[Updated Jun 16, 2016] The hype surrounding Singapore’s first Michelin Guide is here, and it’s a great time to discover the city’s best culinary talents. Besides dining at big-name celebrity restaurants, these local establishments are worth your time too. Here are our favorite local chefs and where to find them.
Bryan Chia and Petrina Loh at Morsels
The young chef-owner duo’s philosophy is all about comfort food and an unpretentious atmosphere. It shows in their “sharing is caring” small plates concept that’s super laidback and personal. It’s all about pushing out dishes, wines and beers that they personally tried and liked on their culinary journeys.
Cheryl Koh at Tarte
Les Amis pastry chef Cheryl Koh’s eponymously-named takeaway store at Shaw Centre garnered rave reviews when it launched last year, and with good reason: her signature tarts and financiers, which are made from premium ingredients, are baked fresh every morning. She’s also no stranger to accolades—Koh was recently named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2016.
Damian D’Silva at Timbre +
Damian D’Silva, the chef-owner of the now-defunct, but long-beloved Immigrants Gastrobar has a new venture at food truck gastropark, Timbre +. D’s Joint is a simple set up serving honest, Singaporean favorites and Western plates, albeit in a faux-gritty setting. Try his acclaimed nasi lemak, with a generous portion of fried ikan kuning, omelette, fragrant coconut rice, sambal and ikan bilis. Besides this hot favorite, the menu also offers other interesting highlights like the kai fun (or street rice), rice served with chicken broth, char siew, lup cheong and shredded chicken that was a staple for coolies back in the day, and Peranakan specialty sek bak; pig offal in thick, aromatic gravy.
Janice Wong at 2am:dessertbar
Perhaps one of the most well-known pastry chefs here, Wong has worked with celebrity chefs like Gunther Hubrechsen, Loretta Fanella and Pierre Herme though the course of her career. Specializing in innovative and modern interpretations that come with a dose of fun, 2am:dessertbar is all about progressive, never-before-seen creations.
Jason Tan at Corner House
If you’ve yet to dine at this contemporary fine-dining restaurant, then be prepared for a waiting list—Jason Tan’s ‘gastro-botanica’ establishment is #17 on San Pellegrino’s Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list this year. Tan is known for balancing creative botanical touches with meats, poultry and seafood.
Justin Quek at Sky on 57
This heavyweight needs no introduction. After stints in hotels and famous restaurants like Les Amis, he’s set up shop on top of the Marina Bay Sands’ SkyPark. Chef Quek’s unique take on traditional Chinese cuisine incorporates a Franco-Asian twist and a super luxe touch so expect dishes like sea urchin capellini and JQ’s signature roasted crackling suckling pig in yuzu pepper sauce.
LG Han at Restaurant Labyrinth
Ever since it opened, Labyrinth has been making waves for the way it has elevated Mod Sin cuisine. The banker-turned-chef reconstructs Singapore classics and applies Western culinary techniques. This is most evident in his much-loved dish chilli crab ice cream with soft shell crab and chendol xlb.
Malcolm Lee at Candlenut
Another Peranakan chef to add to the mix. Paying homage to Singapore’s nonya heritage, chef-owner Malcolm Lee was set on recreating Western food standards and service with a local flavor. You’ll find lots of “grandmother’s kitchen” classics like kueh pie tee and babi pongteh at his airy restaurant.
Nixon Low at Portico
He’s got pretty big shoes to fill ever since former Fat Duck chef Leandros Stagogiannis left him to helm the kitchen. Under his care, Portico pushes out upscale reinterpretations of comfort dishes like fish & chips and beef bourguignon with finesse. Despite the meticulous plating, he’s got a super friendly approach to cooking and serving his guests. Don’t be surprised when he makes an appearance in the dining room.
Sam Leong at Forest
The tight-lipped chef may not say much but his food certainly reflects his abilities to helm a five-star contemporary Chinese kitchen. With 26 years of experience under his belt, he’s cooked for politicians like President Bill Clinton and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. He’s even got a cooking school at his Resorts World Sentosa restaurant, too.
Violet Oon at Violet Oon’s Kitchen
The grand dame of Peranakan cuisine has firmly cemented her place in Singaporean cuisine. The former arts and music critic-turned-chef and owner not only serves Peranakan classics like ayam buah keluak, but her Western dishes are equally as delicious. She has also recently opened National Kitchen at the National Gallery and the place dishes out elevated plates that pay homage to local cuisine.
Willin Low at Wild Rocket
The restaurant and chef both need no introduction. Chef Low was arguably one of the first on the Mod Sin scene and now, his restaurant has been featured on this year’s San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list at #38. Wild Rocket’s menu shows his experience with fusing local and Western classics. Getting inspiration from hawker food, there are dishes like laksa pesto linguini with king prawns, as well as the iberico pork char siew with shanghai kao cai and quinoa.