Cultural Experience | Singapore

Gastronomical Pursuits in Singapore.

Expat dining delights.

In my last post, I seemed completely enamored by Singapore’s natural beauty. So now I’m going to focus on what’s really important: pleasures of the palate. The food industry is another one of Singapore’s main hooks, and quite rightly so in my humble opinion. An amalgamation of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines, Singaporean food boasts a wide variety from the traditional chili crab and fish head curry to its teh tarik and chendol. The list of dishes native to Singapore is really quite extensive but, unfortunately, is not my focus for this week.

Today, I’m going to share two of my recent experiences with the Singapore expat lifestyle. The first is ColBar, a portmanteau of the words colonial and bar. A quaint little place, tucked away in Wessex Estate near the Queenstown neighborhood, it boasts a serene, understated atmosphere. It’s been one of my favorite places for brunch since 2011 since my parents discovered it on a spontaneous drive. Upon first sight, it may seem a tad unimpressive – plastic chairs strewn around rickety tables, holes intentionally poked through the tiled roof to let in natural light, a woebegone sign with “ColBar Eating House” printed on it in red and blue. But the real charm of the café lies in its historical detailing and, of course, the food. Built in 1953, it served as a canteen for British army barracks. Keeping this in mind, you might go expecting the bare minimum quality of food but its ample choice and delectable quality is sure to surprise you. Its menu offers a variety of both Asian and Western dishes – suitable for breakfast or lunch, depending on what time you choose to go. No doubt, the menu must have gone through a number of changes in the last sixty odd years, but its popular appeal amongst the local and expatriate crowd alike has persisted.

My personal favorite is the breakfast platter consisting of sausages, beans, fried eggs and potatoes. Not much for experimenting, you might think, but when it comes to ColBar I prefer the simpler pleasures in life. My mother, whose tastes are truer to her Asian side, cannot do without the standard Chicken Fried Rice with Egg – an absolute must, for all you fried rice fans (such as myself)! ColBar is not the best place if you are looking for anything gourmet, but probably the right choice for a lazy Sunday morning and a cheerful, no-frills ambience.

ColBar on a typical Sunday morning

My second discovery has been in the famed Dempsey Hill area, another remnant of British army life. PS.Café has lately grown very popular among Singaporeans and expats due to its stunning location, amidst a thicket of trees and striking full-length glass windows. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that its extensive food and wine list has delighted many a soul over the past few years.

When I went two weeks ago, it was just after a heavy spell of rain, so the lush greenery surrounding the brasserie was a sight for sore eyes. There is a choice of dining indoors or alfresco but because of the rare breeze, we decided to sit outside, a cozy little table right in the pocket of nature. The service was friendly, weather on our side for a change, food very palatable indeed – it all made for a great ambience. I ordered the Spicy King Prawn Aglio Olio, a must-try! Topped with cereal and snow peas, it formed an eclectic mix of flavors, all very pleasant to the tongue.

For dessert, I gave in to my sweet tooth (as I tend to do), and went for the Ultimate Fudgy Brownie. Let’s just say it lives up to its name – what came towards us ten minutes later seemed like a mound of chocolate drowning in even darker liquid chocolate, with an equally generous serving of vanilla ice cream. Not only was it consumed in a matter of minutes (the extent of my appetite even after devouring an entire plate of pasta is not something I prefer to dwell on), but I also left PS.Café that day feeling fully satiated with an intention to return soon. A perfect restaurant if you are looking for casual-but-quite-expensive dining with a comforting, leafy view.

Although neither of these restaurants is famous for dishes that are unique to Singapore and its predominantly Asian influence, they are distinctive and popular of their own accord, whether it be because of their history or location. This article is not to imply I don’t enjoy local food of course, quite the contrary, in fact – but more on that later!

Srijoni Banerjee

University of California, Los Angeles | 2 stories

I am a sophomore at UCLA, majoring in Economics and minoring in English and Gender Studies. Being born in India, growing up in Singapore and living in Los Angeles now has instilled in me a passion for traveling which I have tried to fuse with my love for writing. Also, there's not much I wouldn't do for good tea!


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