A serene, breezy Thursday dinner at Mount Faber’s Arbora Hilltop Garden & Bistro.
I recently spent a Saturday checking out the new Poké Ball-themed cable car cabins on the Mount Faber Line, and that afternoon, I thought about having dinner at Arbora Hilltop Garden & Bistro. Part of Mount Faber Station and with terraces directly facing the HarbourFront district, the breezy bistro felt like the perfect finale for my day.
Alas, it couldn’t happen for the sillier side of me deemed it was unnecessary to make reservations when I first reached the station. By the time I returned to the bistro at 6 pm, I was told they were fully booked for the evening. Clearly, a lot of folks with better foresight had the same intention as me ….
Such disappointments usually result in me developing an inexplicable determination to “do” what I didn’t get to do, though; it’s one of my weirder quirks. (Among many others …) And so a couple of days later, I headed over to Mount Faber Peak again and this time, I made a reservation well in advance.
Everything turned out to be for the best. For a start, visiting on a quieter weekday evening gave me more opportunities to snap photos everywhere. Most of the time, I had the entire “garden” area to myself too.
Arbora’s food and service were also absolutely superb—the sirloin I ordered was easily one of the best I had in recent years.
I can see now why Arbora Hilltop Garden & Bistro was a 2021 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice winner. This is an accolade it well deserves. I’ll add that this is certainly one of Singapore’s best restaurants with a view too.
Getting to Mount Faber Station
Returning to Arbora, i.e., Mount Faber was a little challenging for me since I don’t drive. My only two options were to go by taxi/grab or take another cable car ride. (Hiking up the Malang Trail was not an option for me, at all)
Since I quite enjoyed the Pokémon-themed cable car rides a few days earlier, I thought, why not? So I made my way to HarbourFront Tower once more. Have to say, to again reach Mount Faber Peak (and Arbora) in this aerial way was a wonderful prologue to my dinner.
Arbora Hilltop Garden & Bistro Ambience and Décor
From the cable car boarding area, the main entrance of Arbora could be reached by cutting through the gift shop. Alternatively, a short flight of steps at Mount Faber Road leads into the garden area of the bistro.
The bistro itself is also spacious—the garden in its name isn’t for branding, there’s an actual garden area. And while I’ve read about them so many times over the years, I didn’t know Mount Faber’s famous Poland’s Bells of Happiness are in this garden area.
Even when the restaurant is full, I believe the garden would be tranquil and calming.
An Awesome Steak Dinner While Pampered by Attentive Service
I was in the mood for a heavier dinner, so I ordered a starter, a sirloin steak main, and a dessert.
The fries were a lot, more than enough for two persons or even three. The creamy black truffle dip was also addictive, absolutely to die for. In the end, however, it was just too much carbs. So I took home most of it and finished everything, including every last drop of that wicked dip, after midnight Netflix bingeing.
Like I mentioned above, the sirloin steak was one of the best I had in recent years. How to describe it … I always request for my steaks to be done medium-well and too many establishments just can’t get this right. What’s served is either medium with an additional second in the fire or straight-up well done.
My sirloin at Arbora looked a little on the medium side but is otherwise just the right degree of tenderness and juiciness, and so full of smoky meaty goodness. There was also a strip of fat at the side, which I’d usually shun but this time, enjoyed with sinful relish since it went so well with the leaner cuts.
To feast on this wonderful steak while enjoying the sunset was such a joy.
I must mention this. Throughout my meal, from the moment I entered to the moment I left, I was pampered by polite and professional service. The staff regularly checked to ensure everything was to my satisfaction. Whatever I needed was promptly attended to as well.
When they saw me taking pictures of the hillside, they immediately asked whether I’d like to shift to a table nearer to the terraces.
Such awesome service, needless to say, much added to my enjoyment of the evening.
After the great main, my dessert was a little disappointing, mostly because I expected the lemon tart to have a more pronounced citrus zing. (The crust was somewhat too hard too). The plating was lovely and photogenic, though. I ended up enjoying the visual and the fruity accompaniments more.
Click here to check out Arbora’s ala carte menu. In a nutshell, this hilltop bistro offers a mix of Eastern and Eastern favourites. I ordered only Western dishes for this dinner. The next time I’m there, I’ll probably try their oriental inventions like Pasta “Hokkien Mee”, Half Lobster Laksa, and Oolong & Honey Pearl Drop. They have quite an extensive drinks list too.
The Lights and Sights of HarbourFront and Sentosa, as Additional Dessert
The following might sound bizarre, so bear with me as I explain.
I feel dinner at Arbora Hilltop Garden and Bistro doesn’t necessarily end there. That is, if you went to the bistro using the cable car service.
After my meal, I spent a quarter of an hour or so at Mount Faber Station. The station isn’t large, but there were the ongoing Pokémon displays and lots of glimpses of night-time urban Singapore. Other than the HarbourFront buildings, different parts of Telok Blangah could also be seen. (Did you know that Mount Faber used to be called Telok Blangah Hill?)
Following which, I rode the cable car to Sentosa Station. This was an enchanting ride surrounded by Singapore’s glittering harbour lights.
As it was a weekday, the attractions surrounding Sentosa Station were closed by the time I was there. But with the Imbiah Lookout area nearly free of visitors, a different sort of experience was at hand. I can’t describe this experience beyond saying, it was just so relaxing to just walk about the illuminated and quiet structures. The accompanying sensation of serenity throughout was almost akin to a second serving of dessert.