Singapore has been chosen to the be host of the next World’s 50 Best in 2019.
This week World’s 5o Best announced that Singapore will be the host next year for the World’s 50 Best. They have a 3 year collaboration where other 50 best events will be on the agenda. To celebrate this announcement, the Singapore Tourist Board flew in 3 of their top Chefs, mixologist and performers to host a series of events and supperclubs. This is to highlight their campaign for 2019, #PassionMadePossible.
On the night, we saw a galaxy of star with many of the glitterati of the gastronomy world in attendance.
I had the opportunity to meet and dine on some of the creations of the Singaporean culinary stars. They had a few to choose from as there are 39 Michelin starred restaurants. The chefs are:
- Julien Royer, owner and chef two star french restaurant, Odette at the National Gallery Singapore.
- Malcolm Lee from Peranakan restaurant Candlenut with Philip Bischoff from Manhattan Bar, currently no7 in the World’s Best Bars.
- Jason Tan, of the Corner House restaurant and Sasha Wijidessa, mixologist from Operation Dagger
At the launch event, the menu was a collection of their top dishes, paired with some specially concocted cocktails. In the background, the DJs from A Phat Cat Collective created the ambience for the diners. Clare Smyth, was on the panel, talking about sustainability and diversity in the professional kitchen.
Here is the menu for the press review night.
Julien’s 2 star contribution was a rather sensational Dorset crab with nashi pear and wasabi oil, layers of flavours and textures, balanced.
There were so many high points but the most memorable are the Salted Egg Macarons made by Jason Tan, pure genius. If you are not South East Asian, you probably have not tasted and don’t understand the allure of salted egg yolks. It is a little bit savoury but has a slightly coarse but creamy texture.
Jason of Corner House is a master at desserts. His dessert was called Kaya Toast. This is a favourite breakfast in Singapore, usually a toasted piece of soft white bread, spread with a coconut jam. Jason’s interpretation is a this gorgeous deconstructed plate of heaven. It is difficult to describe but every elements was a delight.
Since I have not been to Singapore in a while, I have not had the chance to visit Candelnut but I am glad that they brought Candlenut to London. This is the first Peranakan restaurant to gain a Michelin star. This is truly unique as not only is this a cuisine that is not usually found outside a family kitchen, it is not found in London, we were in for a real treat. We had a full 3 course Peranakan dinner with cocktail pairings. Here is the menu:
Kuih Pie Tee with tuna tartar filling
Chicken, Lamb and Pork Satay with a Kicap Manis glaze
roasted cod laksa capuccino
Paired with Kerman, a tequila cockatil with Ocho Blanco
Tok Panjang, a typical Peranakan lavish feast, usually served on a long table.
Bakwan Kepiting Soup
The array of dishes included a Hand Picked crab turmeric curry,
Buah Keluak Short Rib Rendang
Pear and Radish achar pickled vegetables,
Salad of wing beans, pickled torch ginger flowers, lemongrass, mint, calamansi
Butterfly pea flower rice
Paired with either the Mad Dog or Corpse Reviver 47 cocktail.
Buah Keluak Ice Cream and Cendol, Pandan jelly & Gula Melaka
Kuih Bingka Ubi made with tapioca
Paired with Monochrome or Black Pudding (Lagavulin 16Y with Noe 30Y PX sherry)
If you have not had Peranakan food, you might now know how different this is from a traditional meal. He has added some modern touches to the well known dishes but he has stayed true to the flavours.
The Kuih Pie Tee is a classic Nyonya dish, usually filled with a braised Jicama and vegetable stew. Here it is served with a tuna tartar, possibly due to the fact that they could not get all the ingredients. The satay starters were just as delicious as Malcolm described, coated in a sweet and delicious Kicap Manis glaze. The other starter was a bit of a surprise, a beautifully presented dish of spicy laksa foam with some pieces of seafood. It didn’t work very well for me. This might have been a step too modern.
For the mains, the unbeatable buah keluak short ribs beef rendang was rich and dark and comforting. In contrast the Crab turmeric curry was aromatic and silky, just the flavour profile I expected of a traditional Nyonya curry. Superb. All served with the visually stunning rice, speckled blue with the natural blue pea flowers.
The accompaniments, a meat ball soup, pickled vegetables achar and a wing bean salad totally rounded up the meal nicely. I was really impressed with how they added tiny slivers of the fresh herbs to add little bits of fresh zing into these dishes. There are a few good tricks I will use.
Malcolm is steadfast in his mission to bring back all those lost dishes and Nyonya cooking techniques. He is also adamant that the flavours are not toned down to suit any audience. Every dish is true to the original flavour as his family cooked it. You can read my interview with Malcolm where we chatted about Peranakan food and how he is modernising it. At Candlenut, he is serving the recognisable Peranakan flavours but in a much refined format.
The black nut buah keluak ice cream came about when they began cooking with the black nut. They detected notes of chocolate and coffee, which led them to try using it like chocolate in a dessert, making an ice cream with it. They serve it paired with salted caramel and some chilli. This is now one of their signature dishes at Candlenut.
All those Peranakan flavours brought back a lot of memories. Flavours and tastes that are quite unusual and definitely not to be found in London. These are some of the flavours that I miss the most and try to recreate but alas, we can’t get a lot of the key ingredients.
The Singapore supperclubs were meant to be for 60 people a night but they have booked in up to 130 people. Combined with the unfamiliar kitchen and a front of house unused to serving food family style, it could have been a disaster but the team at Avenue did an amazing job.
If you have never had Peranakan food, you really should visit Singapore. This is one of the most unique cuisines and you will have gastronomy limits stretched. Singapore is also famed for its street food. You have not eaten well until you have walked a day in the shoes of a Singaporean gourmet. There is much to discover.
For more details about what cultural events are on in Singapore for their #PassionMadePossible year, visit their website. They might even have a tailor made “Crazy Rich Asians” tour by the time you get there.
17A Dempsey Rd,
EatCookExplore was a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board