Having gained independence a mere 51 years ago, Singapore, the world’s only island city-state, is affectionately called the Little Red Dot. It has always been known as a street food paradise, a delectably bubbling melting pot of wallet-friendly Chinese, Malay and Indian hawker fare. Yet lately it has hit a homerun with its carefully crafted strategy of becoming a global dining destination.

Thanks to a cadre of local and imported culinary talents, some of them self-taught, others trained at prestigious culinary schools, the city is humming with a culinary buzz. Some chefs are rekindling an interest in age-old fermentation and pickling techniques, others are obsessing over artisan ingredients, a handful of them are pushing the boundaries of avant-garde cooking while an iconoclastic few are deconstructing local hawker dishes with haute intentions. Together they serve a diverse range of cuisines; from contemporary French, high-concept fine dining and casual Australian BBQ, to reinvented Singaporean, 21stcentury Peranakan, funky nose-to-tail eating and even Japanese-accented Italian. Once the domain of hotels, these great restaurants are popping up in beautifully restored museums, design-driven boutique lodgings, heritage shop houses and, in some rare cases, swanky malls.

Of course this small nation still holds hotel restaurants dear, after all, it’s home to one of the world’s most legendary hotels, the Raffles, established in 1887. Today there are more attention grabbing resort-dining scenes, notably at the Integrated Resorts; Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. They debuted with a bang in 2010 and with them came a slew of restaurants headlined by big name chefs. Since then, the city’s nascent gastronomic scene has been catapulted onto the international stage, generating a frisson of never-before-seen excitement, a supercharged vitamin boost, if you will. Buoyed by this wave of confidence, new eateries continue to open at an unrelenting rate, even the Michelin Guide recently jumped onto the Singapore bandwagon with its inaugural edition.

12forward by White Guide lists 12 eateries in each chosen city that represent the very forefront of gastronomy.

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