A previously unfashionable corner of Chinatown has emerged as Singapore’s latest foodie enclave
By Christopher P. Hill
A stretch of heritage-listed shophouses tucked behind Tanjong Pagar Road, Tras Street was once best known for its bridal boutiques and KTV bars. Now, it’s food and drinks that lure the crowds here, with new establishments opening seemingly every other month.
Credit Parisian chef Frédéric Colin for putting the lane on the culinary map two and a half years ago with the opening of his Brasserie Gavroche (No. 66; 65/6225-8266). The ambience here is classic brasserie—black-and-white floor tiles, leather banquettes, old family photos—highlighted by an antique wooden bar acquired from Paris’s Café de la Paix. The menu follows suit with such elevated brasserie fare as braised ox tongue and pike quenelle with crayfish sauce, the latter made from a recipe handed down by Colin’s grandfather. The restaurant’s popularity is such that it has already generated a spinoff, Café & Bar Gavroche (No. 69; 65/6225-4869), which spills out onto the walkway of a shophouse across the street. Try the croque monsieur by day, and the deep, France-heavy wine list by night.
Gallic flavors also star on the menu at Fleur de Sel (No. 64; 65/6222-6861), opened last September by chef Alexandre Lozachmeur—whose résumé includes a stint at the three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée in Paris—and his charming Surabaya-born wife Feronika Chandra. The discreet dining room sets an intimate tone, with just nine tables plus counter seating around the open kitchen; there’s also a skylighted airwell that reveals some of the building’s ornate plasterwork. Chandra says that 60 percent of their customers are regulars, and it’s easy to see why they keep coming back. The well-priced set menus, which change every two weeks, hit a sweet spot somewhere between bistro fare and fine dining; perennial favorites include a sublime lobster bisque, seared duck foie gras, scallops with Parma ham and pumpkin puree, and Atlantic cod in beurre blanc. The wine list is also wallet-friendly (by Singapore standards), and the cheese cart is a must-try.