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14 Best Tapas and Small Plates in Singapore

14 Best Tapas and Small Plates in Singapore

New year, new resolutions and new dining experiences to look forward to — like small plate dining. There's the saying "sharing is caring", so rope in a few of your friends and head down for a food adventure like no other!
Burpple Guides
Burpple Guides

5th Quarter is the latest, exciting concept by The Unlisted Collection and chef Andrew Nocote (previously from SKIRT), and is certainly a spot to bookmark. Set in the first floor of boutique Hotel Vagabond along Syed Alwi, the dining room's heavy use of red and velvet might put you off. Don't let it. Allow their knowledgable, warm staff to take you through the unique and difficult-to-define menu, which focuses on traditional techniques such as salting, curing, brining and grilling. Leave all preconceptions at the door — almost nothing you get will be what you expect! Start with the Lardo with Truffle Honey and Chili ($8), cured ribbons of fatback drizzled in truffle honey and finished with chilli bits for hits of spice. You won't be able to stop munching on the Salt 'n' Pepper Fried Tripe ($10), it is crispy, chewy and salty, perfect for washing down with beer. The Short Rib ($36) with grilled carrot and pomegranate cream (what!) packs a punch of flavour and will leave you wanting more, while the rum-cured Pork Belly with Melon and Onion ($12) is truly immaculate. The desserts are a truly inspired spread, of which you should try all. This meal is an adventure best shared by four — set a date for your next celebration!

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Sail on down to this pastel-themed 40-seater joint, which boasts a seafood-centric menu that thankfully won't burn a hole in your wallet. The brainchild of Indra Kantono and Gan Guoyi of Jigger & Pony and Sugarhall, Humpback was conceived after the duo slurped down oysters at the Hama Hama oyster farm in Washington, USA. Here at Humpback, you can indulge in the same oysters, like Blue Pool, Totten Inlet and Rocky Bay, freshly shucked at $6 a shell (just $2 during Happy Hour: 5-7pm, Monday to Saturday!). The Calamari ($14) — fried to perfection, set atop mashed potatoes and surrounded by a moat of 'crazy water' (don't worry, it's just a light tomato broth) — is a sure win for all. You must go for the unassuming, lightly-charred Cabbage ($10) sprinkled with herb cheese, crispy quinoa and a generous douse of chilli oil, you won't believe how good they've made this humble vegetable taste. Finish with the Valrhona Chocolate Mousse ($10) that comes drizzled with sea salt, making this simple dessert go from blah to wow, and the whole experience a whaley good one! Pro tip: Pick a Monday night, where Happy Hour prices go all night long, dine al-fresco with your best friend, and attack those oysters!

Heart, tongue, eyes and brain — don’t be too quick to judge less familiar items on the daily changing, date-stamped menu at Lollapalooza. Opened by the good folks behind Lolla, fresh and seasonal produce gets simple, gutsy treatment here. Don’t hesitate to order the Corned Veal Tongue ($45), a tender piece of meat made flavourful with a bright salsa verde. The Burrata with Stinging Nettle Pesto ($33) may seem pricey, but this globe of creamy indulgence is worth every penny. If available, order the Roasted Wild-Caught Australian Langoustine with Seaweed Butter ($21) — the sweetness of the shellfish pierces through the umami of the briny seaweed like rays of sunshine hitting the ocean floor. Finish off with a recommendation from their friendly staff, all desserts here seem to be undeniably satisfying. Try to come in a group of four to share a bottle of wine and to sample as many plates as possible! As the menu changes daily, note that some dishes stated may not be available.

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Another one in the Tanjong Pagar neighbourhood is Kite, a sexy little restaurant cum bar concept in a shophouse corner at Craig Road. The food is served dim sum-style, in a series of small plates. Some successful, unusual combinations include the Salmon ($14) poached in vanilla oil at 42 degrees Celsius — soft and smoky, topped with sesame, and accompanied by jelly-like apple cubes, three types of seaweed, furikake, then dressed with a sesame dressing for an umami punch. Also, enjoy the uber juicy Black Spanish Pig ($18) that's done medium rare while sporting a crisp skin, and balanced with chestnuts, walnuts, apple and plum — the perfect partner for a cocktail or two. Finally, the Sugee Cake ($10) with orange, ginger and yogurt is a dessert that you should save stomach space for. Pro tip: Pop by during lunch with your colleagues as the set lunch menu ($25/$30 for three/four courses) allows you to try most of the small bowls, plates, and desserts available for dinner — definitely value for money!

