I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013

We may have a lot to say, but once every year we let you do the talking. More than 2,000 of you cast your votes over the past few months—with more than a few new arrivals knocking some old favorites off their perch. Here is the complete roundup of your favorite events, individuals, venues, products and services for 2013.

By I-S staff | Jul 11, 2013

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  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    Best DJ--Aldrin
  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    Best Gym--Fitness First
  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    Best Flea Market--Zouk Flea & Easy
  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    Best Local Production--Shakespeare in the Park
  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    Best Live Music Venue--Timbre
  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    Best Indie Boutique--Blackmarket
  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    Best Mall--ION Orchard
  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    Best Venue--Esplanade—Theatres by the Bay
  • I-S Readers' Choice Awards 2013
    Best Running Event--StanChart Marathon

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Party / Festival of the Year
ZoukOut
There’s no beating this one. The city’s first outdoor dance music festival, already in its 12th edition, is still the go-to party for pure unadulterated fun in the company of 40,000 revelers (its highest yet) last year. Big names who rocked the crowd at Sentosa’s Siloso Beach for 2012’s edition include Paul Van Dyk, Paul Kalkbrenner and Above & Beyond. This year’s edition takes place Dec 13-14.

Best Exhibition or Arts Event
Night Festival
Close to 75 acts took to the streets surrounding the National Museum and School of the Arts (SOTA) last year for the festival’s third edition, with the highlight being the dance performance Fuerzabruta by Argentinean Ozono Producciones, where performers were suspended in mid-air. Quite the sight. And on Aug 23-24, 30-31, expect more nocturnal magic when the fest happens again.

Best Venue
Esplanade—Theatres by the Bay
While the sound system at the Indoor Stadium is unbeatable, the various spaces found at this beloved arts center are still the most versatile. Smaller international indie acts like mouse on the keys have played at its Theatre Studio and bigger names like Esperanza Spalding and Kraftwerk at its Concert Hall, while emerging local bands and musicians are always putting up performances at both its indoor and outdoor concourse areas.  There’s nary a dull moment here.

Best Museum
National Museum of Singapore
Not only are the interactive elements found throughout the museum’s many galleries totally cool, the diversity and breath of the exhibitions which opened over the past year are also highly commendable—not least the ongoing Princely Treasures from the House of Liechtenstein which features rare masterpieces from Europe and local artist John Clang’s recently concluded Being Together: Families and Portrait, which featured evocative contemporary photographs.

Best Art Gallery
MAD Museum of Art and Design
Before Japanese contemporary art got hip here with the recent opening of Tomio Koyama and Mizuma Gallery at Gillman Barracks, the guys at MAD were already at it—selling sought-after and rare works by the legendary Yoshitomo Nara, on top of their regular shows featuring many established Asian artists.

Best Local Production
Shakespeare in the Park
The event has grown from strength to strength over the years, having seen renowned classics of the Bard such as Othello, Twelfth Night and Macbeth. The recent Othello was particularly sexy, with palpable chemistry (and heat to match) between leading actors Daniel Francis and Wendy Kweh, with a plot revolving around deceit and jealousy—hot.

Artist of the Year
:phunk Studio
These guys are your favorite visual artists for a reason. Not only have they consistently held art shows—from Art Stage to Art Seasons—featuring their trademark whimsical silkscreened paintings, they’ve also collaborated with furniture makers Bench recently to produce a series of arty wood benches featuring the words “Dream” and “Armed”. Now that’s a smart way to garner further street cred.


NIGHTLIFE

Nightspot of the Year
Zouk
Despite stiffer competition from newer clubs like Kyo, the nightlife stalwart still holds fort for the best in dance music—last year’s playlist included visiting guest DJs like Pete Tong and Sven Vath. Resident DJs djB, Ghetto, Hong, Jeremy Boon and Adrian Wee also enjoy substantial local support with their regular nights spanning everything from house to soul to indie-dance to hip hop.

Best Lounge Club
Velvet Underground
Zouk’s sister space is also your pick for the best to simply dress up, look good and people watch. It also helps that you’re surrounded by some beautiful artworks.

Best New Bar
The Vault
What this cool watering hole has that not many bars can boast: space. The 7,000 sq. ft. duplex houses bistro on the ground floor and a swanky lounge-bar on the second level. Grub and tipples offered here may not be extraordinary, but its bimonthly Sunday Artists Market certainly ups its hip factor.

Best Cocktail Bar
28 HongKong Street
It was all very hush-hush when 28 first started, although this is still the go-to place for “insiders” (read: us) to sample mighty-fine bar bites and potent concoctions care of Best Bartender winner Michael Callahan. Nabbing the title two years in a row isn’t going to make it any easier to score a seat.

