuel up on a pocket-friendly, calorie-heavy brekkie, treat yourself to the appam set. This fermented rice batter pancake is a popular Kerala dish loved for its soft fluffy centre and crispy edges. Dip it in coconut milk and dab it off in the orange sugar for the ultimate morning pick-me-up. While Ananda Bhavan has several outlets, we recommend you visit the original one at the entrance of Little India.
Ananda Bhavan, multiple locations including Syed Alwi Road and Buffalo Road
7. Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice
Chicken rice is an ubiquitous dish but there are only a handful that do it right. Enter Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice. Having been around the block since 1953, these folks have mastered all the important components to a T. Make sure you get a bit of rice, dark soya sauce, roasted chicken and garlic chilli in every mouthful for a well-balanced flavour profile.
Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice, 342 Balestier Road, Singapore 329774
8. Red Star Restaurant
Go on a dim sum bender at this heritage restaurant in Singapore. Red Star is run by the remaining chefs of the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantonese cuisine – a group that gained fame and multiple culinary awards in the 1970s. These are the same people responsible for creating famous Singapore dishes we eat so regularly today: chilli crab, yam ring and yu sheng. Red Star is considered as one of the more traditional and nostalgic restaurants for dim sum. For starters, it still employs traditional cart-pushing dim sum ladies like those in Hong Kong. Oh, and the restaurant layout and recipes have remained unchanged since its opening in 1974.
Red Star Restaurant, #07-23, 54 Chin Swee Road, Singapore 160054
9. Islamic Restaurant
The century-old restaurant is tucked away in the cultural ‘hood of Kampong Glam. Established in 1921, Islamic Restaurant is renowned for its biryani. It’s been a massive hit since the 70s, with dignitaries, sultans, ministers and businessmen attesting to its fine flavours. The best pick? Mutton biryani. Good rice texture and succulent, tender meat – what’s not to like?
Islamic Restaurant, 735 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198703
10. Spring Court Restaurant
Dating back to 1929, Spring Court is the oldest family-run Chinese restaurant in Singapore. Not to mention, this used to be the ‘it’ place for Chinese weddings back in the day. Now, there are 10 signatures worth all the calories. That includes roasted suckling pig, yam ring with prawns, braised lamb brisket in claypot and pan fried hor fun with prawn omelette.
Spring Court, 52-56 Upper Cross Street, Singapore 058348
For a #throwback like no other, head to these heritage restaurants in Singapore.