2019 is a bountiful year for new restaurant openings, and we have seen a wide range from Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants to casual chain dining places.

The results of Diners’ Choice organised by Chope is out, and here are the winners of the restaurants and bars in 8 different categories. They include:

Restaurant of the Year – Fat Cow
New Restaurant of the Year – Godmama
Bar of the Year – Level33
Deal-licious Restaurant of the Year – Hans im Glück
Hottest Group Dining – The Boiler
Cafe of the Year – Atlas Coffeehouse
Best Bountiful Buffet – The Line
Most Romantic Restaurant – The Clifford Pier

Last year’s “Restaurant Of The Year” Fat Cow known for its Japanese omakase and beef bowls continues with its winning streak, being crowned champion again in 2019.

Voting for Diners’ Choice 2019 ran from 21 October to 24 November 2019 at https://dinerschoice.chope.co, with the announcement of winners on 2 December 2019.

The winner to the “New Restaurant of the Year” in Singapore is Godmama, a modern Peranakan restaurant at Funan Mall. Here’s more:

Godmama – Winner of “New Restaurant of the Year”
Funan, #04-07, 107 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179097
Opening Hours: Lunch 11am – 3:30pm, Dinner 6pm – 10pm (Mon – Fri)
Brunch 10:30am – 4pm, Dinner 6pm – 10pm (Sat – Sun)

Godmama is a modern Peranakan restaurant delivering both authentic Nyonya cuisine and innovative Peranakan food creations.

It offers brunch, lunch, and dinner menus in a contemporary setting with indoor and al fresco dining options. Here it’s easy to remember the warmth of sharing a meal of heirloom recipes with family.

Recognized as the only restaurant in Funan offering an extensive Peranakan food menu with a curated tipple menu.

A highly recommended dish for those looking for traditional Peranakan flavours is the Babi Assam, a slow-braised pork belly in a mildly spicy and tangy tamarind sauce.

You’ll catch this only during weekends though. If you do visit on a weekend, get the Otak Otak Benedict instead. It is a patty topped with poached eggs on a slice of sourdough bread.

Here are the other nominees:

Zui Yu Xuan Teochew Cuisine
130/131 Amoy Street, Singapore 049959 (located within Far East Square)
Opening Hours: Lunch 11.30am – 3pm Last order 2.15pm, Dinner 6pm – 11pm Last order 10.15pm

DFD’s choice for Diners’ Choice 2019 “New Restaurant of The Year”
While there are many, many worthy new restaurants in Singapore during the participating period, my vote would go to one which serves heritage food (that is fast disappearing) with many note-worthy dishes.

Housed within a two-storey heritage building located in the historic Far East Square precinct is Zui Yu Xuan, a restaurant that specialises in iconic Teochew classics.

It is one of the dining concepts by JUMBO Group of Restaurants, designed with an open courtyard and main hall adorned with calligraphic masterpieces and chic accents.

Aside from its celebrated setting, what makes this place especially memorable is its elegant Oriental-inspired ambiance in muted tones of beige with splashes of maroon and lime green. And of course, the refined, authentic Teochew fare it serves within it.

Must-try is the signature dish Teochew Oyster Omelette ($13 per portion). Prepared ‘Gooey Style”, this dish comes with plump, juicy oysters pan-fried with eggs and thickened by a slurry of tapioca starch.

Like a properly cooked omelette, it achieves a soft centre while the surface and edges remain crisp and crunchy to the bite.

Restaurant JAG
76 Duxton Road, Singapore 089535
Opening Hours: Lunch 12pm – 2pm (Tue – Fri), 6pm – 10pm (Tues – Sat)

Closed Sun, Mon and public holidays except for those that fall on Fridays and Saturdays, the following Monday will be closed

Inspired by the natural beauty of Savoie mountainsides in France, Restaurant JAG is a one Michelin-starred French fine dining restaurant with an artisanal flair.

A brainchild of Chef Jeremy Gillon and restaurateur Anant Tyagi, Restaurant JAG offers an omakase depending on seasonal produce available and a selection from 40 hand-picked Savoie-indigenous herbs.

Part of its charm and novelty lies in its intimate space, limiting its tables to 7, with each one seats a maximum of 4 guests. Guests can dine with a view of the kitchen as the chefs churn out different “expressions”.

