1. Cuisine

Best Food 2017 Part I: 10 Best Dishes of the Year

We are fast approaching the end of the year and we are counting down to the best food we have eaten this year. There are 6 parts to the “Best Food 2017” series and this is the first part, listing the best individual dishes we have eaten this year. On this list, there is no budgetary limit so some dishes can cost $4 while others $30. But they are all delicious.

We estimate that we have eaten almost 800 dishes this year. And out of the 800 dishes, these are the 10 best in alphabetical order…


Cook and Brew
12 Marina View, The Westin Singapore, Level 33, Singapore 018961
Tel: +65 6922 6948
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Helmed by Canadian chef Aaron Foster, Cook and Brew at The Westin serves Canadian-Asian cuisine. The most delicious dishes here are usually those with Asian influences with the exception of WHIPPED BUFFALO MILK RICOTTA with truffle honey ($14). The sweet and creamy milk ricotta is spread on sourdough, which is slightly salty, slightly toasted, giving a plethora of flavors in the mouth. [FULL REVIEW]


Fu Lin Boat Quay
50 Circular Road Singapore 049405
tel: +65 6532 1013
M-F 10am-12am, Sat 4pm-12am
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Fu Lin started as a hawker stall in 1994, selling yong tau foo. They have ventured into the restaurant business, attempting to combine East and West, serving Asian-Western tapas. While their tapas are not bad, their YONG TAU FOO ($8) is still the star. They use fresh ingredients and you can immediately tell their superiority from other yong tau food. The items are deep-fried to a golden brown and doused in an amazing thick chicken-mushroom gravy. Also remember to order their NOODLES ($4) in a  similar gravy. This is heaven. [FULL REVIEW]


Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road, Singapore 228221
tel: +65 6737 7411
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A pity the slow roasted Ibérico pork belly with crackling, pickled cabbage, homemade Granny Smith apple sauce, and smoked bacon-infused pork jus ($320 for 6 to 8 persons) is only available for takeaways during Christmas. It is so delicious that I binged until I vomited–and yet I am still craving for it. Roasted for three and a half hours with sherry vinegar, white wine and mirepoix, the pork is so moist within and has a gorgeous crackling.

Available 1-26 Dec with a required order of 5 days in advance. Visit their holiday site to order. If you order this, please invite me to your party.


The Hitsuji Club
65 Circular Road Singapore 049419
Tel: +65 6221 3789
12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm, closed Sun
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Facing Fu Lin Boat Quay, The Hitsuji Club is touted to be the first Jingiskan specialty restaurant in Singapore. Although they have otsumami (“snacks”) items on their menu, their grilled lamb is still the best item. Hitsuji sources for chilled, not frozen, lambs from Australia that are grain-fed and are 6 to 8 months old. There is a lamb chop set ($65) which comes with vegetables, fillet, loin, and lamb chop. But if you can splurge, I highly recommend PREMIUM LAMB CHOP ($25/pc). The flavor of the meat goes long and deep, and the fat is, miraculously, fruity with a tinge of blue cheese. Magical. [FULL REVIEW]


LeVeL 33
8 Marina Boulevard #33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1 Singapore 018981
tel: +65 6834 3133
M–W 11.30am–12am, Th–Sat 11.30am–2am, Sun 12pm–12am
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MAC, CRAB AND CHEESE ($16) is mixed with a combination of two cheeses, Monterey Jack and Comte. The seafood flavor of the crab comes through beautifully as a layer beneath the creaminess and pungency of the cheese. But unfortunately when I returned with my friends for their Sunday Roast, they had replaced it with a normal mac and cheese ($10), tinged with mustard. Still, Huccalyly exclaimed, “This must be the best mac and cheese in Singapore.”

I replied, “If you think this is good, wait till you try the crab version.” We need to start a #bringbackMCC movement. [FULL REVIEW]


Porta Restaurant
1 Unity Street, Park Hotel Clarke Quay, Singapore 237983
T: +65 6593 8855
11.30am-10.30pm
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Porta serving modern European food is headed by Chef Michael Suyanto who led the team at Bistro du Vin for 3 years. After eating Suyanto’s glorified version of pork chop, we tried other restaurants’ and they just can’t hold a candle to his.  He uses IBERICO PORK SECRETO ($26) and sous-vide it for 4 hours before roasting. The high marbling of the shoulder blade secretes extremely umami juices. Interestingly, instead of the usual apple sauce and mustard on the side, a pommery mustard is glazed on it, giving it a sweetness and complexity. [FULL REVIEW]


Sabar
435 Orchard Road, #04-50 Japan Food Town, Wisma Atria, Singapore 238877
T: +65 6262 3453
11.38am-10.38pm daily
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The shop name Sabar is a portmanteau word made from “saba” fish (angmohs know it as mackerel) and “bar.” Originally a crowdfunding project, Sabar, established in 2014, is from Osaka and uses toro-saba. To be called torosaba, the mackerel has to (1) be fished from North Pacific coast of Japan, (2) contain over 21% fats, and (3) weigh over 550g.

