Me-Time Makan: Best Places In Singapore To Dine Solo
STORY: Annette Tan
02 November 2022
The lack of a dining companion should not be a deterrent to enjoying great food at a great restaurant. In fact, if you haven’t already come to appreciate the joys of solo dining, allow us a few sentences to persuade you to try it.
When you dine solo, you can choose whatever the hell you please and then snarf it down or savour it without worrying about keeping pace with your dining companion. Eating alone means not having to make conversation – you can bury yourself in a book throughout the meal, silently judge the couple beside you, and eavesdrop on any gossip that floats your way.
If you’re a parent or partner to someone with different tastes, then not having to choose something you will all enjoy might be a welcome change. And being free of a small person eat everything off your plate because they like your food better than the chicken nuggets they ordered? Priceless.
Above all, eating with nothing but your thoughts can be cathartic. It can be a time to reflect in the most pleasant of ways and enjoy your own company. It can also make you more aware of what you’re eating and of the little nuances we often miss when distracted by conversation.
Maybe you think you’ll feel awkward since social conventions of old have made a stigma out of solo diners. Well, not so long ago, women didn’t go to the mall dressed in nothing but a sports bra and Lycra shorts. And yet here we are. Unshackled from the chains of corporeal shame.
To start you off on your solo dining adventure, here are a couple of hotspots to treat one very important person to a delicious day out.
Sure, hotpot is typically a communal affair, but there is enormous, languorous pleasure to be had in a hotpot for one. At Fufu Pot, you pick a soup base you like (white curry, Korean army stew, tonkatsu miso, tomato, mala, etc) and it will come with a filled-to-the-brim bowl of fresh ingredients for you to make your way through. These include pork shabu shabu, tiger prawns, clams, scallops, fish roe balls, pork balls, shimeiji mushrooms, baby Napa cabbage, leek, silken tofu and Japanese ramen or sweet potato vermicelli. When you’re good and done, you can waddle your way down to the MRT station to make your way home in a satisfied haze.
A plate of well-made pasta, an icy glass of Aperol Spritz, and a breezy space overlooking the water. In this setting, you can even pretend you’re the protagonist in some romantic comedy discovering how much you love being alone, only to have some uncannily good-looking guy or girl interrupt your reverie and ask you out on a date. Okay, so that almost never happens IRL, but hey, the food here is solid, the drinks are strong, and the setting will make you feel like you’ve gone on a little vacation from the assaults of your daily grind. And if you’re lucky, there may be a cute Shentonista or three to bless your line of vision.
Do you know who doesn’t love oysters? Lots of people. So, if you’re the sort that could knock back a dozen easily, and who doesn’t need to hear someone else lamenting how the last oyster they ate was so bad it put them off those molluscs forever, then this is the place for you. Ask for a seat overlooking the river, order your oysters and a flute of champagne, and bask in this celebration of your everyday.
Counter dining is perfect for hopeless extroverts who need some human interaction in every experience. And if you’ve tried making reservations at the best Japanese restaurants in town, you’d know that it can be as difficult as scoring a par of Air Jordan 2 OGs – in other words, got money also cannot buy. But reservations are easier to snag when you’re a solo diner, especially if the restaurant offers counter seating. At Takayama, you get one of the best kappo-style meals in town and the pleasure of chef Taro Takayama’s friendly demeanour. Where most Japanese chefs tend to be quiet, if not reticent, chef Taro is warm, funny and a great conversationalist. You’ll leave satiated and feeling like you’ve made a friend.
This stalwart Spanish eatery is always buzzy. Book yourself an industrial-chic stool around the bar and let chef Carlos Montobbio and his team delight you with a bevy of tasty treats. Order from the à la carte menu of small plates like sea urchin toast with burrata and Avruga caviar, or Spanish pork jowl with pickled pear and chipotle mayo. If there is one dish you must treat yourself to, it is the sea urchin paella that’s saturated with the deep flavour of lobster stock.
When it comes to dining in a beautifully appointed space, PS Café always delivers. Their gorgeous bistros, with their signature oversized floral arrangements, are always inspiring, and it helps that the food is dependably good. Head to PS Café’s East Coast Park branch where you can people-watch from a table by its large windows or from its al fresco terrace. All you really need for company is a platter of those irresistible shoestring truffle fries and an icy drink. Ok, and maybe a slice of that devilish double chocolate blackout cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Bliss!