‘There's also that other C word that's lacking in the Singapore food scene: Courage. Courage to step outside the norms of familiar flavour profiles to create masterful dishes that exude inventiveness, audaciousness, and a generous sprinkle of joie de vivre; a celebration of life, love, and the pursuit of staggeringly soul-altering food.
'Enter Botanico, a dining concept brought to us by the wonderful folks behind 1-Group and the purveyor of Summerhouse, Wildseed cafe, Monti, and Pixies. Helmed by head chef and gastronomy extraordinaire Sujatha Asokan, Botanico tries its hand at bold flavour pairings inspired by the lush greenery it is surrounded by - and succeeds.’
So when I heard of Deanna’s Kitchen prawn noodles along with all its adoring fans, I was reticent. Firstly, it’s halal, meaning there’s absolutely no pork bones in the broth. And there will be no lard sprinkled anywhere in the noodles. Secondly, the reviews I’ve had and heard were from Muslim customers. “What would they know about good prawn noodles?” my arrogant self asked in, well, arrogance. Thirdly, it’s in Jurong. And I live in Sengkang. So, having to taste this would mean an actual day out across the island and goddamnit it better be worth the trouble I’m taking in this sweltering heat at one in the afternoon.
The more I study the menu, the more impressed I am at the gamut of choices on offer. I actually think that the food menu can be taken out in its entirety and is capable of holding its own as a stand-alone restaurant with diners who can appreciate the love and care that has gone into creating some of the amazing dishes.
The culinary genius helming Two Hana is head chef Nathaniel Jodin, a graduate of Culinary Institute of America and former head chef of GastroSmiths and Joo Bar. Under his leadership, the possibilities of two culinary cultures coming together in a harmonious fusion of gastronomical brilliance is now a reality.
I am of course talking about The Mixtape Chef, a moniker given to home-cook Kenneth Yong, who runs this home-dining experience with his wife and muse, Laureen Goh. The Mixtape Chef appeared on my radar solely because its page was liked by a friend on my list and you know how far my curiosity tends to get the better of me (the answer is far, very, very far). Several clicks later and a few minutes of research and I decided this seems like a very good story to chase. Plus it’s so near where I stay. Could this be a sign sent from the culinary Gods (Christina Tossi, Jordi Roca, and Nancy Silverton)?
Their deliberate avoidance of the fanciful extends to their name: Acqua E Farina simply translates to Water and Flour, a mixture that, when combined, produces far too many staple classics we have come to love and enjoy. Acqua e Farina feels like it will blend in very nicely into the set of Sex and the City (circa 1995) .
The Backyard Kitchen is a misnomer, probably a pun on the obvious of a backyard kitchen being this casual thing of an experience where hearty and flavourful grub is fancied over experimentative ingredient pairing, clever textural degustation, or attention to presentation. Yet, Backyard Kitchen defies all overt references to the comforting nature of its name and instead presents a gilded front, wrapped up in a neat little bow of scrutinies that frames their version of fine dining repertoire.
Like a hummingbird, Jack fleets around the two shop units at Mayflower Market with dazzling speed, almost as if being chased by someone or something; perhaps time, perhaps age, possibly sheer expectations. Or maybe he's just deeply motivated by a heightened sense of purpose. The wings of a hummingbird have only recently been captured on slow-motion camera, allowing us to revel in the wonder of mother nature. For Jack, I'd like to think that this interview is the slow-motion camera that requires him to pause for a mere moment (in actuality, exactly an hour) to reflect on life, passion, and pursuits.
The little I knew about Atap Bar came from the pictures I saw on Instagram of the youthful hoi polloi cuddled in close quarters, nary a care in the world, their worries literally taken away by the breeze. "What does this place sell? Why is it a bar? Why is it a halal bar? What is going on?" I wondered almost with indelible alarm. Turns out it's just so damn hard to talk about a drink with the same level of poetic nuance as you would a plate of food.
"I'm here today to sample the monthly all-organic brunch for the health-conscious, body-conscious... you get the drift. The food comes from the prix fixe menu, which could really benefit from a little more assisted paragraphing. My friend and I spent a good ten minutes figuring out what's on our plate as we tried to discern from the menu where a dish ends and where a new one began."
"Food is also why the hoi polloi descend upon Geylang in droves. Here is where you can find every type of food your taste bud can handle. The choices run the gamut from frog porridge (which a friend declared emphatically, 'No, I don't eat amphibians, Zat) to Beef Hor Fun, duck rice to bak kut teh. Naturally, Geylang is not short of dim sum houses which is what I'm here today to try at Mongkok Dim Sum; a little slice of Canton in the charming 'hood of Geylang Lorong 8.
The Summerhouse is not the place for fleeting gratification or a quick snap of eroticised amuse-bouche, posed prettily in front of a wall that screams INSTAGRAM ME NOW all over its grey exterior. Instead, The Summerhouse invites and titilates the discerning diner looking for a place where sustainability is of the highest priority and reverence for ingredients is the order of the day.
