Looking for Instagrammable restaurants and cafes in Singapore with quirky, cute decor (and good food to boot)? From retro to sci-fi, here are our favourite themed eateries
A great dining experience is more than just prompt service and expertly prepared food; it’s just as much about the décor and ambience. In fact, you’ll find plenty of restaurants in Singapore that opt for fantasy rather than fancy – doing up their interiors to take diners back to anything from a bygone era in the 1920s, to even 20,000 leagues under the sea. Sounds too bizarre to be true? Here are 10 of our favourite themed restaurants, bars, and cafes; get those cameras ready!
Pssst… if grub like chicken hearts and beef tongues don’t freak you out, you might wanna check out these unique offal restaurants in Singapore too!
For Comic Book Aficionados: Hungry Heroes
If you’re looking for a fun new joint to hold heated Marvel vs DC debates (or fiery arguments), this vibrant pop art/superhero themed café is the place to do it at. The restaurant is playfully decked out with superhero figurine displays, model aircrafts, as well as posters of pop art icon Marilyn Monroe. Food here isn’t just an afterthought, not with hearty meat platters of de-boned chicken leg, pulled pork, pork ribs, steak and more. And, you’ll get to wash it down with an impressive selection of American, British and Japanese craft beers.
Hungry Heroes, 33 Tessensohn Road, Singapore 217656. p. 6295 5401. Open Tue-Fri 4pm-11pm, Sat-Sun 12pm-11pm.
For Cycling Enthusiasts: Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Café
Sunset Grill may have moved from its iconic runway-side premises, but if you think coffee is best enjoyed over the thundering drone of Cessnas and Bombardiers, this retro-themed café will be right up your alley. The brainchild of 60-year-old artist Poon Kng Joo, the café also features rows upon rows of vintage bikes (all lovingly restored by the artist himself) as rather offbeat wall décor, adding to the café’s quirky charms. Of course, cycling here will work up a mighty appetite, so tuck into Japanese-inspired bites like katsu don, as well as the quintessential cheese fries.
Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe, 80 #01-01 MAJ Aviation Building, Seletar Aerospace View, Singapore 797563. Open daily 11am-10pm.
For Vintage Hipster Charm: Kombi Rocks
Vintage automobiles, retro curios, and three-generations-old Thai-Chinese recipes (Kombi Rocks was formerly Koon Kee Restaurant) make for a neighbourhood jewel. It’s many things at once: a diner, a museum, a quirky vintage shop, and a vehicle rental company with a fleet of restored Kombi and bugs available for bookings at events and weddings. Pop by with friends and order the Kombi-Nation Platter, consisting of the restaurant’s home-style dishes, to go with the bucket deals.
Kombi Rocks, 66 Yio Chu Kang Road, Singapore 545568, p. 9008 6918. Open Mon and Sun 12pm-11pm; Tue-Sat 12pm-12am.
For Taking It To Church: The White Rabbit
Step inside this beautifully restored old chapel in Dempsey, and you’ll be blown away by the grandness of the place. Paper white walls, dark furniture, high ceilings – everything about The White Rabbit is pristine. Naturally, you’ll find many couples wanting to tie the knot here in this holy locale too! On the menu, Modern European plates take centrestage. Order the 36-hour Brandt shortribs for your main course and opt for the baked Alaska for dessert.
The White Rabbit, 39C Harding Road, Singapore 249541, p. 9721 0536.
For Old-School Asian Nostalgia: Sum Yi Tai
Housed in a multi-storey shophouse, this restaurant-bar follows an old-school 1980s Hong Kong gangster theme, complete with soothing old-school Cantonese tracks (think Cantonese Nancy Sinatra). Chinese tapas – like crispy roast pork and XO carrot cake – is served on the ground floor, a dining club (there’s a private dining room as well) is located on the second floor, and you’ll find a private rooftop bar on the third – which can only be accessed if you have an invitation or a reservation. Love whisky? There’s a great range of options to choose from, such as single malts, whiskey-based cocktails, and even “white dogs” (white whiskeys).
Sum Yi Tai, 25 Boon Tat Street, Singapore 069622, p. 6221 3665. Open Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm, 5pm-1am, Sat 5pm-1am. Closed Sun.
For Those Who Wanna Feel Like The Great Gatsby: The Black Swan
If you’re hooked on the glitz and glamour of the Great Gatsby after watching one-too-many re-runs, perhaps a trip to The Black Swan is in order? This bar restaurant, inspired by the glitz, glamour and characteristic art deco style of the Roaring 20s is the closest you’ll get to a Gatsby-esque evening out. With décor this swish, you can bet your bottom dollar that Black Swan’s chefs serve up some mighty fine and rather unique dishes like the char-grilled beef tartare, grilled Iberian pork chop even a half suckling pig served Spanish style. While waiting for your meals, make sure to try some of the bar’s expertly prepared cocktails like the signature Flying Swan.