Best Rooftop Bar
Ku Dé Ta
Never mind that it faced some legal troubles last year, the plush nightlife spot still packs in the crowd with its unbeatable, tried-and-true formula: a luxurious space with killer views, serious cocktails, smooth sounds and ladies night that gives away expensive things. Nice...

Best Live Music Venue
Timbre
Arty-farty locations, hearty food, beers and great music by local musicians: Timbre ticks all the right boxes for a good night out.  The music roster changes from time to time, so emerging bands like Runaway Rose and Insight have their chance to shine.

Best Microbrewery
Brewerkz
The grand-daddy of the better beer movement has a large, loyal following for its fresh craft brews, with everything from golden ale and oatmeal stout to experimental seasonals. Plus, it has some of the best happy hour deals around (a jug goes for $14 before 3pm and $22 before 6pm).

Best Wine Bar
Wine Connection
Affordable, quality wines coupled with an unpretentious vibe (you get none of the wine snobbery nonsense here)—no wonder its outlets, including the latest and revamped branch at Robertson Walk, see a steady stream of customers every day of the week.

Bartender of the Year
Michael Callahan
Callahan’s innovative cocktails at 28 Hong Kong Street (also your pick for Best Cocktail Bar) rock, of course, but he’s also the most hardworking host in town. He’s currently working on a new menu featuring drinks infused with organic herbs grown on the bar’s rooftop—you heard it here first.

Best Local DJ
Aldrin
Still the city’s most consistent and reliable DJ to get the crowd going with his party-ready prog-house music sets, now featured monthly at Zouk for his monthly ONE with Aldrin nights. Our most famous export also toured Ibiza, Seoul, Bali, Taipei and even JB last year.


HEALTH & FITNESS

Best Gym
Fitness First
Winner in the same category for the second year running, the largest fitness chain in Singapore has expanded to 12 outlets islandwide, including seven Platinum gyms in the Central Business District. They’re vast and filled with the latest exercise equipment such as the Technogym Cardio Wave machine, but that’s not why they’re so highly sought after—you’ll find movie libraries, stunning heated pools, an outdoor group studio and even a sky garden.

Best Spa
Banyan Tree Spa Marina Bay Sands
Another one that’s topping the same category in two years is this amazing 55-story escape smack dab in the middle of the financial district. With grained parquet floors, twisted branches and earthy tones, Banyan Tree’s Singapore debut evokes the ambiance of a bamboo garden, with standard rooms equipped with kampong-style footbaths and double suites overlooking the skyline.

Best Yoga Studio
Pure Yoga
A vast and varied schedule sets Pure apart. The facilities here are conveniently located and extremely well maintained, plus the programs are nicely innovative, especially the intensive Forrest Yoga for Deeper Grounding series and the Satsang sharing sessions.

Best Gym Alternative
Wave House Sentosa
We may not have Hawaii or even Bali’s waves, but as long as we’ve got Wave House, we’re good. The two waves—the endless, non-curling FlowRider for beginners and the more challenging simulator, the FlowBarrel—are perfect for both those looking to pick up the sport and show off on its 10-foot wave.

Best Pilates Studio
Sky Pilates
With 50 classes a week, you’ll always have the opportunity for some corrective work at Sky Pilates. Looking for something fun and relaxing? The Gyrotonic expansion system sessions available here combine the best of yoga, dance and tai chi.

Best Running Event
StanChart Marathon
The undisputed standard bearer for a quality running event. This IAAF Gold Label road race has had more than 20 years under its belt with renowned runners marking the date each year in their running calendar. With various categories that cater to different running backgrounds, this is a truly inclusive event.


STYLE

Best Fashion Brand
Hansel
Much lauded designer Jo Soh’s whimsical, vintage-inspired creations get better with every collection, with the latest Spring/Summer’13 collection winning hearts (and votes) with its synchronized swimming theme, earning a perfect 10 in your books.

Best Indie Boutique
Blackmarket
Yet again, proprietor Jasmine Tuan’s 1,500 sq. ft. style den came up tops for the third year running, despite newer multi-label boutiques in the market threatening to usurp its throne. And it’s obvious why: the edgy store keeps things fresh and unpredictable with new collections and labels, all in the name of good taste.

Best Lifestyle Boutique
G.O.D.
The Hong Kong lifestyle label stays relevant with select goods specifically designed with the city in mind, like the tongue-in-cheek book/catalog The “Xi” Paper: 69 to 6.9 Million and adding “lah” for its signature DelayNoMore tees. Who can say no to nostalgic kitschy-cool items that remind you of the good ol’ days?

Best Flea Market
Flea & Easy
The city’s first trendy flea market has faced some serious competition in recent years, what with folks at Public Garden and For Flea Sake steadily gaining ground. To set itself apart, the Zouk team revamped the daytime flea to a convivial night market with great music vibes, courtesy of DJ group FFF DJ Bootcamp. Good times.

