What Went Down At The T.Dining Best Restaurants 2020 Awards
In light of several noteworthy new restaurant openings the past year, guests at this year’s Best Restaurants awards ceremony were expectedly excited to learn which of their favourite dining haunts got a special nod. Held just last week (November 25) at the Orchard Hotel Singapore’s newly revamped Grand Ballroom, food lovers from all walks of life cheered on alongside chefs, sommeliers, restaurateurs and career gourmands who also appreciated the rare chance to let their hair down.
The evening kicked off on a high note with the reveal of this year’s Top 20 restaurants—making its debut only last year, this particularly contentious list was introduced to satisfy the need to spotlight top-performing restaurants that managed to surpass expectations to deliver an exceptionally memorable experience. It was a challenging task that involved several rounds of voting and delineation. But this year’s line-up, while expectedly diverse, again affirmed a discerning market’s shared taste for the unaffected, no matter how grand the dining experience.
One restaurant that epitomises this is Zén, the Singapore outpost of Stockholm’s Restaurant Frantzén and the only international location under the Frantzén Group that exclusively serves a tasting menu. Not only did it make it onto the Top 20 list within its first year of operations, it also bagged the award for Best Service and Best New Restaurant—establishments considered for the latter had to be less than year old at the time of judging.
They included Top 20 newcomers Preludio by Colombian chef Fernando Arévalo and Cloudstreet by Rishi Naleendra. Both restaurants were launched only this year and champion a uniquely personal take on modern gastronomy.
An unexpected total of nine restaurants made their debut on the Top 20 list this year, which in hindsight confirms the wonderfully competitive nature of Singapore’s buzzing dining scene. They also include La Dame de Pic, Raffles Singapore; Rang Mahal; Restaurant Jag; Summer Pavilion; Table65; and Vianney Massot Restaurant.
(Related: Meet The New Culinary Trailblazers)
An unexpected total of nine restaurants made their debut on the Top 20 list this year, which in hindsight confirms the wonderfully competitive nature of Singapore’s buzzing dining scene
TABLE OF PLENTY
This inspiring mix of unpretentious quality dining was also apparent in the spread for the evening, which boasted a few returning favourites—namely Omoté, Origin Grill and Punjab Grill. The lattermost, which has been a regular contributor to the annual event for many years, delighted with its selection of refined canapes that included beautiful butter chicken in a vanilla tart, and fish tikka flavoured with pan-roasted carom seeds and served with sundried tomato, coconut chutney and mayo.
Across the hall, Origin Grill was just as hot, serving bite-sized renditions of its signature seeded cracker topped with fresh tuna, salted cucumber, edamame and avocado cream; alongside some charred Fremantle octopus and Wagyu ‘offcuts’ sliders. Following a successful showing at last year’s event, Omoté raised the bar with a luscious line-up of inspired Japanese bites. Guests clearly couldn’t get enough of its generous spoonfuls of Hokkaido sea urchin and ikura, aptly dubbed “An Uni Affair”.
Many also flocked to savour clever bites from popular craft-brewery and restaurant Level33. And we’re not just talking about yummy morsels of Wagyu beef seasoned with hopped salt that went down well with a simple cocktail featuring its exclusive Hopped Dry Gin—distilled in partnership with Brass Lion Distillery. There were also pan-seared prawns with XO sauce made with wheat beer, and stout-marinated Ibérico pork jowl. There was even a chocolate tart made with spent grain that was paired with IPA strawberry jam for dessert.
And just when some were certain things couldn’t get more indulgent, they were quickly drawn to the queue for Hua Ting’s Cantonese delights. We couldn’t tell which they enjoyed more—the deliciously aromatic classic of handmade fish paste noodle with Dong Xing grouper in fish broth, or the award-wining restaurant’s rendition of the baked Empress Chicken, robustly flavourful and redolent of traditional herbs.
EASY DOES IT
Even with so much delicious variety on offer, it’s easy to see why some may be craving something as modest as a fine burger that they could wash down with a crisp and refreshing pale lager—Peroni’s Nastro Azzurro. Those who did, also found comfort and satisfaction with Wolf Burger’s beef slider, which was served alongside a meat-free alternative featuring Impossible “beef”. For more delicious contrasts, there was also the option to sip on some rather fine sake, courtesy of Sake.SG, and even pick up a few useful tips on choosing your favourite style. Those who preferred to stick to their choice of red or white wines were delighted with the evening’s selection—a refreshing Pinot Noir from Provins Swiss Valley, and a soft, light yet lively Airen (100 per cent) from Viña Levos in Spain; both are distributed by Wine Concierge, and complemented the selection of dishes well.
All that was left for guests to do was to be mindful about saving space for Kindred Folk’s gourmet ice cream—though it didn’t seem like anyone needed reminding.