We at I-S pride ourselves on being opinionated, but once a year we take a break and let our readers do the judging. And judge you did—thousands of you filled out our lengthy ballot and cast your votes on Singapore’s best restaurants, bars, attractions, shops, gyms and lots more. Without further ado, here are the winners…
Oh, how times have changed. 28 HongKong Street has been vanquished by Tippling Club. This restaurant and bar has gone from strength to strength, with new digs, special experimental dinners and, of course, bartender Kamil Foltan’s classic-with-a-twist creations.
Best New Bar
No longer are hotel bars synonymous with watered-down swill. Anti:dote leads the revival with creative cocktails that are beautifully presented. The modern space brings back forgotten classics, while also dishing out awesome fusion tapas like black truffle veal cheek bao.
Tom Hogan (Anti:dote)
It’s a double win for Anti:dote with bartender Tom Hogan snatching the bragging rights from the boys at 28 HongKong Street. The American fuses his classic know-how with Asian touches and lots of charm.
Honorable mention: Peter Chua (28 HongKong Street). The local wonderboy is fresh from his Diageo World Class finals after clinching the sixth spot as one of the world’s best bartenders. Readers love him, too, it seems.
Best Wine Lounge
Wine Connection Cheese Bar
The sister outlet of last year’s winner, this affordable and casual bar not only sells and extentive selection of bottles starting at $35, it also has a decent choice of artisanal cheeses, which you have have served on a board while you drink in-house.
Local pride FTW. As one of the oldest local microbreweries, this three-time winner is the grand-daddy of the small-batch movement, serving signatures like their IPA and the Oatmeal Stout and seasonal brews like the award-winning XIPA.
We’re pretty sure Zouk has been topping every club list since its inception and it’s easy to see why. They bring in big names like Avicii and David Guetta, they’re constantly introducing cool club nights at their three establishments: Zouk, Velvet Underground and Phuture. Plus, they’re not closing anymore!
Best Party Event
This annual party attracts tens of thousands of EDM fans with headliners like this year’s Steve Aoki, Nina Kraviz and Nicky Romero. With multiple stages and tons of food & drink booths, one of Southeast Asia’s largest music festivals keeps partiers going until the wee hours two nights in a row.
Best Beach Bar
Tanjong Beach Club
The nautical blue and white color scheme imparts chic beach bar vibes at Tanjong Beach’s only restaurant-bar. While things get heated at night with their DJs spinning popular tunes, the days have a chiller weekend brunch vibe.
Best Rooftop Bar
Ku De Ta
Marina Bay Sands’ swanky rooftop bar has snatched the top spot for three years running. It’s got Asian fusion menu, sunset cocktails, cool DJs and a ridiculous view.
Honorable mention: 1-Altitude. Taller than Ku De Ta, this triangular rooftop space has a garden-like atmosphere, bottle service and some pretty pumped up music. It gets super packed over the weekends with pretty young things who are dressed to impress.
Throwing Les Amis off its two-year winning streak, this French fine dining restaurant is equally as swanky and undoubtedly delicious. It doesn’t hurt that the place capitalizes on the 70th floor bay views and pushes out prettily-plated gastronomic nosh.
Honorable mention: CUT by Wolfgang Puck. The venerable steakhouse was so close to clinching top position but lost by only three votes. But, really, who could resist marbled steaks oozing meaty juices cooked to perfection?
Best New Restaurant
The slick grill (read: gourmet barbecue) and bar is well-loved by critics and diners alike because of its accessible high-low interpretations of comfort food. Although the menu changes daily, think along the lines of pulled-pork sandwiches with chipotle aioli and coleslaw, as well as burned leeks in a brown butter sauce.
Common Man Coffee Roasters
Between their in-house roasted coffee and a food menu that’s far from your average coffee joint fare, it’s no wonder the cool space full of edgily-marbled counters and minimalist wooden furniture edged out last year’s winner Chye Seng Huat Hardware, which came in second place.
Best Local Chef
Willin Low (Wild Rocket)
Willin Low has certainly had a good year, between reopening his Mod Sin restaurant Wild Rocket and cementing his status as the champion of fusion Singaporean cuisine. The ultimate comeback kid’s landslide win this year puts fine dining favorite Justin Quek on the backburner for the time being.
Can’t argue with your verdict on this one. PS. Cafe has a great mix of atmosphere and good food. That, and all four outlets have slightly different menus, making each experience a little different. The airy spaces with huge floral bouquets add to the brunch-y vibe, but staples like the truffle shoestring fries and eggs benedict never fail us, either.
