Finding American Comfort Right Here in Singapore
The pandemic has undeniably and indefinitely put a pause on all travel activities, including plans for American families to return home. The occasional homesickness can indeed be difficult to bear. However, in globalized, multicultural Singapore, you can certainly find familiar and comforting elements of America that will make your hometown feel a bit less distant.
Food arguably possesses the strongest ability to remind us of home – not only for appealing to our gustatory senses which then evoke fond emotions and fond memories, but also because cuisine is so inextricably connected with culture and heritage. The American cuisine is difficult to define – really, it is an amalgamation of many cultures introduced by immigrants and the indigenous. But it is this very diverse history that makes the American cuisine greater than the sum of its parts and reflects a multicultural ideal similar to Singapore’s. This unique magic resides most prominently in American diners.
Known for its railcar-style design, checkered flooring and long Formica counters, where seated patrons can marvel at cooks working the griddle. The layout was simple, but utilitarian. It was probably not until the Golden Age that the diner received global attraction, not only for its frequent features in pop culture, but also for what it represented to people around the world.. For Americans, the diner has always been a home away from home given the affordable comfort food and the hospitable space that never belonged to any one person or class.
Internationally, according to the American architect Alan Hess, the diner was a post-war mirage where most countries sorting through the debris looked to the optimism of American business for hope. This rise in international popularity cemented the diner as an indispensable American icon, its design once regarded commonplace is now a prized aesthetic principle widely termed under “retro,” and its dishes received equal glory. It wasn't long before other countries had their own rendition of diners (or at least certain elements of them) inspired by the original, in hopes of capturing the fun, freedom and nostalgia evoked by that era.
Want a taste of the American diner experience here in Singapore? Here are some diner-inspired spots in Singapore worth the look and taste!
Location: 1 Fullerton Road #01-06, One Fullerton, Singapore 049213
Delivery: Oddle, Grabfood, Deliveroo, Foodpanda;
Takeaway: +65 9129 8484
Of course, the place derived its name from the popular method of preparing eggs in American diners. Immediately the interior, a modern reinterpretation imbued mainly with Streamline Moderne sensibilities, is as inviting as the presentation of the food that follows. Though the meals aren’t as inexpensive as diner tradition promises, they are definitely worth the buck for a nostalgic dining experience and for Insta fans! Signature dishes include their Beer Can Chicken and Truffled Lobster Mac & Cheese.
Some grate humor to match the convivial space! (Image: Lifestyle Asia)
Featuring some weekend brunch specials including The Hangover Part IV Burger.
2. Broadway American Diner
Location: Arcade @ The Capitol Kempinski, Capitol Singapore, 13 Stamford Road,
#01-84B, Singapore 178905
Takeaway: +65 6715 6874.
Snuggle up in one of their plush vinyl booths as you indulge in their impressive barbecue beef burger starring house-made patty and fresh-baked, chemical-free buns, and of course, with a milkshake on the side!
Cherry red booths perfect for wholesome family fun over a hearty meal!
(Image: Coconuts Singapore)
Top off a satisfying burger meal with a French toast or a float or one of their signature milkshakes, featuring a special local take – Chendol Milkshake.
(Images: left: @sgcafehopping; right: @sgfoodsteps)
3. Joji’s Diner
Location: 534 Upper Serangoon Rd, Singapore 534549
Website: None, yet. Find them on Instagram @jojisdiner.
Delivery: None for now Takeaway: WhatsApp +65 8292 9478.
From the neon signage to the trompe l’oeil frontage to the mustard yellow-flaming red palette, this place has it all. Oh, and not to mention, the jukebox and the gumball machine beside it! This place screams American diner all right! And even better, in true diner tradition, it serves up relatively affordable meals, everything under $12.90! Speaking to Mothership Singapore, the owner George said so himself, he wanted to bring an “affordable American-diner inspired ambience” to Singapore and he envisioned it as a casual place, where people can show up however they like, even in flip-flops, and dine however they wish, whether it’s alone or with friends – the true American diner spirit!
I mean…who can resist?! (Image: @jojisdiner)
Amazing portions, amazing price, amazing culture. (Image: Eatbook)
The charm of the American diner has proven both timeless and universal, captivating generations worldwide. Perhaps, just as it did during a period of gruelling post-war restoration, the diner can once again become a beacon of hope and dreams during this long- drawn pandemic.
About the author
Born and bred in Singapore, Theodorus graduated with an IB Diploma from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent). He has a penchant for creative problem-solving and holds multiple World Finals awards from his time competing in Odyssey of the Mind. He believes in the power of culture and of volunteerism to bridge humans with one another. Currently a trainee with the Republic of Singapore Air Force, he is also awaiting matriculation.