These restaurants do more than just peg a fancy price tag to our local dishes
Can our hawker culture be replicated and reinvented? The following restaurants have proven that it can be tastefully done (pun intended) without butchering our heritage. Welcome to what we call modern Singaporean (mod-Sin) cuisine, a creative and innovative take on familiar dishes and flavours that we deeply cherish.
There’s a new kid on the mod-Sin block: Avenue 87 on Amoy Street, the brainchild of chefs Alex Phan and Glen Tay. Lest you be mistaken, the restaurant derives its name not from locality, but rather a shared slice of history. Both Phan and Tay were born in 1987, and grew up only a street apart (Phan on Hougang Avenue 7, Tay on Avenue 8); both have remained the best of buds ever since enrolling at Shatec’s culinary school more than a decade ago.
47 Amoy Street
Tel: +65 6970 5491
In any conversation involving “mod-sin”, the name “Willin Low” will likely appear. Disrupting the local food scene with his mod-sin culinary movement more than a decade ago, Willin is the mastermind behind the culinary concept at Po, the flagship restaurant inside The Warehouse Hotel, which is situated along the Singapore River. The elegant restaurant serves embellished home-style classics that our own ‘popo’ (grandmother) would approve of such as Popiah recreated from traditional family recipes, Bak Kut Teh prepared with U.S. Prime pork ribs, and Hokkien noodles served with Mediterranean wild red prawns.
320 Havelock Road
The Warehouse Hotel
Tel: +65 6828 0007
Chef-owner Han Li Guang implores diners to journey beyond simple reproductions of classic dishes, all by artfully evoking expressions from his childhood food memories in the one-Michelin-starred Labyrinth. His innovative and intriguing dishes are presented in well-curated set prix fixe menus with fine wine-pairing options, available for lunch and dinner. To mark Singapore’s 55th birthday, the restaurant will offer exclusive lunch and dinner menus. Dishes like Moonlight Hor Fun with wagyu short ribs, and Kueh Lapis infused with fresh Manjimup black truffles make this dining experience worth splurging on.
8 Raffles Avenue
02-23 Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay
Tel: +65 6223 4098
Housed within former colonial barracks, the world’s first Michelin-starred Peranakan restaurant boasts a vast dining room accented with contemporary touches. Homegrown chef Malcolm Lee delves deep into his Peranakan heritage to offer modern Straits-Chinese dishes that articulate closely-held traditions and are based on his family recipes. Order the tasting menu which includes creative dishes such as Yeye Chicken Curry, a rich, white coconut curry recipe that was passed down from Lee’s great-grandfather, and the Buah Keluak, aromatic black nut curry slow-cooked with free-range Borrowdale pork.
17A Dempsey Road
Tel: 1800 304 2288
Nestled in the quintessentially suburban Serangoon Gardens estate, Mustard Seed has come a long way from its modest home dining operations in a Potong Pasir apartment to an intimate 13-guest dining room, which is booked out months in advance by tenacious diners. Presented in a fine-dining omakase menu that is frequently refreshed, chef-owner Gan Ming Kiat’s repertoire of novel dishes are proudly rooted in local flavours and inspired by Japanese culinary techniques and presentation. Lucky diners have witnessed themed creations such as Ayam Pangkang, Chicken with Turmeric Rempah, and Hainanese Menchi Katsu with tomato and bacon sauce.
This charming shophouse restaurant along North Canal Road is Woo Wai Leong’s restaurant debut after he won the inaugural MasterChef Asia season. The lawyer-turned-chef didn’t just rest on his TV fame laurels as Ibid was awarded the Michelin Plate within two years of operations. Drawing from the concept of ‘from the same source’ (the meaning of ‘ibid’ in Latin), the modern Nanyang menu forges chef Wai Leong’s heritage with his experiences abroad in the west. Expect set menus filled with clever and elegant dishes such as local squid with basil caviar, pan-fried buns with foie gras, and wagyu short ribs with ginseng.
18 North Canal Road
Tel: +65 9151 8698