Best Hawker Center
Maxwell Food Centre
This category is always a source of contention as everyone has their childhood favorites. But between all the other hawkers that have recently undergone renovations (read: beautification), Maxwell still maintains its buzzing and slightly gritty vibe. Plus, there are evergreen stalls like Tian Tian Chicken Rice, Zhen Zhen Porridge and the famous char kway teow from Marina South Delicious Food.
Best Dessert Spot
Fresh from a pretty extensive facelift, Chef Janice Wong’s late-night dessert haunt is back in full force. For the third year running, this has been the go-to dessert spot with few contenders that can match the finesse of her edible wall art (you heard it, there are marshmallow walls) and kooky chocolate-y creations.
Best Food Event
It seems like there’s no better pleasure than something with a bang for your buck. Despite the blistering heat, you all came in droves to sample some of the best chefs from places like Saint Pierre and Forlino for a fraction of their normal prices. At Savour, it was all quality food, a great atmosphere and lots to choose from.
Honorable mention: World Gourmet Summit. The WGS spares no expense in bringing in heavyweight chefs to cook up amuse bouche-sized portions for all to enjoy. With good wine and good food, it’s no wonder the best type of food coma ensues.
Arts & Entertainment
Singapore Art Museum
After a quiet spell, SAM’s been back in a big way, with its brand new energetic director Susie Lingham, some private management and several big exhibitions. On now at SAM @ 8Q is photography triple whammy Still Moving, which brings together Southeast Asian photographers, historical photos and new video pieces.
Best Art Gallery
Last year’s winner MAD Museum of Art and Design has been relocating to Tangling Road, so this year’s winner was the glizty Opera Gallery, famous for its huge names. The current exhibition, A Retrospective Journey, features Marc Chagall, Chu Teh-Chun, Salvador Dali, Fernand Leger, Pablo Picasso and Marc Quinn. See what we mean?
Best Arts Space
Esplanade—Theatres by the Bay
And the winner for another year is Esplanade—Theatres by the Bay, which continues to win local hearts with its mix of big-deal and intimate programming. This year we were excited about their Jazz in July series and their cool series National Theatre Live, where they screened the iconic London company’s biggest productions.
Best Music Festival
You’re gaga for all things indie, so it goes without saying that your favorite music festival is the so-cool-it-hurts St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, which last year brought in lo-fi acts like Youth Lagoon, slightly bigger names like James Blake and Daughter and even local stalwarts The Observatory. The 2015 edition will happen at Gardens by the Bay on Jan 24, and the recently revealed line up includes the slow and surreal Little Dragon and Swedish dance anthem machine Lykke Li. Whee!
Best New Pop-Ups
PasarBella & Friends Go to Town
This year’s standout winner saw The Grandstand’s warm community market transported to the heart of the CBD. The outdoor festival brought together culinary treats from fresh produce to deli delights and homemade meals. The PasarBella pop-up market was part of the i Light Marina Bay 2014 festival in March, and will probably be even bigger in 2015.
Best New Local Store
The Roof Top
Multi-label fashion and homewear boutique The Roof Top wins the prize for best new local store this year. Taking up a huge space on the top floor of City Square Mall, The Roof Top is a quirky, nostalgic mix of vintage trinkets, retro décor and clothing racks from an ever-changing range of brands.
Best Furniture Store
I Wanna Go Home
Another standout winner, I Wanna Go Home takes the cake for Singapore’s favorite furniture store. Self-described as “home fashion” rather than homeware, I Wanna Go Home stocks a sophisticated and carefully-curated range of furniture, table wear, kitchen items and home accessories.
Best Mall for the second year in a row, ION Orchard steals the show with its diverse and illustrious range of stores–from fashion to tech to dining to home. Pretty much everything you could want under one roof and a central location is a winning combination for ION, not to mention all that art.
Best Place to Pick Up I-S
Wine Connection Cheese Bar
Making the list for the second time, Wine Connection & Cheese Bar is a Singapore institution. The I-S stand sits nestled between the cheese bar and the bistro which sees a steady stream of patrons every day of the week. And with affordable wine and French cheese–who can argue?
Fitness & Wellness
Best Gym Chain
A frequent winner in Readers’ Choice Awards, Fitness First is a constant presence in Singapore with 16 branches islandwide (including seven in the CBD area). More than just treadmills, Fitness First offers group exercise classes, extensive weights rooms, swimming pools and complimentary towel services for members.
