Monday, 2 January 2012

Some of My Best Hits of 2011

2011 was an eventful year! After being away from Singapore for 4 years, I came back and saw the country in a different light. Much has changed since I left.

Orchard Road’s changed almost beyond recognition. Marina Bay Sands is completely new to me. The MRT has gotten more crowded and taxi fares have risen beyond my reach. The number of eateries has sky rocketed, so has the variety of cuisine, but in general, quality has suffered, and a certain bland homogeneity or ‘sameness’ seems to be the hallmark of our street and mid-range food these days.

Having said that, I did have memorable meals in Singapore and elsewhere.  They are too numerous to list, so I’ve chosen a memorable few:

The Ivy :

It’s the setting for many a movie, the haunt of stellar Hollywood, and the rave of my star-struck friends---and I finally made it there in April this year. The food was good instead of fantastic, but it was the experience of glam, fun and people watching that made it all worthwhile.

113N Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, California 90048

Old Hong Kong Legend Restaurant – Hangzhou Food Promotion

I’m a big fan of Chef Ng Sui Hong’s cooking in Hong Kong. In fact, his restaurant is the first and only Hangzhou restaurant in the world with one Michelin star to its name. Chef Ng comes from a family of great cooks and he shoulders the family tradition with pride. Old Hong Kong invited him to their flagship restaurant at Raffles City for a week-long promotion in May, and I had the opportunity to savour Chef Ng’s handiwork again.

 Raffles City Shopping Center
252 North Bridge Road
#02-18 Raffles Place

St Pierre The Restaurant :

Chef Emmanuel Stroobant is an old friend and I’ve been eating at his restaurant for years. At the recent launch of his new ‘concept cooking’, we were treated to his undivided attention as he cooked right in front of guests and ‘played’ with his ingredients like a maestro in front of the orchestra. The evening was full of whimsy and surprise, and, most importantly, Chef Stroobant made it a truly personal experience.

3 Magazine Road
#01-01 Central Mall

Mun Kee Roast Meat Restaurant

An impromptu dinner organized by my HK food buddies Margaret and Fraz took me to an unexpected eating spot in Jordan, Hong Kong, for unforgettable roast goose. Only a limited number of birds are roasted each evening and served at 7.30pm sharp, to ensure crispy skin and succulent meat. It was great, and so were the rest of the dishes.  Most of all, it was the company at the table of Hong Kong and Singaporean friends, that made the meal special.

1A Reclamation Street
Jordan, Hong Kong

Fu 1088 :

A trip to Shanghai in June was especially fruitful because I met some of the nicest friends from Hong Kong---Amy, Alex and Wai. They chose to include me in their food escapades and this was one of the great meals they brought me to. Located in Shanghai’s French concessionary in an old bungalow, this restaurant serves some of the most exquisite Shanghai dishes in town.  The appetisers and main dishes were superb; just skip their carbohydrates and desserts.

375 Zhenning Lu,
Changning District
Shanghai, China

Teochew Restaurant Huat Kee (1998) Pte Ltd

It took a visitor from Hong Kong to introduce me to one of the best Teochew restaurants in Singapore. As one walks into the restaurant, he will be greeted by intimidating displays of abalone and sharks’ fin. However, the staff was not at all pushy; in fact they were helpful in suggesting dishes from the more affordable sections of the menu. True to Teochew cuisine traditions, the food was simple but packed with quality ingredients and fine cooking. I became a total convert after just one bite!

74 Amoy Street

Restaurant Andre

In the four short years I was away, one star chef was born and grew to own an eponymous restaurant that’s become one of Singapore’s culinary raves. I was told it wasn’t easy to get a table, but thanks to some well-connected journalist friends of mine; six of us were treated to a dinner executed with sharp creativity and a bold play of ingredients. Although most of Andre’s cooking techniques were by now familiar on the fine dining landscape, he earned high marks, in my book, for the youthful, adventurous spirit of his cooking.

41 Bukit Pasoh Road