This two-year-old bar and restaurant in the Ann Siang enclave boasts a new menu that you simply must try, if you haven't had the chance. Head chef Jet Lo has injected fun and unique twists to familiar Asian classics (yes, we've heard this before) that might just blow your mind a little. Start off with the Vietnamese Scotch Eggs ($16), runny centred quail eggs wrapped in minced pork oozing Vietnamese flavours, then breaded and fried. The Wagyu Beef Char Siew ($29) is one dish you must try — beef so tender you only need a spoon to cut it, and flavours harmoniously layered yet intriguingly familiar. Don't miss the Crispy Duck Curry With Cauliflower & Passion Fruit ($27), a duck confit that stands among the best, bathing in a mildly-spiced curry with surprising bursts of tart passionfruit. Order some cocktails to go with your food — they're fun and sure to please. The casual vibes make it a good choice for a fun and relaxed date night, or a small celebratory dinner for a small group of friends. Pro tip: The three-course set lunch goes for just $25 and features some of their à la carte menu options.

It is easy to miss this hidden gem, with its backdoor entrance located in the quiet alley behind Amoy Street. That underground, mysterious vibe is just what the owners, the same people behind Moosehead Kitchen & Bar, were looking for. This unpretentious modern Mediterranean spot instantly puts you at ease with its warm, cosy interior complete with raw brick walls. Start with some housemade rosemary bread ($5) — it’s so good you might just forget the accompanying hummus is there. Go for the Dukkah egg ($6) for a quick, oozy bite, and share the Iberico Secreto ($34) for a sublime mouthful of meltingly tender pork, tart prunes and pickled cauliflower. You may not want to share the Sea Bass ($28), a flaky, perfectly cooked fillet with ridiculously crisp skin, marinated cherry tomatoes, and an unassuming gentle pesto "soup" that brims with flavour. The Goat's Cheese Parfait ($10) paints the perfect ending, and might just be the best thing you'll have that night. *Menu items will change with seasons.

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From the people behind Gem Bar, Zui Hong Lou and Manor Cocktail Bar comes :pluck, a fusion, sit-down eatery. Park yourself at the counter seats to watch all the action up-close — you'll have a plucking good time! Start your night with Roasted XL Hokkaido Scallops, Roasted Apple Purée, Bacon Sherry ($10 per piece) – pan-seared scallops with Granny Smith apples roasted to sweet perfection, paired with hazelnut crumble, bacon tuile and caramel. Carb lovers, go straight for the Truffle Bacon Mac and Cheese ($12) that miraculously fills you up with no 'jelat' aftermath, thankfully. For the spicy daredevils, order the 62° Slow Cooked Egg, Chili Crab Purée, Shrimp Donuts ($14), an addictive combination that will leave you scraping the bowl. Get their special Torched Marshmallows, Condensed Milk Ice Cream, Chocolate Ganache ($12) for a sweet finale. Also, note that their set lunch menu is affordably priced at $13++, definitely a place to consider for lunch with your kakis!

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This gorgeous shophouse along Ann Siang Road has the perfect setting for that special meal. Be sure to make reservations for a table, but try your luck to get a seat at the counter to watch the chefs at work. If not, dine at the beautifully-lit communal table downstairs, it is one that allows you to have an intimate conversation while enjoying the convivial ambience Lolla offers. Order a bottle of wine, and start with the humble Tomato Salad ($15); the uber fresh, plump, sweet tomatoes (they change seasonally) are dressed simply in olive oil, parsley, and olive soil. Then, move on to the mind-blowing Sea Urchin & Squid Ink Pudding ($22 for a half portion, good for 2 pax) — a velvety-smooth pudding topped with uni so fresh and creamy it transports you to the sea. If you have any fear of offal, this unbelievably tasty Beef Tripe ($23) might just change your mind. It is first braised to pack in flavour, then grilled over charcoal to provide crisp edges and a good hit of smokiness. End your meal with light-as-air Doughnuts with Lemon Curd ($12).