Best Mall
ION Orchard
With its diverse and impressive tenant mix (everything from fashion, dining, tech to home), ION Orchard pretty much offers the best of Orchard Road in a single location.


F&B

Best Restaurant
Les Amis
Last year’s winner is still the undisputed champion of fine dining in Singapore. Fans return time and again for the lovely ambiance, knowledgeable wait staff, sublime French fare and seriously impressive wine selection.

Best New Restaurant
Catalunya
A slick space encased in a glass dome floating on the water—the setup here (designed by award-winning New York design firm AvroKO) is undeniably gorgeous. The team—who trained at world famous joints like El Bulli and Sketch—puts out unfaultable Spanish bites and cocktails to boot.

Chef of the Year
Justin Quek - Sky On 57
Also the 2012 title holder, the Singapore industry veteran has been working this town for years, and we all know and love him from his days at Les Amis. Even though he left to expand his empire in Taipei and Shanghai, that’s affected his name recognition here not one bit. These days, folks flock to his MBS restaurant Sky on 57 for Singapore-inspired recipes.

Best Brunch
Wild Honey
From the exotic Tunisian breakfast—comprising fried eggs and chorizo in a spicy tomato sauce—to healthy muesli, this cute as a button establishment has everything a bleary eyed breakfaster could ever crave.

Best Coffee Joint
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
From the Papa Palheta folk comes this hip spot located in an Art Deco shophouse. With a 360-degree coffee bar, killer bottled cold brew coffee (served with milk and syrup on the side) and some seriously delicious pastries to go alongside—it’s your top choice for a jolt of caffeine.

Best Dessert Spot
2am:dessertbar
National pastry sweetheart Janice Wong helms this dimly lit sweet specialist, which is a favorite with area night owls (they stay open till two in the morn). Prettily plated and often including unusual ingredients (think mustard crumble and smoked tofu), dessert here is never boring.

Best Hawker Center
Old Airport Road
Time and again this hawker center snags the best street food title, and for good reason. Seasoned cooks at stalls like Blanco Court Kway Chap and Xin Mei Xiang Lor Mee put out grub so good it makes the more than hour-long queues seem worth it. 51 Old Airport Rd.

Best Food Event
World Gourmet Summit
The who’s who of the food industry makes their way to Singapore for this annual event. And last year for its 17th addition, we saw superstars like three Michelin starred French chef Yannick Alléno and Aussie celeb chef Matt Moran.


TRAVEL

Asia Pacific’s Best Airline
Singapore Airlines
The undisputed champion of luxe air travel, our national carrier is ever reliable for impeccable service and efficiency. www.singaporeair.com.

Best Budget Airline
Jetstar
Affordable sister airline to Qantas is your top pick yet again, with its good range of routes (23 at last count) flying out of Changi Airport Terminal 1.

Best New Hotel
W Hotel
Located in chi-chi neighborhood Sentosa Cove, this establishment is super plushy by any standards, with a rocking branch of W’s signature watering hole Woobar—featuring nightly DJ acts—as well as two great restaurants The Kitchen Table and Skirt.

Best Boutique Hotel
The Scarlet
Its location in Chinatown is stellar, providing easy access to Ann Siang Hill’s top notch bars and restaurants. The hotel’s got lots of historic appeal too: the building dates back to 1924. And with classy wood and marble furnishings, the place exudes old world charm.

Best Hotel
Marina Bay Sands
The view from the SkyPark of this now iconic structure has got to be the most stunning in the city. Plus, the convenience of staying right by the world class casino, shops and celeb restaurants like db Bistro Moderne can’t be beat.

Best New Attraction
Gardens by the Bay
Who said parks can’t be fun for grown-ups? You have splendid flora to surround yourself with day and night, plus acts like Aerosmith, ATB, Kings of Convenience and Markus Schulz have performed on its grounds recently.


ETC

Coolest Local App
Uber
It’s no wonder you like it—there are still more taxi cabs than there are Uber sedans on the street, but snagging one and being driven around town in luxury is hard to beat.

Most Promising Startup
RedMart.com
This is a vote we badly want to get behind—everytime we order our drystores off RedMart, the delivery’s prompt and accurate, plus the staff’s friendly. The variety is just right, too.

Best Creative Networking Event
Creative Mixer
Each edition of the popular series
 by Relay Room sees an amazing turnout—up to 100 of the city’s creative game changers.

Hottest Neighborhood In Town
Tiong Bahru
The undisputed hip hood recently welcomed men’s only salon We Need A Hero and diners Two Face Pizzeria and Kisses to its turf. Competitors Jalan Besar and Everton Park still have a long way to go.

Best I-S Distribution Venue
Wine Connection Cheese Bar @ Robertson Walk
Its bustling Robertson Walk location, coupled with our distribution stand prominently placed at the entrance, makes this the best place to pick up I-S.

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