Singapore is no longer just known for its hawker fare. The city has the ability to attract some of the best culinary talents from around the world to move to its shores. While the dining public loves its chicken rice and fish head curry, it also clamors for cooking that is multicultural and cosmopolitan. And Singaporeans are constantly looking for what’s new and who’s in. During a recent visit, I got the chance to check out these most buzz-worthy places run by talented chefs from other countries who are helping forge Singapore’s dynamic, world-class dining scene.
More great dining spots
Cloudstreet is a highly touted new restaurant collaboration, the result of a chance meeting between Cloudstreet’s co-owner and general manager Gareth Burnett and celebrated Sri Lankan-born chef Rishi Naleendra, who made his mark at the one Michelin-starred Cheek By Jowl.
Located in a beautifully converted shop house space on Amoy Street, Cloudstreet boasts spacious, modern interiors, but with “masculine” aesthetics. An eclectic mix of accent and art pieces includes a wall filled with nude sketches painted by the chef himself, giving the space a home studio vibe. The heart of this 35-seater restaurant though is the 14-seater chef’s counter that surrounds the open kitchen, allowing diners to watch the action and interact with the chef.
According to Naleendra, Cloudstreet is like a culmination of his development as a chef. It is where he intends to showcase a side of him that has yet to be revealed. Guests can choose from three or five courses during lunch, and from five to seven courses at dinner.
Naleendra’s ingredient-driven cuisine at Cloudstreet is supported by an extensive wine list featuring around 350 natural and classic style wines curated by the resident sommelier, Vinodhan “Vino” Veloo.
Incidentally, he did an excellent job of pairing the seven-course dinner that I tried last August with some great vintages, alongside wines from smaller, independent winemakers from around the world. It was one of the most inspired wine pairing dinners that I have tried to date. Veloo also offers a special juice pairing for those who do not imbibe.
Tucked away in a heritage shop house along Mohamed Sultan Road is the Lo & Behold Group’s first Japanese concept called Esora. This zen-like 26-seater features modern kappo-style dining helmed by chef-owner Shigeru Koizumi. His culinary credentials include stints at Tokyo’s three Michelin-starred Nihonryori RyuGin and Singapore’s two Michelin-starred Odette at the National Gallery.
Kappo simply means “to cut and to cook,” with the chef having the freedom to choose what to prepare. Kappo involves a multi-course meal, similar to kaiseki albeit a less formal version, and with emphasis on the chef’s close relationship with his customers.
At Esora, Koizumi combines his experience of growing up in the mountainside town of Nasu in Tochigi Prefecture with his time in Michelin-starred kitchens to showcase his own modern take on a kappo-style meal, which he personally curates from the choice of dishes to the serve ware sourced from Japan.
Fellow tea lovers should try the tea pairing option, with the teas selected by Koizumi himself to go with each course to create the most unique tea pairing that I have tried so far. For the preparation of his teas, the chef applies the “one-degree approach,” believing that the slightest change in temperature, even just a degree, can affect the outcome of a dish, or in this case, the tea itself.
“In Japanese culture, drinking tea symbolizes peace, spiritual rejuvenation, and calmness. Hence, unlike alcohol, tea pairing helps to create a soothing condition for diners to best enjoy the dishes,” shares Koizumi.
Salted and Hung
This contemporary Australian restaurant on Purvis Street is a known pioneer of nose-to-tail dining in Singapore, aptly named Salted and Hung for the cured meats it “salts and hangs” in-house before serving to guests. The restaurant just celebrated its third birthday last June with a fresh and elegant new look and menu.
According to its award-winning chef Drew Nocente—whose Italian-Australian background greatly influences what he serves at his restaurant—the new menu takes the concept of “minimal wastage,” the philosophy that the Salted & Hung menu revolves around, to a higher level.
This entails using all possible techniques to cook meat and seafood, skin to bone, to decrease wastage. In so doing, Nocente seeks to educate his diners on how to minimize waste, as he strives to build a sustainable kitchen that showcases the beauty and functionality of unpopular meat parts that we often discard. Salted & Hung’s new menu highlights include both new dishes as well as reinterpreted crowd favorites, with lots of delish seafood options to complement the meat-heavy offerings.
Le Bon Funk Singapore’s Takeover of Savage in BGC
If you can’t fly to Singapore, you can still get a taste of the city-state’s dynamic dining scene when Chef Keirin Buck, former sous-chef of the much-raved about Burnt Ends and currently owner of hip natural wine bar Le Bon Funk, comes to Manila to show his bold style of cooking.
On September 26, he does a four-hands dinner with Chef Josh Boutwood at Helm, to be followed by Team Le Bon Funk’s complete takeover of Boutwood’s Savage on September 27. This collaboration between Buck and Boutwood is part of the Nomad series ongoing at Helm and Savage. Make sure to follow Helm @helmmnl and @savagemnl ASAP on Instagram to get first dibs on a slot, once reservation details are posted.
Photos by Cyrene de la Rosa