Gibran Baydoun of Lucali BYGB shares his favourite dining spots
Because F&B insiders know best
These days I'm busy with trying to build Singapore's most difficult brick pizza oven for my first restaurant, Lucali BYGB.
A hawker stall I would queue for is No. 18 Zion Road for fried kway teow. There is always a queue but so worth it. We love to sit by the river, bring our own bottles of champagne, and eat fried kway teow and dumplings.
I'm a regular at the bar at Cut at Marina Bay Sands. The bar menu has one of my favourite menus in town, and the service is simultaneously warm and intentional.
When I need to eat clean, I only get six nuggets at McDonald's instead of nine...or I go to Grain Traders. Grain Traders is probably the most genuinely soulful quick-service food you can find on our shores.
My favourite bar in Singapore as of late is Idlewild. You can find me drinking a Touria with Ford's Gin and Red Bell pepper and listening to some of the best live jazz in Singapore.
My guilty pleasure is a cheeky Nando's. My blood bleeds Peri-Peri.
My go-to supper spot is Hai Di Lao. There is no better place to be at 3 am after a night of being out-out. The attention to detail is an inspiration, and hot pot is one of God's many blessings.
For weekend brunch with friends, on the rare occasion that I am not working and I am actually invited to brunch, I tend to love Dempsey Cookhouse. They never run out of rosé (and boy have we tried), and we love to be the few people who end up staying until close. The food is exactly what you want on a Sunday, plus it's where you want to take your time in one of the most gorgeous, airy dining rooms on the island.
The best place to get a meal with seafood is Luke's Oyster Bar & Chophouse. The Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, oysters "Lukefeller", and tuna tartare give me a nod to my time living and dining in those classic Boston and New York restaurants. The ones that encourage you to have martini after martini before you even get to the mains.
For special occasions, my go-to is Burnt Ends, and by special occasion, I mean any Thursday. Being at Burnt Ends just feels good and the food is as delicious as it is utterly nostalgic. I also feel it is important to check in on Dave Pynt's beard a few times a year.
My all-time favourite restaurant is any Hillstone Restaurant across America. The food is consistently delicious, and the service is unmatched. My trips back home to the US usually means at least 2-3 visits at the restaurant. Full disclaimer, they were also crazy enough to hire me as my first restaurant manager job, but we don't hold it against them.
My favourite farm in Singapore is well, uhh, does a gin distillery count?
I grew up eating soul food like collared greens, macaroni cheese, chitterlings, and barbecue ribs. Sadly, this level of soul food only happened on special occasions but was the foundation of our family get-togethers.
For dining with family, Candlenut is a must. Whenever I have family in town, it is the best reason for blue swimmer crab curry which I like to eat with my eyes closed. It's a whole thing.
The food scene in Singapore is in the midst of a major reckoning. Diners have never been more conscious, educated and adventurous as they are now, and it is inspirational to watch great restaurants rise to the occasion and continue to keep Singapore's dining scene — world-class.