Chef Thomas Zacharias’ Guide to Singapore’s Best Restaurants

3 years ago

If we could swap jobs for a day, we’d try stepping into Chef Thomas Zacharias’ shoes. Mostly because of his arresting Instagram stories, which make you want to drop what you’re doing and head on over to his restaurant. The Chef/Partner at The Bombay Canteen recently ate his way through Singapore – note, for work.

He was on a panel at the much-buzzed-about All That Matters conference, sharing the stage with the likes of Chef David Thompson of Nahm and Long Chim. Together they dissected “the third passion pillar” of people and brands (food, of course!), which comes right after sports and music.

So it was fitting that he managed to spend three evenings diving into Singapore’s bar and dining scene with Arijit Bose, brand ambassador for Monkey 47, and Sameer Seth, co-founder of The Bombay Canteen. We asked him to share his picks, so we have a handy travel planner:


“A cocktail featuring frozen weaver ants as garnish is not the only thing that makes Native special. It’s one of the newer additions to Singapore’s portfolio of cocktail-driven bars. Vijay Mudaliar, formerly of the acclaimed bar Operation Dagger, has made it his mission to source arracks, whiskies, sakes and gins strictly from Asia for his beautiful bar. Idiosyncrasies aside, the drinks at Vijay’s cozy space located up the stairs from Wanton Noodle Bar (also mentioned on this list) are not only clever but also downright well balanced and delicious.”

The Spiffy Dapper

“A dimly lit space that morphs from a chilled out café by day into a cool speakeasy at night, The Spiffy Dapper ticks all the right boxes as far as quirky bars go. If digs that try too hard drive you up the wall, you’ll find your happy place here. It’s a great spot to either begin a long night of bar-hopping, or for that matter even end one. On your way out, don’t forget to leave your mark on the bar counter with the hammer they’ll hand you.”


“Atlas is truly the mecca for art deco lovers who also enjoy a tipple or four, and it’s hard to imagine anything like this existing anywhere else in the world. Spend the evening ogling at the exquisite craftsmanship which surrounds this stunning lobby bar, or order from head bartender Roman Foltán’s extensive and supremely elegant cocktail list.”


“This airy and fun all-day restaurant replete with long tables and full-length windows seems ripe for hipsters. With feel-good nosh and fun cocktails, this venue is perfect for an evening of conversation and laughter. For an ultra personal experience however, head early and ask to be escorted to Crackerjack’s younger sibling Junior, a ten-seater pocket bar tucked away in the back. Junior is the bar version of Grant Achatz’s Next in Chicago which changes entirely every six months. Junior’s concept menu (called ‘Norma’) focuses on Mexican spirits with guests being guided through the experience via flights of various agaves and tequilas.”

Tippling Club

“There is simply no place for preconceived notions when experiencing Tippling Club’s ‘Sensorium’ menu, where perfume blotters that represent the scent of each drink replace standard menu descriptors. Get the Campfire, a smoky gin concoction with a charred marshmallow garnish. Although I didn’t get a chance to eat here, the food is supposed to be off the hook too.”

Burnt Ends

“Expectations may be high at one of Singapore’s best-rated restaurants but this modern Australian grill helmed by Chef Dave Pynt doesn’t disappoint one bit. If you do manage to score one of the 18 seats overlooking the kitchen, you’ll be privy to a night of theatre – of the incredibly delicious culinary kind. Try their cheeky take on fish and chips or dig into their deceptively simple looking Jamaican chicken, undoubtedly the best chicken dish I’ve eaten all year. The cocktail program by Andrew Cameron is pretty spectacular too.”

Goodness in every dish. #wantonsg

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Wanton Seng’s Noodle Bar

“For comforting noodles, try this barebones open-bar joint that serves only wantons and noodles. Although the Char Siu noodle bowl is worth its weight in gold, it’s that unctuous broth they provide for free at every table which is the real kicker. It doesn’t hurt that the food and drink here are super pocket friendly too.”

Cheek by Jowl

“Chef Rishi Naleendra gets the fine line between casual and sophisticated perfectly – both in the fare as well as the feel of the space. It even earned him a Michelin star this year. The chef-owner’s simple yet flavorful food at this modern Australian restaurant shows hints of cuisines and cultures from around the world, which comes together on the menu beautifully. Favorites include the liver paté cigar with date purée and the beef tartare with horseradish and Brussels sprouts.”

Meat Smith

“Run by the same team behind the acclaimed Burnt Ends, it’s a casual smokehouse with a prime focus on – you guessed it – meat! With its community tables and benches, Meat Smith could very well feel like a grown-up diner, but don’t be fooled. Chef Andrew Baldus and team have mastered the various applications of the wood-fired grill, and Meat Smith transports you to the great barbecue joints of the American South.”