Must-try Heritage Eateries in Kampong Gelam
To savour food that is in keeping with the spirit of the Malay and Muslim community, there is no better place than Kampong Gelam. With a slew of heritage eateries, some more than a century old, offering a range of traditional food such as Nasi Padang, Nasi Biryani and Murtabak, you’ll be spoilt for choice. No food adventure is complete unless you’ve dined at these restaurants at least once in your life!
A Michelin Bib Gourmand-awarded restaurant, Hjh Maimunah was founded in 1992 and started out as a catering service for Hajj travellers before opening the restaurant to serve rustic kampong dishes. The biggest challenge here is deciding what dishes to order. Must-tries include the Sambal Goreng Pengantin (beef lungs and liver that are simmered, cut into cubes and stir-fried in a rempah mixed with prawns), Ikan Bakar (grilled fish made from locally-farmed seabass that is delivered fresh by truck every morning), and Tauhu Telur (fried tofu, eggs and vegetables topped with prawn paste sauce). Those with an adventurous palate should try the Siput Sedut (sea snails in coconut gravy).
11 Jalan Pisang, Tel: +65 6297 4294
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 7:30am – 7:30pm; Closed on Sunday
This 100-year-old eatery serves North Indian cuisine and is most well known for their Nasi Biryani, a delicious saffron rice dish that is served with chicken, mutton or fish. The founder used to be the Master Chef of the wealthy Alsagoff family who owned land and properties along Beach Road. Today, the restaurant is being managed by the third generation of the family. Fans of their legendary Biryani include the Brunei royalties and dignitaries from Singapore and Malaysia.
745 North Bridge Road, Tel: +65 6296 1161
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm daily
Touted the “King of Soup Tulang”, M.A. Deen Biasa serves one of the best tulang (a mutton or beef bone stew prized for the marrow) in Singapore and it is undoubtedly their star item as foodies flock to the restaurant to savour this dish. Forget demureness when eating this dish. The best way to enjoy it is to suck out the marrow directly from the bone and do order a basket of baguette to mop up the stew. Besides soup Tulang, the restaurant also serves a variety of dishes such as Biryani and Mee Goreng.
95/97 #01-01 Jalan Sultan, Tel: +65 6392 2712
Opening hours: 24 hours daily
Sabar Menanti means “wait patiently” in Malay, an apt name for this eatery on account of the long queue to get to the food. Established in the 1940s, the family-run business has since expanded to several branches which include Sabar Menanti Restaurant, Sabar Menanti II and Rumah Makan Minang.
Order their signature Ikan Bakar dish (charcoal-grilled fish) which has been prepared the same way since their opening, served spicy with green chilli or with sweet black sauce and onions, and finish off the meal with kueh lopis (glutinous rice with dark brown sugar syrup).
Over at Rumah Makan Minang, sample signature spicy classics such as Sambal Petai Prawns, Daging Belado (beef stir-fried with red chilli-based spicy sauce) and Ayam Panggang (spicy grilled chicken) that usually sell out by the end of lunchtime. The health-conscious can also enjoy a guilt-free meal by ordering brown or red rice.
Sabar Menanti II
737 North Bridge Rd, Tel: +65 6291 0109
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 7am – 5pm; Closed on Monday
Rumah Makan Minang
18 & 18A Kandahar Street, Tel: +65 6977 7064
Opening hours: 8:30am – 7:30pm daily
One of Singapore’s oldest and most popular Indian-Muslim eateries, Zam Zam was established in 1908 and has been operating for over a century. Dig into their famous trio of culinary delights: murtabak (dough filled with chicken or mutton and egg), nasi biryani (mixed rice dish) or roti prata (plain dough); all served alongside curry, and wash it down with a cup of teh tarik (milk tea).
697-699 North Bridge Rd, Tel +65 6298 6320
Opening hours: 7am – 11pm daily
Located right next to Singapore Zam Zam, Victory Restaurant is another Indian-Muslim restaurant that has been in Kampong Gelam for over a century. The restaurant also serves South Indian cuisine but is most famous for its Signature Murtabak. Following tradition, the dough is still being handmade in-house as is the blending of the spices that are used for the meat filling. An estimated 29 million pieces of the Signature Murtabak have been sold since 1910; that is equivalent to 800 pieces sold every day!
701 North Bridge Road, Tel: +65 6298 6955
Opening hours: 7am – 11pm daily
Considered the oldest Nasi Padang eatery in Singapore, Warong Nasi Pariaman was founded in 1948. The name of the warong (stall) is named after Pariaman in West Sumatra, Indonesia. The insistence on “doing things right” by adhering to traditional Padang recipes, using fresh ingredients and cooking with a charcoal stove instead of gas in order to serve good food has contributed to the longevity and popularity of this warong. Must order dishes include Beef Rendang (beef simmered in spices and coconut gravy), Ayam Bakar (charcoal-grilled chicken) and Ikan Bakar (charcoal-grilled fish).
738 North Bridge Rd, Tel: +65 6292 5898
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 7:30am – 3pm; Closed on Wednesday
Featured image credit: Islamic Restaurant Singapore