The Singapore River Festival is back on 4 and 5 November with a wide array of activities and eats to indulge in. It welcomes the return of Singapore River (SR) Signatures, an annual accolade bestowed to restaurants along the river serving up exceptional dishes. This year’s theme of “Where Chefs Eat” features a panel of esteemed judges sharing their personal favorites for the festival.
Chef Anthony Yeoh, head chef at Cocotte, has a flair for classic French cooking and strives to serve up unpretentious French cuisine to the masses.
How would you describe the dining experience at Cocotte?
It’s casual, comfortable and buzzy. The food is for sharing and is great for gathering together a catch-up with friends or a birthday celebration at our communal table.
French food comes with an air of pretension, how have you tackled that perception at your restaurant?
When we first opened Cocotte 6 years ago that was exactly what we wanted to rally against. We wanted to bring the heart of what French food was about to the dining scene, get away from the fussy service and white table cloths and into the warm, countryside hospitality that the French love.
What influenced your choice for your recommended picks?
It’s looking at the experience of the restaurant and the dishes together as a whole and choosing those that I would come back for.
Your picks feature mostly European cuisines with only one Asian dish, is that reflective of your personal taste and what you enjoy eating?
I didn’t limit myself to any one cuisine, although it seems to have worked out that way. I really just picked what stood out to me as tasty and worth making a trip back for!
His recommended picks include Limoncella Pizza & Grill’s Carpaccio di Polipo, thinly sliced Mediterranean octopus in olive oil lemon dressing and Cho Omakase’s Maguro Zanmai Don, tuna served three ways.
Chef Bjorn Shen, owner and head chef at Artichoke, is no newbie to the food scene, with numerous industry achievements under his belt he shares about his go to foods.
What type of food do you personally enjoy eating?
I love cold dishes. And anything acidic. Unlike what everyone thinks, I don’t like foods that are too fatty or rich. I can’t take things like pork belly or beer-battered stuff in large quantities. I prefer things like cold Szechuan ‘xiao cai’, Italian antipasto and Thai salads. I make an exception for fried chicken though. Fried chicken is my jam. I have a tattoo of a chicken wing on my arm. That’s how much I love fried chicken.
You seem to favour Middle-Eastern and Thai cuisine, if you had to pick one to eat for the rest of your life which would it be?
It actually wouldn’t be either. If I had to pick only one cuisine that I could eat from for the rest of my life, it’d have to be Vietnamese. I absolutely love the amount of freshness that’s built in to Vietnamese dishes with all those herbs and raw vegetables. Take for example Singapore’s fried carrot cake (chai tow kway). In Vietnam, it’s called Bot Chien, and it’s done the same way, except that it’s served with a refreshing green papaya salad on top. This really balances out the dish, and mellows out the otherwise-excessive richness. This is the reason why I love Vietnamese food so much. Oh, and there’s so much more to Vietnamese food than just rice paper rolls, pho and banh mi. You’ve really got to get past the tip of the iceberg with this cuisine to truly appreciate it.
His picks include Soi 60 Thai’s Gai Yang, grilled chicken marinated in lemongrass and palm sugar and Lamb Kubideh, Iran’s signature kebab from Shabestan. Head down to the Singapore River Festival to try all these picks for yourself, you can definitely trust these recommendations.
This article was first published in the November 2016 issue of AUGUSTMAN.