Best Pilates Studio
Winner for the second year in a row, Sky Pilates has over 50 classes a week so even the busiest people can fit in a workout. More than just toning, Sky Pilates classes can help overcome injury, increase mobility and flexibility and relieve pain.
Honorable mention: Pilates Fitness, who came in a very close second this year. Pilates Fitness have two outlets in Singapore (Telok Blangah and Serangoon) and offer a range of specific classes like pilates for weight loss, pilates for couples and pilates for pregnancy.
Best Yoga Studio
True Yoga aims to give members the most authentic yoga experience possible with premium facilities, a calming vibe and experienced instructors from India (you know, the birthplace of yoga). Their two branches (Orchard Road and Raffles Place) have 16 yoga studios between them, as well as member relaxation lounges and steam rooms.
Best Boutique Gym
Ritual Gym focuses on time-saving, with a stripped down, essentials-only exercise method. Instead of equipment and trainers, Ritual teaches you to use your own body as a machine for an effective (and super quick) 30-minute workout.
Best Running Event
Standard Chartered Marathon
A regular on our Readers’ Choice list, the Standard Chartered Marathon ticks all the boxes for a quality running event. In 2014, the race has retained Gold Label status by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), putting it alongside top global elite races. Get training—the next one is on Dec 7.
Trends & Trendsetters
Best Local Startup
Bandwagon, as the name might suggest, is a live music gig finder portal. Super specific to music, it covers gig guides, new venues to catch your favorite artists and band reviews. Another way to stay in touch with all things music related in Singapore. Check out their Spotify recap of the month’s music selections too.
Coolest Local App
GrabTaxi ran away with this category because—say what you will—it’s made getting in taxi a bit easier. If you don’t know already (hello, where you been?) the app connects passengers to taxis from all taxi operators, increasing the likelihood of you getting a taxi when you really need one. The user-friendly app also auto-detects your location, finds nearby drivers and gives you an estimated fare price.
The Hawker Sessions
The Hawker Sessions bring the community together for an evening of food, drink, company–and charity. The organizers identify a family in need and bring the community together for a Hawker Session to raise money to support the local community and its residents.
Best Budget Airline
The budget sister of our national carrier beat out last year’s winner Jetstar. It’s hard to argue—they are ridiculously cheap. Just a glance on their promotions page revealed one way fares to Bangkok from $84 and Hong Kong and Tokyo from $229. The travel-by period ends Oct 24, so better sign up quick.
Best Regional Destination
We thought it might be Indonesia or Hong Kong. But no. The Land of Smiles clobbered the competition with nearly half the votes. Clearly we don’t need to tell you that Thailand is awesome—you seem to already know—but for your next trip take along with you our annual Hot Spots guide, which covers our picks of all the new places in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Samui.
Best New Hotel
Sofitel So Singapore
Last year it was W Hotel in Sentosa, but this year you’ve moved on to the next big shiny thing—one with 134 rooms by Isabelle Miaja, with in-room iPhones and iPad minis and flourishes from Karl Lagerfeld. On the F&B front, there’s Xperience, which lets you pick a protein and have it cooked your way, and rooftop bar HI-SO.
Honorable mention: Westin. It’s worth mentioning that things were neck and neck between Sofitel So and another brand new opening this year, the Westin Singapore, which takes up floors 32-46 of the Asia Square Tower 2. Their special feature, we think anyway, is the infinity pool on the rooftop. Foodwise, Seasonal Tastes serves up international cuisine, and gastro bar Cook & Brew has an extensive collection of beers (over 100) and an enomatic wine system.
Universal Studios Singapore
Even though it doesn’t have a Hogwarts ride, you’ve chosen USS, dear readers. This month, you can check out their Halloween Horror Nights 4 (Oct 10, 11, 17, 18, 22-25, 31, Nov 1), with new haunted houses, scare zones and super gruesome characters jumping out at you at every corner.
Wave House Sentosa
Of course you love Wave House Sentosa. It’s got all the ingredients: a fitness angle, lots of alcohol, a DJ roster, a trip to Sentosa, ripped pros on the FlowBarrel and sweet schoolies on the FlowRider. If you don’t know what all the fuss it about, there are two introductory classes taking place this month: FlowBarrel Clinic (Oct 11, 3pm onwards, $50-90) for beginners and an all-women clinic on Oct 18 (6pm, $20).