The Tatler Nose's Guide To Singapore's Hottest Restaurants
I've read much about Janice Wong of 2am:dessertbar fame even before I arrived in Singapore. The woman is practically a legend, but our 2016 Gen.T lister wants you to know that she's not all sugar and spice. I popped by Janice Wong's at the National Gallery last Sunday for a classic dim sum breakfast, and I have to say, her collaboration with chef Ma Jian Jun? Explosive. This delightful trio, wrapped in rainbow-coloured skins, was stuffed with portobello, rosemary and caviar—one must not frown upon vegetarian options—shrimp fish roe; and scallop olive oil caviar. I was hungry for more.
Fusion is a word thrown around with abandon, but discerning foodies will not use it on the cuisine served at this Michelin-starred restaurant. Chef-owner Seita Nakahara serves up beautiful traditional Italian dishes at Terra using only the best Japanese ingredients and produce. The a la carte menu was enticing enough, but omakase is the way to go; I told chef to hit me with his best shot. And he did just that. This scampi, air-flown to ensure its freshness, was precisely half-cooked to enhance its natural flavours. The hint of spring vegetables and caviar was all it needed to shine. Bravo.
Chef Mathieu Escoffier has worked in top kitchens around the world; I had the pleasure of dining at Alain Ducasse in Paris and Daniel Boulud in New York while he was stationed there, and most recently, at Joel Robuchon in Bordeaux. I'm pleased to report that the 29-year-old Frenchie is still on top of his game. The menu revamp at Saint Pierre was met with a dominant transformation; chef's focus is on basic essences, which entails reducing and presenting the strongest, purest flavours on a plate. Case in point, the sweetness of the langoustine marvelously paired here with the slightly acidic winter melon, celeriac and green apples. The wild puffed rice added lovely texture.
I needed a light lunch between meetings in the CBD area; thankfully, Plentyfull was around the corner. Claudia Sondakh's first foray into the dining scene is met with colourful inventions. This dish—prepared from scratch—is called the Little Farms Vegetable Dip; the greens rotate with the season. I ordered the grilled broccoli, carrots and asparagus alongside homemade sunchoke, carrot with cumin, and chickpea dips. Gorgeous. I stole a picture of my dining companion's pumpkin pillow gnocchi too, a dish as fun to say as it was to eat. The pumpkin nuggets tossed in butter and sage sauce is from Sondakh's treasured family recipe.
In an attempt to ease me into the wonders of kueh (what an odd word!) at Galacier Confectionary or brave the heat for what's bound to be a sojourn at Chin Mee Chin Confectionary, my colleagues at Singapore Tatler insisted we check out Thanying first. Located in Amara hotel since 1988, I was told it still remains as one of the top go-to restaurants for authentic Thai. The famous dessert bar serves as a grand finale for some, but that Friday, we headed straight for it. The tropical fruits looked innocent enough but I stilled my heart for the traditional Thai sweets. Pretty jellies, served with rich coconut milk, was the kind of savoury saccharine that I've been dreaming of. I usually like my cakes dark and sticky, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the soft steamed cakes covered in grated coconut (I'm sensing a theme here). Calories welcomed.
What do you do when you're awarded your first Michelin star? Move to the hip COMO Dempsey, naturally. It's no surprise chef Malcolm Lee is the talk of the town. Besides the improved interiors, his a la carte menu is finally available at Candlenut for those of us watching our waistline. Although served with a familiar sunny side up, I was more than hesistant to dig into the fried rice with Buah Keluak—it's a poisonous Pangium fruit made edible by fermentation after all! But seeing that I'm alive and well, and thoroughly enjoyed the punchy dish might I add, I don't regret my first foray into Peranakan fare.