9 quirky restaurants in Singapore that will surprise you

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If you’re planning a dining experience to remember, head to a Tex-Mex restaurant on a quaint riverboat, or a fine-dining eatery set in a futuristic biodome.

TEXT: ESTHER AU-YONG
PHOTO CREDITS: COOKYN INC, ONE FABER GROUP, SUPPLIED

For a foray into fantasy: Andsoforth

This one-of-a-kind dining experience is nothing short of dramatic and mysterious – starting with a series of text messages to get you to the pop-up location. Once there, you’ll be treated to a theatrical feast as you’re served by – and dine with – actors in character. The environments you’ll be immersed in can range from a beachside picnic to an old kampung house where you’ll be served a Chinese New Year reunion dinner. Advance booking is essential.

Where: Locations vary www.andsoforth.com.sg

For a surreal treat: NOX – Dine in the Dark

Surrender your sight – temporarily – in exchange for enhancing your other four senses, as you dine in a pitch-black dining room, guided by blind or visually impaired servers. You’ll have a heightened sense of taste, smell, touch and hearing as you navigate a prix fixe menu that’s crafted monthly by award-winning local chef Desmond Lee. It includes 12 dishes spread over three courses, and can be paired with wines, cocktails or mocktails.

Where: 269 Beach Road, www.noxdineinthedark.com

For the purr-fect experience: Cat Cafe Neko no Niwa

If you love all things feline, this cat cafe in Boat Quay is a must-visit. Each of its 13 adopted cats have its own quirks and personalities, which visitors will get to know as they spend time cuddling them in the airy second-floor space. Food items served here are simple but well curated – the strawberry shortcake comes highly recommended. The cafe also organises events such as cat-care workshops and cat yoga sessions.

Where: 54A Boat Quay, www.catcafe.com.sg

For local comfort food: Grub

This family-friendly cafe recently opened a second outlet at the HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier Clubhouse. With its open-kitchen concept, guests can watch their food being prepared. Here, you can expect all the locally inspired comfort dishes that Grub is known for, including the Har Cheong Gai Burger and Truffle Floss Fries. And for National Day, the cafe is bringing back an old favourite: Sambal Seafood Pasta, served on a banana leaf. Enjoy it poolside with an ice-cold beer.

Where: 31 Ah Hood Road www.grub.com.sg

For a taste of heritage: Chong Wen Ge Cafe

Occupying a building that once housed a school, Chong Wen Ge Cafe is also situated right next to one of the oldest temples in Singapore – Thian Hock Keng. Fitting in with its heritage-rich neighbours – a Peranakan tile gallery and a musical box museum are located at the same complex – it is adorned with vintage furniture. Nosh on Peranakan fare, including signature specialities such as Nonya laksa and mee siam.

Where: 168 Telok Ayer Street, www.facebook.com/chongwengecafe

For tea and creativity: Arteastiq

Nourish your imagination with an art jam session while sipping gourmet tea and – if you choose its high-tea set – noshing on morsels such as pan-seared foie gras and scallop skewers. A session at the social-painting studio within a cafe comes with a free 50cmX50cm or 60cmX80cm canvas, unlimited use of acrylic paints, brushes and sponges, and a complimentary drink. Pick a unique beverage from an exclusive range of teas, including alcoholic ones, which are brewed by the pot.

Where: 333A Orchard Road, #04-14/15 Mandarin Gallery, www.arteastiq.com

For thrill-seekers with an appetite: Dining on Cloud 9

If you like your dinner with a million-dollar view, step into a private cable car cabin at Mount Faber and settle in for an atmospheric meal hundreds of metres above land. With sessions starting from 6pm, diners can catch the sunset, which provides the perfect prelude to a night of gorgeous views and delicious food. Take it slow and easy, as the session’s three round trips provide ample time to savour dishes such as the slow-braised Wagyu beef cheek or pan-roasted Norwegian salmon fillet. Advance booking is required for this experience.

Where: 109 Mount Faber Road, Faber Peak, https://booking.mountfaber.com.sg/sky-dining

For botanical inspiration: Pollen

Here’s one to spoil your date with. Dining at Pollen is an experience that starts from the moment you are picked up in a buggy from Gardens by the Bay’s arrival plaza. You are enveloped in floral scents as you enter the cool Flower Dome – complimentary access allows you to discover the attraction at your leisure, post-meal – and ushered into one of two dining areas. The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Steve Allen, who uses regional agriculture to create his brand of French-Mediterranean cuisine. Think dishes such as salt-baked celeriac with pecorino, black garlic, walnuts, grapes and black truffle.

Where: 18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-09, www.pollen.com.sg

For a wave of nostalgia: Stewords Riverboat

Decked out with twin smokestacks, this Mississippi-style riverboat played host to Singapore’s first A&W outlet in the 90s. Now, docked off Marina South Pier, it’s enjoying a second life as a Tex-Mex restaurant. Against the backdrop of wooden tables, booth seats and old-school country music, Santa Fe Tex-Mex Grill serves American-Mexican dishes like chimichangas, nachos, quesadillas and its signature fajitas. The vessel is also home to a gastrobar. Explore the upper deck with a sundowner, over a splendid view of the CBD.

Where: 31 Marina Coastal Drive, Berth 1 Marina South Pier, www.riverboat.com.sg

Get kitchen-savvy
Learn how to whip up your own National Day feast of popular local dishes at cooking school Cookyn Inc. Operating out of the HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier clubhouse, its social cooking classes allow you to meet new people while learning how to prepare entire meals for the family.
Where: 31 Ah Hood Road, www.cookyn-inc.com

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