For a small country with a ton of restaurants, it takes something special to stand out. The three listed below are our favourites in classic Singapore cuisine reinterpreted.
It is a mystery as to how lawyer-turned-chef Willin Low and his restaurant Wild Rocket has yet to be awarded a Michelin star. After all, Low pretty much coined the term Mod-Sin, and was one of the first chefs to give local flavours and ingredients a contemporary spin – remember his original laksa pesto pasta? While there’s been more of a focus at Po – his trendy, popiah-inspired restaurant at The Warehouse Hotel – it’s at Wild Rocket where Low’s culinary flair is best experienced. Here, Low channels his love for local hawker cuisine (his Instagram speaks) to a number of signature dishes.
The “Singapore Noodles” is a modern take on hokkien mee, spaghettini with king prawn in a robust prawn stock. Laksa is reimagined as spanner crab handmade ravioli, laksa pesto and served in a aromatic laksa broth, and a hearty beef rendang is made using oxtail and served on a bed of fresh, handmade pappardelle.
To really experience Low’s creativity though, opt for the eight-course tasting menu ($120++ to $160++ per person), where ad-hoc dishes like his twist on adobo duck wrapped in a cannelloni and baked with cheese, dusted with truffle and shiitake, get presented at the 12-seater omakase counter. For a full experience, get Low’s recommendation on which sake pairs best. He’s a certified Advanced Sake Professional.
Hangout Hotel, 10A Upper Wilkie Road , tel: 6339 9448, wildrocket.com.sg
It’s quite a feat to be named the world’s first Michelin-star Peranakan restaurant. To hold the star for two years running, the restaurant (and its chef) must be doing something right. And that, Malcolm Lee, is doing. All of Candlenut’s rempah (spice paste) is made exactly how any Peranakan grandmother would – from scratch without the use of MSG or preservatives to achieve an authentic, home-style flavour.
Peranakan cuisine is unforgiving of shortcuts, so Lee’s dedication to retaining authentic flavours while elevating this homey cuisine to satisfy global palates is exactly what caught the Michelin inspector’s attention. While there are plenty at Candlenut to sample, it’s the standards that should not be ignored. Freshly-fried kueh pie tee filled with salmon tartare, pickled shallots and laksa leaf pesto, his rich, earthy buah keluak fried rice that’s full of wok hei and impossible to replicate. Also, there’s a 10-course ‘Ah-ma-kase’ tasting menu ($88++) that journeys through the nuances of Peranakan cuisine.
Save room for dessert. The buah keluak ice cream with chilli, and chendol made with coconut cream, pandan jelly and gula melaka are must-tries.
7 Dempsey Road, tel: 1800 304 2288, comodempsey.sg
Singapore food hasn’t always been thought of as a sophisticated cuisine. That is till former banker-turned-chef Han Li Guang set up Labyrinth, presenting one-of-a-kind dishes like Lardo; essentially a glorified chicken rice that takes three days to prepare. The seemingly simple tofu-like square, made of chicken fat and sesame oil and served with soya sauce and ginger, is just one of many deconstructed local creations that won Han a Michelin star in 2017.
Not one to sit back on accolades, Han is known to evolve his signature dishes, his Chilli Crab dish has undergone 14 different versions since it was launched in 2014. One of his latest additions to the menu is a take on local breakfast staple, soft boiled eggs and kaya toast, except presented as a dessert of kaya ice cream with caviar butter toast and a soya sauce curred egg; unmistakably sweet and savoury and in line with Han’s preference to toy with all five senses.
8 Raffles Avenue, 02-23 Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, tel: 6223 4098, labyrinth.com.sg