From family-run businesses to stalwart residents of storied buildings, these restaurants house Singapore's best heritage food.
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 have stood the test of time? Sticking to secret family recipes and steeped in rich history, these restaurants are still going strong in our fickle dining scene for good reason. Strap in for a blast from the past with restaurants serving up heritage food in Singapore.
Heritage food in Singapore: Best restaurants
1. Ban Heng
Established in 1972, Ban Heng is a veteran in the culinary world. Its collective experience in traditional Teochew and Cantonese cuisine is unmatched. The food is prepped with fresh, premium ingredients. And the restaurant has played host to hundreds of weddings, banquets and dinners for distinguished guests like our late president S.R. Nathan. Tuck into hearty fare like fried soon hock fish in superior soya sauce and deliciously barbecued meats.
Ban Heng, multiple locations including Orchard Central and Boon Keng
2. 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
3. Fatty Weng
Affectionately known as Fatty Weng, executive chef Lai Foo Weng is the driving force behind this heritage restaurant in Singapore. What started as a humble roadside stall along Albert Street has turned into the go-to restaurant for Cantonese cuisine. Even though it’s shifted locations, you can still enjoy the signature deep-fried soon hock fish at the Bukit Batok outlet.
Fatty Weng, #01-78, 273 Bukit Batok East Avenue 4, Singapore 650273
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, sayor lodeh and udang assam pedas. You can even contact these folks for a cosy Peranakan dinner at home with the family sets.
Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant, #01-01, 200 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427471
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.
Colbar, 9A Whitchurch Road, Singapore 138839
6. 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 crispy baby squid, pumpkin prawns and Teochew-style steamed fish.
Roland Restaurant, #06-750, 89 Marine Parade Central, Singapore 440089
7. 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 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
8. 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. 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
9. Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice
Chicken rice is a ubiquitous dish but there are only a handful of places that do it perfectly. 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
10. Red Star Restaurant
Go on a dim sum bender at this heritage food spot in Singapore. Red Star was founded 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 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
11. 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, #01-01, 745 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198713
12. 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, and pan-fried hor fun with omelette and prawns.
Spring Court, 52-56 Upper Cross Street, Singapore 058348
For a #throwback like no other, head to these heritage restaurants in Singapore for good food.