One signature dish, Bouleau, Mushroom & Smoked Foie Gras, reflects Chef Jeremy’s cuisine philosophy, focusing on the simplest of ingredients with distinct flavours, textures, and even temperatures. Using three types of Asian mushrooms (Enoki, Shimeji, and Shiitake) prepared by innovative techniques, he presented them as raw, pickled, torched, meringue and as ice cream.

As a final touch, a delicate sprinkling of micro-herbs.

Basque Kitchen by Aitor
97 Amoy St, Singapore 069917
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2:30pm, 6pm – 11pm (Mon – Fri), 6pm – 11.30pm (Sat), Closed Sun

Ready for a journey to the Basque Country in Spain? At Basque Kitchen by Aitor, guests are invited to experience reinvented Basque cuisine courtesy of Madrid-born Chef Aitor Jeronimo Orive.

This destination dining venue, a one Michelin star restaurant, offers lunch, dinner, and wine menus.

As Singapore’s first Basque-centric restaurant, Basque Kitchen by Aitor is centred on age-old recipes reinterpreted by modern culinary techniques, and focuses on the heritage of the produce.

Explore the flavours of Basque through his must-try version of Arroz de Txipis, an apertivo aka Squid Ink Rice.

A modern interpretation of squid, a key ingredient in Basque gastronomy, which is cooked by grilling it over charcoals. This dish is given an Asian twist by glazing it with Kabayaki sauce and black sesame aioli.

Cloudstreet
84 Amoy Street, Singapore 069903
Opening Hours: Lunch 12pm – 1:30pm (Mon – Fri), Dinner 6pm – 9pm (Mon – Sat) , Closed Sat Lunch & Sun

A collaboration between Chef Rishi Naleendra and General Manager Gareth Burnett, Cloudstreet is all about ingredient-driven cuisine.

Its tasting menus are full of thoughtful, expressive dishes, designed to encourage intimate interactions between you as the guest and the chef.

It is the sister restaurant of Michelin-starred Cheek Bistro, and offers private dining for a maximum of 8 guests.

As it has a changing, seasonal menu, be ready to find something new on possibly every visit. Here’s a recommended dinner menu selection. Get the Grilled Oyster (served with betel leaf, coconut, and finger lime), pick the Sri Lankan Curry of King Crab and Tamarind Aromatic Coconut Broth as main course, add some Burnt Rice with Celeriac; and finish off with Bergamot Jelly as dessert.

Preludio
182 Cecil Street, Frasers Tower #03-01/02, Singapore 069547
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 2:30pm (Mon – Fri), 6pm – 9:30pm (Mon – Sat)

Right in the heart of Singapore’s business district is Preludio, a modern dining concept located at Frasers Tower (just opposite Amoy Food Centre).

Created by Colombian chef Fernando Arevalo, Preludio practices what is known as “Author’s Cuisine”, a term which originated in Spain. Simply put, there are no rules nor boundaries in this kind of cooking.

Preludio is far from the usual restaurants as it moves with time in orchestrated chapters. What makes it unique is that the dining experience is led by themes, which change every 12 to 18 months. And that creates anticipation much like a prelude to a song or a book.

For its debut, it launched “Monochrome” where everything from the food to the serve ware to ambiance is in shades of black and white.

A signature dish you definitely must try is the La Cortina, made with agnolotti – a pasta typical of the Piedmont region. The filling combines the flavours of Butternut Squash and Amaretto, then served with Parmesan Sauce, Almond Snow, and a drizzling of Il Borgo, a prized balsamic vinegar aged for 25 years.

Olivia Restaurant & Lounge
55 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089158
Opening Hours: Lunch 12pm – 2pm (Tues – Thurs), 12pm – 2:30pm (Fri – Sat)
Dinner 6pm – 10pm (Tues – Thurs), 6pm – 11:30pm (Fri – Sat)

Be transported to the vibrant city of Barcelona in an instant when you visit Olivia Restaurant & Lounge at the rejuvenated Keong Saik Road neighbourhood.

Barcelona-based architect, Lázaro Rosa-Violán, designed the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant to reflect the cosmopolitan vibe of Barcelona, a mix of the centuries-old tradition and modernism.

