Seaweed has been around for ages, and is a much-loved ingredient in Japanese, Korean and Chinese cuisines. These days, it has gone mainstream and is being enjoyed by many others too. Perhaps it’s because there’s growing interest towards plant-based foods, or more people are simply wising up to the fact that seaweed is full of nutritional benefits. But we’ve been seeing the ingredient popping up in various incarnations lately, and is even deemed to be a superfood.
Over in Singapore, besides the usual sushi and seaweed sheets in ramen, you can find it in various other forms. Seaweed butter is one — it is gaining in popularity and award-winning restaurant Jaan (which has a Michelin star) serves it (together with unsalted butter) with its signature sourdough. If you want to have a stash of seaweed butter to consume at home, order some from Secrets Fine Food here.
Seaweed snacks are also a hot favourite. Made-in-Singapore brand The Golden Duck sells two versions of this – the Singapore Chilli Crab Seaweed Tempura and Singapore Salted Egg Crab Seaweed Tempura. Both are so flavourful and umami, you can’t stop at just one. You can also go for the Tao Kae Noi Crispy Seaweed in supermarkets like Fairprice Singapore and Redmart.
Probiotics like Kombucha and Kefir
Many of us who grew up in Singapore have been exposed to probiotic drinks since were were kids. With the importance of gut health being emphasised in recent years, probiotics have become much-talked-about, and have also become a must-have supplement for many medicine cabinets. Probiotics are essentially live bacteria (the good type) that are good for your digestive system and are found in foods such as yoghurts.
Lately, drinks like kefir and kombucha have become popular alternatives. Kefir is a fermented milk drink that improves digestion and bloating. Kombucha is made from an either green or black tea base, with some fermented ingredients added too. You can get these drinks from various health food stores, such as Miss Kefir and Kombynation.
READ MORE: What You Should Know About Probiotics Before Consuming Them
A lot has been said about avoiding – or at least cutting down on – sugar in our diets but this doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy our favourite desserts. Local favourite Swensen’s has launched a new lower-sugar ice cream range, with up to 39 per cent less sugar. They’re available in three classic flavours – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry – and is in line with the Health Promotion Board’s Healthier Dining guidelines for lower sugar content in desserts. The ice cream is priced the same as their regular versions – $4.50 for a single scoop and $7.50 for double scoops, hooray!
Another place for you to indulge in healthy treats without an ounce of guilt is at All The Batter, a cafe that aims to make lives ‘all the batter’ (geddit?) through avocado and natural foods. Avocados take centrestage here and the cakes are made without butter and are non-dairy too (you can request for egg-less options). Enjoy the natural goodness of the fruit through its Avocado Strawberry Gateau cake, Chocolate Avocado cake, Avocado Citrus Pie and Avovegado Yogurt Fruit Tarts.
You can also try Delcie’s Desserts, which has a range of cakes and bakes that are gluten-free, keto, vegan-, diabetic- and even baby-friendly. Their natural cake recipes do not contain eggs, dairy products, chemicals or egg-aiding agents, while not compromising on taste. Feast away!
READ MORE: The Best Low-Fat Ice Creams You Can Indulge In Without Feeling Guilty
It has been a buzzword for a few years now but ‘sustainable food’ is definitely gaining traction in Singapore. Farm-to-table restaurants have been sprouting out all over our sunny island and eateries like Open Farm Community focuses on locally sourced, seasonal and innovative dishes. The herb and vegetable garden as well as farmers’ market here are definitely worth a look too.
Even The Grand Hyatt’s popular restaurant mezza9 launched a new menu a few months ago with sustainability on its mind. All the seafood is certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council or the Marine Stewardship Council as responsibly farmed or caught. The restaurant also uses herbs from the hotel’s rooftop gardens and sources for organic vegetables from farms in Singapore and Malaysia.