The Black Swan, 19 Cecil Street, Singapore 049704. p. 6438 3757.
For The Bikers: Handlebar Singapore
Like your bars a little grungy or just need an excuse to slip into that old leather jacket? This biker-themed bar (that has just moved from the East Coast to Gillman Barracks) is a top spot for motorbike enthusiasts, but don’t worry, we promise they’re a friendly bunch. The bar also serves up a selection of American classics as well as small bites to go with your jugs of beer.
Handlebar Singapore, 57 Jalan Mempurong, Singapore 759057. p. 6475 9571.
For A Deep-Sea Adventure: Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora
Anyone who’s watched gangster films from the ’50s knows that ‘sleeping with the fishes’ isn’t a terribly attractive prospect, but we assure you dining with them is a far more pleasant experience. This unique concept puts diners in the heart of the S.E.A. Aquarium, with its full-length glass panels offering a view of over 100,000 marine animals. Shrouded in the blue glow of the aquarium, you’ll enjoy Iron Chef Cat Cora’s specialities like smoked eel and 42°C sous vide salmon. Just try not to make eye contact with the fishes while feasting on their kin.
Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Singapore 098269. p. 6577 8899. Open daily 11.30am-3.30pm, 5.30pm-10.30pm.
For Those Who Want To Dive Deeper: Shu Jiang Grilled Fish
Want to go deeper still? Well, short of hoping on a submarine and taking to the deep blue, this 20,000 Leagues Below The Sea-inspired restaurant is the closest you’ll get to actual deep sea dining. The interior of the restaurant is done up in a delightfully kitschy manner reminiscent of a cartoon submarine. Instead of windows, diners can peer through “portholes” and view the virtual undersea vista. But what’s style without substance? Shu Jiang’s speciality is its grilled fish. Simply pick your choice of six fishes and a flavoured sauce to kick start your ‘deep sea’ dining adventure.
Shu Jiang Grilled Fish, #02-25 IMM, 2 Jurong East Street 21, Singapore 609601. p. 6896 2621. Open 11am-10pm daily.
For Those Who Wish They Were In The FRIENDS TV Show: Central Perk
Fans of FRIENDS will no doubt be familiar with Central Perk, the fictional café that had been the iconic backdrop for all manner of wacky shenanigans on the comedy hit show. At Singapore’s Central Perk, you can recreate your the cast of FRIENDS. Word of warning: the prices here might discourage most from becoming regulars (like the gang on FRIENDS). But if you’re a fan, we’re certain you’ll have few complaints once you find yourself naturally whipping out your phones to re-enact scenes from the series. If the show’s novelty flies over your head however, you might wanna give this a miss.
Central Perk, 1 Magazine Road, 01-01 Central Mall, Singapore 059567. Open Tue-Sun 10am-10pm. Closed on Mon. p. 9025 2524.
For Those Who That Love That Kawaii Kitty: Hello Kitty Orchid Garden
Sanrio’s world-renowned fictional feline, Hello Kitty, has jetted its way to Singapore to open its first ever Hello Kitty-themed café at Changi Airport Terminal 3. Inspired by the orchid (Singapore’s national flower), this cartoon café aims to mimic the garden city vibe. The local-inspired menu offers all-day breakfast options, and has a great selection of Instaworthy Kitty-fied sweet treats such as gelato sundaes, waffles, pastries and teacakes. Must-tries here include its Big Breakfast Surprise that comes with a Hello Kitty-shaped waffle(!); Cowabunga! Wagyu! – think Wagyu beef in delicious rendang gravy; and its over-the-top sundae called Camping Under The Stars. Also, don’t leave this whimsical floral paradise without a couple of Hello-Kitty mementos from the retail corner.
Hello Kitty Orchid Garden, Arrival Hall Central #01-22, Terminal 3, Singapore Changi Airport. Open daily 24 hours.
For all the Potterheads: Platform 1094
If you know the difference between levi-oh-sa and levio-sa, and obsessively find yourself waiting in vain for a wax-sealed letter from a certain magical educational institution, you’ll want to hop on your broomstick and make a trip to this wizardry-themed cafe in Serangoon. While the decor may not be terribly witchy, you’ll find whimsical menu items like the Black Magic and the Bloodberry which are well worth a shot on Instagram.
Platform 1094, 1094 Serangoon Road, Singapore 328192. p. 6204 6003.