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Travel 3 minutes 27 September 2016

Neighbourhood Guide: Michelin-Recommended Eateries and Hotels in Singapore's Little India

Tired of the concrete jungle and shopping malls? Head to Little India for some good food and cosy hotels.

Neighbourhood Guide Singapore Bib Gourmand

The bustling hive that is Little India is home to historic places of worship, quaint shops selling floral garlands and 24-hour shopping wonder Mustafa Centre. But the area is made up of more than these usual tourist touch points, and it oozes a personality far removed from Singapore’s image as a concrete jungle rife with shopping malls.

The first hints of it? Rows of shops selling fresh produce: ripe red tomatoes, aubergines a royal shade of purple, and potatoes still caked in the soil they were grown in. Then there are the humble eateries blasting music as the aroma of spices waft through the air. Make a turn along Dickson Road and quirky hotels that suit every budget come to your attention. 

Indeed, the area is alive with a culture that’s absent in other parts of Singapore. These little alleys are picture-perfect postcards of Singapore’s diversity, starting with its food offerings – from dim sum supper spot Swee Choon to Mustafa Centre’s very own rooftop restaurant, Kebabs & Kurries. 

Our inspectors make regular visits to the area every this year and this is their list of good eats and where to stay, including a two Michelin-starred restaurants and three Bib Gourmand eateries. 
The VIP room at Putien (Kitchener Road)
The VIP room at Putien (Kitchener Road)

Putien (Kitchener Road)
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019
127-129 Kitchener Road

What our inspectors say: Opened in 2000, this was the first branch of this chain known for its exceptionally friendly service. The updated dining room boasts a light-colour scheme and modern aesthetic. The signature seaweed with mini shrimps, available November-March, uses only the first harvest of Fujian seaweed for its nutritional value. From April-August, ask about the 6-cm-long razor clams straight from the restaurant's namesake city in Fujian.

Chef Kang's
One MICHELIN Star, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019
25 Mackenzie Road

What our inspectors say: After working in a professional kitchen for over 40 years, Chef Kang still keeps his creative fire burning, as manifested by the new items added to the menu from time to time. The dining room is more utilitarian than fancy, just like his no-frills Cantonese fare that focusses more on flavours than looks. It is closed when the chef travels, so call ahead to reserve a table. Ask about the omakase menu and any specialities that need pre-ordering.

The home-style dishes at Chef Kang's.
The home-style dishes at Chef Kang's.

Muthu's Curry (Little India)
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019
#01-01, 138 Race Course Road

What our inspectors say: 'Muthu' means pearl in Tamil, which befits this gem (with three other branches) serving traditional dishes from both the Southern and Northern regions of India. Originally called Muthu Makkan, the owner expanded and renamed the restaurant in 1982. The signature fish head, South Indian-style, uses a secret blend of spices. Swimmer crabs, masala prawns, lamb rack and tandoori chicken are also big hits among diners. Ask about the monthly specials.

READ MORE: Behind The Bib: Muthu’s Curry (Little India)

Lagnaa 
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019

What our inspectors say: You always have the final say on the level of spiciness of any dish you order at this three-storey restaurant in Little India, though many come for the Chilli Challenge on full moon nights to push their limits (the record currently stands at level 9). The owner-chef tries to include sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent flavours. His monthly specials feature seasonal ingredients and most dishes come in two serving sizes.


The threadfin fish curry at Lagnaa.
The threadfin fish curry at Lagnaa.

Bismillah Biryani
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019
50 Dunlop Street

A good biryani is all about the basmati rice, and the owner of Bismillah Biryani takes care to cook the long grains together with the meats over a charcoal fire so all the flavours come together in one pot. The mutton at this Bib Gourmand awarded eatery is also very good.

Nasi Lemak Kukus
MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019
229 Selegie Road

Formerly located at Upper Thomson Road, this steamed nasi lemak restaurant has found a new home along Selegie road. The store still dishes out free-flow servings of coconut rice with fried chicken wings, ikan kuning, eggs, crunchy ikan billis and unlimited sambal.

The selection of food at Nasi Lemak Kukus.
The selection of food at Nasi Lemak Kukus.

Allauddin's Biryani
MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019
666 Buffalo Road, Tekka Centre, #01-232

What our inspectors say: This centre, in Little India, was originally named Zhujiao Centre. However, the word was too hard for non-Chinese locals to pronounce so it was renamed Tekka Centre in 2000. As it's a landmark in Little India, expect plenty of Indian fare. The biryani is very famous; you may choose mutton, chicken or fish as a topping.


Heng Gi Goose And Duck Rice
MICHELIN Plate, MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019
666 Buffalo Road, Tekka Centre, #01-335

This stall in Tekka Centre is well-known for its traditional Teochew style of braised duck and is affiliated with another MICHELIN Plate stall, Ah Heng Duck Rice at Hong Lim Market. The Teochew lor (braising sauce) imbues the tender duck with a deep savoury flavour that just borders on salty — perfect with the tangy vinegar-based chilli and a bowl of white rice. Though the signboard still says so, the stall no longer offers goose as part of Singapore's import restrictions.



One Farrer Hotel & Spa's 'Urban Room'
One Farrer Hotel & Spa's 'Urban Room'

WHERE TO STAY: 

One Farrer
MICHELIN Guide Singapore 2019
1 Farrer Park Station Road

What our inspectors say: Some may consider this self-styled 'urban resort' hotel, which opened in 2014, a little too far from the city centre but Farrer Park MRT station is directly underneath the 20-storey building. The large spa and 50m swimming pool certainly adds to its appeal, as do the many pieces of artwork. Longer staying guests should consider the Loft Apartments of Sky Villas.


This article was written in September 2016 and updated by Rachel Tan in February 2020.

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