A belated happy new year, everyone! It's time once again for our Best Of list. Our cut-off date for our Best Of contenders is literally 31 December 2013, so places like Ubin Seafood won't get a mention till next year's list.
In alphabetical order then, here are my picks for the year's best bites:
Central Hong Kong Cafe
Whenever we run out of ideas for places to eat, or just want something quick, simple and comforting, Central at Star Vista is our default choice. Most of the things we've tried are very tasty, but their sliced fish noodle soup alone gets them my vote.
Given how often Esquina keeps changing the menu and specials, almost every visit is a brand new experience, so this is one of two old favourites that I have to keep mentioning.
This deserves a spot just for converting me - a previously die-hard Mexican food hater . I guess not all Mexican food is drenched in sour cream and refried beans, Tex-Mex style. The burritos and quesadillas are excellent, but my default lunch time option now is the Grilled Chicken salad. A salad where the protein is almost the main event is definitely my kind of salad.
Jewel Cafe at Rangoon
I'm still upset that Jewel in Shenton Way no longer has the awesome chicken wings on their menu, but that's somewhat balanced out by the incredible carbonara at their Rangoon Road outpost. This is quite possibly the lightest and best carbonara I've had.
I know we've since discovered Ubin Seafood's steak, but to be fair, Oca Grassa's Florentine served on the sizzling Himalayan salt disc was a pretty outstanding steak. It did break our run of bad beef, and for that it's on my list.
I'm not a big fan of wanton mee (I much prefer bak chor mee), but I love everything about Redring's version, from the al dente noodles to the smokey char siew to the clean yet umami sauce.
This no-frills, self-service udon joint in Liang Court serves some of the best udon I've had. The noodle texture is perfect, the broth is uncomplicated but flavourful, and customise your udon with the self-service toppings bar, complete with tempura batter bits, wakame and grated daikon. Their tempura and chicken karaage rock too.
The food has some misses (steer well clear of the beef tartare don), but there are more hits, plus their Happy Hour oysters and salmon sashimi are possibly the best deal in town.
The Naked Finn
Fresh seafood, sublime bee hoon, great cocktails and a chill, unpretentious environment. What's there not to like?
Their awesome prawn noodle soup now starts at $18 rather than $28. But the downside is that it's now only available for weekday lunches, as they've stopped supper service.
Two Fat Men
We keep coming back here even thought it's in the East and parking is a pain - two factors that usually discourage us from visiting, let alone revisiting, a place. But the food here is well worth it. The chicken wings and grilled pork neck are beyond amazing, and we've recently discovered their kangkong and grilled squid too. And their drinks are fab.
That's it! And if the first couple of weeks are any indication, I think 2014 may be an even better year. Here's to a great year ahead, everyone, and may we never waste our calories on crappy food.
We keep going back to the same places so I don't think these will all be new or that surprising.
Charlie & Co. Best burger under $20 in Singapore. Try the Classic or Mighty Charlie. Unfortunate location in the Ion basement means it may not be there long, so give it a try while you can.
Tamoya Udon. Best udon in Singapore. No doubt about it.
Jewel Cafe. Good food. Great coffee. Affordable. And not packed with hipsters or posers.
Naked Finn. The seafood is phenomenal. Some items are a bit pricey though. But the beehoon and coconut sorbet are so worth it.
Oca Grassa. It's almost impossible to find good steak in Singapore without breaking the bank. Oca Grassa's one is fantastic, and while still expensive, won't leave you in debt.
First Love Patisserie. I love creamy mille crepes. And this place (I go to the Ion one , but they now have a branch at Raffles City) has a great one. Granted the one at Lady M is better, but it's also more expensive. So if you want a good $6 mille crepe, this is my choice.
Baker's Talent. This small shop in Clementi has great Golden Sands (molten salted egg yolk and sugar) buns for just 90 cents a pop. I get one almost every week. They've got other cheap and good buns too.
And of course, old favourites Esquina (almost every bite is awesome), Ember (consistently good food and service) and Two Fat Men (serious flavour on a budget).