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A little off the grid, this quiet, fresh-air restaurant overlooking the river at Kampong Bugis checks all the boxes for fantastic food, drinks, and an unpretentious ambience. This is the sort of place perfect for a girl's night out, or to impress your beautiful date. The menu is gently Japanese-influenced, with the occasional use of ingredients like miso, shiitake, and shiso. Start the evening by loading up flour chips with the Wasabi Tuna Tartare ($22), a slightly naughty rendition of the classic with the inclusion of creamy avocado, while wasabi and onion sprouts provide a spicy bite. The Cream of Ebiko Pasta ($28) is a must-order, a brilliant dish of al dente spaghetti tossed in a creamy, moreish sauce, topped with briny smelt roe and smoky grilled prawns. The Naughty Pork & Beans ($28) is an interesting one — tom yum stewed beans, grilled pork jowl glazed with a sticky sweet sauce, kale chips for crunch, and chorizo to add complexity. End your meal with the Fortune Cookie ($12), a dessert of refreshing mandarin orange sorbet, luscious yuzu mascarpone cheesecake, frozen yoghurt, finished with a fortune cookie. Take your time here, relax in its cool environment, and let the evening pass by slowly, one plate at a time.

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Tucked into the corner of Jiak Chuan Road ('esquina' translates to 'the corner’ in Spanish), this restaurant boasts a raw, industrial vibe, and features a long counter with bar stools that wrap around an open kitchen. Get ready for a sea-focused Mediterranean feast, best embodied by one of Esquina's classics — a rich, creamy sea urchin, crab and lobster bisque with smoked herring roe and sea grapes ($22), served in the visually astounding sea urchin shell. Follow this with the Grilled Spanish Octopus ($28) that's first sous vide to obtain tenderness, charred for a smoky flavour and served with Jerusalem artichoke, burnt onion and oyster leaf. Don't leave without digging into the epic “PBJ” ($15): peanut butter parfait, banana, cherry jam, and puffed grains. You'll enjoy this unpretentious, grungy spot that screams industrial chic while watching the chefs at work too.

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Helmed by the folks behind New York's Fatty Crab, this modern izakaya in The Working Capitol boasts a sexy industrial vibe, and serves Japanese-inspired plates alongside a wide selection of drinks. For starters, whet your appetite with the moreish Butter Braised Mushrooms ($10). Also try the Crispy Brussels Sprouts ($12) studded with mirin-glazed bacon and served with a karashi-based dip, then move on to the Grilled Duck Breast ($21 or $40) that pairs sublimely with pumpkin purée and red Japanese pickles — an absolute hit. It is essential that you have drinks with your meal, especially the Green Hornet ($18), a tequila drink with wasabi-infused honey, or their special in-house Junmai Daiginjo Sake ($28). This is just the right place for a small group of 4-6 friends to unwind!

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Expect an intimate yet casual meal at this 17-seater counter that's made the list of The World's 50 Best Restaurants (not to mention the top spot on Burpple’s Hot 100 in 2015), and watch as the chefs work with the massive dual cavity oven and elevation grills. The Burnt Ends Sanger ($20) reigns supreme, with smoky, juicy pork shoulder that's been cooked for 10 hours, topped with red cabbage slaw tossed in chipotle aioli, nestled between two fluffy, buttery brioche buns. Be sure to share this as you'll want to save space for other dishes. Another signature mainstay on the menu (it changes daily) is the Quail Eggs and Caviar ($15), it is simple yet complex. Steak-lovers, go straight for the Onglet ($26/100g) — a charcoal-grilled hanger steak charred to perfection and packs a punch of flavour with the accompanying burnt onions and bone marrow. Have as many desserts as your stomach can handle, but don't miss the perfectly balanced Pineapple, Rum and Vanilla featuring roasted pineapple, pistachios, French meringue, Tahitian vanilla ice cream, and dark rum glaze. For so much quality, the prices are certainly not steep here.

The top picks, popular finds and newly opened places in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, curated by Burpple editors!

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