Singaporean chef Jimmy Lim's life has always revolved around food, starting as a child when he used to help out at his parents' restaurant. It was no surprise that he enrolled in a local culinary school then further honed his skills at lauded establishments, including The French Laundry in Napa Valley, Per Se in New York, Noma in Copenhagen and Le Moût in Taichung.
In 2017, he opened JL Studio in Taipei where he continues to dish out inspired modern Singaporean fare using Taiwanese produce. It quickly became one of the hottest restaurant openings in Asia, racking up accolade after accolade such as the Miele One to Watch award at the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2019, as well as two Michelin stars in the Taiwan Michelin Guide 2020.
While he spends most of his time dreaming up new dishes for his restaurant, he makes it a point to visit his home country regularly to catch up with family and friends and find inspiration from the eateries he enjoyed while growing up. Here are some of his favourites.
What do you miss most on the food/drink front when you are away from Singapore or haven’t been back for a while?
Jimmy Lim (JL) I miss curry fish head, char kway teow, hae mee, prata—you name it. Although I can cook them here in Taiwan, they just taste different because there’s always one missing ingredient called ‘home’. For me, eating is not just about filling up your stomach.
What is the first dish you eat when you return and where do you go for it?
JL My first meal in Singapore always depends on my schedule. But before I leave, I always make it a point to visit The Banana Leaf Apolo in Little India. This is the place my dad would often take me when he was still around. I’m sure everyone has their favourites, but for me, returning to this eatery is like telling my dad, “Hey, I am back!”. It’s more like a memory meal for me.