Food courts sell saba fish at $5 or $6, and $25 is 5 times the usual price.  But it is de-FIN-itely worth it. The GRILLED TORO-SABA ($25) is 38cm long. When people say size doesn’t matter, they are lying. The bigger, the better! As you break the extremely crispy skin, there is a cracking sound as if you are crushing paper. (Please recycle after crushing paper.) Offsetting the crispy skin, the super juicy flesh is so sweet, almost as sweet as fructose. [FULL REVIEW]


Song Garden Restaurant
122 Middle Road, Mercure Singapore Bugis, #02-01, Singapore 188973
Tel: +65 6521 9299
Weekdays 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm; Weekends & PH 11am-3pm, 6pm-10pm

This is kind of a cheat because I cannot choose one dish from Song Garden; I have to recommend three. Hong Kong native, executive chef Wong Shea Nung, who has more than 40 years of experience, leads the team. The dim sum section is handled by Hong Kong chef Leung Chi Man, formerly from East Ocean, with 30 years of experience. The three dishes are:

STEAMED CHEONG FUN WITH FRESH PRAWNS ($6, 5 pcs) is a play on the traditional Hong Kong zaa leung (炸兩),  rice noodle roll around youtiao. I never understand zaa leung–carbs wrapped around carbs?! But here, the sheet of rice roll, made fresh in-house daily, is sprinkled with crispy light flour, before rolling with prawns. This is fantastic, so crispy and delicate at the same time. I also appreciate the fragrance of the homemade soya sauce, adding a light saltiness to the prawn-sweetness.

LOBSTER WITH PUMPKIN PUREE ($28++): The pumpkin broth is flavored with lobster stock and thickened with shark cartilage and fish maw. The cartilage and fish maw are boiled for 12-14 hours, thoroughly dissolved in the soup. It tastes slightly like saffron and has a lip-smacking texture of collagen. Warming to the stomach. So much umami.

SAUTEED ASPARAGUS WITH WILD MUSHROOMS IN WHITE TRUFFLE OIL ($28++): Vegetables never tasted so good. [FULL REVIEW]


Southpaw Bar & Sushi
11 Cavan Rd, Cavan Suites, #01-04 Singapore 209848
tel: +65 9101 1941
6pm-12am, closed Sun
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Southpaw is a modern Cali-styled sushi bar, pairing food with whiskey. It’s helmed by Chef Kenny Khoo with 17 years of experience at esteemed Japanese restaurants such as Nogawa, the very first sushi restaurant in Singapore opened in 1978, and  Tatsuya at Goodwood Park Hotel. Southpaw is only open for dinner, serving omakase sets at $68+, $98+, and $138+. If you find it costly, they have a 7 piece sushi set for $38 and a chirashi don for also $38. Part of the $98++ omakase, the FOIE GRAS SCALLOP SUSHI is orgasmic. The foie gras is torched so that the oil filters to the scallop which absorbs it. After the initial robust butteriness of the foie gras, the sweetness of scallop settles in. Mindblowing. [FULL REVIEW]


Twins Korean Restaurant
7 Craig Road Singapore 089667
tel: +65 6221 5205
Lunch: M-Sat 11.30am-3pm, Dinner: M-Th & Sat 5pm-12am, F 5pm-1am, Sun 5pm-11pm
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Twins Korean Restaurant is known for two things: the hot twin Korean chefs and their fried chicken. But Woo Jae’s seafood noodles ($13.90/$16.90) is simply spectacular. The ingredients are first stir-fried in a wok with huge fire like any Chinese restaurants, before the broth is introduced. As a result, it has a wondrous wok hei charred taste at first, mellowing into a seafood-sweetness and finally, ending with a spicy aftertaste. [FULL REVIEW]


To recap, these are the best dishes of 2017:

-Cook and Brew, The Westin: Whipped buffalo milk ricotta with truffle honey ($14)

-Fu Lin Boat Quay: Yong tau foo ($8) and noodles ($4)

-Goodwood Park, Orchard Road: Slow roasted Ibérico pork belly with crackling, pickled cabbage, apple sauce and pork jus ($320 for 6-8 pax)

-The Hitsuji Club, Boat Quay: Premium lamb chop ($25)

-LeVeL33, MBFC: Mac, crab, and cheese ($16)

-Porta, Park Hotel Clarke Quay: Iberico pork secreto ($26)

-Sabar, Japan Food Town, Wisma Atria: Grilled toro-saba ($25)

-Song Garden, Mercure Bugis: Steamed cheong fun with fresh prawns ($6, 5pc); Lobster with pumpkin puree ($28); Sauteed asparagus with wild mushrooms in white truffle oil ($28)

-Southpaw Bar & Sushi, Jalan Besar: Foie gras scallop sushi, part of $98 omakase

-Twins Korean Restaurant, Tanjong Pagar: Woo Jae’s seafood noodles ($13.90/$16.90)

I hope some of these dishes are so good they make you cry. Did any dishes make you cry this year? Comment and share with us!


You may be interested in…
Michelin Bib Gourmand Singapore 2017
Michelin Star Restaurants Singapore 2017 (FULL LIST)
Best Food 2016 Part II: 10 Best Dishes in Singapore
Best Food 2016 Part VI: 10 Best Restaurants in Singapore


Written by A. Nathanael Ho.

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