And popular brunch spot Strangers’ Reunion has just launched a new menu soon (on Feb 27), featuring some exciting additions that are prepared with upcycled ingredients. For example, Salmon Skin Chips utilises salmon skin which would otherwise be discarded, and Pork and Broccoli gives the vegetable’s stems and stalks a new lease of life by first steaming to soften them, then slow roasted to enhance their natural sweetness. Less food wastage overall – we’re definitely applauding this.
READ MORE: “Living Green Can Be Simple And Fun!” Meet The Singapore Mum Who Makes Her Own Organic Skincare Products At Home
Perhaps you’re vegetarian or vegan or you just like to have a few meat-free days during the week. It’s now easy to find such dining options, with a plethora of cafes and restaurants with vegetarian/vegan menus.
Impossible Foods just launched in a slew of Singapore restaurants like Bread Street Kitchen, Cut by Wolfgang Puck and Park Bench Deli this month (March 2019) and has meat lovers scratching their heads, wondering how plant-based meat can actually taste like real meat. Greendot is an Asian-fusion meat-free casual eatery that started out as a stall in Temasek Polytechnic in 2011 and has grown into a chain with 10 outlets all over Singapore.
Also check out VeganBurg, which is the world’s first 100 per cent plant-based burger joint is, indeed, a Singapore brand, and it has an outlet in San Francisco too. It’s also changing the concept that fast food is junk food; their burgers aren’t just vegan, they’re also free of cholesterol, hormones and GMOs. Celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Belinda Carlisle and Chrissie Hynde are huge fans of these burgers, how cool is that?
Famous Names Go Casual
Singapore has been a haven for celebrity chefs to venture into the Asian market and we have seen a number of them set up shop here, with varying levels of success. But it seems well-known faces in the F&B scene are scaling down and making their food more accessible to the masses.
David Pynt, from modern Australian barbecue restaurant Burnt Ends (which earned a Michelin star in 2018), surprised many when he opened a hawker stall at Makansutra Gluttons Bay in December. Meatsmith Western BBQ is a nod to his other venture, American barbecue joint Meatsmith. The menu features reasonably-priced Asian-inspired BBQ dishes, such as Char Siew Pork Ribs and Smoked Suckling Pig with Glutinous Rice, and prices start at just $4.
Affordable ‘fancy’ food is also the recipe to FrapasBar’s success. This venture by the Saveur group has introduced French tapas to Singaporeans, with dishes such as Crabmeat Croquette, Salmon Tartare and, of course, Foie Gras. We approve.
READ MORE: Where To Go For Fine Dining In Singapore Without Breaking The Bank
Eat & Shop In One Place
One of the most ingenious ideas we’ve seen is to combine two of our favourite pastimes – eating and shopping – in one venue. Who doesn’t love stores like Café&Meal MUJI, where we can browse through a range of products such as stationery and household goods, then rest our weary legs with a drink or meal at their minimalist-yet-stylish cafe?
Carpenter & Cook is a charming vintage home store that also houses an artisan bakery cafe. It’s a unique step back in time and you’ll be thinking about the food long after too. We love the fresh baked goods served on pretty china. Men can get in on the fun as well, at Monument Lifestyle, which sells clothes that embody the California lifestyle, and has a cafe too. The laid-back spot sells light bites like various toasts and a granola cup from Plain Vanilla’s house blend granola.
READ MORE: 10 Best Hidden Heartland Cafes With Great Food & Ambience
We’ve had poke bowls and acai bowls but what about…pasta bowls? Pasta Supremo, a pop-up restaurant that opened in February, specialises in freshly-made pasta bowls that diners can get creative with, thanks to its build-it-yourself menu. Choose from three naturally-coloured homemade pasta (cooked a la minute), a variety of classic and locally-inspired protein options, and four different sauces.
Sure, some healthy bowl options elsewhere also feature pasta but this is exciting as the pasta is freshly-made and there are some uniquely Singapore toppings to choose from, such as Burnt Miso Corn, Bak Kwa Jam, Chicken Skins and even Lap Cheong Crumble. We think it could be the start of the next food trend in Singapore, following the popularity of other ‘bowl’ foods here.
Text: Balvinder Sandhu, Additional reporting: Elizabeth Liew