The South Korean-born chef who has been calling Singapore home the last seven years, and expectedly fallen in love with more than a few local specialities, shares a few recommendations

While Singapore’s ever vibrant dining scene continues to lure some of the world’s top chefs, many of today’s brightest first made their mark here. Much like how South Korean-born Sun Kim has done since moving to the island nation in 2014 to work at Waku Ghin, and eventually making his debut as executive chef at Meta in 2016.

It didn’t take long before the region’s most avid diners took notice. And just last month, one Michelin starred Meta was honoured with the 2021 American Express One To Watch Award. Selected by the organisers of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, in collaboration with its regional experts, the award is presented to a restaurant that is outside the main Asia’s 50 Best list but is identified as the rising star of the region.

(Related: How Singapore Fared at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2021 Awards)

Kim’s progressive menu has always been about melding Asian and Western culinary inspirations, evolving to include influences from his heritage to celebrate a unique amalgamation of predominantly Korean, Japanese and French cuisines.

To be sure, this is also an elevated exploration of cross-cultural cooking that’s become increasingly prevalent across Asia. Though local pundits would not hesitate to presume the possible impact of living and working in multicultural Singapore might have had on his interpretation.

We do, nonetheless, know that Kim has developed quite a taste for more than a few local dishes—from feted stalwarts, no less. In fact, here are a few places you might find the soft-spoken rising star of mod-Asian gastronomy dining at, especially when he’s craving that quintessential Singaporean meal.

(Related: Combining Our Love For Singapore’s Hawker Food With Champagne)

Nan Hwa Chong Fish Head Steamboat Corner

“This is one of my favourites as they use charcoal, which makes the soup itself very authentic and gives it a smoky taste. The restaurant is currently run by third generation (owners). When I go I usually get the grouper steamboat, as it is full of flavour (and the fish is) soft and tender.”

Also worth noting: The recipe for its delicious broth has been passed down since 1927. Besides its bestselling grouper steamboat, there is the bighead carp head set as well as the one prepared with pomfret, another traditional Teochew favourite. Other popular dishes include fried pork belly that’s been marinated in fermented tofu, as well as prawn paste chicken wings.

Nan Hwa Chong Fish Head Steamboat Corner is located at 812 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 198779.

No Signboard Seafood (Geylang)

“This was the first place in Singapore where I had chilli crab, and until today, there is no other restaurant that I think does it better.”

Also worth noting: The brand’s humble beginnings can be traced back to the 1970s to its founder Mdm Ong Kim Hoi’s seafood hawker stall at Mattar Road Hawker Centre. It has since established itself as the place for its acclaimed white pepper crab dish. Other must-haves are its cereal prawns and razor clams.

No Signboard Seafood is located at 414 Geylang Rd, Singapore 389392.

Premaas Cuisine

“My all-time favourite Indian restaurant in Singapore. They are serving home cooked South Indian cuisine. My top picks would be the lamb biriyani and the sambal grilled fish. As they cook all the food a la minute, there is a slight waiting time, but its well worth the wait.”

Also worth noting: This restaurant specialises in Kerala cuisine, offering a good mix of meat and vegetarian dishes, though majority of the dishes feature seafood, mutton, chicken, duck and beef. There are also light dishes such as appam and chappathi, as well as a number of biriyani options.

Premaas Cuisine is located at 6 Dalhousie Lane, Singapore 209675. 

Blanco Court Fried Fish Noodles

“This is a very hearty bowl of fish soup noodles. They add egg floss which gives the soup extra texture and flavour, I also enjoy the seafood omelette. For me, this fish soup noodles is best to eat on a rainy day.”

Also worth noting: There is no question what you should be having here, bit in case you’re craving more, there is the option to have an extra bowl of ‘steamed fish soup’ to share or deep-fried steaks of batang fish on their own.

Blanco Court Fried Fish Noodles is located at 325 Beach Road, Singapore 199566.

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