A Taste of Home: Chef Aven Lau on His Favourite Places to Eat in Singapore
Bâtard’s new chef Aven Lau may be only 27 years old, but he brings a wealth of experience to the kitchen, having worked under Julien Royer at Odette in Singapore before relocating to Hong Kong where he worked alongside chef Daniel Calvert at Belon and with chef Edward Voon at Le Pan. He also spent three months at Kadeau in Copenhagen where he learned to forage for ingredients and made the most of working with the freshest, seasonal produce.
Born and raised in Singapore, while Lau’s professional experience sees him create elevated French comfort food to pair with the many fine wines that complete a dining experience at Bâtard, he nevertheless has a soft spot for the food he grew up with in Singapore.
What do you miss most in terms of food and drink when you are away from Singapore or haven’t been back for a while?
Aven Lau (AL) I miss the food and drinks that I grew up consuming on a daily basis that are not readily available in Hong Kong.
What is the first dish you eat when you return and where do you go for it?
AL The first dish I eat when I head back to Singapore is Nyonya kueh and, for me, any place is fine for it. I just miss eating it because of the taste and memories associated with it. It is really a dish from my home.
Do you have a favourite restaurant in Singapore?
AL My favourite restaurant in Singapore has to be Odette by chef Julien Royer. Although it is a fine dining restaurant with a slightly higher price tag, it’s a place I go back to each time I visit Singapore to pay Chef Julien a visit. It’s also a very special place for me as I spent two years working at Odette before moving to Hong Kong.
If you have visitors or guests with you, where do you ensure you always go to give them a real taste of Singapore?
AL In Singapore, we have a vast variety of cuisines, but I will definitely head to Chomp Chomp Food Centre in Serangoon Gardens. They have everything I crave and it’s a great place to go to with visitors and friends from overseas.
Where do you like to meet up with old friends for food or drinks?
AL When I go back to Singapore, I normally meet my chef friends and it’s always a joy to go to Tian Tian Seafood Restaurant to get some zi char food and grab an ice-cold beer.
Do you have a favourite café in Singapore?
AL Cafe culture in Singapore is huge and I like to visit Fatcat Ice Cream Bar, which is owned by my long-time good friend. In my humble opinion, he makes the best ice cream in Singapore.
Is there anywhere else that you never miss visiting when you are back?
AL I don’t go back to Singapore that frequently, but when I’m back I always like to take a walk down the Singapore River past the Merlion to see how much my country has developed and changed while I’ve been away.
What do you always take back home with you when you leave Singapore?
AL I always bring a box of curry puffs back from Singapore to Hong Kong as the flight is only four hours. The people I meet up with after landing back in Hong Kong are the lucky ones who get to enjoy them with me.
Where do you go to find authentic flavours of home where you currently live in Hong Kong?
AL There are two places in Hong Kong that capture the flavours closest to my heart: Cafe Malacca, and J.A.M’s Uncle Quek, which was opened by my friend Barry Quek.