It was an evening honouring Singapore’s most notable dining experiences and, more significantly, the passionate professionals that make it all possible. Over 400 of the island's best chefs, industry elites and food aficionados graced the event.
They arrived at the JW Marriott’s Grand Ballroom in their stylish cocktail best and were greeted with a silver flute of Sterling Vintner’s Collection Sparkling, as they sauntered past the brand's stunning wine tower. Sterling Vineyards, which is also the official wine partner of the Emmys, was the event’s official wine partner.
This was also a celebration of change—the good kind—as we officially unveiled the new T.Dining brand and its commitment to delivering greater and more relevant insights into the curious and pleasure-filled world of dining and its tireless band of career gourmands who continue to raise our expectations.
As Editor-in-Chief Kissa Castañeda affirmed in her opening address, Singapore Tatler has been keeping a keen eye on the city's vibrant restaurant scene for more than 30 years, growing our dining universe considerably over the last few years.
The newly launched T.Dining brand and the decision to subsume the long-standing Best Restaurants guide into the T.Dining bi-annual publication are all part of a regional push for better content.
These are part of our efforts to offer a more efficient perspective of the food and drink scene, as we continue to gain better insight into what we, as invested consumers, should expect from a good restaurant.
We also thanked the edition’s judicious panel that included industry veterans, and went on to spotlight some of Singapore’s best chefs and their thoughts about what really makes a successful restaurant, in a brief video presentation that ended with the unveiling of the maiden T.Dining magazine cover.
The first round of the awards presentation followed, and included nods to the Best New Restaurant—Ivan Brehm’s Nouri—and two new awards: Best Interior Design and Local Champion. The former went to The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar, while the latter was none other than mod-Sin pioneer and Wild Rocket chef-owner Willin Low.
Dinner ensued and queues quickly formed at the eight booths that lined the hall. They included Akira Back, which served its brand of American-influenced Asian fare, such as Wagyu tacos with spicy aioli, and yellow tail with jalapeno, micro cilantro and yuzu soy. Beach Road Kitchen, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, dished out globally-inspired treats, such as pan-seared foie gras with figs compote, alongside a familiar pairing of crispy pork belly with garlic, red chilli and prawn crackers.
Some of restaurant Creatures’ examples of east-meets-west nosh included roast duck with pear, which was featured alongside its take on the well-loved miso cod, and a Peranakan staple: babi ponteh.
Guests were also excited to welcome Chef Milind Sovani back to Singapore, and to savour signature bites from stalwart Rang Mahal, which is now under the charge of the award-winning chef. Popular dishes were the lamb biryani and the saffron-infused chicken kebab.
For something distinctly Chinese, guests flocked to have Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant’s home-style roast duck, stir-fried Wagyu cubes with black pepper and longan, and poached rice with seafood, among other savoury delights.
The celebratory buzz was palpable, as the crowd ate, drank and made merry, all while a Bossa nova trio provided the ideal soundtrack.
S.Pellegrino mineral water and sparking fruit beverages seemed the natural choice to wash down all that delicious food, although we did notice how the men, in particular, gravitated towards the Peroni bar. It was also easy to see why many also chose to stay with the deliciously approachable Sterling Vintner’s Collection Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon throughout the night.
The second half of the awards ceremony saw three Cantonese restaurants—Cassia, Jade and Jiang Nan-Chun—honoured with the Hall of Fame award, as was Italian favourite Oso Ristorante. Like the Oscars, the highest honour was saved for last. Odette, which also took home a Best Service nod (alongside Waku Ghin), was the inaugural Restaurant of the Year honouree.
The night, though, was still young and with plenty of food and drink to be had. This was just the time for rising local singer-songwriter and special guest performer Nikolai Kea to take to the stage. He performed his rendition of familiar chart-toppers as well as two original numbers, capping a truly memorable occasion.
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