Sin­ga­pore

Tra­di­tional Sin­ga­porean food and tastes are chang­ing with a range of new culi­nary op­tions now at the fin­ger­tips of the Ter­ri­tory’s FIFO din­ers

Sunday Territorian - - FRONTIER TRAVEL - STORY KERRY HEANEY

Long known as a food lover’s par­adise for its melt­ing pot Asian cui­sine, Sin­ga­pore is shrug­ging off tra­di­tion with a new breed of en­trepreneurs mix­ing the Mod-Sin trend pot. It’s a move­ment that com­bines the flavours of the Ori­ent with ge­o­graph­i­cally dis­con­nected part­ners, cre­at­ing even more rea­sons for food lovers to ex­plore this coun­try that lives to eat.

Here’s where to find it:

DES­TI­NA­TION DIN­ING

Cur­rently sit­ting at num­ber 38 on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restau­rants, Wild Rocket is des­ti­na­tion fine din­ing in the tran­quil heights of Mount Emily. It is a play­ground for lauded chef-owner Willin Low who is cred­ited with in­vent­ing Mod Sin.

“It started when I was eat­ing Mex­i­can salsa in Lon­don and thought a fer­mented shrimp sauce we have in Sin­ga­pore would make it even bet­ter, and it did,” says Low.

“Now, it’s all about fresh pasta with a Sin­ga­pore slant. We are serv­ing fet­tuc­cine with Thai red curry con­fit duck. It’s French, Thai and Ital­ian all in one dish but there is no fu­sion con­fu­sion.”

BREAK­FAST COCK­TAIL

Imag­ine Sin­ga­pore’s tra­di­tional break­fast of a kaya toast, (thick white toast spread with kaya jam made from co­conut and eggs with a cup of tea and soft boiled eggs) turned into a cock­tail.

Ernest Goh, co-owner of retro-in­spired bar Bit­ters and Love, is another lo­cal who is putting a new twist on old favourites. Their Kaya cock­tail is served in a kaya jam jar and comes topped with toast spread with kaya jam. The sweet but re­fresh­ing combo of English break­fast tea, Mount Gay rum, peach liqueur, honey, le­mon juice and egg white make this a dessert cock­tail worth seek­ing out.

The Mod-Sin theme con­tin­ues through their toastie menu with corn beef com­bined with sam­bal sauce or mack­erel with co­conut chilli.

COM­FORT FOOD

Widely ac­knowl­edged as the ul­ti­mate com­fort food, Sin­ga­pore’s chicken rice is in no dan­ger of dis­ap­pear­ing off menus but is dis­ap­pear­ing from home kitchens.

When Roost chief ex­ec­u­tive Al­son Teo, was a boy, prepa­ra­tion of chicken rice used to be a fam­ily ac­tiv­ity. Al­son and his sis­ter would chop the gar­lic and chilli while his now 75-year-old mother would spend eight hours over two days to cre­ate Sun­day lunch for the fam­ily.

While you might not score an in­vi­ta­tion to sam­ple home cooked chicken rice, you can taste some­thing even bet­ter ac­cord­ing to Teo at Roost, his sim­ple city restau­rant.

“No one would be­lieve, not even my fam­ily, that a ma­chine can cook chicken rice bet­ter than a per­son,” says Teo. “To them, it’s com­fort food made with love, not sci­ence.”

It has taken 10 years to de­velop Teo’s in­no­va­tive au­to­mated iKook chicken rice cook­ing sys­tem and achieve the flavour that lo­cals ex­pect, with­out the use of MSG which is a com­monly chicken rice in­gre­di­ent. Con­vinc­ing Sin­ga­pore­ans that a ma­chine can do the job might take even longer.

Roost is also where you can try the Mod-Sin com­bi­na­tion of a durian crème brulee, which is a strangely ad­dic­tive, sweet blue cheese cus­tard or a panna cotta flavoured with tra­di­tional Asian Nanyang cof­fee. For another take on chicken rice, try the Fuller­ton Ho­tel’s Town Restau­rant Sig­na­ture Hainanese ver­sion where the chicken is poached for 50 min­utes be­fore rest­ing in an ice bath for 20 min­utes. Their chilli and gin­ger sauce is the per­fect fin­ish to the suc­cu­lent chicken.

HAWKER CLAS­SICS

Although Sin­ga­pore­ans still make home prop­erty pur­chase de­ci­sions based on prox­im­ity to a hawker cen­tre, keep­ing the hawker her­itage alive is a chal­lenge as an age­ing gen­er­a­tion re­tires and young hawk­ers are re­luc­tant to step into the gaps.

You’ll find hawker-style Mod-Sin at the Amoy Street Food Cen­tre where lo­cal cof­fee is fused with west­ern flavours such as salty caramel.

Try their car­rot cake which comes in black (sweet) and white (savoury) but is made with turnips not car­rots, char kway teow (stir-fried rice noo­dles) and lor mee (noo­dles in starchy braised gravy then tuck into pan­cakes filled with freshly ground peanuts.

Sin­ga­pore is a coun­try where it’s tempt­ing to plan your days around what and where you want to eat next, but ful­fill­ing all those dreams might take longer than one visit.

The writer was the guest of Sin­ga­pore Tourism Board and The Fuller­ton Ho­tel.

The Light­house Rooftop Bar, The Fuller­ton Ho­tel

The Fuller­ton Ho­tel mixes old with new

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