SIN­GA­PORE FOOD FLING

FROM HAWKER CEN­TRES TO MICHE­LIN-STAR RESTAU­RANTS, THESE ARE SOME OF THE HOTTEST PLACES TO EAT

Life & Style Weekend - - ESCAPE - WORDS: VANESSA HORSTMAN The writer was a guest of Ac­corHo­tels and Bris­bane Air­port Cor­po­ra­tion.

Sin­ga­pore is hav­ing more than just a fling with food. It’s a deep love: a Ni­cholas Sparks novel, not Fifty Shades of Grey. Where else would you find a street stall spe­cial­is­ing in chicken and rice, one of the na­tion’s leg­endary dishes and culi­nary ob­ses­sions, that has a Miche­lin star? Across the small is­land na­tion of Sin­ga­pore, there are 38 Miche­lin-star restau­rants – 30 with a one-star rat­ing, seven that fea­ture two stars, and one three-star es­tab­lish­ment. Food is a big deal in Sin­ga­pore, and a de­lec­ta­ble draw­card for tourists.

LAU PA SAT

Tucked in the heart of the fi­nan­cial district, Lau Pa Sat is an unas­sum­ing her­itage-listed build­ing. In a sea of sky­scrapers and un­usual ar­chi­tec­ture, Lau Pa Sat is a colo­nial gem – fret­ted me­tal work, col­umns and soar­ing arches – but in­side the labyrinthi­ne oc­tag­o­nal build­ing is a hawker cen­tre, of­fer­ing cheap and cheer­ful cui­sine. When the busi­ness­men have packed up their brief­cases and headed home for the night, the street comes alive. The road blocks come out, along with hun­dreds of fold­ing ta­bles and plas­tic chairs, and ven­dors claim­ing their satay is the best in town. Smells of flame-cooked meat hang in the air, and the bur­ble of voices bring the street to life. With a plate full of meat on a stick and cool­ish Tiger beer, and 20 gy­ozas for the bargain price of $10, we feast. Tip: There are more than 100-plus open-air hawker cen­tres in Sin­ga­pore. If you come across a ta­ble that has tis­sue pa­per or a busi­ness card ly­ing on it, don’t as­sume the peo­ple be­fore you were grubs. These “left be­hind items” are stand-ins for their own­ers while they go grab some­thing. They will be back to col­lect it.

AC­CORHO­TELS SINAPORE FOOD AND WINE FES­TI­VAL

Ho­tel chain Ac­corHo­tels as­sessed its col­lec­tion of 40 restau­rants and bars across the is­land and de­vised a plan to show­case the gas­tron­omy and tal­ent of its 100-plus chefs. A nine-day food fes­ti­val was born, of­fer­ing culi­nary cre­ations, mas­ter­classes and de­li­cious drinks. The cul­mi­na­tion of the fes­ti­val is the Su­per Sun­day Brunch on Sen­tosa Is­land – a man-made lux­ury play­ground where Sin­ga­pore­ans go to relax. Billed as the “most ex­trav­a­gant spread that you will ever ex­pe­ri­ence”, the brunch lives up to its hype. I’ve yet to meet a cheese or char­cu­terie board I don’t like, and this one put all oth­ers to shame. The va­ri­ety of cheeses from sharp and firm to pun­gent and veined to prac­ti­cally liq­uid form is im­pres­sive, as is the se­lec­tion of cured meat. There is an end­less sup­ply of salmon, smoked tuna, prawns, crabs and lob­sters, draw­ing the eye with a col­lec­tion of orange and red hues that ri­val a Du­lux paint chart. On the pa­tio there is a bar­be­cue cook­ing whole suck­ling pigs and what looks like the en­tire hindquar­ters of a side of wagyu beef. But the real show­stop­per is dessert. It is an en­tire room laden with sug­ary and choco­latey con­fec­tions. I am like Au­gus­tus Gloop in Willy Wonka’s choco­late fac­tory. And then there is the cham­pagne. Tait­tinger brut and rose is freely poured through­out the brunch. Hello Singa-pour-me-an­other-glass-please! The Su­per Sun­day Brunch will put you back $230 for the non-al­co­holic op­tion and about $268-288 with cham­pagne. Style tip: Ladies, forget about pack­ing the comfy pants. The hu­mid­ity is the per­fect ex­cuse to wear a floaty sun dress. Gen­tle­men, maybe in­vest in pants a size too big.

RACINES

Mean­ing “roots” in French, Racines show­cases its French and Chi­nese culi­nary roots – but don’t mis­take it for a fu­sion restau­rant. There are Chi­nese and French dishes on the menu. At the helm is French-born ex­ec­u­tive chef Jean-Charles Dubois, and the first dish off the pass is one close to his heart. The rich lob­ster bisque with ravi­oli so tiny they are barely the size of a fin­ger­nail is a trea­sured fam­ily recipe, handed down from his chef grand­fa­ther to his fa­ther, who is also a chef, and now to Jean-Charles. Slow-cooked beef cheeks that melt in the mouth and a re­fresh­ing scal­lop carpac­cio with chive oil and yuzu are also on the menu. Then there are the frog legs. Big­ger than some chicken drum­sticks I’ve seen, they are from a species of Amer­i­can bull­frogs, and about the size of a small chicken. These are done the tra­di­tional French way with gar­lic, pars­ley and wild mush­room emul­sion, or the Chi­nese way with Szechuan. Both are tasty,

but the Szechuan wins for the spice that has heat but that doesn’t burn. Tip: Af­ter dessert, re­tire to the bar 1864 and en­joy one of the aged cock­tails. The cock­tails are mixed and stored in bar­rels for six to eight weeks be­fore they are “ma­ture”.

JAAN

With a stun­ning view over Ma­rina by the Bay and the har­bour, Miche­lin-star restau­rant Jaan is on the 70th floor of the Swis­so­tel The Stam­ford ho­tel and show­cases mod­ern Euro­pean cui­sine. With only 40 seats, it’s an in­ti­mate din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Chef de Cui­sine Kirk West­away, who hails from the sea­side town of Devon in Eng­land, has in­tro­duced in­gre­di­ents from home, par­tic­u­larly cheese, but also from across the globe. Eggs are im­ported daily from New Zealand and about 40kg of lemons are shipped from Posi­tano in Italy for dessert. Jaan is a study in theatre. The hen’s egg with caviar, mush­rooms and cheese-crusted bri­oche comes as a closed earth­en­ware egg, which is opened in front of you with a waft of smok­i­ness. It’s the runny eggs and toast soldiers of child­hood taken to a level of ele­gance. The king crab dish is un­veiled to re­veal a stun­ning garden of mi­cro flow­ers and veg­eta­bles, while fresh lemon is zested over the Amalfi lemon dessert with the fresh citrus aroma height­en­ing the zing in the dish. The set six-course lunch costs $158, more if you go for the wine pair­ing op­tion.

Tip: Pe­ruse the wine list be­fore ar­riv­ing if you lean to­wards in­de­ci­sion. There are nearly 500 dif­fer­ent wines of of­fer.

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