Its menu specials showcase the Spanish city’s multi-cultured dining scene. Expect a variety of dishes using both traditional and modern techniques, served in a welcoming atmosphere.

A visit at Olivia Restaurant & Lounge is your chance to try Singapore’s most talked about cheesecake in town.

Get the Olivia’s Homemade Creamy Cake, an iconic dish prepared from the recipe of Olivia’s mother and sous chef Celina Franco. This hand-crafted dessert took months to perfect and achieve that subtle and creamy texture.

Kafe Utu
12 Jiak Chuan Road Singapore 089265
Tel: +65 6996 3937
Opening Hours: 10am – 5pm, 6pm- 11pm (Wed – Thurs), 10am – 5pm, 6pm – 1am (Fri),
9am – 5pm, 6pm – 1am (Sat), 9am – 5pm, 6pm – 11pm (Sun)

Kafe Utu is an all-day Afro café serving brunch, lunch, a curated set of east and west African food, and specialty coffee served with only Hokkaido milk.

At night, the Utu Lounge at this cashless establishment serves unique house cocktails, Kenyan ales, and a hand-distilled Procera.

Most of the items are made and sourced from Kenya (like 90 %!) from the hand-carved doors, hand-blown water glasses, and ceramic coffee cups and saucers, down to their leather and bill folders. The 8-meter long banquet table is made of African Mahogany.

Even the sauces used and served are all home-made, including the Congo Bongo, Fresh Mango Chilli Marmalade and House Chilli.

Highly recommended is the Swahili Fish Curry with Coconut Rice aka Mtuzi wa Samaki. Kenyans love this dish prepared with chunks of red snapper in a house curry paste, made even richer with tamarind paste, coconut milk, and spiced up with habanero peppers.

To balance the heat, it is served with coconut rice (made with parboiled rice with coconut milk) and kachumbari, a fresh tomato and onion salad dish.

Duckland
United Square Shopping Mall, 101 Thomson Road, #B1-09 & 64/65 Singapore 307591
Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm, Last Order 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)

What makes Duckland different is its offering of BOTH Roast Irish Duck, and other Asian and Western duck delicacies in a casual setting.

Bred for its density and porous skin, Irish Ducks are succulent, tender, full of flavour, and consistent in quality because of the care given in breeding and raising them.

For duck lovers, Duckland’s signature dishes include Roast Irish Duck, Duck Confit & Waffle, Duck Broth, Duck Fried Rice, Spaghetti Duck Bolognese, Duck Liver Terrine, and Duck Pie.

For the Roast Irish Duck, the bird is massaged with herbs, spices, and wine, and roasted in a combi-oven, the duck yields a beautiful crisp amber skin while the meat has locked in its juices.

If you are wondering about what else there is on the menu, non-duck dishes are also available using excellent Irish produce, such as Charcoal-grilled Baby Back Ribs, Irish Lamb Stew, Bacon Cabbage & Colcannon, and Irish Oysters.

15 Stamford by Alvin Leung
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, 15 Stamford Road, Singapore 178906
Opening hours: Lunch 12:00pm – 3:00pm, Dinner 6pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Sun)

15 Stamford by Alvin Leung is conceptualised by the maverick celebrity chef Alvin Leung, unveiled at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore.

The menu showcases a multi-faceted hybrid of several recipes from his journeys around Asia, paying tribute to cuisines from Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

What you can expect include the Singapore Chilli Crab inspired dish of Whole Alaskan King Crab in Chilli Crab Sauce and served with Cornbread; Whole Boston Lobster with Mangosteen, Tomato and Spicy Thai Dressing; and Hokkaido Scallop with Adobo Butter and Ginger which pays tribute to the iconic Filipino dish Adobo.

Of all the food served, I thought that the element of surprise was the strongest for the Bone in Beef Short Ribs Rendang served with Cabbage Salad ($68).

The Malaysia-inspired dish features bone-in US beef ribs that has been cooked sous vide for 72 hours, long enough to bring out the beef’s ultimate tenderness and flavour.

Marinated in a sweet rendang sauce reminiscent of the stew, I say let those flavours linger in your mouth.

* This entry is brought to you in partnership with Chope.

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