Asian small plates are where it’s at these days, with fusion tapas specialists popping up all over town. But which of these hipster newbies is worth your time?
Why it's hot: Chef-proprietor Mark Wee (who's also behind Arbite) has just revamped the menu of fusion small plates and they are really affordable—prices start at $3.
What to eat: The scotch egg with soba hollandaise ($8), smoked pork belly bun ($7) and the beef onglet tataki with buttery crumbly onion "soil" ($6).
What to drink: Belgian craft beers like the Steenbrugge Double Brown ($14). Wee says, “Asian food is spicy and robust beers can stand up to the flavors in a way wine can’t.”
When to go: Unlike sister restaurant Arbite, which is most popular at brunch, this joint only really gets buzzing at dinner.
Why you'll be back: It’s an easy-going venue, perfect for unwinding with a cold brew and value-for-money chow.
Why it's hot: It’s a collab between the Spa Esprit group and chef Ryan Clift (of Tippling Club fame)—you know you can trust these people.
What to eat: Vietnamese Scotch eggs ($16) and smoked pork bao ($19)—pretty much the signatures of the Asian tapas movement—plus Clift's take on a local dessert Malacca chendol 2013 ($15).
What to drink: Draft wine and sophisticated Asian-inflected cocktails like the Golden Mile ($17), a mix of Thai herb-infused vodka, blue ginger gomme and chilli oil.
When to go: At night, it feels like a ‘70s discotheque with hot pink lights. We prefer going at midday when they have a sweet three-course set lunch ($35).
Why you'll be back: For the drinks. It’s rare to find a joint where the cocktails are just as creative as the food.
Why it's hot: Inspired by eighth street in NYC—a veritable Little Tokyo with yakitori spots, noodle houses, bakeries and tea houses galore—this place has a cool urban vibe.
What to eat: Order from the raw bar—options include yellowfin tuna with lemon-avocado—and save room for desserts like banana tempura ($12).
What to drink: Sweet girly cocktails like the Nolita Lychee Saketini ($15) and watermelon shochu ($68 for six).
When to go: The ladies nights (Wed; 6:30-8:30pm) are a big draw with one-for-one cocktails and a lively, younger crowd.
Why you'll be back: It’s the hippest joint in the area for a Japanese-ish meal and drinks.
Why it's hot: This modern Chinese restaurant is dark and dramatic with an illuminated resin statue at the centre of the main dining room. The decor recalls famed NYC restaurant Buddhakan.
What to eat: Tapas like the mantou burger with braised USDA prime beef ($16) and cream of bak kut teh ($12), a refined take on the local hawker classic.
What to drink: Fresh cocktails such as Cherry for the Geisha ($22)—sake, cherry liqueur and prosecco—plus, digestifs like Silky Road in Summer ($22), rum-spiked ginger milk.
When to go: Come for a late dinner so you don’t miss the nightly closing ceremony: Chefs in the open kitchen take a bow as a curtain comes down.
Why you'll be back: It’s a glitzy, high impact spot to take a date or even some clients you’d like to impress.
Why it's hot: It's not your typical Korean barbecue joint. Head chef Jung Yun Yur says, “It’s what you’d find on the streets of Gangnam today: Korean classics served tapas style.
What to eat: East meets West recipes like crispy tofu with kimchi cream sauce ($5.50) and ginseng chicken terrine ($16).
What to drink: Simple straightforward drinks made with Korean alcoholic beverages like kiwi shochu (from $12) and makgeolli sprite ($23).
When to go: In the evening, when it’s cool and breezy. They’ve got a nice alfresco bar. Eating there is a whole lot more civilized than sitting inside with blaring K-pop tunes.
Why you'll be back: For inventive Korean-inspired bites at a convenient Orchard Road location.
Why it's hot: Housed in the space formerly occupied by Dempsey Brasserie, this Asian-inspired bar looks pretty slick: The ceiling is covered with birdcages and there are lots of Chinese motifs.
What to eat: Drink-friendly snacks like chilli crab dip with fried mantou buns ($12), chicken satay with peanut sauce ($11) and Peking pulled pork mini burgers ($14).
What to drink: There’s not a bespoke cocktail in sight. Instead, throw back beers such as San Miguel ($13) and a choice of New World wines (from $13).
When to go: Late at night (it's open till 2am). “People forget to eat when out drinking and then come here hungry at 11pm,” says Alistair Christine, co-owner of Tigerlily.
Why you'll be back: It’s an unpretentious spot to fill up on comfort food late at night when few other places are open.