My favourite makan spots of 2021
For the final Weets Eats column of the year, here are my top 10 picks across Singapore
2021 is such a year of change. It's the year The New Paper ended as a physical product, before it moved online, following the formation of SPH Media Trust.
Personally, I am grateful you're still around, still reading Weets Eats.
Restaurants open and close, concepts merge and emerge, people move, anything and everything will change, but for many, the lust for food remains.
One thing I won't change though is my annual list of favourite dining experiences.
Some I've covered in the column, some I haven't had the chance to. Hopefully you'll give the restaurants and stalls mentioned a chance and some business, because big or small, they need the support.
So for the last Weets Eats of 2021, here are my 10 best of the year in alphabetical order, so it's easier for you to keep track:
Oasia Resort Sentosa Hotel, Tel: 6818-3333, www.bedrock.com.sg
This is one of the most romantic restaurants to open this year. The decor is elegant, the wine list is extensive, the cocktails are fun, and the food is delicious.
The must order is the impressive Kuhlbarra Barramundi Tail. The fish is brined before being hung in the fridge to dry-age for up to a week. It is then lightly seasoned, grilled and finished in the oven.
Also good is the kingfish sashimi topped with brown rice puff for texture.
Canchita Peruvian Cuisine
Block 9A & 9B Dempsey Road, Tel: 8028-1994, http://canchita.sg/
One of the most hyped openings of 2021, Canchita proved to be worth the chatter.
The food is exciting and flavourful.
Try the Arroz con Mariscos, which is short grain rice cooked into a garlic pilaf, accompanied with crayfish and a sauce that features Peruvian yellow chilli.
B4, Ion Orchard, Tel: 9009-2811, www.hawkersstreet.com.sg
These two years, I needed more comforting than I did in the last two decades, so it was not a surprise that Hawker Street resonated with me.
There are many food courts that have curated a list of worthy hawkers, so you can have the world on your plate.
Hawker Street seems focused on heritage brands, and it helps that there are many stalls I like, such as Famous Eunos Bak Chor Mee, Jian Bo Shui Kueh, and Nam Sing Hokkien Mee.
Some call this a tourist trap, but without too many tourists around yet, I'm happy to claim it for ourselves.
#B1-44F Raffles City; #01-106 Millenia Walk, www.milkfish.sg
Milkfish became a hit quite quickly. It opened the first branch at Raffles City in July, and recently added a second outlet at Millenia Walk, proving that this OL (office lady) staple will endure anything.
The secret of this success is, for me, the soup. It has that slightly sticky feel of collagen, with a subtle sweetness of fish and that hit of umami. I would add nothing else to it.
161 Telok Ayer St, Tel: 8830-5016, www.naeum.sg
If you manage to land a table, a meal at NAEUM is going to be an elevated one. Everything is beautiful, including the staff and the chef. It is intimidating.
NAEUM serves contemporary Seoul cuisine, marrying Western techniques and Korean heritage flavors.
It serves a fixed seasonal menu ($168) and right now, the menu is called Mountain Lodge. It must be a luxe lodge because the meal is filled with creations of understated elegance and gorgeousness, just like this, the Sanchae sotbap.
110 Amoy St, #01-01, Tel: 8028-5204, www.northmiznonsg.com
I figured why I was so attracted to North miznon. It reminded me of the buzzing fast-paced casual eateries you'll usually find in European cities. I miss travelling so much.
Even the spotty service here will not deter me from returning because the food appeals to me.
I am a fan of bold flavours, and the hummus with prawns in beurre noisette checks that box. The umami of the sauce hits all the right places. Save some of the free focaccia to sop it up.
Newton Food Centre, www.oglemak.com
I have been a fan of Mod-Sin chef Shen Tan's nasi lemak ever since she opened her first stall in 2008 at Maxwell Food Centre. And she returns to her hawker roots with OG Lemak at Newton Food Centre.
The 11-ingredient, twice-steamed coconut rice is back, and you can pair this in a variety of ways. But try it with the Beef Rendang because her rendang is yummy, or as part of a vegan set because, why should vegans be deprived of the wonders of nasi lemak?
23 Ann Siang Rd, Tel: 8138-3217, www.persea.sg
This is a blessing for all of us who are trying so hard to maintain a keto diet. It takes commitment, trust me.
So when a trendy, pretty restaurant offers a keto-friendly menu of tasty items that will not remind you that you're on a keto diet, you want it to be successful so that it'll be around for a long long time.
For that selfish reason, go to Persea. But you probably won't hate the experience.
If you need a recommendation, try the Calamari, paired zhug, a delicious and dark Yemenite sauce grounded by the earthiness of coriander.
#01-01/02/03 Park Place Residences at PLQ, Tel: 9459-1603, @rempapa_sg on Instagram
The newest restaurant on my list is one filled with old recipes.
Rempapa is the latest from chef Damian D'Silva, who is famous for his heritage Peranakan and Eurasian dishes, but he has expanded the menu to include influences from all over Singapore, making it a truly Singaporean restaurant.
There are many items to try and I like many of them, but my current favourites include The Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with String Hoppers, Seafood Curry Mee, and fried Nyonya fish cake.
And you cannot leave chef D'Silva's restaurant without trying the kuehs.
Thirty Six Brewlab & Smokehouse
36 Club St, Tel: 6239-0350, https://thirtysix.sg
I confess, what I like most about Thirty Six is the vibe. There is a fun, relaxed feel to the place, and it is a great place to be now that you can meet with four other friends.
That's not to say the food doesn't match up.
It's a small menu but there are some winners, including the Fish and Chips, with a housemade beer batter made daily with Lion Brewery's Straits Pale Ale. The fish retains its juiciness and the mushy peas that come with it is amazing.