By Jin Perez
My absolute favorite Peranakan chef Malcolm Lee of Candlenut (best crab curry in the planet!) will be teaming up with the pioneer of modern Singaporean cuisine Willin Low of Wild Rocket in this exciting collaboration happening on July 14 and 15 at Clifford Square. The two champions of Singaporean cuisine will helm a pop-up restaurant featuring modern Singaporean and Peranakan food, alongside nine hawker stalls personally curated by the duo, each presenting a quintessential local dish with a fun twist.
The Michelin Guide Singapore just launched its 2017 edition and bestowed its coveted stars on 38 dining establishments. Among the newly minted restaurants is chef Sam Aisbett’s 18-month-old Whitegrass where he serves cross-cultural flavors unconfined by geographical limitations. I had the most amazing meal with Challans duck on eggplant cream and Chinese jelly mushrooms, Australian freshwater marron with burnt chestnut miso and a 20-year-aged kamebishi soy sauce that my server ever so carefully squeezed onto my plate. Too precious! For dessert, milk jelly, milk ice cream, and milk curls from Hokkaido paired with fresh honeycomb from northern Thailand, followed by an intensely mouthwatering Taiwanese mandarin sorbet that jolted me awake from my delirious food-induced coma. Every course was divine and I strongly recommend you book a table at once.
The most tender octopus—a result of slow cooking for hours and hours—topped with ridiculously tasty XO sauce, plump mussels, garlic crumbs, and a side of squid ink and sunchoke puree hidden under a radicchio leaf. This is just one of the culinary treasures you will find at chef Sun Kim’s restaurant, Meta. The Korean chef could not help but add bits and pieces of his Asian roots into his dishes–gochujang on fresh Irish oysters, yuzu and shiso on raw fish, crab bibimbap–and I could not help but admire every unique bit of it. Meta received its first Michelin star this year. My first mouthful of his beetroot and burrata dusted with tobiko, I knew in my heart that it deserved the accolade.
4. Yayoi Kusama
Life is the Heart of a Rainbow Exhibit. Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins! They are not only for eating, but also for indulging your visual appetites. This exhibition features 120 fascinating works of the renowned Japanese artist. It runs until Sept. 3. Be ready to be blown away by the spell-binding experience which will make you smile, make you laugh, make you sad, make you cry. After the feast for the eyes, head down to Gallery & Co. for the most adorable pumpkin, completely edible this time!
5. Manhattan Bar
Be transported to 19th-century New York once you step into this bar, with its seductively dim lights, oak barrels, lots of dark leather, and shelves of jars containing spices and fruits for drying and pickling. All five signature cocktails I tried were masterfully crafted, but if you must choose one drink only, let it be the Aviation (Citadelle gin, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, fresh lemon juice), which comes with a vial of Tempus Fugit crème de violette that you stir into your drink, watching the special concoction turn into a pretty purple hue. Manhattan is voted number one at Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2017 and our sweet Filipina server presented us with apple cheesecake poppers to celebrate the win.
6. Shangri-La Hotel Tower Wing
What a treat to be enveloped in lushness every time I walk into the lobby of my home in Singapore. Look to your left and be amazed by the nine-meter-high mystical rock wall, look to your right and be amused by the massive, refreshing balls of green in place of the usual, oftentimes boring flower arrangements. Look up and be mesmerized by the 2,000 pieces of cascading leaves by Japanese designer Hirotoshi Sawada to create a tree canopy in this enchanting oasis. The newly renovated Tower Wing at Shangri-La Singapore takes my breath away each and every time. One of the best things about my stay, aside from the heavenly bed, was being able to enjoy a multitude of Singaporean heritage dishes without leaving the comfort of the hotel. One lazy day I had chili crab and mantou, Hainanese chicken rice, and an incredible katong laksa all by myself, washed down with a comforting mug of teh tarik and followed by a sweet, chocolate-y glass of Milo dinosaur.
7. Singapore Food Festivals
Singapore Food Festivals happening between July 14 and 30 and there will be a roster of activities to celebrate the richness and diversity of local Singaporean flavors. Imagine a hawker wine safari where Bib Gourmand hawker eats are paired with artisanal wines from Australia and New Zealand, a kueh pairing workshop where you enjoy the sweet little treats with coffee, tea, and cocktails, and a 50 Cent Festival featuring nostalgic dishes like abacus seeds, paper wrapped chicken, beehoon, and diced candy at 1980 prices–50 Singapore cents!
So fly your empty stomachs to Singapore this July, speak your best Singlish, and immerse yourselves in Singaporean culture by eating, eating, and never-ending eating!
Follow Jin on Instagram/jinlovestoeat or contact her at [email protected]