Sarah Huang Benjamin of Kitchen Hoarders' favourite dining spots
Because F&B insiders know best
These days I'm busy with curating content for my social media and YouTube channels. I'm dreaming up recipes, food tips and ideas to share in my videos and cooking shows, so that means a lot of experimentation and recipe testing in the kitchen.
A hawker stall I would queue for is Ah Seng Braised Duck Rice in Serangoon Gardens. The queue can be crazy at weekends, but to me, it's the perfect family meal on a Sunday. The braised sauce is so flavourful and the duck is really tender. If you're feeling too hungry to wait out the queue, the trick is to get a 'hamburger' (actually a luncheon meat bun) from Serangoon Gardens Bakery and Confectionary right next door to tide you over.
I'm a regular at MTR 1924 in Little India. They have the most amazing variety of thosai and other treats, so you can try something different every time you go. I can't leave without having their masala thosai —it's crispy and buttery on the outside, and stuffed with spiced potato filling.
When I need to eat clean, I cook and eat plant-based food at home. There's nothing worse than a mediocre salad, so I like warm, flavourful and satisfying (but healthy) dishes like turmeric brown rice with sambal eggplant and green beans, or soba with mushrooms and tofu. If I'm out, I go for yong tau foo or fish soup, which I'd happily eat any day of the week.
My favourite bar in Singapore has got to be Manhattan. There are so many bars with amazing drinks here in Singapore, but I love Manhattan because I always know I'm going to have a good cocktail (usually the Sazerac), great service and a nice time. I also like Atlas, especially for their Atlas Martini.
My guilty pleasure is instant noodles. Whether it's Korean ramyeon with extra kimchi and maybe some cheese melted into it, or Indomie with a crispy fried egg and extra fried shallots, it's very hard for me to resist.
My go-to supper spot is Scissors Cut Curry Rice on Jalan Besar. There's something about the sheer messiness of the curry gravy and haphazardly cut toppings that just says 'late night'. The gravy here is thicker than at other stalls, so it really hits the spot when you're craving something with that oomph.
For weekend brunch with friends, I would probably cook. I have yet to find a brunch place in Singapore that really knocks my socks off, especially when compared to the breakfast offerings in places like Melbourne or L.A. I would much rather go for a banana prata doused with curry at Mr & Mrs Mohgan's Super Crispy Prata in Joo Chiat, or maybe some charcoal-grilled kaya French toast at Ah Seng (Hai Nam) Coffee at Amoy Street Food Centre.
The best place to get a meal with seafood is Orchid Live Seafood. There are two branches, both in rather obscure locations, but it's worth the trek. The lobster porridge is so fragrant and comforting, and the steamed patin fish is always really fresh and succulent. Otherwise, Ban Leong Wah Hoe on Upper Thomson Road, which is a really old-school zi char restaurant that does a kickass chili crab.
For special occasions, it's either Burnt Ends or Shinji, depending how buttoned up I want to feel. For a big, blow out meal, nothing beats really refined and fresh sushi, but it can be a little too proper at times. When I want a fun night out at a restaurant with really good food, Burnt Ends is hard to beat.
My all-time favourite restaurant is the Barbary in London. A cosy spot with just 20 seats around a U-shaped counter, it offers an intimate restaurant experience with seriously knock-out food. Everything I love about London's food scene in one place.
My favourite farm in Singapore is Bollywood Veggies! It's always such a fun visit, and the food at the cafe is really yummy — especially the nasi lemak platter. Every time I go there, I get inspired to start growing my own food, even though I have the green fingers of death.
I grew up eating food from many different cultures. My dad is British-Jewish and my mum is Peranakan Chinese, so meals could be almost anything, from roast lamb on potatoes on Sundays to pig kidney mee sua. My parents are also both anthropologists and as an only child, I followed them on field trips where I got to try really interesting foods, with some meals in villages in the jungle.
For dining with family, it's usually one of the Imperial Treasure restaurants. My family is extremely hard to please when it comes to food, and Imperial Treasure is always reliably good. When my grandmother approves, that's when you know it's an excellent meal.
The food scene in Singapore is something for everyone. Unlike a lot of other big cities, where the food scene can be dominated by either high-end restaurants or street food, Singapore has a full spectrum of dining options. But I do wish that we could take food a little less seriously here and see more fun dining concepts popping up.