The Tatler Dining team looks back at the most memorable meals they've had this year
After a tumultuous 2020, the F&B scene showed signs of recovering, as evinced by the number of restaurants that opened their doors this year. Despite the ever-changing dine-in restrictions, these chefs continued to feed our appetite for delicious foods spanning various cuisines. Here are our favourite meals in 2021.
Pollen at Flower Dome has been rebranded to Marguerite. Chef-owner Michael Wilson presents his own brand of ‘contemporary cuisine’, where his creations are a “culmination of our life experiences, working and eating across the globe”.
His seven-course tasting menu is a celebration of craft, provenance and produce, as you will taste in the likes of heirloom carrot and Scottish langoustine. The aforementioned dish presents the humble vegetable in various ways—slow-cooked and coated with carrot pulp and muscovado sugar, pickled and paired with crisp shards of yeast and almonds; and made into a sauce using juiced sand carrots and Valencia oranges.
We know we are all going to have a memorable feast at chef Damian D’Silva’s restaurant. And that is what you can expect ate Rempapa, his new dining concept at Paya Lebar Quarter that offers the delicious flavours of Chinese, Peranakan, Eurasian, Indian and Malay in his ‘Singapore new heritage cuisine’.
D’Silva still whips up the heritage recipes he’s been known for—among which are the babi pongteh, lamb leg rendang and fried Nyonya fish cake—but he balances these with traditional dishes that have been brought into the now to cater to the new generation.
This is best illustrated in his pork chop curry rice. “It’s my grandfather’s recipe, and I have taken the soul of that recipe,” explains D’Silva, who presents it similarly to the much-loved pork katsu-don. This is done by coating the pork with cream crackers (as per the classic Hainanese recipe) before deep-frying and serving it with curry gravy with a more toned down flavour.
We had all been waiting for lauded chef Julien Royer to open his second outfit on the island, and that has finally happened in November with Claudine. Named after his mum, it is the space where families and friends gather over deliciously cooked and comforting French fare—best had with a glass of wine or two.
The menu is a collection of personal recipes from Royer and the rest of the culinary team, among which are the Claudine bouillabaisse served with croutons and saffron rouille, as well as the winter dish of vol-au-vent, comprising puff pastry topped with sweetbread, cockscomb, chicken quenelle and morel mushrooms.
4. Sushi Sato
Take a trip to Japan without leaving Singapore at Sushi Sato, the latest sushi-ya at Dempsey Hill that is helmed by master chef Yuji Sato. Stepping inside feels like entering another world—one that is calm and serene that it forces you to relax as you partake in Sato’s delectable creations, served as part of the omakase menus.
Produce here are always at their best, given that they’re flown in from Toyosu and Sapporo markers four times a week. Signature dishes include ika somen, made with squid sliced into noodle-like strands and served in an umami dashi broth alongside ikura, perilla leaf, wasabi and shallots. The restaurant also offers champagnes, wines and sakes to complement each course.
Sushi Sato | 6B Dempsey Road, S(247662) | 6971 8265
5. Firangi Superstar
Our desire for travel has led the folks behind Neon Pigeon and Fat Prince to open this modern Indian restaurant. Its maximalist interior akin to a Wes Anderson film set is designed to be an escape, and this gastronomic trip is made even better with head chef Thiru Gunasakaran contemporary take on Indian fare.
Among his delectable creations are the Sothi Fresh, an inspired rendition of the yellow coconut curry where the snapper fish is cured in Kokum dressing, served with coconut jelly and shallots, and drizzled with chilli oil for good measure.
6. Sushi Ichizuke
Our appetite for Japanese cuisine will never be satiated, which explains the slew of sushi-yas that opened in the past year alone. From the Zouk Group comes Sushi Ichizuke, helmed by head chef Ryoichi Nakatani who has trained in prestigious establishments including Hashida Singapore.
At his gorgeous space, he offers traditional Edomae- or Edo-style sushi where the fish typically involves some kind of curing or cooking element. “The pieces I serve are traditional Tokyo-style sushi,” he affirms, adding that his omakase menu also includes exclusive items based on seasonal produce.
Sushi Ichizuke | 3E River Valley Road, 02-02 Clarke Quay, The Cannery, S(179024) | 9489 8357
We were introduced to chef Louis Han’s brilliant cooking at the now-defunct Kimme, which is why his return to the F&B scene as chef founder of this modern Korean restaurant is a welcome affair. His ‘contemporary Seoul cuisine’ is an amalgamation of his taste memories while growing up in Gangnam, Seoul as well as his culinary influences while working in various parts of the globe. He presents this in a tasting menu divided into ‘episodes’ highlighting his favourite ingredients.
8. Canchita Peruvian Cuisine
Nothing spells comfort food more than Peruvian cuisine, and chef-owner Tamara Chavez feeds our appetite anytime of the day with authentic Latin American dishes packed with robust flavours. Apart from the ceviche, must tries include arroz con mariscos which is an assembly of seafood rice, crayfish, chillies, tomatoes, crab butter and white wine. Another standout is the pollo a la brasa (Peruvian roast chicken) which sees the poultry grilled to a juicy and tender perfection. It’s best had with Latin American tipples and a range of wines.
The dining experience here is complemented by the relaxing interiors that bring the outdoors in, as well as the personable service by the friendly staff.
Award-winning executive chef Saurabh Udinia wowed gourmands with his inventive India cuisine, cooked using flame and smoke in the restaurant’s custom-built woodfire and tandoor grills. The experience tasting menu lets you savour new highlights, among which are the Hokkaido scallops cooked over embers and accented with Indian lemon pickle beurre blanc and finger lime, and the chicken Scotch egg served atop a crisp potato egg nest that is decorated with turmeric and chives aioli.
Revolver | 56 Tras St, S(078995) | 6223 2812
After working alongside celebrated chefs Vianney Massot (chef-owner of the now-closed one-Michelin-star Vianney Massot Restaurant) and Luke Armstrong (executive chef of now-defunct Bacchanalia), head chef Lewis Barker has come into his own at Sommer. He serves up modern European dishes that draw cues from his childhood memories and personal journeys—whipped up using the finest seasonal ingredients. One example is his canapé of mackerel on toast, reminiscent of the snack he used to enjoy as a child. His version is essentially a homemade crumpet elevated with smoked Japanese saba and kaluga caviar.
Sommer | The Sail, 2 Marina Boulevard, #01-02, S(018987) | 6436 3668.