After the Best Dessert of 2016, the countdown continues with the 10 Best Dishes in Singapore. Many of the 10 dishes combine elements from the West and the East, indicating how globalized the culinary world has become, or/and how globalized Singapore has become. Magic can happen when you free your mind and erase borders. Build bridges, not walls, Donald Trump!
The other dishes are more traditional, presenting the best of their categories.
Strangely, 5 out of 13 dishes are soups, even though personally, I hate soupy food.
These are the 13 best dishes of the year:
Redpan at Marina Square is a collaboration between two homegrown companies, GRUB and DP Architects. Like the other eateries under the GRUB group, Redpan serves mod sin cuisine. The hae bee hiam pasta is a perfectly al dente tagliatelle tossed in a housemade spicy shrimp paste which is a traditional recipe from Chef Mervyn Phan’s grandmother. It is so addictive, so delicious that we had to snatch for it.
Clearly, The Disgruntled Chef must be doing something right to survive for 6 years in this cutthroat culinary world. Helmed by Chef Daniel Sia, they serve European cuisine with Asian touches. Their bestseller for the past 6 years, crispy lamb shortribs ($21), is sous vide, deep-fried, and sprinkled with cumin; it is paired with yogurt and spiced pumpkin puree. So tender it falls off the meat.
Yes, this is the one-michelin-starred hawker stall that you need to queue 2-3 hours for. The skin is sweet and gelatinous, not disgustingly and slimy, and the meat, even the breast, was tender like baby’s ass. A piece just glides deep down the throat. Also worth ordering: the char siew.
This is a bit of a cheat because there are three dishes here, but how can you pick the best to recommend when they are all 100 marks? The newly renovated Chinese restaurant probably serves the best Peking duck ($98 with carviar). The Cantonese soup has the most out-of-the-world texture. It is a clear, light broth, and at the same time, the texture resembles those thick, dense Western soups. And the dim sum is delicate and intricate.
#6. Wagyu Pho – Ikyu
The short plate wagyu pho was so scrumptious that I didn’t care about my image and lifted up the bowl to slurp loudly the last drops of the beef broth; and then I “offered” to slurp my eating partner’s bowl. It’s very clever of Executive Chef Takuma Seki to put the very fat and very umami beef strips in a broth to wash away any excess oil. Together with the perfectly al dente rice noodles, this is the wagyu of pho.
York Hotel has been hosting Penang hawkers for 30 years, and this year, they held the Penang buffet thrice. The kway teow soup blew me away. It looks like a sick person’s food, but the broth is so rich and robust. You can’t even eat this in Penang because the hawker has already retired! Watch out for the next time York Hotel organizes it.
Another mod sin dish makes the list! Talented Peranakan Chef Matthew Mok shines when he fuses Singapore flavors with French. His rendition of nasi lemak is divine, one of the best things I ate this year: couscous infused with coconut, dehydrated okra, quail with pineapple sauce, and sambal ice cream on peanut soil. It tastes exactly like an elevated version of nasi lemak—mindblowing!
This again is kinda a cheat, having two dishes here. But hey! This is the only 3-michelin-starred restaurant in Singapore, so let’s show some respect. The two dishes are different: the Imperial caviar atop salmon tartare tastes like money, and to be exact, a million bucks, but the Kagoshima steak is treated with so much respect that the juices open the floodgates to heaven. This must be what St Theresa ate in that Bernini’s sculpture to show that ecstastic expression.
Some food leave an indelible feeling, not taste, in the memory, and the tomato oden here has achieved it. Science is important here. Tomato is rich in umami, and so is the bonito usually used in Japanese soups. There is so much umami here that I am defenseless against it.
Ushidoki serves a nose-to-tail beef kaiseki, helmed by stylish Osaka Chef Nobuaki Hirohashi. Some people may prefer the sukiyaki, which has been kept bubbling since the restaurant opened. But it is the slow-cooked beef tongue in beef stock that gave me an out-of-body experience. I have never taken weed before, but I imagine that weed will give me the same floating, dreamy high.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.