"We were about to head off, meats in hand, when suddenly she nonchalantly remarked to Tiger to bring us in further down the alley. Further? But this alley ends right there, about 6 metres away. Where is this ‘further’ she was referring to, and most importantly, how does anyone remark nonchalant in Thai?"
HRVST serves up exclusively vegan fare for locavores and vegans who is committed to food sustainability. But can itavoid the pertinacious cliché of vegan food as being boring and full of faux meats? I think, yes.
"Amidst this clutter, Pantler stands out with its almost gentle approach to cake making as evident by the row upon row of finely produced cakes, with meticulous details meant to elevate the experience of dessert consumption to one of meditation and quiet reflection. "
As evidenced by their moniker, Pickleville specialises in pickled food. Apart from pickling, Pickleville is also inspired by the process of fermentation, a food preservation method that, while closely related to pickling in as far as what it sets out to achieve, couldn’t be more different in terms of taste and preparation.
This is Eggs 'n Things first Southeast Asia outfit outside of Hawaii & Japan. Can they live up to the dining expectations of food-hungry Singaporeans? Or do the lack of crowd indicate a commitment only to newness and not customer retention? Read on to find out.
Shereeda is a baker with a niche. She has carved a name for herself as the go-to home baker for customers who require cakes and desserts that are either gluten-free, vegan, nut free, casein-free, halal or a combination of any of the options. But her baking career did not begin with this vocation of inclusivity.
Xinde Yap, 22 years of age, chose to plant his F&B dreams, at 114 Tanjong Pagar Road, as co-founder of Chug Chug SG. Chug Chug prides itself as a place where strangers become friends, where friends become family.
While many tout their burgers as some of the best they’ve ever had in Germany - and that is by no means an exaggeration - I was more impressed by the story (both literally and figuratively) that inspired the name, concept and design of every outlet.
“Beauty is whatever makes me feel at peace,” Pau Lin, owner of Crummb Bakes opines when I asked her to define beauty. What gives her peace is also what gives her cakes the ethereal otherness that keeps me intrigued.
Chef and owner of Provisions share his thoughts on family, food, and legacy. "You can say that my love for cooking started out from a very traumatic point in my life. I wanted to help my mum but I also wanted to do something that reminded me of my dad.”
If you're a meat lover who turns your nose at places with vegetarian options, then you would know that to serve up slabs of meat lovingly smoked over Almond wood in the quaint neighbourhood of Yishun Ring Road is a move deliberately meant to raise eyebrows and pique interest.
“It never occurred to me how Asian I am until one of them pointed out that I was making rice all the time. And similar to my reaction towards the variety of bread they have, they were amazed at the different types of rice I use to make my lunches.”
10 straggly, wilted, and stripped stems kangkong cost about 7 SGD. It was as if there was a volume knob that got turned to 110%, and my auntie's voice boomed in my head—Wah! So expensive. 7 dollars go NTUC or Sheng Siong can buy enough give you eat one month. Go wet market even cheaper, there the market auntie always give me good price and free bro-KOHHH-lee summore.
"And when I reached home, I am faced with a very hungry, very undernourished six months old baby who only drank about two hundred milliliters - the whole day. It was heartbreaking. Just to put things in perspective, babies need to be fed every two hours, and each feed could be between a measly sixty milliliters and a hearty one hundred. So, two hundred milliliters for a good 15-hour day? You do the math."
The Food Project SG's foreign correspondent from Copenhagen talks about his blase and insouciance attitude towards food; an irony he did not miss given that he was born and bred in Singapore, surrounded by all this cacophony of gastronomical delights. In his first Op-Ed for The Food Project SG, "Singaporean in Scandinavia" muses on food, memories, and pride.
On our first date, you wore a light blue shirt, a pair of pants and brown shoes. You had a sling bag that was loaded with textbooks and papers strewn all over. I offered to carry them for you or organised it, at least, but you told me you had it all under control. Then, you asked if I love sushi.
Moving out of my family home and moving into my rented apartment with Zeus, my boyfriend was my most significant act of courage. Courage because for the first time in my life, I wanted my relationship to work. And I know for this one to work, I cannot be living in my family home dominated by a primary religion that both demonises and rejects my sexuality.
I am one of those who makes it a daily habit to have a cuppa Joe to start my day. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve grown reliant on it, but I do miss it when I forego it. It’s become one of those long-running jokes that have morphed into a global truth; most people’s mornings cannot begin properly without coffee. But do most people also know how this magical brown bean become a sought-after elixir of energy?
The recipe calls for a 1:2 ratio of egg whites and sugar. The hardest step in making a perfectly whipped Swiss Meringue Buttercream, fit for the tastebuds of royalty or best friends for that matter, is in the careful separation of egg whites. Egg whites can be separated in one of many ways, depending on preference.